October is spooky month, a time for devils and zombies and body horror galore. VIZ Media is jumping into the thick of it with their Shonen Jump title Chainsaw Man Volume 1 from mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto. In a world of devils and devil hunters, Denji is a poor young man who will do anything for money, including selling organs and taking on odd, dangerous jobs hunting down devils with his pet dog, Pochita. The English translation for this title is by Amanda Haley and features touch-up art and lettering by Sabrina Heep.
What makes Chainsaw Man Volume 1 interesting is that it immediately complicates its protagonist’s life by tying this make-shift devil hunter to a devil, his dog. Pochita is adorable and deadly, with a chainsaw coming out of his head. It’s that chainsaw that lets Denji take on all types of nasty devils but their bond isn’t just made up of slashing through bad guys. Instead, it’s a caring relationship, and it’s clear that Pochita is the only thing Denji has in the world and the only thing that cares about him.
Overall, Denji is a simple man with simple dreams, and despite their seemingly mundane status, they can’t be achieved because he is drowning under a mountain of debt. In the first chapter it’s clear that Denji is just trying to survive and while it isn’t easy, Pochita helps him keep living and moving forward. But his already sad life gets sadder when its turned upside down. Betrayed by someone he trusted, Denji becomes imbued with the power of a devil and when he unleashes it, he becomes Chainsaw Man. Part human, part devil, Denji is taken in by a task force and told to work with them or be killed like the devil he has become.
Chainsaw Man Volume 1 is filled with action, body horror, and surprisingly, a lot of emotion. As a more graphic title under the Shonen Jump banner, it would have been easy for Fujimoto to rely on his top tier creature designs and violent panels. Instead, we get a story that is balanced with humor and heart. While the gore has its place, it’s used more to highlight the atmosphere of the story. That said, the action sequences in this volume are not only graphically violent but imaginative as well. The ability to create devils based on particular traits is a skill that Fujimoto flexes with unique character and creature designs.
Additionally, the humor that accompanies the horror in the story is both illustrated and written. It’s heavy-handed in places in the way that only shonen can be – Denji just really likes boobs – but it also doesn’t come close to landing fully on the fanservice side of things. While Denji is a young man looking for a girl to hug, he is also processing his own problems and trauma. Over the course of this debut volume, Fujimoto does an excellent job of showcasing Denji’s age and the priorities that stem from it while also highlighting the more adult and intense issues he is dealing with as well. This helps make Denji relatable, someone to root for, and a humourous shonen protagonist at the same time.
All in all, Chainsaw Man Volume 1 sets a wonderful foundation in just seven chapters. Fujimoto is able to drop readers into a new world, establish how it works, and knock an emotional moment out of the park. With 86 chapters currently available on VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump app, you’re going not going to be able to stop yourself from diving directly into the next chapters of Denji’s story.
Chainsaw Man Volume 1 is available from booksellers October 6, 2020.
Chainsaw Man Volume 1
Chainsaw Man Volume 1 sets a wonderful foundation in just seven chapters. Fujimoto is able to drop readers into a new world, establish how it works, and knock an emotional moment out of the park. With 86 chapters currently available on VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump app, you’re going to have to yourself from diving directly into the next chapters of Denji’s story.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.