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Chainsaw Man main cast (Image via Mappa)

What is Chainsaw Man about? Anime explained without spoilers

“What is Chainsaw Man about?" - A question that plagues the mind of a new fan wanting to pick up mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto’s ground-breaking series. The opinion on this series is so varied, especially following the anime adaptation's premiere, that any new reader or viewer has trouble deciding whether or not to pick up the series. This confusion mainly arises from the several warnings that some fans give others regarding the content of the series.

Some find it too gory, while others believe it is simply unprecedented and will set a standard of its own. As such, this article will answer the question of what Chainsaw Man is about, what triggers readers should be prepared for if they go into it, and whether it’s worth the overarching reputation it has garnered without spoiling the series for new fans.


A spoiler-free explanation of what Chainsaw Man is about for fans who are yet to begin the anime

Chainsaw Man, Ch. 120: Denji’s date goes to the dogs when a jealous Nayuta shows up! Read it FREE from the official source! bit.ly/3K72bzG

Chainsaw Man is inarguably mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto’s best-known work. Part 1 of the manga was serialized on Shonen Jump+ from December 2018 to December 2020. Following this, Part 2 began serializing in July 2022 and is currently ongoing.

The manga has published 120 chapters so far, 108 of which have been collected in 13 tankobon volumes. Studio Mappa later adapted the series into an anime that was broadcasted from October to December 2022, after two years of being in production.


The plot of Chainsaw Man

MangaPlus lists the synopsis of the manga (Part 1) thus:

“Denji harbors a chainsaw devil within him. The world is introduced to Chainsaw Man, but...?!”

While Crunchyroll lists the synopsis of the anime as the following:

“Denji is a young boy who works as a Devil Hunter with the “Chainsaw Devil” Pochita. One day, as he was living his miserable life trying to pay off the debt he inherited from his parents, he got betrayed and killed. As he was losing his consciousness, he made a deal with Pochita, and got resurrected as the “Chainsaw Man”: the owner of the Devil’s heart.”
Division 4 as seen in the anime (Image via Mappa)

As can be deduced from these two official and publicly available synopsis, the world of Chainsaw Man is a world of Devils. The primary concept of the series is that in this world, human fears take the form of devils as gruesome, disfigured, frightening creatures who wield supernatural powers. They can be removed from this world, but they will resurrect in Hell. Naturally, the existence of Devils has given birth to the existence of Devil Hunters, people who professionally hunt down Devils.

The pinnacle of this profession is the Public Safety Commission, a bureau of government-employed devil hunters. Some of them have formed contracts with the Devils in exchange for unspeakable costs. The Commission also employs Fiends, who are Devils who have taken over a Corpse, and Hybrids, who are made when a Devil is fused with a human via a contract or surgery.


The setting of the series is primarily Japan. The protagonist of Chainsaw Man is Denji, whose last name has never been mentioned in the series. As is the right of a Shonen series, Denji is flanked by a deuteragonist and a tritagonist, Aki Hayakawa and Power. Aki is a Devil Hunter, while Power is Fiend. Both of them are employed by Division 4 of the Public Safety Commission and under the chief of the division, Makima, whose last name is also absent.

The setting of Chainsaw Man

Different countries as seen in the manga (Image via Shueisha)

Chainsaw Man is the story of an alternate Earth. Part 1 takes place over a few months in the year 1997, while Part 2 begins a short but unspecified time later. The dates are clearly specified via timestamps during one of the three cataclysmic events before Part 1 reaches its climax. What is not clear is the history of this alternate earth.

Mangaka Fujimoto emphasizes that due to a certain individual who would later play the most vital role in the series, the world of Chainsaw Man shares only some of the key historical events with the known Universe. However, the manga never elaborates on which events took place and which never did, which leads to this fusion world where fantasy and fear collide, which is almost familiar at first glance but distinctly strange when one delves into it.


Trigger warnings

Makima as seen in the anime (Image via Mappa)

Chainsaw Man is a series steeped in blood, gore, death, violence, and has several explicit scenes, both in terms of violence and s*xual exposure. There are mentions and depictions of self-harm, albeit in a widely different context than psychological. A general lack of care for personal safety is seen in nearly all characters. In some cases, this may border on suicidal tendencies.

The series is thematically and psychologically heavy, often deceptively so. Under a veneer of fan service and action, some of the most brutal reality checks are casually delivered, which sometimes can be triggering. Additionally, a blasé attitude towards underage s*x and grooming is present throughout the manga, and some may interpret the series as a misogynist piece of storytelling.

Is Chainsaw Man worth getting into?

Denji, Aki, and Power on the cover of the Manga (Image via Shueisha)

Why then should one read/watch Chainsaw Man if it’s so saturated with triggers and dripping with blood? Well, surely the series has its downsides, some of which may be a dealbreaker for the reader. However, there is a reason why this series has won so many awards and is currently the top-read series on MangaPlus. Once the glossy Shonen outer layer is stripped off, Chainsaw Man is deep and philosophical at its core.

Live, Denji. For both of us!

Anime: Chainsaw Man

Unlike other mangakas, Fujimoto does not set himself a grand stage or a complex philosophy to dissect. He poses a very simple question to his readers and viewers: which dreams are worth dreaming? This question begets the follow-up, how does one decide the worth of a dream, and even further, can any dream be called less or more without knowing the background of the dreamer?

In a beautiful contrast, Fujimoto has given his protagonist Denji the very basic dream of having good food and getting a girlfriend, while his deuteragonist Aki strives to rid the world of Devils and get vengeance.

Denji and Aki present the core theme of the series (Image via Mappa)

Below Denji’s so-called shallow dreams and shallower character (as has been the complaint of several fans), lies a lifetime of being denied the very basic human rights. Beyond Aki’s lofty dreams, stands a man so submerged in loss that he has forgotten to cherish the things he has until it’s too late.

With this basic but layered philosophical premise as his cornerstone, Fujimoto builds a world of political allegory, social parody, dramatic intrigue, and human compassion. His characters are fleshed out with stark, and often hurtfully clashing, colors against a gray world that never becomes black or white. At its core, Chainsaw Man is a description. It only comments, only presents, never judges, and never prescribes a solution.

Final thoughts

On a more concrete note, Chainsaw Man is worth reading for the art alone. The dialog, the paneling, the action, and Fujimoto’s unique sense of humor will steal any readers’ breath. The anime adds to this glorious mix the magic of voice acting and Mappa’s animation. While there have been some criticism of the anime for the excessive use of CGI, Chainsaw Man is undoubtedly one of the finest series to ever come out of Mappa’s hands.


Like all mainstream Shonen series, Chainsaw Man begins with the meeting of the three protagonists and then goes on to chronicle their adventures while they are employed as Devil Hunters. However, these adventures are the stuff of nightmares, and under no circumstances does the series ever allow the reader/viewer to expect a remotely happy ending for even one of its characters. It is unapologetically dark and unflinchingly simple, but it has made a lasting mark on the animanga community.

Interested readers can check out the following links on where to watch the anime and how to read the ongoing manga.

Edited by
Aratrika Baidya
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