Get an inside look at how Chainsaw distills the best qualities of the shonen manga and anime into something new and exciting.
The highly anticipated Chainsaw cartoon has taken the internet by storm, but that popularity isn't the result of innovation, but rather the series' ability to refine established themes.
Ironically, the gimmick that originally drew fans into the series, Denji's chainsaw head, wasn't all that original. Check out No Guns Life's main character, Juzo Inui, whose head is a giant revolver. Even though Juzo looks more like Saw's Gunslinger than Denji's demon/hybrid form (or, for that matter, the real Saw's real Gunslinger), the inspiration is clear. But like other entries in the series, the Chainsaw Man achieves greater success by taking Juzo Inui's designs to new heights.
Chainsaw Man Features a New Take on Hosts and Parasites
Probably the most important place to look first in Tatsuki Fujimoto's masterpiece is the original twist on Chainsaw Man; Pochita transforms Denji into the chainsaw man of the same name. It's nothing new that his host's "parasite" endowed him with incredible powers. The fact that Pochita barely interacts with Denji is a further departure from one of the most unique aspects of the spec.
Even the second part of the manga continued the trope rather than trying something new. However, unlike Denji and Pochita, Asa Mitaka has a sinister relationship with War Demon. The so-called War Devil (known as Yoru) talked to her master more, materialized beside her, and even took over Mitaka's body. Instead, Pochita doesn't venture into the world of the Chainsaw Man. So why are the two of them so different? This is because both Denji and Mitaka have gone through struggles due to their new forms. Denji struggles with his humanity while Mitaka is powerless. Plus, Pochita is so adorable, the less he's around, the more fans read to learn more about him.
Chainsaw Man Makes the Abstract Tangible
Chainsaw Man also indulges in another common comics trope, presenting an abstract concept as something tangible. Among the Chainsaw Men, fear takes the form of demons, and their varying degrees of fear affect the overall power of the demons. But Sawman deftly brings up hypothetical contradictions or exceptions, leading to further speculation as to why Denji's Sawman form is still so powerful, since most people either don't care or love him. Recent examples involve various manifestations of the evil of justice. As the embodiment of people's fear of justice, the fact that the Devil looks different every time he makes a pact with another character adds to the significance of why they appear.
Transformation is another important aspect of shonen manga, as evidenced by Dragon Ball. Shonen manga often succeed in engaging readers with new and powerful forms that naming characters take. Surprisingly, Saw didn't do this when Dage came out of Hell alone. But Fujimoto is able to hold the reader's attention because of the unsettling suffering that Tatsumi suffers in this unsettling chainsaw man form, and when he tries to go on a normal date in this terrifying new form, The situation got worse.
Chainsaw Man's Power System is Deep
Chainsaw Devil's ability to erase ideas from existence creates some interesting dynamics, prompting further speculation outside of most comics (except Undead Unluck). The whole point of Saw is to remember what something means, playing with concepts most readers are familiar with and exploring them further. For example, the first few chapters of Saw hinted at the complexity behind this power, when some characters were able to recall what Denji's demons had wiped from existence. Now, part two provides more context to this by revealing the dynamics of eating only part of something can only partially erase their existence.
Ironically, in some cases, the Chainsaw Man also reverses this by negating the overall importance of power. For example, many series include blood manipulation abilities, and people with these abilities are defined by the different ways they utilize blood. Chainsaw's powers can manipulate blood, but it's not that ability that sets her apart. It's Power's relationship to the other characters, especially Denji.
Chainsaw Man Focuses on Metaphors, Not Similes
Apart from the example of showing and not telling in Chainsaw, Fujimoto usually does a good job of presenting metaphors as actual metaphors, rather than inadvertently creating similes. Many series reduce potentially persuasive symbolism by explaining them to the reader, eliminating the actual metaphor itself and creating a cringe-worthy moment. The best example of Chainsaw Man occurs near the end of part one, where Chainsaw Man's fight with Gun Fiend is depicted as a snowball fight. The fact that this metaphor takes place before the character dies makes it an easy "cliché" since most cartoonists would have this juxtaposition in these moments. But what saves Chainsaw from this fate is that Fujimoto doesn't reveal that this emotional scene refers to the earlier moment when Aki-san dies.
However, this is not to say that Fujimoto doesn't directly explain his tropes like other manga artists. Before Chainsaw's snowball fight, Aki's parents read him the fable "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse", an otherwise insignificant moment until later in the manga, when Denji and Aki are asked which one they think it is When the mouse. The two of them are asked this question by different people at different times, but Fujimoto juxtaposes these dialogues in order to force the reader to connect what happens in the fable to the original scene.
From Saw's use of heroic tropes to making abstract concepts tangible, Fujimoto doesn't introduce anything new in Saw. Beyond the gratuitous violence, readers and viewers are drawn to his work for two main reasons. This is because Chainsaw Man resists the urge of most creators to explain certain topics directly to readers by trusting his fans. It's the fact that Chainsaw focuses on what really matters -- the characters' struggles and relationships -- that makes the series so memorable.