The exciting and dangerous characters in Chainsaw Man are more than just “unique”. To uncover the secrets of Fujimoto-sensei’s character creation, we ask manga creator Yuji Kaku, a former assistant for Fujimoto in his succession work Fire Punch.
The main character is a greedy devil! A new form of anti-hero action.
Chainsaw Man Tatsuki Fujimoto
The main character Denji has hit rock bottom and harbors the devil Pochita in his body. Motivated purely by his own desires, he plays a bloody battle with the devil. When the series began on Weekly Shōnen Jump, it quickly became a manga of discussion, as it caught readers' hearts with its unique dialogue and world view.
A popular title on Jump +! It’s a hardcore ninja adventure story that challenges the meaning of life and death.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Yuji Kaku
The unexpected development made it a popular Jump+ title. It’s a Japanese-style fantasy with ninjas, samurai and mystery monsters set in the end of the Edo period, Japan. Creator Yuji Kaku has the experience of supporting Fujimoto-sensei’s first series Fire Punch as an assistant.
What do you think of the characters that Fujimoto-sensei draws?
Kaku: I’ve been with Fujimoto-sensei since I was an assistant for Fire Punch. Him and I have very similar taste in movies and things we like, so our thoughts about design are the same too. That’s why I have an impression that a lot of our design inspiration comes from the “cool” things we see in a movie. When it comes to design, we’re both the type to think that a design with solid essence is more appealing than all the detail. No matter how weird the design is, if it doesn’t have a sense of novelty in its essence, it doesn’t mean anything. I think I am attracted to designs that are well thought out. In my words, such a design has “high-strength”. Specifically, I think it’s amazing that the violent and messy essence of the characters in Chainsaw Man can immediately be perceived from the design. It’s something I strive to do, so seeing Fujimoto-sensei’s work is very inspiring.
In terms of character personality, the characters drawn by Fujimoto-sensei like Togata from Fire Punch, already include the gag element at the center of his persona. Therefore, you can create a situation where a serious act carried out by a character is perceived as a complete joke to others. Furthermore, I feel that the core of Fujimoto-sensei’s work is the structure where the gag element of a character is the driving force of the story. Speaking of which, the main character Denji is similar to Fujimoto-sensei. His way of speaking is completely that of Fujimoto-sensei. There are times when Fujimoto-sensei will speak in such a tone, exactly the same as Denji.
You said that both of you have similar taste, what type of work do you enjoy?
Kaku: Both of us like works that take the audience to a place they’ve never seen before. Even ones where the genre changes halfway through the work. I believe Fire Punch is one of those works. A fairly large part of the criteria when we evaluate a work is occupied by whether it has “a feeling different from other works” or “a new way of showing something”. I get really excited when I see something where I think “wow I’ve never seen this before!”. However, it is not enough to simply be different. It’s necessary to have a sense of “realism” that makes you think that the world really exists. Fujimoto-sensei’s work has a magnificent scale to the whole story and the development will change from one to another, but in the end it will result in concrete, familiar emotions. That’s where I perceive “realism”. Popular works like Parasyte and Shigurui are similar in this area.
How do the designs of the devils in Chainsaw Man look?
Kaku: For example, if Fujimoto-sensei and I were to draw the same subject, I would think about how to convey my favorite aspect in the most uncomplicated way, resulting in the addition of detail. However, Fujimoto-sensei would simply draw out his favorite things just as it is. Sometimes when I see this, I’ll think “is this gonna be alright?!” but it’s accepted by the readers. Therefore, the devils of Chainsaw Man are not so surprising in terms of design. There isn’t much surprise in the design itself and gives the feelings of “that’s exactly how I imagined it to be! This is what I’ve been waiting for!”. Nevertheless, there is a bit of shock in the fact that it’s presented as is.
To be specific, I felt that the “just stuck the chainsaw onto him” type design of the Chainsaw Man that Denji transforms into is done on purpose. I think Fujimoto-sensei didn’t want to design it in a way where the chainsaws integrated into his body more naturally.
This is a bit off topic, but in the third episode the name Tatsuki Fujimoto appears on the billboard of a building and I thought that it was quite corny but these types of things are what I find pleasant. Later when I asked him, he said that his assistant did it without his knowledge. But it’s really great that he’d give the go-sign to that right? I think all of these bold moves of putting things in just as they are, is something that Fujimoto-sensei consciously does.
Interviewer: It takes a lot of courage to do that right? He has the momentum to just step on the accelerator saying “GO!” to something that others would feel anxious doing.
Kaku: That’s right. Even with food where the ingredients are presented uncooked, you’d try to arrange the plate nicely or at least give an explanation that “the ingredients are purposefully left as they are,” but Fujimoto-sensei doesn’t do this. I really admire him for that. Even with post transformation Denji’s design, usually you’d think to add a bit more. The fact that he’s got the handle as his head is a very Fujimoto-sensei thing to design. Normally when designing a monster with a chainsaw, you’d focus on the blades, but in the case of Fujimoto-sensei, the tool itself is propped on to be the head. Also, the difference in design between Fujimoto-sense and me is the way he incorporates elements of comedy into his designs. When I design, I will always stick to what I think is “cool” and that’s my weakness. Fujimoto-sensei’s designs will include my favorite aspects of design but also a large amount of comedy in it. This can also be applied to the story. That’s what I really look up to.
What character from Chainsaw Man will you be drawing?
Kaku: In the past, I’ve uploaded a couple drawings of characters from Chainsaw Man on twitter, but the character I like and want to draw is Denji.