Manga Review: Chainsaw Man Volume One

Chainsaw Man Volume One tells the story of a young man and how he becomes the character in the title of the series.

Chainsaw Man Volume One
Written by: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Publisher: Shueisha, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 6, 2020

The main character is a young man named Denji, who works as a small-time Devil Hunter for the yakuza in order to try to pay off the debt of his late father. Even though he kills devils that are worth a lot on the black market, by the time payments for his father’s debts and other expenses are taken out, he hardly has anything left. Denji’s companion and partner is Pochita, a demon dog with a chainsaw. Denji dreams of being able to eat more than just a slice of bread for a meal and having a relationship with a girl.

Denji’s life changes when the yakuza turns on him and feed him to the zombie devil and his minions. Pochita decides to save Denji by taking over his body and residing inside his heart. Not only does this bring Denji back to life, but Denji now also can use chainsaws from his body… hence the title, Chainsaw Man. After coming back to life, Denji takes on the zombie devil and his minions again and defeats them with his new chainsaw power.

This takedown grabs the attention of Makima, a woman who is with the Public Safety Devil Hunters. When she meets Denji, she treats him nicely at first, but he finds she’s actually not as nice as she seems. She sees him as her “lapdog,” and orders him around. She gets him into the Public Safety Devil Hunters, and his squad leader Aki Hayakawa doesn’t seem to like him too much.

Near the end of the volume, he is paired up with another Public Safety Devil Hunter, a female Blood Fiend named Power. She tells him a story about wanting to rescue her cat that was stolen from her by a Devil. But it turns out she has ulterior motives for involving him with trying to get her cat back.

By the time I finished this volume, I noticed a theme going on: being used. Denji is used by the yakuza, then by Makima, and then by Power. But this makes a lot of sense, since we see in a flashback that Denji was still a child when his father hung himself and was forced by the yakuza to become a Devil Hunter in order to pay off his father’s debts. He doesn’t really know any other way to live, I think.

Denji is also quite the simpleton, which also makes sense when you consider his background and upbringing. At one point in the volume, Denji tells Aki that he never went to school, for example. Also, Denji has simple dreams and desires, which he allows to cloud his judgment when he makes decisions in this volume.

The art in this first volume really grabbed me, especially the scenes when Denji is fighting with demons. You can tell that Fujimoto has taken a lot of care to make these particular panels look impressive and grab the reader’s eye.

Chainsaw Man Volume One sets a strong foundation for the series. Denj’s character is very well established by the end of it, the main character relationships seem to be in place, and the story and action are compelling enough to make the reader want to continue the volume. The way Volume One ends makes the reader want to read the next volume in order to find out what happens to Denji.

I would highly recommend Chainsaw Man to readers who enjoy shonen manga series like One-Punch Man.

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