KICK BACK: A Closer Look at Chainsaw Man
An Unforgettable Arrival
When it comes to new series with extraordinary levels of hype, Chainsaw Man has certainly made a grand entrance. Comparable to the likes of Shingeki no Kyoujin and surpassing the popularity of Kimetsu no Yaiba and Jujutsu Kaisen, this manga has garnered a passionate following. Its rival for commercial supremacy, Spy x Family, may lead in raw numbers, but Chainsaw Man holds a special place in the hearts of its dedicated fans.
As an event of such magnitude, we wanted to take a fresh approach when discussing Chainsaw Man. To provide a different perspective than our own, we reached out to a manga reader and CSM enthusiast, Samu, who graciously agreed to share his weekly insights with us (note: our impressions were composed independently without prior knowledge of each other’s opinions). Join us as we explore Kenshi Yonezu’s “KICK BACK” and explore the captivating world of Chainsaw Man.
High Expectations and the Art of Separation
Approaching a highly anticipated series can be a tricky endeavor. Sometimes, the hype proves to be justified, while other times it falls short. The key is to separate oneself from preconceived expectations and evaluate the material based on its own merits. In the case of Chainsaw Man, understanding the background of its creator, Fujimoto Tatsuki, adds another layer of intrigue. At just 28 years old, Fujimoto-sensei has become an unparalleled phenomenon in the manga industry. Unveiling his unique narrative style, outside-the-box paneling, and ruthless storytelling, he has distinguished himself from the mass-produced models.
In the opening theme song of Chainsaw Man, created by Yamashita Shingo, Fujimoto’s deep fascination with American cinema is palpable. The plethora of pop culture references and callbacks to Gainax’s Neon Genesis Evangelion create a mesmerizing tapestry. As viewers, we found ourselves captivated by the stark contrast between the protagonist’s demeanor and the overwhelming chaos surrounding him.
A Glimpse into Denji’s World
The series introduces us to Denji, a young man burdened by his late father’s enormous debt to the yakuza. With his life on the line, Denji strikes a deal with a devil, sacrificing some of his blood to become a devil hunter. However, the reward for his service proves meager. Denji finds himself living in a desolate wasteland, forced to sell parts of his body just to make ends meet.
What sets Denji apart is his innate kindness and naivety in a world consumed by darkness. He yearns for simple pleasures like jam on his daily bread, dreams of intimate encounters before meeting his demise, and nurtures a close bond with Pochita, the devil residing within him. Denji’s resilience and compassion emerge in stark contrast to the grim and violent backdrop of Chainsaw Man.
When faced with an ambush orchestrated by a more formidable devil, Denji’s inevitable death is averted thanks to his selfless offer to Pochita. What transpires is the birth of a hybrid creature – Denji melded with Pochita, sporting a starter cord protruding from his chest cavity. This newfound power allows Denji to unleash fury upon the zombie devil’s army and eventually the devil himself. Amidst the chaos, a red-haired woman appears, offering Denji an unexpected choice – to live as a human or die as a devil. Denji’s decision reflects the logical choice any rational person would make in his situation.
A Compelling Blend of Darkness and Humanity
Chainsaw Man masterfully weaves together elements of gore, violence, and CGI to create its haunting aesthetic. However, our fascination with the series lies not solely in its action sequences but in the character-driven storyline. We hope that Nakamura Ryuu, the director, shares this sentiment. The premiere episode beautifully captures the stark contrast between Denji’s purity of heart and the increasingly depraved world surrounding him.
Entering Chainsaw Man without prior exposure to the source material, it would be difficult not to feel that the hype may have been excessive. Yet, we cannot deny the brilliance that lies within Fujimoto’s storytelling. His ability to deliver profound and clever narratives rooted in his unique perspective is undeniable. As the series progresses, we eagerly anticipate witnessing the exploration of Denji’s nature within an increasingly twisted world, all while avoiding descending into gratuitous violence.
Samu’s Impressions: A Manga Reader’s Take
As someone familiar with the Chainsaw Man manga, I approach its anime adaptation with great curiosity. Tatsuki Fujimoto’s work has made a lasting impact on the shonen genre, positioning him as a bridge for the aspiring mangaka of the new generation. Furthermore, his assistants, who have since established their own footholds in the industry, attest to his influence.
Observing the first episode, my attention gravitates towards how well the anime captures the essence of the source material. It is vital to maintain the delicate balance between bombastic action, gore, and the underlying humanity that defines Chainsaw Man, particularly in Denji’s character. Fortunately, the episode adeptly conveys the quieter and more introspective moments, even surpassing expectations in that regard. While the decision to use fully CGI for Denji’s chainsaw mode may require some adjustment for fans, it is nevertheless a unique and distinguishable choice, making the anime stand out from its counterparts.
Tatsuki Fujimoto’s take on the demon slaying battle shonen formula reveals a man entrenched in an amalgamation of influences. From his avid love for foreign and arthouse cinema to pushing boundaries beyond the expectations of modern Weekly Shonen Jump, Fujimoto injects his own distinct flavor into Chainsaw Man. If the tropes inherent to battle manga serve as the bread and butter of the genre, Fujimoto offers a filling composed of jet-black gravel, strawberries, and popping candy.
The arrival of Chainsaw Man has undoubtedly lived