Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man is a manga that answers a question that humanity’s greatest thinkers have been asking since the dawn of time: what if there was a guy who was made of chainsaws?
If you pay enough attention to the world of anime and manga, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Fujimoto’s series mentioned in some capacity. Chainsaw Man was the seventh highest-selling manga series of 2021, moving over 5.2 million volumes in Japan. That’s extra impressive when you consider that it doesn’t currently have an anime adaptation drawing in new readers. That popularity is definitely going to sky-rocket later this year when its anime finally premieres.
So if you’ve been sitting on the fence about picking up the first volume of Chainsaw Man or you’re looking to read the manga before the anime starts, here’s everything you need to know about the hit series.
What’s Chainsaw Man about?
Chainsaw Man takes place in a version of our world where Devils are very much real. These Devils are manifestations of human fears and while some of them are indifferent to humankind (some even form pacts with humans), most of them are frequently causing havoc.
The titular Chainsaw Man is Denji, who works as a freelance Devil Hunter so he can pay back his deceased father’s massive debt to the yakuza he loaned it from. He lives in abject poverty and squalor, with his only friend in the world being Pochita, a Devil that looks like a cuddly pug crossed with a chainsaw.
Denji’s pretty awful life gets much worse when he’s double-crossed by the yakuza and killed. He’s only saved when Pochita makes a contract with his friend and merges with him. Denji is reborn as a human-devil hybrid that can grow chainsaws from his arms, legs and head when he pulls a ripcord embedded in his chest.
Denji is quickly confronted by the Public Safety Division, which is a government-sanctioned team of Devil Hunters. Among them is Makima, the mysterious head of Public Safety Division 4, who offers to give him anything he wants, including a life free of poverty, if he promises to hunt Devils for her and do anything she says. Agreeing to Makima’s terms, Denji is teamed with Aki Hayakawa, a cold and stoic Devil Hunter, and Power, a violent but childish Blood Fiend.
Is it as good as everyone says?
It really is. It’s a weird blend of action, horror and comedy that all works, with some fun, unique characters and a compelling story.
Above everything else, Fujimoto’s art looks incredible. Even if you don’t particularly vibe with the story being told, if you love high-energy action scenes, this series delivers in spades. Fujimoto will also drop some of the creepiest pages this side of a Junji Ito – the kind of eerie shots that stick with you long after you’ve read it.
Fujimoto constantly toys with the reader’s expectations. Characters will receive a fully developed backstory and be built up as being “Important To The Story”, only to be suddenly turned into a bloody smear. In the hands of a weaker creator, those kinds of twists can come across as a bit hacky – shock for the sake of shock that doesn’t really service the story – but Fujimoto manages to keep a handle on it. You really connect with his characters and pray everything will be alright with every page turn you make.
For a series that is pretty gory and crude (Denji really wants to touch a boobie), Chainsaw Man is surprisingly heartfelt. One chapter is dedicated entirely to Denji and Makima hopping around a series of theatres to watch a bunch of movies. It’s such a quiet moment in a very loud manga, but it’s where Fujimoto’s strengths as a writer really shine, especially when it comes to character depth. (Fujimoto’s two recent one-shots, Look Back and Goodbye, Eri are both quieter character study pieces and are highly recommended).
Where can you read the Chainsaw Man manga?
Chainsaw Man was published from December 2018 to December 2020 in Weekly Shōnen Jump, and clocks in at 11 volumes long. If you’ve been reading manga for a while, you’ll know that’s a fairly short run for a shonen series (especially a massively popular one). For comparison, Dragon Ball Z is only 26 volumes all up, while Demon Slayer is 23 volumes long. Hell, One Piece has entire arcs that are as long as the entirety of Chainsaw Man.
Is there a Chainsaw Man anime?
There is, but it hasn’t aired yet (we’ll hopefully be seeing it soon). Announced back in December 2020, the Chainsaw Man anime is being produced by MAPPA, the studio behind Jujutsu Kaisen, Dorohedoro and Attack on Titan: The Final Season.
Considering how good those mentioned series look – along with the few clips we’ve seen – it’s a safe bet that Chainsaw Man is going to rank high on a few “Best Anime of 2022” lists. Get ready to see a lot of people wearing Public Safety Division uniform cosplays at all the upcoming anime and pop culture conventions.
Do we have a release date for the Chainsaw Man anime?
While we don’t have an exact release date, the Chainsaw Man anime is set to premiere sometime in 2022. A few fans have speculated that it’ll debut sometime during Japan’s Fall (so Spring here), but there’s been no official announcement yet.
It looks like Crunchyroll holds the international streaming license for the series (except in Asia), so you’ll find it there once it launches. Crunchyroll will also be airing an English dub.
Is there a trailer we can watch in the meantime?
You bet your arse there is, and it looks fantastic.
Be sure to check back here later, as we’ll be updating this article when more info about the release date for the Chainsaw Man anime becomes available.