CHAINSAW MAN : AN HONEST REVIEW
Many things have been said about Chainsaw man, “will be best anime of this year”, “will be talked about for decades” , “will raise a new generation of anime lovers like Attack on titan“, many have even gone as far as calling it “Peak Fiction“. One thing is certain, it will be praised so much that people will hate it on instinct. I am not here to talk about its colossal fan base or the 11 million copies currently in circulation. If you have come here asking yourself if you should read the Chainsaw man manga or watch the upcoming anime, the short answer is yes, go watch/read it ASAP! If however, you require an intellectual analysis to aid in your decision, then look no further traveller.
Many have even gone as far as calling it "Peak Fiction"
Just to be clear, let it be said that this is a shounen manga about a guy with a chainsaw for a head and arms. If you are under the assumption that Chainsaw man is “just another” hack-and-slash shounen horror manga like Jujutsu Kaisen or Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer), please disabuse yourself of that notion but first let’s talk about the author’s other famous series.
Fujimoto Tasuki is a mangaka and illustrator who is making a name for himself in the industry with his unforgiving dark mature dramas and unsettling detailed gory artwork, and from his enigmatic mind on April 18, 2016 Firepunch was born (Also a good read if you’re like me and enjoy content that makes you question sanity in general). The manga is centered around hard themes such as religious propaganda, nihilism, vengeance and depression. It has a post-apocalyptic ice age setting and follows a regenerating incest cannibal who’s constantly on fire. He walks the earth in constant agony in order to avenge his sister.
It was a complete success , Fujimoto’s unorthodox storytelling was highly praised and that was just a practice run. It was time to get serious,Enter Chainsaw man.
チェンソーマン, THE MAVERICK SHOUNEN
Many of my peers say they will never read a manga as long as the anime exists because it’ll be a waste of time. There may be some good reasons for this considering some anime adaptions are mirror images of the manga, with most even improving the quality. But if you have read a novel and watched its movie adaption (or simply read the Tokyo Ghoul manga), you should understand that a work of art done in two different art forms is essentially two different works of art altogether, both with their own unique properties.
Fujimoto tells a story with no taboos, casually addressing modern real world fears like capitalist alienation, debt slavery and the thought of dying without feeling the touch of a woman.
The manga has the same reality warping action and artwork of Jojo’s bizarre adventures, the punk vibe of Kaiji and some of Junji Ito’s ability to make you want to discard your skin because you don’t want anything else getting under it. It easily breaks the mold of what a manga can do.
It easily breaks the mold of what a manga can do.
Bear with me, by no means am I claiming that Chainsaw man is better than the heavy hitting shounen like Kimetsu no Yaiba, Boku no Hero academia, Black Clover or Jujutsu Kaisen simply because its less restrained by genre and social taboo. That’s up to you. What makes it shine may be its depiction of real world horrors like terrorism, starvation, child predation, gun violence, homelessness, conflict between global superpowers and getting hit in the balls. All this is a far cry from the seemingly smaller conflicts in Kimetsu no Yaiba, Jujutsu Kaisen or even the super mind games and supernatural horror of Death Note.
In the previously mentioned works, the larger-than-life “most likely to kill the main character”, impossible to kill anime villains are usually reserved for the season finale; with the main character levelling up to be able to face them, conveniently pulling a trump card when needed. In Chainsaw man that’s your average villain of the week, in fact most “boss fights” happen out of the blue with almost no build-up.
What makes it shine may be its depiction of real world horrors like terrorism, starvation, child predation, gun violence, homelessness, conflict between global superpowers and getting hit in the balls.
Disclaimer: the next paragraph has very light spoilers
In the very first chapter our teenage Protagonist Denji attempts to pay back his late suicidal father’s debt to the yakuza of about 38,040,000¥ and his loan sharks push him to sell his kidney (1.2 million ¥), right eye ball (300,000¥) and his right testicle (100,000¥). For a long while he survives on as little as one slice of bread which he shares with his demon dog companion. In one scene he is so desperate for money that he agrees to devour a lit cigarette for 100¥. Oh, and he has chronic anemia. By the end of the chapter he is ultimately sold by the yakuza and ends up hacked to literal pieces and tossed in a dumpster.
THE HEART OF CHAINSAW MAN
The series references other great works of art like Gyo by Junji Ito, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Sharknado and Kafka’s Metamorphosis. After reading even a few chapters it is easy to compare it to other prominent graphics literature like Berserk, Junji’s Uzumaki, Maus and even the Watchmen. It contains many references but it seems to have heavily drawn inspiration from the ideas present in Devilman, Dorohedoro and Army of Darkness. Do not be deceived it is not a carbon copy (With the exception of how devilmen work). That said, if you loved Devilman/Devilman Crybaby, I couldn’t recommend Chainsaw man enough. Both are great pieces of dark fantasy, ultra violence with a twisted take on romance and complicated morals.
It should also be noted what the focus of Chainsaw man is. For example, in one punch man, while we have several satisfying fight scenes, the focus of the show is the drama of a human struggling to enjoy living life as an overpowered superhero, the fight scenes come second. In Chainsaw man the heat of drama is outside the fights and more with the characters. This manga serves as a good shounen battle story. It’s an amazing action flick with a healthy amount of psychological horror. It is oozing with comic relief. With some exceptions the characters are well written with god-level development, beautifully natural dialogue that helps with the immersion.
I for one am very tired of shounen protagonists defeating their opponents with nothing but a fond memory or the almighty “power of friendship” like in Fairy Tail and Naruto. The resolve of a typical shounen protagonist may sound something like “I’m gonna be the best in the world!” When asked about his dream Denji answered and I quote “I…I’ve lived enough, slept next to you. Got to play Video Games with you guys. Flirted with a girl. I ate a lot of grub. From my point of view back when I was stuck in a debt trap…I really did get to live my dream life.”
And you realise the latter is exponentially more relatable because in this day and age who isn’t a slave to society? With the exception of the upper echelons Denji tells the tale of millions of people from across the globe that started from nothing and became contempt with what few would consider their lowest point.
You can get the manga on amazon kindle at $5 and most of the other popular manga sources
チェンソーマン is getting an anime series adaption produced by MAPPA studios. The first trailer for the anime series was shown at the “MAPPA Stage 2021 – 10th Anniversary” event, held on June 27, where Chainsaw man easily grabbed all the attention. People were literally barking when one of the waifus….I mean female characters (Makima) appeared. MAPPA pulled out all the stops with the production.
The anime is directed by Ryu Nakayama who was a director of the supernatural battle horror anime “Jujutsu Kaisen”, Sword Art Online (season 1) and Black Clover. Character designs by Kazutaka Sugiyama (Jobless Reincarnation) and Devil Character designs by Kiyataka Oshiyama (Devilman: Crybaby). Black Clover’s Tatsuya Yoshi is serving as action director, Yusuke Takeda(Sword art online, Vinland Saga) is the art director and the music will be composed by Kensuke Ushio (Liz and the blue bird, Devilman: Crybaby and Space Dandy).
The anime will be released in late 2022 and you’ll be able to watch it on Crunchyroll. If I haven’t convinced you to at least check it out hopefully this trailer will.
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