3 out of 5
Tatsuki Fujimoto seems content to cover the shonen, demon-hunting basics – eager and naive protagonist; one short-tempered teammate; one sassy girl teammate; power showoff showdowns – but is making sure to have a damn fun time doing so. And that’s okay! As I read more manga, I realize how much of this stuff tends to overlap, just like it does with American superhero comics. That is: all isekais have stuff in common; all of these magic-imbued shonen books have stuff in common; and just like our Marvel / DC hott books of the month, something will come along with some fresh tweak out of the gates… only to fall on its boring ol’ face a few issues later.
Chainsaw Man is rather humorously leaning into that, with bloody brawls executed by main man Denji – who has chainsaws veritably sticking out of his face and arms, hence the creative name of the book – and relegates his eager and naive shtick to a desire to, like, fondle breasts. Seriously. This is juvenile enough, but Fujimoto is making sure to pitch Denji has a blank-headed, horny teen, and the females who promise him a feel seem to be knowingly taking advantage of his quest to get him to do their demon-hunting deeds. Volume 2 takes some tip-toes toward character-developing this, by giving Denji his wish… only for him to realize that a squeeze without much context to it isn’t all that great. It’s still a kind of PG version of fan service, playing into pervy boys and sexy girls tropes, but it admittedly has an air of innocence that makes it pretty amusing.
That quality – the light-hearted nature of the book – is a defining trait. Throughout its initial violent showdown with Bat, and then the book’s latter half, which has Denji and team getting stuck in a floor-repeating hotel, Fujimoto is constantly cracking wise, and doing the equivalent of having characters mug at the camera. It’s a funny book, and, as mentioned before, his artistic inclinations seem very influenced by American comics, which gives it pacing and framing a unique flair for manga.
None of this equates to anything especially mind blowing, but I sincerely don’t think that’s the point. Fujimoto is just having a good time with his characters and setup, and, by extension, we readers get to have a good time too.