WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Chainsaw Man, by Tatsuki Fujimoto, Amanda Haley and Sabrina Heep, available now from Viz Media.
Over the course of its nearly two year run, Chainsaw Man has cemented itself as Shonen Jump's most unpredictable manga. With a blisteringly fast pace and over-the-top, gory fights on top of the whole concept of Devils, the series makes for some seriously great reading. Beyond its action and monsters, what stands out so much in Chainsaw Man is its characters. Its protagonist Denji, while far from the conventional hero, wins readers over with his incredible amount of heart and the manga's plethora of side characters are each memorable in their own way.
But in spite of their notability, the series has shown time and time again that it is not afraid to kill even its most central characters. It set this precedent early on in Chapter 25 when Public Devil Hunter Himeno tragically sacrificed herself in a fight against the Katana Man. Her death was very unexpected, as just a few chapters earlier it felt as if readers were just getting to know her.
Following their fight with the Eternity Devil, her character saw some major development as she has an awkward (and disgusting) encounter with Denji over drinks. The next morning, the two made a promise to help each other with their prospective relationships. She promised to help Denji get closer to Makima, while Denji agreed to help her get closer to Aki. Their own burgeoning relationship with this deal made it seem as if she was a mainstay in the series, but it turns out that was far from the case.
This is a consistent trend in the series, as characters who appear to have gotten enough focus to transition into an important supporting role have met quick and tragic ends. Reze is another example of this as she inserted herself into the story as a new potential love interest for Denji. The two immediately had a chemistry that carried on even after she revealed herself as a traitor. Her backstory even set up parallels between her and Denji, with the two of them having been forced to work for their countries' governments as sub-human killers. After his choice to spare her because of their time spent together, it appeared as if Reze would turn over a new leaf and return in a later arc — until Makima killed her, that is.
However, even after the countless sudden deaths and insecurity of who would come next, there seemed to be a small degree of plot armor surrounding its main characters. Aki, Power and Makima were incredibly popular from the start and all cemented their role as important characters who survived when countless others didn’t. But as the manga progressed and the plot ramped up more even this sense of security was shattered.
It all began with Aki who, while his death was foreshadowed a bit when he made a contract with the Future Devil, died in a heart wrenching encounter with Denji after he became a Gun Fiend. Fans assumed his death would be much later on, if it even happened at all, but the Future Devil's premonition turned out to be all too true as Aki died by Denji's hand. While readers and Denji alike were still reeling from his death, another devastating blow was delivered in the form of Power's death. Proven by her number one spot in the manga's popularity poll she was a fan favorite, making that chapter sting even more.
With this, Chainsaw Man firmly cemented that absolutely no one is safe and that readers shouldn't expect anyone to make it out unscathed. Now even its main character seems to be in danger as he's caught in the crosshairs of Makima, who wishes to use Chainsaw Man's power to bring her plan to fruition.
This is what makes Chainsaw Man such an enjoyable story. While its fast pace can sometimes feel like whiplash and certain characters may feel like wasted potential, it's the constant uncertainty and subversion of expectations that makes every chapter worth reading. As the series progresses and more characters come to the fore, Chainsaw Man should continue to stand tall as one of current manga's most exciting titles — even if Denji might not make it all the way through.