Chainsaw Man: Public Safety Saga | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
"Denji’s a poor young man who’ll do anything for money, even hunting down devils with his pet devil-dog 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!"
The Public Safety Saga is Part I of Chainsaw Man, a manga written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto. This saga consists of volumes 1-11 of the series.
So, let's just go right ahead and address the elephant in the room... I didn't like this. I know, I know, how could I not right? Going into this my expectations were sky high because everyone seemed to love this series. Needless to say, I was surprised that I wasn't very invested in the story.
While I was generally apathetic for the majority of it though, my enjoyment ended up plummeting as the story started to reach its climax, resulting in my lower rating.
Let's get into the details.
For once, I wasn't the biggest fan of the art style. While most panels are pretty standard, it is the ones that weren't that threw me off. There was a lot of emphasis on making the characters look ugly (for a lack of a better word). There were also a lot of panels showing the characters throwing up which I could have done without.
The author also kept the art a bit more on the simpler side as well, sticking to plain white or grey backgrounds with think line art. I also found the fight scenes to be underwhelming as well at best, and downright hard to follow at worst. The text was sometimes hard to read, and thus also not very accessible, because of the colour of the text on the backgrounds, and the font as well.
The architecture though, stunning. Architecture is always a high point when it comes to manga. I also like the double-page panels as they were of a much higher quality compared to the rest of the art.
The Public Safety Saga covers the entirety of Denji's story as the Chainsaw Man, and it was a story that just didn't hit home for me. The story started off pretty strong, and by strong, I mean that it socked you in the face with the unexpectedly bashless brutality. While it did catch me off guard, it did end up setting the tone for the series rather well.
I just ended up finding the story to be a bit ridiculous, and towards the end it just straight up got chaotic. There were many moments where I had no idea what was going on because, mind my language, shit hit the fan. There was pretty much only one arc that I enjoyed the most, and it was the Eternity Devil Arc, only because I like the concept.
For some reason as well, I felt like this story wasn't complete. The arcs were mostly on the shorter side so not much came out of them in the end. Not much ended up coming out of the main storyline either, which is where I take issue. There were just a lot of gaps that could have been filled to make for a more coherent story.
Finally, there was one thing that I didn't like, aside from the obscene amount of barfing, and that was the dynamic between Denji and every female character. I will get more into this in the characters section, but Denji constantly got swept up by women. While that was a problem in and of itself, most of the women were most likely older than Denji, who is only 16 and therefore a minor.
I do actually find the magic system in this to be interesting, with the characters having contracts with certain devils that grant them specific abilities. This kind of world allows for a lot of flexibility in terms of the kinds of devils there are. As for the devil hunters, well, that aspect is pretty typical of many shonen mangas.
The Public Safety is also a pretty common organization to have, as they are in charge of the devil hunters. The hierarchy and its inner workings of it weren't really explained in much detail, which is something I would have liked to see.
There were a grand total of about five characters that I liked...five. Only one of those was a main character which did not help me like this series any better. I was hoping for some character development in the chances it made the characters more likable, but the story was too fast-paced for that. I also didn't like the direction most of the character arcs went in. Going into this, because it is part of the 'dark trio', I was expecting certain things to happen, but not in the way that they did.
Denji is the main character of this saga, and I think part of why people like him is because he is not your typical shonen MC. On some level, I can get why his character can appeal to people. He doesn't have this strictly good sense of morality and justice and doesn't feel the need to save everyone. He hasn't had the greatest life, and only wants some small and simple luxuries.
The issue for me though is that while they did this, they ended up making his character rather insufferable. His motivations are frankly ridiculous, or at least from my perspective as a female reader.
When we are first introduced to him I was intrigued because of the way it was done. Selling off organs in order to pay off a debt, sounded pretty metal to me. However, once he revealed that all he wanted was to hug a girl, his character become a bit of a one-trick pony. That motivation, to get somewhere with a girl, ended up not only blinding him, but it ended up becoming his entirety as a character.
He was rather one-dimensional, and I wish that he was more than just that. He is very fickle as well, as as soon as another girl shows up, he is immediately enamoured by her. And this happened over and over again, and the number of times he found himself in a sticky situation because he was led on by a girl was a bit much.
As for the rest of the main cast, let's start with Makima. Right off the bat, she unsettled me for some reason. The way she went about dealing with Denji's transformation into Chainsaw Man just rubbed me the wrong way. And she didn't get any less unsettling as I read on.
Moving on to Power, I, quite frankly, found her to be rather annoying. She was too excitable and chaotic of a character, and everything she did was to serve only herself. She blatantly lied all the time to shift the blame off herself, even though it was plainly obvious it was her who did something she shouldn't have.
Unlike the rest of the cast though, I knew right away that I was going to like Aki. He reminded me a bit of Megumi from Jujutsu Kaisen, as he was more on the stoic side. He had a pretty typical backstory and motivation and was actually called out for that, but I liked that because I am used to it. He was pretty much the only reason I kept reading, aside from just trying to finish the series.
The only other characters I ended up liking were Kishibe, the Angel Devil, Quanxi, and Hirofumi Yoshida. They were only supporting characters though and were not in this nearly as much as I wanted them to be.
One thing that was a bit of a letdown, but is on me because of my expectations, was that Pochita wasn't a character. For some reason, I was expecting him and Denji to merge every time he needed to transform into Chainsaw Man. So, needless to say, I was surprised that Pochita died right away and was only seen briefly a couple more times.
I feel like I am in the wrong because this didn't work for me. I wasn't invested in Denji's story at all, and this entire saga is about him so that presented a huge issue for me. The only saving grace for this series were the few characters I liked.
Stripping away everything I didn't like though, I do think that the overall story is interesting. I liked the world and magic system, which I will get more into in the next section, but the bad ended up outweighing the good.
If you are wondering about content warnings, well, it goes without saying that there is a lot of violence and gore, as well as a lot of throwing up if you are squeamish. There is also nudity, but not in extreme detail as the bodies end up being smooth.
Now, I am going to go into spoilers so I can get into what it was that ended up completely ruining my experience. So, if you don't want any form of spoilers, you can stop reading now.
WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD - PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Alright, so if you were curious about what was it that made me want to throw my laptop out the window, welcome to my rant. I had two issues with this saga, mainly pertaining to the direction the story went in. Let's start with Makima shall we?
From the second she showed up I knew something was up with her. Her face alone just screamed psychotic vibes, but it isn't until the end that it is revealed that, yes, she was not only the main antagonist but is actually a devil too. Surprise, surprise. So I went from not liking her because she was just an unsettling character, to straight up hating her.
As for why I hated her, well, she killed several of the characters I liked in order to control them. This story had only one good thing going for it, and it was Aki (and a couple of others). So when she manipulates him and turns him into the Gun Devil, thus forcing Denji to kill him, I was not happy. Sure I knew that he was probably going to die but not in that way. She also killed Quanxi and the Angel Devil as well to boot.