Chainsaw Man continues to hit all new heights with the advent of the Gun Devil story arc. Now that we have concluded the Gun Devil story arc it seems that Tatsuki Fujimoto is not done with the surprises. Chainsaw Man Chapter 80 was a quiet and introspective read allowing the reader to catch their breath. However, I expect Fujimoto to crank things up again with Chainsaw Man Chapter 81. Let’s do this review.
Words: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Art: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Denji: Denji is the Chainsaw Man! Denji was near death when his faithful chainsaw devil dog, Pochita, merged with him and made Denji something unique. Not Devil and not human. Denji is a member of Special Division 4 at Public Safety.
Power: Power is a fiend who is a member of Special Division 4 at Public Safety. Power is selfish and childish. But, she has become bonded to Denji.
Makima: Makima is a high ranking devil hunter who runs Special Division 4 of Public Safety. Both Makima’s personality and powers are mysterious. Makima’s powers are immense, but their source is unknown. Makima shrouds her goals from even her co-workers at Public Safety.
Aki Hayakawa: Aki is a devil hunter who works under the direction of Makima at Special Division 4. Aki has a contract with the Curse Devil and the Future Devil. Aki is in charge of both Denji and Power.
Synopsis: We begin with Denji saying that what he means by wanting to be Makima’s dog is that he does not want to think for himself anymore. Denji says that he used to only have to think about what he had to do to not die. Now, he has to consider thousands of different things.
Denji says that he killed Aki because it looked like hundreds of people were going to die if he didn’t stop Aki. But, in retrospect, Denji thinks that maybe there was a better way. That maybe Aki died because Denji is stupid. Denji says he thinks about this stuff every waking moment.
Denji says that Makima is smarter than he. That if he just does whatever Makima says then he won’t have to feel so drained. Makima responds that her dogs have to obey her with complete obedience. Makima asks for Denji’s paw. He places his hand in Makima’s hand. Makima says rollover. Denji flops over on the sofa. Makima strokes Denji’s head and says that he is a good boy. Denji thinks that this is his right answer.
Suddenly, there is a knock at the front door. Makima says that she called Power over. Denji asks why Makima called over Power. Makima says that dogs don’t think. Makima tells Denji to come with her and open the door. Makima says that she is going to kill Power.
Denji gets a surprised look on his face. Denji asks why would Makima say such a terrible thing. Makima tells Denji to open the front door. We shift to the mysterious apartment door at Aki’s apartment building. The voice on the other side of the door says, “Don’t open it.”
Makima tells Denji to open the door. That Denji must be the one to open it. Makima says that Denji does not have to think about a thing. Makima tells Denji to trust her.
Denji reaches for the door-handle. Denji thinks that Power will have a cake with her because tomorrow is his birthday. Denji opens the door and Power is standing there with a birthday cake. Makima then makes a gun with her finger and says, “Bang.” Power then gets blown into bits.
Denji stares at Power’s corpse. Denji stares at Makima. Makima holds Denji’s hands and says that his hands are cold again. Makima tells him to come back inside the apartment with her. End of chapter.
The Good: Holy shit! What in the hell is going on? I was right. After a quiet chapter, Fujimoto definitely opened up the crazy with Chainsaw Man Chapter 81. This chapter made my brain fold in on itself.
At this point, the reader has no clue what Fujimoto is going to do next. All the reader does know is that they can expect Fujimoto to do absolutely anything at any moment. Main characters getting killed in stunning fashion? Yup. Seemingly heroic characters beginning to act more and more evil? Yup. Nothing is safe or out of bounds for Fujimoto.
Once again, Fujimoto delivers another brilliantly paced and plotted chapter. Chainsaw Man Chapter 81 starts off in the same quiet and slow fashion as Chapter 80. Fujimoto then slowly ratchets up the tension and then ends the chapter with a literal bang. The first five pages deal with why Denji wants to be Makima’s dog. Yeah, the whole dog thing came across creepy in Chapter 80. But, Fujimoto reigns in the creep and gives a heart-breaking reason for Denji’s wish.
Denji has been a simple-minded character from the very first chapter of Chainsaw Man. All Denji has ever concerned himself with was not dying and making enough money to have an apartment and good food and continuing in his desire to have sex with a girl. This has been Denji’s simple life view all the way up to the beginning of the Gun Devil story arc.
Fujimoto has been building to this moment from the very start. This is the moment where Denji is finally going to experience his biggest character growth. With Aki’s death, Denji is being forced to accept life as a far more complex reality than what he had been used to doing. The reader understands that Denji’s wish to be Makima’s dog so that he no longer has to make any decisions is pure escapism.
This is Denji trying to avoid having to transform from a boy to a man. It is nothing more than Denji having to accept that becoming a man means putting aside the boyish view of life. It means having to accept the horrible complexities of life and the pain that they bring. Being a man means having to make these hard decisions and to handle and properly process the consequences.
It is no coincidence that Denji trying to run from his responsibilities that come with the agency of being an adult arrives the day before his 17th birthday. Fujimoto is highlighting that Denji should view being 17 as a signal to become more mature as he heads into adulthood. Instead, we see Denji running from growing up and becoming an adult by asking Makima to make all of his decisions for him.
Fujimoto shows the toxicity of this relationship between the older Makima and the younger Denji. Denji lacks self-confidence in himself. Denji discounts his intelligence and abilities. Makima, being older, is taking advantage of Denji’s mental situation. The balance of power is all skewed in Makima’s favor. Add into this situation the fact that Makima is also Denji’s boss at work. All of this shows how inappropriate the relationship is between Makima and Denji. It also shows how predatory Makima is being by continuing this relationship.
After the opening five pages, we get six pages of Makima and Denji walking to the front door to let Power in so that Makima can kill her. These pages were riveting. These pages invoke strong feelings of dread in the reader. Once again, Fujimoto hints to the reader that Makima is not who she seems.
What is interesting about these six pages is that we see a large painting on the wall of Makima’s apartment. This painting is Gustave Doré’s 1866 illustration from Book Three of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Lucifer is the hero of Paradise Lost. This Doré illustration is Lucifer descending to the Garden of Eden on Earth.
This is absolutely done on purpose. Fujimoto has crafted a complex and deep story on Chainsaw Man. Everything that Fujimoto has a point and purpose. My guess is that Makima is a Lucifer style character. We do know that devil hunters have contracts with devils to gain superpowers. Perhaps Makima has a contract with the biggest and baddest devil of them all: Lucifer. At any rate, I am excited to see where Fujimoto goes from here.
The final eight pages are absolutely stunning. Fujimoto loops the mysterious door in Aki’s apartment building with the voice that constantly says, “Don’t open it” back into the story. This is the same voice that told Denji not to open the door when Aki as the Gun Fiend was knocking on the door at the end of Chainsaw Man Chapter 76. I love how Fujimoto continually loops themes back into the story. This mysterious voice has been a long-running mystery on this manga. It is clear that this voice speaks to Denji immediately before a terrible event. I am interested to see if Fujimoto finally reveals more information about this mysterious voice.
Of course, poor Denji ignores this mysterious voice for a second time and the result is a shocking hook ending. Power gets brutally killed by Makima. Talk about a huge “Oh, shit!” moment. I was absolutely stunned by this ending. Just when you thought Fujimoto could not top himself he does. It is incredible how Fujimoto continually keeps the reader on their heels. At this point, Fujimoto has clearly established that no character is off-limits to be killed and practically anything can happen at any point. This was a powerful hook ending that makes the reader even more suspicious of Makima than we were before.
Speaking of Makima, Fujimoto also continues to deliver excellent character work on Makima. The reader continues to get an ominous feeling about Makima. At the beginning of Chainsaw Man, the reader viewed Makima as being a hero. However, with the Gun Devil story arc, the reader’s view of Makima has changed. Fujimoto continually sends the reader warning signs concerning Makima’s character. There is something evil and sinister with Makima’s character.
Of course, Fujimoto does not just deliver a complex and intriguing story. Chainsaw Man Chapter 81 also delivers plenty of quality artwork. Fujimoto is a master at conveying his story without the use of any dialogue or narration. It continues to amaze me. Fujimoto is also brilliant at being able to use his art to create palpable feelings of dread in the reader. The overpowering ominous vibe of the story and the tension in the reader is all generated by Fujimoto’s masterful art.
The Bad: I have no criticisms of this chapter.
Overall: Chainsaw Man Chapter 81 is another emotionally powerful and surprising read. Fujimoto is delivering a complex and nuanced story that completes captivates the reader’s attention. The strong character work, excellent mood, and skillful artwork all combine to make this a manga that offers such a unique read. At this point, there are few mangas that offer this level of storytelling and artwork that Chainsaw Man delivers with each chapter.
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