Chainsaw Man. It sounds like a cheesy horror film you would get from B-movie Hollywood, but it’s far from that. In fact, Chainsaw Man is a Japanese manga that is getting a full-blooded anime adaptation this October. The anime community is as hyped-up as the torque on those blades.
The community is justified in their hype too. Chainsaw Man has assembled an Avengers-esque team of talent to bring this adaptation to life on the screen. From the trailers that have been released so far, it looks like it’s going to be quite possibly the anime of the year. (And that’s saying a lot).
But for the people out there who haven’t strapped chainsaws to their arms and torn into the manga like a 10-year-old into their birthday cake (i.e., normies), you must be wondering, what the hell is Chainsaw Man? You might be wondering, where does the hype come from? And what can I learn from this and apply to my own business? All those answers will come in due time.
This is a spoiler-free article.
This is a violent anime. Don’t read or watch if you’re squeamish, or if you’re supposed to be working in the office right now.
Chainsaw Man is like if the video game Doom was an anime…
Chainsaw Man is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Fujimoto Tatsuki that was published by Shounen Jump in December 2018. The first series wrapped up in December 2020, followed by a second series that began in July this year. If you’re thinking that seems like a breakneck work schedule, you’re right, but Tatsuki believes in himself so much that he even attempted to levitate, so you have to give the man props.
To a non-anime fan, Chainsaw Man, on the surface, is like if you stuck Doom into a blender and then injected it into a book. It’s got tons of action, intensely dark themes, and so much ripping and tearing that I’m surprised the pages stay intact. But it’s also darkly funny too.
I’m sure many of us have played Doom, or at least a game inspired by it. As a refresher, Doom is a franchise that has existed for almost 30 years starting, back in 1993. It’s a bestseller, boasting over 1.5 million copies sold. With that success, the franchise went on to make 20 games, 2 films, a comic book, and a board game.
People like ripping and tearing into demons. Doom proved this. It’s engrossing, gory, and oddly therapeutic to be a 6’6″ Doom Slayer blowing demons into tiny bits. It gets me pumped up just thinking about the high-octane action. Basically, it has everything that Animal Crossing would have needed to get my attention.
…but comparing Chainsaw Man to Doom will only get you so far.
In spirit, Chainsaw Man and Doom share a common ancestor. But technically and literally, they don’t. Chainsaw Man is something entirely unique. In fact, it has to be because anime is a fiercely competitive market, and having chainsaw arms will make you stand out like Edward Scissorhands.
Chainsaw Man is about a man called Denji who’s stuck with a huge amount of debt after his father dies and has no way to pay it back. But thanks to his adorable devil dog, Pochita, who it should be noted – has a goddman chainsaw in its forehead – he’s able to get a part-time job killing off Devils for the Yakuza. You know, just a normal gig economy works that even Devils have to do.
These Devils are the manifestation of people’s fears. You know, like that giant spider in your bathtub that you saw at 8 in the morning which gave you a heart attack you really did not want. Or, at least, this is what happened to Denji.
Turns out, this bathtub spider actually killed Denji, but in true anime fashion, both he and Pochita made a deal. Before they both die, Pochita agrees live on inside Denji as his own heart. Sounds weird, but it’s a common enough anime trope, similar to Soul Eater and the Demon Weapons. (Personally, I’m all about this concept!)
As a result, Denji becomes the Chainsaw Man, complete with a pull-string on his chest. When pulled, it turns his head and arms into chainsaws, allowing him to go on a demonic rip-and-tear spree wherever the Devil decides to send work his way.
Due to the fact that he is a living fucking chainsaw human hybrid he obviously attracts the attention of the Japanese government. Specifically, the branch of Public Safety Devil Hunters. Denji, you see, is special and they recruit him. To say anything more is to spoil the show, and I’m not going to do that.
So with all this in mind, let’s talk about why this show is so hyped up, and, more importantly, why the Home Depot outdoor department is now full of weebs.
Successful mangas often turn into successful animes
Mr. Fujimoto is the father of this beautiful brainchild. He’s 28 years old and has loved drawing since an early age. He’s won multiple awards for his one-shots‘ work such as Paper Planes and Sasaki Has Stopped the Bullet. In other words, he’s a wunderkind.
In 2016, he published his first major serialized work – Fire Punch. It’s a horrific dystopian story set in a frozen world where superpowers called “blessings” are used in really messed up ways. Agni can regenerate so when a villain named Doma kills his whole village and family with an inextinguishable flame it leaves him in anguish for over eight years until he is able to control his body again, vowing to get revenge.
From that fiery, fucked-up manga came another even more fucked-up manga called Chainsaw Man. It too won a Harvey Award. Then it proceeded to climb the #7 best-selling rank in Japan and has ultimately sold 15 million copies and counting, with 5 million being in 2021 alone. So we have a great creator with a popular franchise to start with here.
Getting your second major published manga to reach the top ten list is nuts. Getting it to next to the incredibly successful One Piece and to beat Spy X Family is even harder. These franchises have incredibly loyal fanbases.
Popular manga tend to get picked up by animation studios. The only manga you see on that chart above that did not have an anime adaptation at the time was Spy X Family. This happened in 2022 and the fans rejoiced and it shows with it sitting at a solid solid #35 on myanimelist. Accordingly, the manga saw a bump in popularity and now it’s outselling Chainsaw Man with 25 million copies.
The big point here: anime adaptations make manga sales go brr…
Chainsaw Man’s hype is palpable right now
Right now, in this very moment, the one thing I fear the most is that the deep within the heart of the anime community, there will rise a cult of flannel-wearing lumberjack weebs wielding chainsaws in one hand and dogs in the other.
Why? Because Chainsaw Man is getting a ton of hype. Its trailer alone has gotten 15 million views since last year. For comparison, Attack on Titan’s final season trailer got 15 million views, and that show has an established anime audience since 2013. What’s more, that trailer dropped in September 2020 when people had nothing to do but sit inside anyway!
So what the hell is going on?
This is a nuclear level of hype. But I think when you watch this sub-2-minute trailer for Chainsaw Man, it makes sense. The music and ambience, not to mention the animation, are intense and powerful. Fujimoto has a massive manga following and the Chainsaw Man brand is going to send him to the moon. Take a popular author, popular franchise, and drop a trailer like this, and suddenly that hype starts making a lot of sense! (Much of this is thanks to the work of Studio Mappa.)
Chainsaw Man is being made by the best possible people including Studio Mappa and Tatsuya Yoshihara
Studio Mappa, is a Japanese animation studio founded in 2011. Since its inception, it has produced hit animes such as Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan: The Final Season. Both of these animes won the illustrious Crunchyroll Awards. Now they’re donning their chainsaws for what may possibly be their biggest hit yet.
However prestigious and well-renowned the studio may be, there needs to be direction. In an interesting twist, Chainsaw Man will be directed by two people: Tatsuya Yoshihara and Ryuu Nakayama. Yoshiara directed the well-known, Black Clover, but Nakayama will be directing for the first time.
Now here’s where this differs from Hollywood. In Hollywood, it’s not only possible but painfully common for a sub-par director to get their hands on an existing intellectual property. For example, Halo was absolutely butchered. Both Yoshihara and Nakayama have been in key animation roles such as animation director and storyboarder. I’ve looked into their work, and can say that Chainsaw Man is in capable hands. Watch the videos below and see if you agree with me.
It’s not just about looks – Chainsaw Man sounds great too
So take a popular creator, popular manga, well-liked animation studio, and well-qualified directors. A very good mix so far.
You know what you need next? An absolutely banging soundtrack to pair with killing an incredible amount of Devils.
You have a music director pulled from Netflix’s licensed Devilman Crybaby, which has a great soundtrack. I mean, just listen to this absolute bop.
He’s also done the music for A Silent Voice which is one of the greatest anime movies of the modern era. That movie has quite literally the polar opposite style of music, so you know that this composer has the range to deliver something really special.
What Chainsaw Man Teaches Us About Hype Creation
Chainsaw Man has to be one of the most hyped animes in recent years, surpassing all of the top Shōnen shows, so let’s take a moment to consider why. Once you understand why Chainsaw Man is so hyped up, you can see ways to hype up your own work too!
First, take the extremely talented and passionate creator, who always brings something different to the table when you read his work. His stories are diverse, thought-provoking, and fucked up in a way that’s interesting to read.
So first lesson: master your craft, then wear your weirdness proudly.
It’s important to note that anime is more popular than manga. By a lot, at that. But the manga fans are always the first to jump on a new anime. And the fact that 15 million people watched that trailer and are waiting for the anime to draw tells you something. Build your community with something small, then launch your big product.
Next, hire the best possible people you can, and then let them do their jobs. Chainsaw Man is bringing in super-talented musicians, directors, and animators. Once you have the right people on your team, you’re well-positioned to make a great product.
Lastly, share a little bit at a time. Chainsaw Man has slowly released teaser trailers and bits and pieces of the soundtrack. With this slow and steady release of new content, fans are always anticipating the next new bit of information. It’s good for SEO, brand-building, and just staying memorable!
Chainsaw Man has everything going for it right now. It stands a great chance of becoming the anime of the year, leaving its marks in the anime industry for a long time. With such talented people at the helm of a popular franchise, it seems very likely that the show is going to smash records.
You don’t have to be making a bloody anime series to learn from what this team is doing, though. All you need is an interesting idea, a few fans, a good team, and the patience to slowly share what you’ve created.
If you want to learn more about Chainsaw Man, it might even be out when you’re reading this. But if you really can’t wait, check out the first few chapters here for free.