Chainsaw Man 011-014 – 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:
Chainsaw Man seems to have solidified its position as a series that periodically delves into deeper, more emotional and existential elements, while consistently falling back on sexuality for its gags. Chapter 11 opens with character work for Denji as we wrap up the “Bat-Devil Arc.” He’s given a talking to by Hayakawa, really hammering home that Denji needs to grow up. From there Power becomes a ‘main cast’ member, moving into the same apartment as Denji and Hayakawa. Here we get some fun comedy, more varied than previous chapters, before falling back on sexuality: Power encourages Denji to come get what she promised him, a nice big squeeze of boob.
Chapter 12 gives Denji exactly what he wanted, a chance to feel Power’s chest up, or really any woman’s. Unfortunately it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and Denji suffers an existential crisis, questioning whether any of his future goals will feel as rewarding and fun as the chase towards it was. This is good stuff, but is quickly undermined by Makima seducing Denji to get what she wants. And here’s where something begins to bug me: The way Chainsaw Man uses female characters. Up to this point women haven’t gotten to do a lot. Most of their use in the story is goading Denji, or later other male characters, on with the promise of affection. While the affection offered is hardly the most scandalous content to grace the pages of shonen manga, it feels weird that female characters have been kind of relegated to this role of “seductresses” and nothing else.
Indeed after we get through Chapter 13, a heavy exposition/flashback chapter introducing an ongoing ‘big bad’ for the series (Which feels a lot like Jujutsu Kaisen’s big bad concept if I’m recalling that manga correctly.) We’re introduced to another female character in Chapter 14 who, again, uses her feminine wiles to seduce the male cast into doing whatever she wants. It’s sort of female empowering for these female characters to use their attractiveness to get the men to do what they want, but it’s also extremely limiting when it’s nearly all they do in the series.
Ultimately I’m still very mixed on Chainsaw Man. At times the series seems to want to talk about deeper concepts, to have a deeper, more thought-provoking core than the typical ‘friends are the best!’ or ‘you can do anything if you try’ mantras that eat up the Shonen landscape. But frequently those deeper ideas are put on the back burner for this empowering, yet limiting use of female characters, and otherwise unabashedly comedic tone that its more serious topics feel, well, hollow by the time we’re ready to address them. I’ve still got six chapters to go before I’ll be parting ways with the series (assuming my opinion doesn’t change, that is.) so we’ll see what else, if anything, Chainsaw Man has to offer. Right now in rankings it’s started to fare a bit better, but it’s too early to saw whether Chainsaw Man has been saved from the chopping block or not.
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.