I hopped onto Chainsaw Man when it first debuted on the Shonen Jump app back in January 2019. (The Shonen Jump+ service still remains the best $2/month I have ever spent on any entertainment content service.) I was completely mesmerized by Chainsaw Man after I read the first chapter. By the end of the Intro Arc, Chainsaw Man immediately became my favorite current manga.
What was interesting was that Chainsaw Man did not see immediate success. This manga flew under the radar for a while and then slowly, but surely, built up steam until it exploded once Volume 1 was released in print on October 6, 2020. Chainsaw Man was off and running and gathered fans with each chapter.
Part 1 of Chainsaw Man, known as the Public Safety story, concluded in December 2020. We then were treated to several one-shot stories from Tatsuki Fujimoto. However, it has been Chainsaw Man Part 2 that fans have been eagerly waiting to read. Luckily, Chainsaw Man Part 2 dropped on July 12, 2022, with Chapter 98. You can check out our review for Chainsaw Man Chapter 98.
In addition to Chainsaw Man Part 2 being released this week, we also have news of a Chainsaw Man anime debuting later in 2022. We still do not know the exact release date, but we do know that the second half of 2022 is going to be massive for the Chainsaw Man franchise.
We have done numerous reviews of various chapters of Chainsaw Man in addition to discussing it many times on the Manga Revolution Podcast. But, with the debut of Part 2 of Chainsaw Man, I thought it would be a good idea to roll out a ranking of all the story arcs that we have gotten in Part 1 of Chainsaw Man.
This is a Herculean task! There are no bad story arcs on Chainsaw Man. I love them all. This is just my take and I am sure plenty of you will have a different order than me. I am also going to try and keep my discussions of each story arc as major spoiler free as possible. Having said that, it is impossible to rank story arcs and not mention some mild spoilers. Be warned! All right, let’s hit this ranking of Chainsaw Man story arcs!
8. Bat Devil Arc Ch. 5-12
The Bat Devil Arc comes in last place. However, because this is Chainsaw Man, the Bat Devil Arc is still fantastic. Denji partnered up with Power who is a loose cannon. Power makes an offer to Denji: If he helps her rescue her cat from a Devil then he can touch her boobs. That is enough for our hero to embark on this journey to battle the Bat Devil. Fujimoto continues to make the reader like this highly unconventional protagonist in Denji.
Of course, during this story arc, we learn that Denji cannot trust Power at all. Power demonstrates her willingness to throw her “partner” to the wolves in order to further her own goals.
We get some good action in the Bat Devil Arc as Denji battles the Bat Devil and then the Leech Devil. The reader learns more about how Denji’s Chainsaw Man form operates. Fujimoto also reveals some of the current limitations of Chainsaw Man’s abilities, too. This is a shonen manga, after all, so we have to show how our protagonist must continually train in order to level up and increase his power with each story arc.
The action scenes also allow Aki to finally get in on the fighting. We see that Aki is a total stud in battle. The reader also learns about Aki’s powers and his contract with the Fox Devil.
We also meet several new supporting characters in Himeno, Aki’s first partner, and two newbie Devil Hunters in Kobeni Higashiyama and Hirokazu Arai. Kobeni is a particularly interesting character as she is a total coward. It is fascinating to get this type of character in a shonen manga. Kobeni makes for some interesting moments later on in the manga.
Fujimoto continues his world-building in the Bat Devil Arc as he has both Denji and Power move in with Aki. Seeing the three having to live together in Aki’s apartment serves as the foundation for what will flower into some incredible chemistry between these three characters.
Fujimoto also reveals Denji’s long-term ultimate challenge in the Bat Devil Arc. Makima reveals that she will grant Denji any wish if he defeats the Gun Devil. The Gun Devil is a mysterious Devil that is one of the most powerful Devils of all time.
The Bat Devil Arc treats the reader to some good artwork. Fujimoto delivers plenty of solid action and more bloody violence that is a teaser for what we will get in later story arcs.
7. Intro Arc Ch. 1-4
In these first four chapters, Fujimoto introduces the reader to our protagonist, Denji, and his demon friend, Pochita, who is a doglike Chainsaw Devil. Fujimoto does an amazing job quickly fleshing out Denji’s personality and giving the reader a good sense of his backstory and what his main motivation is going to be in this manga. The Intro Arc clearly states the manga’s mission statement and effectively sells the reader what kind of manga they can expect and why they need to come back for more.
What makes Chainsaw Man so fascinating is that it is a unique blend of drama, extreme violence and gore, disturbing scenes, and pervy humor. What helps set Denji off from other Shonen manga protagonists is that he is not that smart. Nor is he taking this hero’s journey for altruistic reasons. Denji has spent his whole life in poverty so his motivation and goals are simple: to be able to have lots of good food, a cool apartment, tons of video games, and touch boobs and kiss girls. This is not your conventional hero and it is part of why we love Denji so much.
Fujimoto also delivers a phenomenal amount of world-building in the Intro Arc. Seriously, Fujimoto absolutely puts on a clinic in effective and concise world-building. We learn about the Public Safety Department which is comprised of Devil Hunters. We learn that Devils are running rampant across society. Some Devils are out to hurt and kill humans.
On the other hand, other Devils enter Blood Contracts with the Devil Hunters. The human Devil Hunter has to give up something to the Devil in return the Devil grants the human Devil Hunter superhuman powers to battle the other Devils.
We also learn about Fiends which are Devils who have assumed control of a human’s corpse. Fiends are incredibly powerful and can be either good or bad. There are a couple of Fiends that do work for the Public Safety Department.
Lastly, we have the rare and unique Devil/Human hybrid. This is Denji. We learn of Denji and Pochita’s Blood Contract. That Pochita gives Denji his heart in exchange for Denji showing him his dreams. This is what transforms Denji into the Devil/Human hybrid known as Chainsaw Man.
The Intro Arc shows Denji joining the Public Safety Department. However, if Denji ever quits or disobeys orders then he will be put down as a devil. We also meet several supporting characters including Makima, Denji’s commanding officer, and Aki Hayakawa a Devil Hunter who becomes Denji’s frenemy. Lastly, we get introduced to Power, a female fiend who also works for the Public Safety Department.
The Intro Arc also gives the reader a wonderful taste of Fujimoto’s unique art style. Fujimoto also wastes no time in showing the reader the type of insane violence and gore we are going to get in this manga. The Intro Arc does not have the best artwork in this manga, but it is still damn good.
6. Eternity Devil Arc Ch. 13-21
Fujimoto finally unveils more information about the Gun Devil in the Eternity Devil Arc. What is so cool about how Fujimoto handles the Gun Devil is that we never see him. In fact, unlike the other devils that we have seen in the manga, the Gun Devil is presented in a completely different fashion. Rather than being a supernatural creature like all of the other devils, Fujimoto portrays the Gun Devil more like a tornado that suddenly appears, destroys everything, and then immediately disappears.
I love this approach to the Gun Devil. Fujimoto’s decision to not show the reader the Gun Devil allows the reader’s imagination to run wild as to what this monster looks like. Also, presenting the Gun Devil as more of a force of nature makes him a far more frightening and unpredictable villain.
The Gun Devil has not appeared on Earth in years. The last time he appeared, the Gun Devil killed almost 1.2 million people in about five minutes. The Public Safety Department is not finding clues that the Gun Devil is beginning to assemble for another appearance on Earth.
We get an excellent flashbacks scene that fills the reader in on Aki’s childhood and his motivation to become a Public Safety Officer and to hunt down and destroy the Gun Devil. Fujimoto also gives seem backstory on Himeno being Aki’s partner when he joined the Public Safety Department.
All of the backstory scenes are well done and help to further flesh out Himeno and Aki’s characters. Fujimoto also introduces a new character, Captain Kishibe, in these flashback scenes who trained both Aki and Himeno. You will definitely love Kishibe’s character. Kishibe is the most powerful Devil Hunter and is a complete badass.
The bulk of the Eternity Devil Arc centers on the team of Denji, Aki, Power, Himeno, Kobeni, and Arai going to an apartment building that has been taken over by the Eternity Devil. Himeno offers to kiss Denji with her tongue if he takes down the Eternity Devil.
Again, this is all the inspiration that our unconventional protagonist needs in order to go charing headfirst against such a deadly opponent. Fujimoto continues to present Denji as basically all id and no ego or superego. This unusual take on a shonen manga protagonist is part of the character’s charm.
The first half of the Eternity Devil Arc is a gripping psychological thriller as our heroes are trapped on the 8th floor of the apartment building. This allows Fujimoto to highlight the various personalities of the heroes. Kobeni and Arai are your “everyman” characters and we see them completely collapse in this nightmarish trap. This enables Fujimoto to contrast these reactions with Aki’s heroic nature in which he never cracks and continues to search for the Eternity Devil and a way to escape. Denji? Again, Denji is all id. Denji sleeps while his teammates are trying to figure out a plan to escape.
The psychological terror of the first half of the Eternity Devil Arc eventually gives way to a second half that is full of brutal and bloody violence. Really, the Eternity Devil Arc is the best of both worlds! The Eternity Devil Arc is the moment where Fujimoto really cranks up the blood and violence to another level. The artwork is fantastic and helps to pull the reader deep into the story.
The Eternity Devil Arc ends with a cool scene of the team enjoying dinner and drinking at a restaurant together. I love these kinds of moments in any manga or comic book. Seeing our heroes recreating together in this fashion is what helps make them seem more relatable. These scenes also serve as one of the best ways for the author to create some strong chemistry between the characters. These smaller moments are vital to the characters and their world seems more fleshed out and lived in.
Oh, the Himeno/Denji French kiss scene? Well, I won’t spoil it, but Jesus. I was not expecting what Fujimoto delivered!
5. International Assassin Arc Ch. 53-70
The International Assassin Arc revolves around Chainsaw man’s newfound fame. However, the fact that Chainsaw Man has attracted huge media attention means that foreign powers now know about him. Therefore, assassins from other countries come to Japan to take out Chainsaw Man.
The International Assassins Arc is definitely an action-forward arc that loads up the crazy violent fighting. The reader gets treated to an amazing battle with the Hell Devil as well as an intense climactic battle with the Doll Devil.
Fujimoto’s talent for creating compelling characters is evident in the various assassins that we meet in the International Assassin Arc. We are introduced to three brothers from the United States who have a contract with the Skin Devil. This enables the brothers to steal the appearance of corpses that they have touched.
What I love so much about the three brothers is the phenomenal character work that Fujimoto delivers with them. One of Fujimoto’s skills is that he can make any character sympathetic. Sure, the three brothers may be villains, but Fujimoto spends time making sure they are well fleshed out. The result is that these three brothers strike an emotional chord with the reader. This makes them such fascinating villains far beyond the typical one-dimensional evil character.
Another one of the assassins is Santa Claus from Germany. Santa has contracts with the Doll Devil and the Hell Devil. To be sure, Santa Claus is one of the big heavy hitters that Chainsaw Man has to deal with during this manga. I love Santa’s look and his general personality. This is a villain that is scary and creepy. There is no sympathy with this one!
The last of the assassins is Quanxi and her harem of female fiends. Again, Fujimoto delivers unique characters with Quanxi and her fiends. They all have interesting looks and creative powers. What is great is that Quanxi has a history with Kishibe. There is so much more than meets the eye with Quanxi and Fujimoto has some big plot twists unleashed on the reader with Quanxi and Kishibe.
Fujimoto also shocks readers with a rather stunning plot twist involving Kishibe and Makima. The overall Gun Devil plot line begins to heat up as we head toward the final two story arcs in Part 1 of Chainsaw Man. I won’t spoil anything here. It is simply too good to not experience it unspoiled as you read the manga.
4. Bomb Girl Arc Ch. 40-52
The Bomb Girl Arc is constructed in two halves. The first part of the Bomb Girl Arc is a quiet character-driven story. The second part is an adrenaline-pumping action story. The main attraction of this story arc is the massive fight between Bomb Girl and Chainsaw Man.
I know that the bloody violent action is a calling card of Chainsaw Man. This aspect tends to get the majority of attention. However, the Bomb Girl Arc continues to demonstrate that the real backbone of Chainsaw Man is amazing character work and some truly powerful quiet moments. Fujimoto is able to inject real emotion into the story that strikes the reader’s heart. This manga evolves into a story that elicits emotional responses from the reader.
In addition to the showcase battle between Chainsaw Man and Bomb Girl, we also get several other action-based plot lines. We are treated to the team of Aki, Angel, Shark Fiend, and Violence Fiend all hunting for the Gun Devil. Fujimoto is able to further flesh out all of these characters so the reader gets a better sense of their unique roles in this story. We also get a short but stunningly brutal fight scene involving Makima. This quick scene effectively conveys Makima’s massive power level.
Fujimoto also delivers a stunning surprise end that shocks the reader and also tugs at their heartstrings. It is an incredibly emotional ending and forecasts how this manga is going to contuse to crank up the emotional intensity as it moves toward its conclusion. I loved this powerful ending. It pulls the reader even closer to Denji as he is painted in an even more sympathetic fashion.
3. Katana Man Arc Ch. 22-39
The Katana Man Arc is where the reader realizes that there is so much more to this manga than some great crude humor and violent action. Fujimoto begins to layer in a story that is rather sublime and complex. The reader is amazed as they realize that Fujimoto has a multifaceted story with incredible depth and texture that he is starting to weave into this manga.
This story arc is the first moment where Denji shows some moral compass when he refuses sex with an obvious drunk Himeno throwing herself at him. We also learn that Denji has resolved to “save” himself for Makima.
The Katana Man Arc is split up into three parts. The first part is the initial fight between Denji and Katana Man and his teammate Akane Sawatari. Katana Man works for the Gun Devil and is a human/devil hybrid like Denji. Akane is a former civilian Devil Hunter who is now working for the Gun Devil. Akane has a contract with the Snake Devil.
The second part deals with the deaths of a couple of our Devil Hunter heroes. This is the first time that the reader has experienced the deaths of any of our heroes. Fujimoto handles both moments exceptionally and they resonate strongly with the reader. I appreciate that the deaths are not for shock value at all. Both deaths influence our characters and help them to grow and evolve. There is real substance and meaning to these deaths.
It is particularly interesting to see how Denji deals with the death of his teammates. This is a pivotal moment for Denji who has largely been carefree up to this point. Again, we continue to see the slow evolution of Denji’s character.
We also learn more about Aki in the second part. Fujimoto reveals in addition to the Fox Devil, that Aki also has a contract with the Curse Devil even though it comes at a high price of years being shaved off his life. Fujimoto also rolls out Aki gaining a new power after he meets with the Future Devil and forms a new contract.
Again, Fujimoto emphasizes the stoic heroic nature of Aki as he refuses to stop his quest of destroying the Gun Devil even if it means him losing years of his life. The scene with Aki and the Future Devil was brilliantly handled as Fujimoto shows that Aki is completely fearless in his mission of killing the Gun Devil. I am not going to spoil it here since it is such great character work.
The second part of the Katana Man Arc also has Kishime taking Denji and Power under his wing. Kishime begins training our heroes in an effort to make them the “baddest bad-asses” of all time. These are some excellent scenes that help to further the incredible chemistry between Power and Denji. These two characters continue to grow alongside each other in a fascinating fashion. It is a delight to see how these two characters are organically becoming close friends. And, of course, Kishime is insanely cool and any scene benefits from his presence!
The third part deals with Aki leading a team of Devil Hunters to battle the Spider Devil and a rematch with Akane and the Snake Devil. This battle also debuts several new characters in the Shark Fiend, the Violence Fiend, and the Angel Devil. All three are unique and fantastic characters. They all have excellent character designs and cool powers.
The third part of the Katana Man Arc also delivers the climactic second-round battle between Katana Man and Chainsaw Man. This is where Fujimoto cranks up his artwork to another level. The action is phenomenal as the fighting is as bloody and violent as anything we have seen to this point.
The Katana Man Arc also furthers Makima’s character as someone who is incredibly powerful and not really to be totally trusted. Fujimoto manages to give the reader some new information about Makima that only leads to opening up even more questions in the reader’s mind than before. It is rather brilliant writing.
The Katana Man Arc presents the reader with an incredible blend of quieter character-building scenes and insane action. The impressive world-building also continues in this story arc. It is during the Katana Man Arc that this manga blossoms into a truly sublime and complex manga.
2. Gun Devil Arc Ch. 71-79
If you want you can check out our full spoiler reviews for chapters 75, 76, 77, 78, and 79 from this story arc. We got a Popularity Poll in Chapter 71. This is done in Japan all the time and I love these polls. What were the results? Well, here you go!
- Power (35,268 votes)
- Makima (27,224 votes)
- Aki Hayakawa (25,704 votes)
- Reze (19,079 votes)
- Denji (18,305 votes)
- Angel Devil (13,374 votes)
- Kobeni’s car (9,878 votes)
- Kobeni Higashiyama (9,580 votes)
- Pochita (9,527 votes)
- Hirofumi Yoshida (8,593 votes)
- Himeno (7,167 votes)
I will admit, that these results stunned me. I would never have imagined that Power would be in the first place! I would have guessed she would have come in around 4th or 5th place. I love these polls because the results are always so unpredictable! I mean, Kobeni’s car made the seventh place! Hilarious!
All right, let’s talk about the Gun Devil Arc. Fujimoto was firing on all cylinders with this story arc. The relationship between Power, Denji, and Aki is phenomenal. The amount of growth that Fujimoto nurtured and grew with this makeshift family is both touching and captivating. This “family” of lost kids is where Fujimoto displays his incredible character work.
The Gun Devil Arc is where Fujimoto elevates his character work and dialogue to another level entirely. The nuance and subtlety in how Fujimoto handles these three characters is so enjoyable to read. Power and Denji’s relationship is phenomenal.
Of course, the Gun Devil Arc has plenty of action for readers who demand plenty of fighting in their manga. Fujimoto delivers one of his most intense fight scenes during the Gun Devil Arc. This fight scene is easily the most powerful and soul-wrenching moment in this manga. The artistry in which Fujimoto handles this fight separates Chainsaw Man from most action manga. Fujimoto is able to layer depth to the story and emotional character bits in what is quite a bloody fight. It is honestly something that you do not see from writers that often.
Fujimoto reveals several surprises about Makima in this story arc, too. The reader also gets to learn more about Makima’s contract with the Control Devil. There are so many delightful twists and turns with Makima and her role in the story. It is understandable that readers voted Makima as the second most popular character in this manga!
Readers also finally get to see the much-talked-about Gun Devil. Fujimoto did a masterful job building up so much tension and excitement in the reader with all the mysterious references to the Gun Devil from the beginning of this manga. The rush of finally getting to see the big bad villain makes for an exhilarating moment. Well, Fujimoto does not disappoint! The Gun Devil has a fantastic design.
The unveiling of the Gun Devil is done in an incredibly creative and powerful manner. Fujimoto chooses to have the Gun Devil arrive with no dialogue. Instead, it is just the Gun Devil lording over everything with a list of all the names of the people killed in alphabetical order. It is such a chilling and impactful unveiling of the Gun Devil. To be sure, it is worth the wait. There was nothing at all anti-climactic about this moment.
1. Control Devil Arc Ch. 80-97
If you want you can check out our full spoiler reviews for chapters 80, 81, 82, and 83 from this story arc. The ending to a story is always the toughest part of the story to nail down correctly. More often than not, writers struggle to tie all of the plot lines together and bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion. Well, there are no worries to be found here with Chainsaw Man. Fujimoto sticks the damn landing with the Control Devil Arc like his name was Simone Biles. No doubt about it.
The Control Devil Arc is the most powerful and emotional story out of all the amazing story arcs that we get on Chainsaw Man. This story arc is absolutely beautiful. Seriously. The Control Devil Arc is all of Fujimoto’s breathtaking artistry on full display.
I am not going to avoid talking details because the Control Devil Arc must be read without being spoiled. Our protagonist, Denji, is in a state that we have never seen before. We also learn a shocking revelation about his past. Oh yeah, we also get to see Pochita again! That is always a good thing!.
Of course, this is a shonen manga, so we get treated to a big power upgrade for Chainsaw Man as he battles several other human/devil hybrids. All of the human/devil hybrids are fantastic-looking characters with cool powers. These characters include Bomb Girl, Katana Man, Flamethrower Man, Crossbow Woman, Longsword Man, Spear Man, and Whip Woman. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
The Control Devil Arc is full of shocking moments. Fujimoto dials up a surprise ending that you will not see coming at all. In the end, the Control Devil Arc is violent, gross, and yet ultimately very sweet.
All right, that is it for our Chainsaw Man story arc rankings! Really, you could rank these story arcs in almost any order and I would not have a huge problem. Fujimoto’s work is that damn good and consistent.
Hopefully, Fujimoto is ready to follow up on Chainsaw Man Part 1 with an equally powerful and entertaining Chainsaw Man Part 2. Come back and join us as we review new chapters of Chainsaw Man Part 2!