Chainsaw Man 005-007 – 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:

I think I finally understand what Chainsaw Man is trying to do. While Chapter 1 is quite serious and dark, everything after turned towards comedy.That is until Chapter 7 again, when we get a series of darker developments centered on new cast addition: Power, a fiend (Devil possessing a human) who works alongside Denji. Chainsaw Man seems to be playing with the classic shonen tone, where you get serious storylines meant to pull at the heartstrings, followed by immediate comedy to offset the dramatic. The difference is that while other shonen are typically more evenly balanced, or heavier on drama with the comedy used as tiny breaking points, Chainsaw Man uses comedy for the majority of its content, peppering the story with darker beats.

I still think this approach is highly disjointed, tempering the drama so much that I honestly don’t feel that broken up about Power’s predicament. Part of the trouble also stems from just how quickly we rush into danger. Going back to the start of these chapters, Chapter 5 is totally aligned as comedy, giving us a really quick introduction to the new character, Power, and dolling out a totally on the nose exposition driven section to hammer in everything we need to know about her.

This is in part due to Chapter 6’s heel-turn, revealing that Power was trying to trick Denji. Normally a big blast of exposition like that would be a bad thing, but since it’s used to try and fool the audience, it actually kind of works. But Chapter 6 also starts introducing elements far and away from anything we’ve seen in the last five chapters: talk of world politics and how devils factor into the equation. I have to assume that our author is setting us up for possible future developments, and the mention of politics already feels much more in line with Fire Punch, his last big work. In some ways I welcome this gradual set up, assuming that’s what it is. At times I still feel like Chainsaw Man hasn’t totally decided what it wants to be. It’s possible that the politics stuff is just a potential avenue, one we may not even venture down, especially considering how quickly we jump away from it after mention.

Chapter 7 is more serious, and a return to that first chapter. Power is trying to keep her cat alive, currently at the mercy of an evil Bat Devil that threatens to eat it unless Power brings him a human. In this case Denji. She has much the same bond with the cat as Denji did with his Chainsaw Devil in Chapter 1, which Chainsaw Man then uses as an attempt to pull at our heartstrings as the cat is eaten by the Bat Devil (who reneges on his deal) and then eats Power too. Denji quickly jumps into action, transforming into Chainsaw Man (boy the title doesn’t happen often in this story.), preparing for a presumably major brawl against the monster.

Ultimately Chainsaw Man still feels very imbalanced. I wish the first chapter had had far more comedy if that was the direction we’re going, and overall that does seem to be the case. Even when we dip back into a darker tone, Power’s story feels thin, with just enough meat to make it work, but no where near enough for the drama to feel juicy and intense. What’s here works, but I feel like this latest set of Jump Starts is more mediocre than worthwhile.

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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