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Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I hated every single miserable page of Chainsaw Man. Just absolutely loathed it. This isn't going to be some even-handed examination of a work but a cathartic opportunity to vent out frustrations and malcontent, so let's get to it.

This is cliché for me at this point, but you really can't consider Chainsaw Man without Dorohedoro. Tatsuki Fujimoto may be many things, but he's not shy about the influences that carry his works; the intense cinephile focus in everything he does is the foremost signifier of his interests and inspirations that feed into his creativity. Within his own medium, he's also been candid about what he likes and patterns things after, with Dorohedoro being among the works he's mentioned as a model for Chainsaw Man; he states it plainly or makes jokes about his comic being a deliberate knockoff. The adaptations have followed suit, with the anime being worked on by the same studio between the two series, utilizing the same 3D animation aesthetic, the same multiple ending sequences schema, and the same attitude of adapting a part of the story and maybe getting to the rest later. The signaling has been clear from every angle: the creative direction between the two series is inextricably connected and synonymous for the purposes of audience interest in all that they share. Should you like one, check out the other.

Dorohedoro is probably my favourite comic if it really came down to pinpointing a single work, and it's that affection and esteem that makes engaging with Chainsaw Man so uniquely exhausting. What could Fujimoto do but "jokingly" frame his comic as a knockoff in public statements? It's effectively an attempt to deflect from criticism, because the connections and parallels drawn are inevitable for all who are familiar with both works. "Taken on its own terms" for media that is so beholden to a model and from which it lifts concepts, iconography, plotting, structure, aesthetics, thematics, tone and everything else is not a tenable or possible position to adopt, when all of those elements that previously cohered or meant something have been twisted, diluted and misinterpreted into something superficially evocative but ultimately hollow and meaningless. The emotional reaction--and rejection--is what's to be depended on here, so the running commentary for those kneejerk interpretations is what will suffice to convey how little I think of this series and all that it represents. It's no more and no less a diatribe the likes of which it deserves in lieu of a charitable, good-faith analysis.

get ready for the dreaded discourse because post-watamote blues (which i don't love but it took a while for a 10+ year run) has lead me to read chainsaw man instead of complaining in its general direction. now i can moan informedly

seems like intensely macho bullshit at first blush, presented in a way that easily hooks an audience if you're at all attuned to that voice
and just highlights the unmistakable dorohedoro influence, which i fell for because it was none of that
kind of diametrically opposed art style too: hayashida's a scribbler at heart, and fujimoto forgoes detail if it's not dramatically conducive to include. otherwise it's a lot of clean, negative space paneling

--

kneejerk reaction to power is like a mathematical synthesis to make both nikaido and noi less interesting at once

--

honestly it's dizzying how in such few chapters it's serving up these endless, unexamined masculine signifiers in the plotting. protagonist desperate for human connection; obviously the only way to express that is through him wanting to touch boob and making constant reference to it--he just like me. denji and his initial partner's squaring off through beating each other up, arguing about a woman in their lives and making tentative rapport through that, just like men do. clear contrast with how denji is a dog person and power is a cat person and how gendered even something as benign as that is played, like it's one piece or something with its aggressive gender essentialism. it's just this constant drive to hammer this stuff in and i don't even know if it's conscious or something fujimoto just thinks makes for a compelling narrative on some fundamental level

as a kid (for being like two years my junior i get to take that position) most assuredly raised by many comics that are as bad about this stuff as his own creations, it's not really a surprise that he's propagating a lot of the same shit they've done for decades

because it's clearly working toward some kinda "he just wants to connect........." uplifting "message" there are probably yt vids that are like "Chainsaw Man: A Celebration of Life"

--

it is pretty hateful on larger and smaller scale

QKA74yX.png


like this is the first character moment this person has
ha ha sex work as "comical" threat!!
she's the always nervous one. that's her Woman Trait, because they're all designed to serve up their distinct kink niches for varying preference

even the absurdities of the setting and concepts don't land as humorous because it's all so distastefully conceived. a gun devil born in america killed over a million ppl across the world in five minutes and resulted in worldwide stricter gun legislation and increased fear of guns and powered up all the devils as trickle-down effect. it's not cute or quirky--nothing like any devil character or scene in doro for instance. it's just inept farce-tinted would-be drama, and these conceptual flubs are just going to escalate as they need higher stakes and bosses to fight

--

two characters who are senior violence killers in their org, wear business casual attire on the job where they work as partners when not training up juniors, have a mostly platonic buds relationship but one harbors a crush on the oblivious other. guess fujimoto got confused drafting up aki and himeno and thought he was still reading about shin and noi in dorohedoro
i am not looking for these parallels. they're just there, screaming at you from the page
ofc it's all gendered more conventionally/boringly/worse when the analogues do occur
this entire thing feels like money-laundering operation where the medium isn't bogus bills but hangout gore comics

--

these supposed character beats for denji are like dude-coded stock filler. he yells about his "dream" when pushed to a corner. he keeps fighting even though he knows he'll surely die. he reluctantly sets out to repay a perceived debt to a dude who stood up for him because he can't bear to "owe one" to another guy. he's as surgically precisely boring as i always wanted to be as the lead of a comic
wow his chainsaws run on blood. get smaller and retract when running low on it. dick joke? goichi suda-endorsed???

denji gets a specific age (16) and fujimoto very consciously has the adult women in the cast tempt him with sex, make out with him, etc. etc. this just gets read as "god i wish that were me" wish-fulfillment from people who would probably decry something that had a teenage girl lead surrounded by adult dudes who aggressively flirted and suggested drunken sex with her
they have a literal denji on a leash shot in the anime op. it's not subtle

--

i think a lot of it is vague concepts of "accessibility". it's on the most popular official manga app by the biggest publisher so it's just there to try. it's "just" 10-ish volumes, under 100 chapters in the form that it concluded in before recently continuing again so it's relatively digestible. people talk about it as a "ride" so it's just this binge-read artifact that's easy to rec to people. and judging from how it's coming off, it is just intensely diluted from its inspirations in ways that pander to a wider base in a cynical way
and because people haven't necessarily been exposed to those inspirations in the first place, they can come off as fresh or somehow subversive to people whose context is a battle series like the mags this kinda stuff is published in and promoted in context of

also the huge personality cult around fujimoto built around key characteristics around his work ("he loves movies") that just gets more intense over time. long serializations and oneshots alike are hailed as auteur works of genius
manga mag self-hype is nothing to take any conclusions from but chainsaw man in its first chapter was propping him up as the "genius behind fire punch". fucking fire punch

--

baddie getting shredded by a devil ability that involves an elongated skull motif. it's called curse. just curse. yes it's doro again
this comic makes me feel like i'm reading the collected works of nick simmons

--

awesome, fujimoto killed the vague noi analogue to make the shin analogue sad, immediately after she drunkenly tempted and brought denji to bed with her. her narrative role's over!!
the more this kinda stuff happens though the less those flippant comparisons to doro characters apply because that shit would never fly there, so i guess it's a silver lining
it's not exact, just the interdynamic i was describing earlier. power is in another way the noi analogue (foremost thirst object) in how at least the fanbase relates to her, so she's still around
so many best girls to choose from and pit against each other......... until some of them die
it just follows that we can't arrive at the sadness of a billion men until proportionally at least millions of women die to achieve it

--

denji has a recurring dream of an ominous figure behind a door at the end of a cluttered apartment passage. fuckin' dying here [note: it's another dorohedoro motif lift]

bomb devil design is a bomb head on a sexy lady body wearing only an apron/evening gown kinda cloth that leaves her ass entirely exposed. once again, like when nikaido was going full devil, but which was played for comedy instead of titillation

--

[another person] thinking this morning "maybe what dorohedoro needed to become ultra popular was for its main protag to be a pathetic 'just like me' 'relatable' loser"

i've talked about in context of other writeups in the past how mystery-based narratives don't really do a lot for me. so detective fiction as a whole, really
doro starts out with "who is caiman", "why does caiman have a lizard-head", "who's the man in caiman's mouth" and they're all big, driving mysteries as introduced
but the answers to each come out to such convolution or past the points the characters really care about them that it just kind of organically devalues the revelations before they even happen
so i guess that's another sort of ideal for me, that they can be good hooks, but the answers don't really matter

another aspect for why that works is that caiman's whole identity crisis gradually stops mattering to him as much as it hasn't necessarily felt life-or-death for the reader because caiman is just a decent guy; if he has a goal you probably root for him but reaching that or untangling his past doesn't feel like it must occur for the dude to be happy. i think that's part of why the beginning volumes that mostly comprise more isolated one-shots of caiman and nikaido's day-to-day are especially cherished because they both seem content in the routine and life they have for themselves
and when Bullshit starts to pile up and they can no longer have that idyllic existence, the goal just becomes the desire to return to that status quo

--

i'm not posting them because fuck but it's had two full-colour chapter opening page spreads that have been about nothing but subjecting women to the gaze
the first one laid out both of denji's at the time most prominent love interests on display in their underwear. hey it's the denji gaze so it's narratively justified come on man chill out high five

the chapter it preceded immediately transitioned into a horror segment where one of them was stalked by a serial killer who was going to murder and skin her, but the "twist" was that she was not in any danger because she was secretly the bomb devil. wow sex and violence flipped on its head!!
the later one depicts a recently introduced devil hunter assassin who's a chinese lady who keeps a harem of lesbian devilgirls around her. literally introduced in the aftermath of group sex, and that chapter opener is dedicated to illustrating her scissoring in the act with her gfs. grab for your queer representation, folks

[another person] look forward to her dying like a chapter later

i think she already did, though you can never be definitively be sure because the arbitrary way devil stuff works in this gives an out for reversing any potential stakes the hyperviolence could threaten to establish. so oops
make a comic about nothing but splatter dismemberment and also make me not care about any of it
i've seen a couple of people talk up fujimoto specifically because of his portrayal of women, and the only way it can even slightly make sense in my head is that people just like women to wear business casual suits and ties and violently murder other people with a degree of "competence" until they themselves are killed. i guess that is an appeal to someone

it's like the comic equivalent of wwe circa 2015 trying to co-opt and brand themselves a "women's revolution" just because the workers got to put their shit in marginally more than they had been allowed in decades

--

like the only interpersonal beat in this more than halfway through that's worked even a little is denji and power pooling their individual braincells for half as much total grey matter, and even that had to be arrived at through the "oh this person isn't a person but an extension and target for my libido" song and dance and literal breast-fondling standing in for character development. i don't like power's portrayal on her own or in tandem with other characters much because it's still so much about making her a diminutive and cute womanchild pet

maybe her name's ironic for the irony poison generation

--

dudes in their devil forms = fully clothed. women in their devil forms = fully nude. says a lot about society if u think about it

--

is this really doing some hokey gun control metaphor via a literal Gun Devil

--

xXocte9.png


i hadn't really forgotten the scene this was part of but i wish i had. chainsaw man should eat me so i won't have to think about his shitty comic

how is a chainsaw devil able to kill and eat all the devils in hell when this thing figures they're stronger the more feared their respective concept is by humans. chainsaws are logging equipment. carpentry stuff. fujimoto watches too much horror shit

even the climax of this emulates the set-up and pay-per-view spectacle for chidaruma's birthday blowout in doro. just a lot more boring

--

"After being killed by Denji, she is reborn as a young girl called Nayuta and placed in his care to be raised as a better person."

this is how the series resolves its most prominent woman and primary antagonist
have a depowered, diminished thing as a reward
powerful women can be redeemed if they're subject to male guidance, even if that caretaker is literally 16

power also dies (twice) for denji's sake and they set it up so denji has to uphold a contract with her to find her and make friends with her again after she resurrects in hell or whatever. so you have a sequel motivation of Go After Woman etc.

--

very important to make one of the ppl in the santa claus hivemind a pedophile too
get it because he's santa claus and he preys on children. wow gott'em

--

my whole thing with the series is that despite the doro influence it flips the balance of narrative completely where the action sequences and violence take center stage/page count and the hangout release valve character stuff are the intermissions--doro is the opposite. so when fujimoto tries to go for an emotive beat it falls flat because there's nothing to root that expression in since he just wants to focus on the monster mash
the cast are such interchangeable, anonymous fodder, which makes them easy to kill to showcase some new devil power or whatever. also easy for me to not give a fuck

--

i will not spoiler this because i hate it: there's also the bit where the President of the United States sacrifices a year off the lifespan of All American Citizens to summon the Gun Devil to kill makima. very deep and subtle theming

--

the entire series comes down to answering the question of "why can't chainsaw man be defeated" with "because he's chainsaw man" and trying to wrest some thematic satisfaction out of that "subversive" inevitability for the role he was granted by the author's hand

--

i don't even think it's good horror. it's way too preoccupied with the battle spectacle aspect of the presentation to unnerve or unsettle. like it does the whole samurai media cliche of two dudes rushing past each other, taking a swing, standing in place while mumbling some post-battle lines, and then one of them gets split in half or whatever--usually the one you "didn't expect to". shit like that is all over it, like the recurring jack-off chapter ending page spreads where chainsaw man does a cool pose while splattering whatever the hell he's fighting this week. it's so simultaneously anodyne and awed by its own choreography to ever land on anything actually squeamish. the entire emotive range it has consists of the word "hype"

--

how do you even begin to unpack the plot points it specifically brings up about how the Nazi Devil and World War II devil have been eaten by chainsaw man in hell so now the concepts they represent have been erased from collective consciousness. like congrats you managed to achieve total holocaust denial within your fiction to... some end???? some worldbuilding flavour? i hear that's a popular thing to do

you don't drop shit like that as an incidental data point and then just go back to pretty people in leisure suits blowing up apartment housing

but i guess all bad taste is permissible or encouraged if the author makes endless gestures to exploitation and grindhouse media like his hollywood masters

--

it's also really, really downplayed in the story but it's actually a period piece, taking place in an alternate 1997. it's just an excuse for fujimoto to engage his cinephile affection for retro media formats and aesthetics, to have crt tvs all over in the scenes he draws. otherwise it's just so irrelevant to anything the series does. like wow the soviet union is still around for some reason. the reason is to signal toward past real life iconography, once again, because a soviet agent just rings a little different than a modern russian agent would

At the other end of this, I just feel tired. Tired that crap like this is elevated to once-in-a-generation blockbuster status, tired that all its bad ideas track favourably for its audience, tired that it is so ubiquitous that one is compelled to engage with it and formulate a Take, and tired that it's pulled me into a spiral of dressing it down in mockery and cynicism. Railing against a legitimate industry phenomenon doesn't make one an incisive rebel just for the adopted contrarian stance, so I say this with all the genuine, sincere affect that I can: I haven't hated a comic this much in a long time, and I hope it doesn't happen again.
 

muteKi

Ell eye ell why, ee ee ell why
I never read chainsaw man, but given that this sounds like why I don't bother with much shounen in general, I probably will continue to stay that course.

Only thing of Fujimoto's I've read was the story that was basically to the 2019 KyoAni arson attack what Kimi no na Wa was for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. It was fine I guess
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
I think there's a whole fucking SUBGENRE that's basically the opposite of shit like happy tree friends.

Where like, the setting is this shitty suckass world where everything and everyone sucks and anyone can be brutally murdered at any moment but it's also super cute and hashtag relatable and everybody just sort of rolls with how much everything sucks.

And I find it.... annoying. Like really annoying. Just a nonstarter for me. That's part of why I bounced really hard off dorodowhatthefuckever.

(The other part was the weird oh no this brain damaged 11 year old can't put on her fetish gear you'd better do it for her. Turned it off and never turned it back on.)

Chainsawman had definite shades of that, but it also had enough action and charm and weird shit that I was able to power through it and the result was... fine. I guess.
 
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BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
I made a tweet about how the TWIST of an unhealthy relationship actually being unhealthy was kind of like an "okay well yeah congrats on figuring out the one thing the rest of the medium has trouble with" but people seemed to take umbrage with me calling it a twist.
 

Rosewood

The metal babble flees!
(she/her)
I finished reading the first three volumes of  Wandance and it's amazing. Highly recommended if you have even the slightest appreciation for R&B or dance.
 

BEAT

LOUDSKULL
(DUDE/BRO)
Oh I also shotgunned that mango where every virgin male over 18 FUCKING DIES IMMEDIATELY.

It's weird that a comic that stops every few minutes to make philosophical statements on the nature of sexuality can't really come up with any stance beyond "Dam wouldn't that be fucked up lol."
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
I don't read BL for myself, but I read a lot of it for work, and man. BL tropes are just really weird sometimes.
 
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