Chainsaw Man 001-004 – Manga Review

Synopsis: Meet Denji, he’s poor. Like, sell your body parts poor. But he’s found a gig killing demons with his chainsaw dog. Will it be enough to pay the bills? (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)

Warning: Spoilers to Follow:

Review:

Chainsaw Man is perhaps one of the most interesting additions to Shonen Jump to date. That said, I find the series a bit uneven in execution, and am also surprised it’s from the same author as Fire Punch as little about this screams of his style. Tatsuki Fujimoto’s art for Fire Punch, and writing, were quite top tier, at least the first volume (which in honesty is as much as I’ve read to date.) But Chainsaw Man looks a lot rougher, a little less polished, and the writing isn’t nearly as tight.

In the series’ very first chapter we get two scenes with heavy-handed exposition. First is when the leader of the Yakuza is explaining to a subordinate why they use Genji to hunt demons, which feels very “Someone is asking this question more for the audience than as part of their character.” The second, and perhaps worse instance, is when Genji coughs up blood, and quickly doles out that his mother also died from a heart condition. I’m not entirely sure why this scene and information is there either, because within a few pages we rush into a rather sudden development that it puts it to waste: Genji’s death.

The Yakuza becoming zombies for a demon, in order to obtain its power, is interesting, though lacks any set up or hints, making it’s inclusion in the story rather abrupt. From there we get a heartfelt goodbye as Pochita sacrifices himself to give Genji a second chance at life. This culminates in Genji gaining the ability to become Chainsaw Man, as he then slaughters the Yakuza zombies and their demon master. It’s a very cool visual component, although I don’t quite understand the logic for why he suddenly has a crazy looking metal monster face. Considering Fire Punch had pretty methodical logic to its concept, Chainsaw Man feels a bit looser, more predicated on what’s ‘cool’ rather than how all the elements mesh together.

The first chapter ends with Genji meeting some official government demon hunters, who offer him a job. Despite my quibbles I think the first chapter holds a lot of potential. It’s dark, gritty, low on humor, but high on crazy, rough art with lots of detail. But what follows doesn’t feel like the same series at all.

Chapters 2 through 4 detail Genji’s gradual inclusion in this Demon Hunter organization. While Chapter 2 is a strong follow up in the style of Chapter 1, Chapters 3 and 4 seem to reject the set upon tone. Genji changes from a character that’s more innocent, to one clamoring for tits and ass. It’s a hard shift, and while the manga sets up the idea in Chapter 1 (that everyone is always dreaming of bigger,) the manga didn’t have to go this route to show that Genji is growing in goals now that his life is opening up with options.

The series also becomes more comical, focusing on Genji’s new perverted desires, his clash with his new partner, Makima’s aloof, playful banter, etc. It’s not bad, but it definitely divorces itself from early expectations. It’s a little disappointing as someone who generally enjoyed the more morbid tone early on.

Since Shonen Jump has decided to add Chainsaw Man and the other Jump Starts from this month as proper, ongoing titles, my plan is to stick with Chainsaw Man a little bit longer, at least until I’m sure that this more perverted, comical gag nature is what Chainsaw Man has indeed settled into. So expect another review late January/early February.

That’s it for today. Please let me know your thoughts on Chainsaw Man in the comments below!

Chainsaw Man is published as part of Shonen Jump.

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