2022 Is The Year Of Chainsaw Man
Nothing can stop the juggernaut that is Chainsaw Man.
Anime is bigger than it's ever been--an obvious sentiment to anyone who spends enough time online--with films breaking out of series like Demon Slayer: Mugen Train setting all kinds of records in 2020 through to last year, and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 setting its own this year. These two series, alongside the likes of My Hero Academia, are obviously some of the big hits at the moment. But this year belongs to one series, and one series only: Chainsaw Man. And 2023 will be no different.
Chainsaw Man really has been the big anime to watch this year, which I guess isn't that surprising since it's a popular Shonen Jump comic being animated by a studio with a strong legacy behind it, Mappa. The thing is though, anime adaptations of popular manga are typically made to shift more volumes of the manga, and create a consistent feedback loop that regularly increases a series' popularity. But Chainsaw Man was already an incredibly popular manga long before the anime dropped. You wanna know how I know? Because cosplayers are all over it.
I was at London Comic Con back in October, which kicked off just a couple of days after the anime's third episode was released. My partner and I placed bets on what franchises would be the most cosplayed--we picked safe bets like Demon Slayer, Genshin Impact, and threw in some wildcards like an inflatable Among Us costume, and a Sailor Moon x Moon Knight crossover. I did personally expect to see a few Chainsaw Man cosplays… and it ended up being one of the most popular cosplays we saw there.
There were Powers and Makimas aplenty, with a few Denjis and Kobenis for good measure too. As a big fan of the manga, I knew it would eventually result in a strong cosplay community, as all big fandoms do. But so soon after the anime dropped? It quickly proved to me that despite only having three episodes out, it really already was Chainsaw Man's year.
Soon after, my TikTok feed--arguably the de facto birthplace of fandoms in this day and age in a post-Yahoo-acquires-Tumblr world--was full of Chainsaw Man cosplays, memes, fan art, and animations. I'd already seen plenty of the manga splashed across my Twitter, it's how I got into it in the first place. A fandom hadn't yet fully formed though, but with the arrival of the anime, the fans came out in full force, showing how strong a starting point the series is taking, all thanks to the manga.
Fandom obviously typically skews on the younger side, and Chainsaw Man isn't that different in that regard. But where My Hero Academia might appeal to that teenage crowd, Chainsaw Man seems to have drawn in the 20-somethings, primarily because of its characters, I think.
Denji, the worst-best-boy, has simple goals. He dreams of toast and jam, a girlfriend, and on the cringier end, touching boobs. There's Kobeni too, forced into devil hunting work to pay for her siblings' education at the pressure of her parents, despite having her own dreams. While the world of Chainsaw Man is larger than life, the characters at their most human level aren't. It's a damn sight more relatable than Deku's desire to be the world's greatest hero (though I admit I'm being slightly reductive of his character there).
Fandom is often born because of its character, but people have latched onto Chainsaw Man's in ways I haven't seen in a long while. They're fun! Power is a massive gremlin, but she isn't one-note, and she and the rest of the cast do get to develop in meaningful, realistic ways. Aki, made a reluctant older brother figure to Denji and Power, actually gets to form a connection with the two of them, despite both of them being a pain in the ass. But that's family sometimes, isn't it?
Then there's the second part of the manga, an intriguing and pleasant surprise, and without going into spoilers, is heading in a narrative direction that will appeal to a broader audience than the typically male-skewed one shonen has, or is at least targeted towards.
The manga is doing incredibly well too of course, even more so since the anime dropped, with the series having hit 20 million copies in circulation worldwide as of November. Not bad for a series that literally only has a dozen volumes at the time of writing. On top of that, it won a Harvey Award for best manga, a prestigious award for achievements in comic books, for the second year in a row.
Essentially, Chainsaw Man is currently unstoppable. Denji himself, a literal unstoppable force, continues to giddily rip and tear through any immovable object that gets in his way, making the series so constantly exciting to watch grow. This year has been Chainsaw's Man year, but it's also the year it's just getting started. And I can't wait to see what it does next.
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