Chainsaw Man: the author breaks the codes of One Piece, Dragon Ball and it’s trash!

Crunchyroll has been broadcasting Chainsaw Man, the latest anime from the most popular animation studio of the moment: MAPPA, for several weeks now. Originally, Chainsaw Man is a manga written and drawn by Tatsuki Fujimoto, a true enfant terrible of contemporary shonen, an author with an explosive, nervous and absolutely exhilarating style. Focus on an explosive mangaka on the landscape of an overrepresented genre. Guaranteed without spoilers.

“Heroes of Chaos”. This is the nickname given to Tatsuki Fujimoto by Frederico Anzalone, curator in charge of his retrospective during the last edition of the Angoulême festival during which the young mangaka was honored. If today the general public certainly knows him thanks to Chainsaw Man, the author of only 29 years old has built a solid career with Fire Punch, his previous series, but also several one-shots, each as brilliant as others.

With Chainsaw Man, Tatsuki Fujimoto revisits the shonen with great blows of chainsaw, crappy humor and dubious motivations with a dense, boosted plot where genres such as action, comedy, political thriller and romcom. If Chainsaw Man “fits” into the genre of shonen, it must be understood that the story of Tatsuki Fujimoto departs greatly from the model established by giants like dragonball in his time, or by members of the Big Three – Bleach, One Piece and Naruto. A distance that the series owes in large part to its protagonist.

Summary

  • A hero who is not a hero
  • A mastery of mixing tones
  • A complete job

A hero who is not a hero

In the midst of the works that bring the number one genre of manga to life today, such as Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen Where My Hero Academia to name a few, Chainsaw Man is a bad student. Almost iconoclastic, Tatsuki Fujimoto took malicious pleasure in exploiting the bases of shonen to better dismantle them and offer a baroque manga, on the edge of genres, which never ceases to reinvent itself to better surprise the reader. , even if it means leaving it on the sidelines from one chapter to another. The first idol to fall is that of the hero.

In Chainsaw Man we follow Denji, a young orphan who must settle his late father’s huge debt to his crooked creditors. Accompanied by Pochitaa small demon-chainsaw dog, Denji accepts all jobs, even if it means confronting other demons or even selling his own organs to settle his debt. It is when he is betrayed by his “employers” and left for dead that he merges with Pochita and becomes Chainsaw Man, a creature neither really man nor really demon, which hacks up everything in its path and sends shivers down anyone who stands up. on his way.

On paper, the world of manga has nothing to envy to the classics of the genre. A solid base conducive to dantesque confrontations, a nascent hero who obtains extraordinary powers, a team of opposing characters… so far, the boxes have been checked. But when Denji begins to reveal himself, the reader/viewer quickly realizes he’s not dealing with a traditional shonen. Far from the hero training tirelessly to become the best and save the world, Denji has less honorable aspirations for him, and will be content… to want to eat sandwiches and touch breasts. A characterization that reflects more contemporary youth according to the author.

When you look at the current young generation, they are a bit like that. They are not looking for a very high salary. They settle for 150,000 yen a month. They seek to live in a simple way, day to day. I do not criticize them. I find it very good to live like that. It is for this reason that I created the character of Denji, whose ambition is extremely poor. – Tatsuki Fujimoto, for BFM TV.

We then move far away from the initiatory story of the hero of shonen with great ambitions. In Chainsaw Man, fighting and training are drudgery, saving humanity doesn’t matter, and ultimately only personal comfort is worth facing the greatest threats. What must be remembered is that there is a shonen “base” in the manga, a shonen universe with which Denji, a protagonist who has nothing of the shonen model, enters into resonance and disturbs everyone. gender balance. It is enough to attend the meeting between our hero and Aki, a protagonist who could almost be confused with Sasuke, who finds himself manhandled by Denji and his low blows, to understand this issue. But also where Chainsaw Man surprises and goes further, it’s in his ability to juggle genres from chapter to chapter. A taste for the mixture of tones and the plot twist that the author undoubtedly owes to his passion for cinema.


A mastery of mixing tones

With his flagship manga, Tatsuki Fujimoto breaks the rule of one shonen/one genre, however relative, to build his story around a ton of universes. Fights where hemoglobin flows by the hectolitre like in an ultra-gore slasher, greasy humor and romcom straight out of a teen movie, political conflicts against a backdrop of espionage and attempted assassinations borrowed from the thriller. This inclination for intergenericity, Tatsuki Fujimoto undoubtedly owes it to his love for cinema, and more particularly for Korean cinema. At the time of Fire Punch, the author already claimed a strong inspiration from Korean cinema, like films like old boy, Memories of Murder or The Chaserwhich he quoted directly.

I’ve always wanted to pay homage to Korean films through a manga. I am thinking in particular of the film The Chaser(…) It is often said that it is difficult to decipher the intentions of Korean directors. You have to watch their works to the end to find out, in the last moments. It had a big influence on my way of writing. – Tatsuki Fujimoto, interview with Hiroaki Samura, Fire Punch Volume 5, Kazé.

Contemporary Korean cinema is recognized for its tendency to mix many tones, more than genres, thus suddenly going from laughter to tears in the blink of an eye. And it is precisely this notion that we find in the work of Tatsuki Fujimoto. Chainsaw Man is constantly moving from one genre to another, juggling and mixing tones at the same time to adopt a rhythm without downtime, which always keeps you going with twists and turns, but also to experiment, to go where the others do not go and to offer a rare singularity on the landscape of the shonen.

If the different arcs constantly introduce a new threat against which Denji and his team will have to fight (like the classic shonen once again), the story will systematically go through unexpected stages, new revelations and reversals of situation which will finally take the reader to an unsuspected outcome. The development of Makima, Denji’s superior and main love interest, is a perfect example.

While Chainsaw Man is probably the culmination of a singular recipe, it must be understood that Tatsuki Fujimoto’s work does not stop there. With Fire Punch, these are the beginnings of a clean and well-defined style, which also had time to develop with the many one-shots that the author wrote between two chapters of his series.


A complete job

Before Chainsaw Man, there was Fire Punch, a series in which there was already a semblance of what was to become Tatsuki Fujimoto’s unique style, and with which the author was able to try his hand at mixing tones. This time with a post-apocalyptic story crossing X-Men style mutants and religious cults. The whole thing is undoubtedly less successful than Chainsaw Man, and above all much darker, but the work at least allows us to grasp a large number of the issues that are close to the heart of the author. His passion for cinema was also more explicitly reflected in Fire Punch, especially with the cinephile character Togata, who absolutely wants to make a film about Agni, the protagonist for whom the remaining humanity is beginning to devote a real cult.

Duller, slower and drawn with a line certainly less skilful than later, Fire Punch nevertheless remains a series which has its own character, which expresses the desire of the mangaka to emancipate himself from conventions, and which announced the small bomb that Tatsuki Fujimoto was going to detonate on the shonen world. But it is also and above all with his one-shots that the author was able to experiment, perfect his style and go in search of new emotions.

First, there are the two collections currently offered by Kazé, which bring together the author’s short stories drawn between the ages of 17 and 26, and which offer a synthetic look at Tatsuki Fujimoto’s progress, but which also allow the reader to briefly discover the different facets of the mangaka’s work, his ability to handle emotions with stories that catch on instantly. Absurd situations where sci-fi, fantasy, romance and action intersect, with colorful characters and an uncertain youth, in the grip of mourning and the pangs of life. These stories largely feature the genres and themes that run through Tatsuki Fujimoto’s main series.

Laughter, sadness, empathy or anger, Tatsuki Fujimoto seeks to convey emotions and has succeeded with more or less skill during his career, but has never ceased to perfect his abilities, to both for the pencil and the narration, over time. This is perfectly demonstrated by these last two one-shots – Look Back (published by us) and Goobye, Eri (which arrives on January 18th). Poignant stories, true odes to creation, where human joys and sorrows are expressed. At only 29 years old, Tatsuki Fujimoto has forged a solid reputation thanks to a complete body of work that has many faces. And it’s not about to end. The author signed last summer Just Listen To The Song, a very short one-shot in collaboration with Oto Toda. Currently, Tatsuki Fujimoto is also concocting part 2 of Chainsaw Man, the first chapters of which have been published, while the following should be released every Tuesday, just before the episode of the week.

Chainsaw Man: the author breaks the codes of One Piece, Dragon Ball and it's trash!

With Chainsaw Man, Tatsuki Fujimoto struck a blow on the shonen, ready to destabilize the unshakable foundations of the genre. With a protagonist at the antipodes of the paragons that are Goku, Naruto, Luffy and Ichigo, and a story with a thousand facets that hooks the reader as well as he can lose it, Chainsaw Man is today one of his unclassifiable works, which attempt almost as much to blend into the mold of conventions as to break it. As the mangaka Hiroaki Samura said very well during his cross interview with Tatsuki Fujimoto: “there are two categories of readers. Those who wonder how the story will evolve, and those who are looking for a structure and more consistent benchmarks. In this sense, Chainsaw Man will doubtless pique the most curious readers as much, as leaving those looking for a shonen with perfectly unfolded codes on the floor. Still, it would be a shame to stop at this series, while the work of Tatsuki Fujimoto conceals hilarious, touching, and deeply fascinating stories.


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