The last time we got a new chapter of Chainsaw Man was all the way back on December 13, 2020. It feels so long ago! Well, our patience has finally paid off. Tatsuki Fujimoto is back with Chainsaw Man Part 2 which kicks off with Chapter 98! I am confident that we are in store for an excellent read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Chainsaw Man Chapter 98!
Words: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Art: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Synopsis: We begin with a high school class being introduced to their new class pet: Bucky the Chicken Devil. Bucky is cute and an incredibly weak devil. He cannot leave the classroom because even a common cat could kill him. Mr. Tanaka, the teacher, tells the class that in three months they will kill and eat Bucky so they can learn how precious life is. Bucky is saddened by the thought that he will die.
Asa Mikata, a student whose parents were eaten by a devil, watches everything with disdain. Mikata gets up and leaves the classroom. Mikata hates everything. Students who walk next to their friends because they block the hallway. Students who hang out and talk in the bathroom because they get in her way. Mikata even wishes that couples who hug and kiss would drop dead.
Mikata walks outside and stares at the city and thinks how corrupt it is. The class President, Prez, walks out and tells Mikata that she will not make any friends acting the way she does. Prez is eating a Chainsaw Man branded bun which irritates Mikata. Mikata says that she wishes both Bucky and Chainsaw Man would die.
We see Bucky hanging out with the students over the course of three months. Bucky is lovable and the entire class adores him. The three months end and Mr. Tanaka says it is time to kill Bucky. Mr. Tanaka asks for any student who has aspirations to be a Devil Hunter to volunteer to kill Bucky. Prez then stands up and says the class voted to spare Bucky’s life. Mr. Tanaka is happy and exclaims that it was all a test to see if the students would value life even one of a devil. Mr. Tanaka cancels math class and everyone goes outside to play soccer.
Mikata refuses to join the other students in playing soccer. Bucky hops into Mikata’s arm and calls her by her full name and asks her to play with him. Mikata is stunned because the only people who remember her name are Mr. Tanaka and Prez. Mikata hugs Bucky and realizes she has been jealous of everyone all along. Mikata starts walking forward and suddenly falls and lands on top of Bucky and crushes him to death. The entire class stares at Mikata in anger and horror.
We see Mikata at home in bed thinking how everyone at school wants her to die because of what she did to Bucky. We see Mr. Tanaka and Prez arriving at Mikata’s apartment and getting her to come with them to visit Bucky’s grave in order to ask for forgiveness.
The three walk to Bucky’s grave. Suddenly, Prez transforms into a demon. We learn that Prez has been having sex with Mr. Tanaka. That Mr. Tanaka likes Mikata and told Prez to befriend her. Prez made a contract with the Justice Devil to find out how to reach her happy ending with Mr. Tanaka. Prez says to do that Mikata needs to die.
Prez then reveals that she tripped Mikata causing Mikata to fall and crush Bucky to death. Prez then slices Mikata’s face in half. Right before Mikata dies she says she feels relieved that she was not responsible for Bucky’s death. That Prez was jealous of her. That everyone is jealous of somebody. Mikata thinks about how she wishes she had tried living a little more selfishly and had a better life.
Suddenly, an Owl devil with google eyes appears and says that if Mikata wants to live then her body will be his. We see Mikata then stand up as her face reforms together.
Mikata rips Mr. Tanaka’s head and spinal cord out of his body and it transforms into a large sword. Mikata says she is the War Devil. War Devil then kills Prez.
Mikata sits on Prez’s bloody corpse and sees a poster of Chainsaw Man for a party. War Devil says that she is going to kill Chainsaw Man next. End of chapter.
The Good: Tatsuki Fujimoto had a ton of pressure squarely on his shoulders coming into Chainsaw Man Part 2. It is one thing to deliver a hit manga when the manga is new and you are flying under the radar with zero expectations. It is entirely a different situation when your manga is massively popular and readers have huge expectations. Well, do not be worried, Fujimoto comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders as he delivers an excellent read with Chainsaw Man Chapter 98.
Chainsaw Man Chapter 98 delivers all of the elements that we have come to expect and love from Fujimoto. Bloody violence, creepy situations, intense feelings of loss and isolation, and fascinating characters. Fujimoto continues the trend of Chainsaw Man offering a multi-faceted story that appeals to fans of action as well as fans of strong character work and complex themes.
To be sure, we get treated to a chilling story in Chainsaw Man Chapter 98. The setting is bleak and hopeless. The entire vibe is uneasy as the reader feels that something is eerily off with the opening scene. Fujimoto keeps the reader in a constant state of unease until the very end of the chapter.
The story is visceral and incredibly emotional. Fujimoto uses this to pull the reader deep into the story and envelop the reader in the emotions of the various characters. I enjoy how Fujimoto is able to constantly play with the reader’s emotions throughout Chapter 98. The reader is unsure who to trust. The reader is also unsure of who is right and who is wrong. Fujimoto continues to deliver a setting for Chainsaw Man that is a collection of different shades of gray.
Chapter 98 was brilliantly paced and plotted. Fujimoto has a deft hand at how to slow the story down at the right moments in order to build tension before delivering a faster-paced scene. The story moves forward in a clear and logical fashion. Each scene organically unfolds into the next one.
It is clear that there is a time jump of unknown length between the end of Chapter 97 and the beginning of Chapter 98. We do know that Chainsaw Man is now a popular “superhero” for the lack of a better term. Maybe it is better to say that it appears that Chainsaw Man is a celebrity Devil Hunter? We also learn that Denji is now a celebrity who is licensing out his Chainsaw Man name, image, and likeness to various products.
All of this is important information since we do not actually see Denji in Chapter 98. What this tells the reader is that Denji is in a completely different place in the beginning of Chainsaw Man Part 2 than he was back at the beginning of Chainsaw Man Part 1. When we first met Denji he was starving and living in extreme poverty. Fujimoto has completely flipped everything on its head. We now start Part 2 with Denji evidently being rich and famous.
How will this impact Denji’s character? Will we see Denji with a completely different personality? Will Denji have a different world outlook? At this point, these are all questions that Fujimoto places in the reader’s mind in order to build anticipation for Denji’s debut in Chainsaw Man Part 2.
I loved Fujimoto’s unique approach to kicking off Chainsaw Man Part 2 by not having Denji appear in Chapter 98. This was a bold decision, but it successfully sets the stage for this new world that Fujimoto will be operating in with Part 2. This move sends a clear message to the reader that Chainsaw Man Part 2 is going to offer a new direction from Part 1.
I also like this decision because it allows Fujimoto to effectively show Denji’s growth and his impact on the general public. Using the students as the lens to show how Denji is now a rich celebrity is an effective way to show Denji’s character transformation. It also helps the reader to properly understand the public’s view of Denji and Denji’s place in this world.
Fujimoto’s decision to not have Denji appear in Chapter 98 also frees Fujimoto up to completely focus on Mikata as the villain for the opening story arc. The reader gets treated to Mikata’s origin story so they can better understand why she becomes a villain as the War Devil. This is a more enjoyable method of fleshing out the villain versus using flashback scenes or lengthy villainous monologues during a fight scene.
Instead, the reader already has a well-developed sense of Mikata’s character and can better enjoy her path down villainy as the War Devil. I know that rolling out a 53-page chapter kicking off Chainsaw Man Part 2 by only focusing on the villain might seem like overkill, but I disagree. A hero’s tale is only as strong as the villain. Fujimoto wisely understands this and intelligently uses all of Chapter 98 to create a compelling villain for Chainsaw Man to vanquish.
Fujimoto delivers his usual excellent character work. All of the characters are well developed and interesting. Each character has their own unique external voice. As is normal for Fujimoto, none of the characters are likable. This was a common trait of Chainsaw Man Part 1.
However, the unlikeability of the characters is not a problem. It is a strength. It works with Fujimoto’s unique storytelling. All of the characters are so fascinating and compelling that the reader wants to read more despite that none of them are likable at all. The fact that all of the characters are unlikeable also keeps the reader guessing as to which character they should be rooting for in the story. It makes for an exhilarating and interactive read.
Bucky is a great character. It is obvious that Bucky is a spoof of those silly “cute” sidekick characters that you find in many shonen mangas. Bucky even has that “punny” dialogue to further accentuate his role as the “cute” sidekick. Fujimoto nails Bucky’s dialogue with the overexcited manner in which he speaks. This helps to give Bucky such a distinct personality.
Sure, the reader knows that Bucky is a character that was created to be killed off in order to further the story. This is a perfectly fine approach to take with Bucky’s character. It does not matter if readers found Bucky’s death predictable or not. All that matters is that Bucky’s death acts as the literary lever to transition Mikata from a sullen student to a full-blown villain.
I found it to be a brilliant literary lever, too. Bucky’s death helps to organically grow Mikata into a villain while giving her character more depth and nuance. This helps prevent Mikata from being a one-dimensional villain.
Fujimoto also creates a wonderful character design for Bucky! It is hilarious. It is basically a chicken all prepared for the oven with a bow tie on it. It is perfect and works with the story so well. It is also a real credit to Fujimoto’s amazing artwork that he is able to inject so much emotion into Bucky despite the fact that he does not have a head.
Prez is another great character. Fujimoto delivers the prototypical popular and successful student that runs the classroom. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems. Fujimoto initially presents Prez as a kind student who is the only classmate willing to reach out to Mikata on a continual basis. However, this facade soon crumbles away to reveal Prez’s jealous and villainous heart once the reader learns about her contract with the Justice Devil.
Not only is Prez’s reveal as a villain a nice contrast to how she had been presented in the chapter, but it also works on a thematic level. Fujimoto went to great lengths for Mikata to realize that her ugly attitude to her classmates stemmed from her own jealousy. That it was jealousy that ruined Mikata’s life. This plays nicely into the fact that it is jealousy that also ruined Prez’s life and made her go down this road to villainy. Jealousy is a huge theme in Chainsaw Man Chapter 98 and it runs through our two main characters. All villains should embody some sin or another. The sin of jealousy is a good foundation for Mikata as a villain.
Speaking of Mikata, let’s finally discuss her. Mikata is the main character of Chapter 98 and she is an excellent character, too. I love how Fujimoto methodically handled her character arc over the course of Chapter 98.
Mikata first presents as a sad lonely student who lost her parents to a devil. Then Mikata shifts into a jealous and nasty student who is a loner by her own choice. We see flashes of Mikata’s violence in her desire for Chainsaw Man and Bucky to die. Fujimoto then has Mikata have a brief moment of realization about the mistakes in how she lived her life and treated other people right as she died. However, that brief moment of realization is not one of her realizing she needed to be good, instead, it was that she needed to be more selfish. Mikata is then reincarnated as the War Devil and Fujimoto has her completely give in to her hateful side.
All in all, this is an incredible character arc over the course of just 53 pages! That takes serious talent. Many writers would never be able to pull off a character arc like Mikata’s arc in such a short amount of pages.
What makes Mikata’s transition into the villainous War Devil so delightful is that Fujimoto is able to do it in such a natural manner. None of Mikata’s character arc felt forced or out of nowhere. The entire evolution into the War Devil was the organic result of her being ostracized from her classmates, her jealous nature, and the hatred that brewed in her heart. It makes perfect sense that Mikata would end up a villain.
With the ending of Chainsaw Man Chapter 98, Fujimoto has successfully created a compelling villain for Denji to battle. To be sure, Mikata is a terrible person. The reader is not going to identify or sympathize with Mikata as the War Devil. However, the reader will now completely understand Mikata’s motivations and her goals. This will make the War Devil a far more compelling and engrossing villain. Fujimoto successfully makes the War Devil a nuanced character that offers plenty of depth to her character. I much prefer complex and substantive villains to one-dimensional evil characters.
Of course, you cannot discuss Chainsaw Man Chapter 98 without talking about the action. Sure, Fujimoto absolutely makes the reader wait for the action until the very end. But, when we get the action, wow, we sure do get a massive bloody helping of it. Fujimoto delivers his usual wickedly violent action with plenty of gore. It is obvious that Fujimoto is looking to double down on the violence that we got in Chainsaw Man Part 1.
As always, Fujimoto also delivers plenty of strong artwork. Chainsaw Man Chapter 98 is not Fujimoto’s best artwork, but it is still quite damn good. Fujimoto excels at facial expressions which helps to bring plenty of emotion into his story. Fujimoto is also adept at using his artwork to create an uncomfortable and cold world.
I also love how Fujimoto is never afraid to let his artwork carry the story. There are several moments in Chapter 98 where there is no dialogue at all. The artwork alone tells the story and in a far more powerful fashion than if there was accompanying dialogue. Fujimoto is one of the best artists around when it comes to conveying the story with his artwork alone.
The Bad: I only have one small quibble. I know that Chainsaw Man has gained a reputation for its gory violence. And with Chainsaw Man’s popularity, there is an increased reader expectation that we get gory violence that continually tops itself. However, I do not want Fujimoto to feel pressured to do so. At no point in Chainsaw Man Part 1 did I ever feel like Fujimoto ever veered into campiness with the level of violence and gore. The action scenes always had a purpose and a meaning to them.
However, in the final fight scene where War Devil transforms Mr. Tanaka’s spine into a sword and then stabs Prez to death so that Mr. Tanaka’s face is facing Prez’s face so Prez can kiss him as they die veered too close to being over-the-top. Then the accompanying dialogue of War Devil saying “There! A happy ending!” just amped up the campy feeling. It felt too much like a cheesy Troma Studios movie.
This was the first time where I felt that a scene in Chainsaw Man was pure campiness and not serious. This was the first time that I felt that Fujimoto was delivering a scene that was more of a parody of itself rather than a genuine moment. The last thing I want to see is Fujimoto feeling pressured by fan expectations with the gore and violence and having Chainsaw Man Part 2 ending up being a parody of itself rather than its own serious work of art.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall: Chainsaw Man Chapter 98 was an excellent start to Chainsaw Man Part 2. Readers have had to wait a long time for this moment and Fujimoto did not disappoint at all. Chapter 98 delivers the complex and emotional story along with bloody violence that readers have come to expect on Chainsaw Man. Fujimoto has done a wonderful job setting the table for Chainsaw Man Part 2 and I cannot wait to finally Denji’s appearance and to see if money and fame have changed him. To be sure, the impending battle between Chainsaw Man and War Devil is going to be fantastic. I think we are in for another awesome ride.