Chainsaw Man Volume 1: Dog and Chainsaw
Written & Drawn by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Published by Viz Media

The Skinny: Three chainsaws and one brain cell.

Chainsaw Man is a delight of a manga that is taking the world by storm, and I can see why. It follows Denji, a young man saddled by the Yakuza with his father’s debts. Forced to pay an impossible sum, Denji’s only companion and source of income is his pet Pochita, a dog-like devil with a chainsaw for a snout. Denji uses his monster pup to hunt other demons for cash. But when his yakuza debtors turn on him, Pochita sacrifices itself, merging with Denji to make him the eponymous Chainsaw Man, a powerful combination of human and devil.Chainsaw Man is one of those manga that sits squarely in the Venn diagram of a number of genres. It isn’t quite a horror comic, and it has a lot of comedic elements, and Denji sort of, but doesn’t quite fit into a superhero mould. The book sits somewhere uncomfortably between all three genres, allowing the tension of that placement to drive the story.In a world where devils walk the Earth, this is the type of story that examines the humanity, or lack thereof, of its characters. From the abusive Yakuza who hounded Denji’s father to suicide to his new boss Makijima, who threatens to have Denji executed if he doesn’t produce results, the humans take advantage of Denji’s situation as a half-devil for their own ends, leaving him to suffer. But Denji isn’t without flaws himself, as he uses his newfound freedom to support his one goal in life: To ever touch a boob. Largely the inhumanity of these characters is played for laughs or pathos rather than as a serious societal critique. Denji is a character raised outside of civilization, and becomes a lens to view civilization’s flaws, ramped up to eleven by the threat of marauding devils. Denji himself is so simple that he is played as a sort of a noble savage, alongside zombie-like devil girl Power. In other situations, this could be very uncomfortable, but Fujimoto pulls the trick off, for the most part.
Fujimoto’s art is detailed, and often grotesque without being overly complex or difficult to read. I read the manga on my tablet, and it came through very legibly, and is easy to follow. His monster designs are clever and unexpected, and manage to never cross the line into being too gross.
Part horror reflecting man’s inhumanity to man, part workplace comedy, part gristly spectacle, Chainsaw Man walks a thin line, but the fresh writing and fast pace propel it along fast enough that it never falls into any pits. If you’re looking for something new to read, it’s well worth your time.