Title: Chainsaw Man
Mangaka: Tatsuki Fujimoto
US Publisher: Viz Media / Shonen Jump
Status: Ongoing- Now in Part II
Age Relevance: Upper High School and Up
How Essential Is It?: Must Have
Curricular Connections?: Independent Reading
Reader’s Advisory Tags: Horror, Action
Content Warnings: Gore, suicide, death, sexual innuendos, cannibalism, groping
Publisher Synopsis: Denji’s a poor young man who’ll do anything for money, even hunting down devils with his pet devil Pochita. He’s a simple man with simple dreams, drowning under a mountain of debt. But his sad life gets turned upside down one day when he’s betrayed by someone he trusts. Now with the power of a devil inside him, Denji’s become a whole new man—Chainsaw Man!
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard of Chainsaw Man. It’s the rare manga that found extreme popularity before the anime came out, and well, the anime’s out now. If you work with young people, this is going to be the top request.
Here’s the thing: Chainsaw Man is, in fact, legitimately good. It is also violent, gruesome, unsettling, fairly horny, and at times bleak. Fujimoto has a fantastic ability to make his manga cinematic, to employ gore, and yet also explore the depths of humanity. There’s tragedy, hope, and humor. There’s a Cronenberg-esque absurdity to this manga, wherein horrific things happen, but also characters develop meaningful relationships.
That’s a lot to say about a manga that’s really about a boy who fuses with his dog after dying and gets chainsaw powers that can only be tamed by hugging a woman. But Denji’s thirst for a girlfriend is really about his desire for human affection. His greatest dreams are to eat good food and have someone hold him. For all its wacky and cinematic action, Chainsaw Man is about loneliness and wanting security. Denji just wants closeness.
That’s why, for all of its bloody gore, I highly recommend this manga for high school collections. It’s just won a Harvey award. Fujimoto has a great talent, and Chainsaw Man is a ride that no one else writing for Shonen Jump is capable of taking readers on.
A note on the anime:
Sometimes, gorey manga is toned down in the anime. This is not the case for Chainsaw Man. Please preview any episodes before showing them in an anime club to make sure you are comfortable with the contents being shown in club! For an idea, here’s the most recent trailer: