Chainsaw Man is an action manga whose protagonist, Denji, forms a contract with a devil that allows him to transform into the titular character and battle other devils. Written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto, the manga has accumulated a worldwide following through its memorable characters and thrilling action sequences, as well as a popular anime adaptation. UT Creative Director Kosuke Kawamura, who is also a renowned collage artist, has created a new T-shirt collection based on the anime. It’s a match made in heaven—Kawamura famously shreds images into strips before reassembling them into a collage, just like Chainsaw Man shreds devils into pieces with the chainsaws attached to his arms and head. To better understand how the manga and anime have gained such a huge fan base, we talked to Shihei Lin, the manga’s editor.
In addition to the T-shirt Lin wore for this interview, the collection includes the four T-shirts pictured here. Also in the picture are the 15 paperback volumes of Chainsaw Man published to date and two stuffed toys belonging to Lin that are based on Pochita, the devil with which Denji forms a contract.
Let’s start by talking about how you met Fujimoto.
I met him about 13 years ago. He was just 17 and submitting one-shot manga for Jump SQ. magazine—and I was his editor. But because he lived far from Tokyo, we only ever talked over the phone. I didn’t get to see him in person until two years after meeting him. But by then, we had spent so much time over the phone, I didn’t feel like I was meeting him for the first time.
What impression did you have of Fujimoto?
He was very serious and very ambitious. He would turn in his drafts very quickly. He was also quick to adapt. If I told him that something wasn’t working for me, he would just come up with a completely new idea.
When did the idea for Chainsaw Man come about?
I’m pretty sure he was tossing around the idea for a while, considering he was creating action manga right from the start. I think the first time we discussed the idea was when Fire Punch —his first serialized manga—was coming to an end. I asked him what he’d like to serialize next, and he said he wanted to create another action manga. After much back and forth, he finally sent me a design of Denji in his Chainsaw Man persona. That’s when the idea really started to pick up steam.
When you saw the design, did you feel this was going to be a hit?
No, if anything I thought it was a bad idea. In fact, the first thing I said was, “This is the bad guy, right?” [Laughs.] In Fire Punch, the main character has the ability to burn and kill anything he touches, which made it difficult to create a compelling human story. This was a guy who was too dangerous for other characters to touch, let alone get near. Fujimoto himself said he had trouble developing an interesting story around this character. That’s why when I saw this new character who was practically covered in chainsaws, I was worried Fujimoto would go through the same problems again. But he reassured me that it would be okay because this character would be able to return to human form. So I read his drafts for the first three chapters, and I liked it. We got the green light for serialization, but I wasn’t entirely confident it would be a success—my feeling was, “Well, it would be nice if this becomes a hit.”
By this point, how much of the story had been decided?
Nothing. With Shonen Jump magazine, the editors generally look at the reader's response to the first three chapters of a manga before deciding whether to continue serializing it or not. When so much is up in the air, there’s no point in thinking too far ahead. In fact, we were initially looking at a short serialization—enough to cover two or three paperback volumes.
So everything after Volume 3 was thought up on the spot?
Basically. We would decide on the story during our meetings. That’s how most serialized manga work. If I remember correctly, it was around Volume 6 or 7 that we finally had some kind of ending in mind. Chainsaw Man was serialized weekly, which meant that Fujimoto had no time to spare for anything other than the next week’s installment. He had five days to finish his work after our meeting, give or take.
That’s a very tight schedule. Were there any surprises during your back and forth with Fujimoto?
Not really. But I was excited every time Fujimoto turned in his work. I’d always find things that I absolutely loved and things that would just completely stupefy me.
If you were to define Fujimoto as a manga artist, what would you say?
He’s got a real ear for dialogue. His dialogue is raw and fits his characters to a tee, but it all sounds very natural. I think that’s where his strengths as a manga artist lie. Of course, some of it is very colorful and is bound to make readers gasp!
Was this a skill that Fujimoto had from the very beginning? Or was it something he developed over the years?
There was a one-shot manga he wrote before Fire Punch called “Nayuta of the Prophecy.” It was around this time that I felt that something clicked inside Fujimoto. I’ve told him this myself, but from then on, the number of times I rejected his ideas rapidly fell.
Interesting. I feel with Chainsaw Man, part of the appeal are the character designs. Which character is your favorite?
I think I like Reze a lot. The way she uses her own head as a bomb is not strictly suitable for shonen manga [geared towards boys], but I can’t deny the power of that imagery. Fujimoto is capable of both provocation and beauty; with Reze, I feel like she’s both beautiful and terrifying. I also liked the kiss scene with the fireworks in the background where Reze bites off Denji’s tongue. I could really tell Fujimoto was enjoying his work.
Were there times you felt Fujimoto was struggling with this work?
When he was working through the ending for Part 1 of Chainsaw Man. He just could not figure out how to end the story. But in the end, I think he managed to win his battle against time and other obstacles to create an ending that satisfied his wishes. We went out drinking on the night we announced the final chapter, and he was just so happy that he’d survived the ordeal.
What do you think is the biggest appeal of Chainsaw Man?
Just from looking at the drafts, you can tell that the manga is full of visual and stylistic choices that work only in manga. So you might see an inhuman hand stretching into a panel or a window frame serving as the panel itself. Some parts make you feel like you’re watching an anime, but even then the panels are full of manga-like visual elements. You might say the work exists somewhere between anime and manga. I think that’s the biggest appeal of Chainsaw Man.
The anime adaptation began a year after Part 1 of Chainsaw Man ended in 2021. How involved were you and Fujimoto?
We were involved in the season arc, scripts, art direction, checking the storyboards, selecting the voice actors, selecting the songs in the opening and closing credits, and promotion. Having said that, Fujimoto is not really a stickler. He attended a couple of post-recording sessions, but he never really pushed his opinions onto the production staff. I think he was happy for the team to create the anime in the way they wanted to.
What did you think of the anime?
The action scenes were great. When Chainsaw Man fights the Bat Devil, the camera was moving around like crazy—it really delivered on the visuals. There was also a sense of visual realism throughout the anime.
From Chainsaw Man “Episode 3: Meowy's Whereabouts"
Do you know how Fujimoto felt about the anime?
He’s very grateful that it delivered his work to an even wider audience. “Isn’t it great?” he’s always saying. [Laughs.]
And finally, collage artist Kosuke Kawamura has produced a UT T-shirt collection based on the Chainsaw Man anime. What do you think of the shirts?
I love that Chainsaw Man has made it into a UT collection. It means even more people around the world are going to learn about the work. The manga is currently published online in seven languages. Within twelve hours of publication, we get feedback in many different languages. And thanks to the anime, I can kind of tell that Chainsaw Man is now a global phenomenon. That’s very exciting, and with this UT collection, I feel that Chainsaw Man is going become even better known. I’m so glad the T-shirt designs are of such high quality, as you would expect of Kosuke Kawamura. Maybe next time you can do a UT collection based on the manga as well!
Chainsaw Man | Denji is a down-on-his-luck teenager who by chance forms a contract with the Chainsaw Devil to become Chainsaw Man. He is recruited by Tokyo Special Division 4 at Public Safety, a government organization, to become a Devil Hunter. Working with his teammates, Denji goes hunting for devils. Part 1 has ended; Part 2 is currently being serialized in Shonen Jump+ magazine.
Shihei Lin | Lin was born in 1982. He joined the publisher Shueisha in 2006, where he served as editor for Monthly Shonen Jump and Jump SQ. before making the jump to Shonen Jump+. He edits several popular manga, including Chainsaw Man, Spy x Family, Dandadan, Heart Gear, Kindergarten Wars, and Beat & Motion.
The design is based on an image of Chainsaw Man in the Episode 3 closing credits. Kawamura shredded the image and then spliced the strips into a collage. The text above the image on the back is a quote from Makima, head of Tokyo Special Division 4.
Kawamura took an image of Makima using her mysterious powers and made it even more mysterious by blurring it through the use of collage. The quote above the image hints at the terrifying powers possessed by Makima.
Denji and a few of his teammates at Tokyo Special Division 4—Power, Aki, and Makima—are featured in this design based on drawings produced for the anime. The quote below the image is uttered by Kishibe, a highly skilled veteran Devil Hunter.
An animation drawing of Pochita—the Chainsaw Devil with which Denji forms a contract—is printed on the back of this shirt. The quote circling Pochita in distinctive typography is the line it utters when it forms its contract with Denji.
Power—a Blood Fiend and also a Devil Hunter—is featured on the back of this T-shirt, along with the introduction she gives Denji when they first meet.
The visually powerful print on the back of this long-sleeved shirt is a collage created by Kawamura based on two drawings produced for the anime. Above the image is a quote by Makima that suggests the awesome power of Chainsaw Man.
The main visual of this long-sleeved shirt is a collage created with a drawing produced for the anime and a scene from the actual anime. On the back is one of Denji’s most memorable quotes from the anime.
The design on this shirt is composed of drawings produced for “Episode 3: Meowy's Whereabouts.” The image on the back is accompanied by a quote from Power, who says the line right after her beloved cat, Meowy, is eaten by the Bat Devil.
This is the long-sleeved version of the T-shirt with the Pochita design. On the left chest are the Chainsaw Man title logo in Japanese and the Episode 1 title in English. The shirt comes in black.
Release dates and prices may vary. Some items might be limited to certain stores or countries of sale or may be sold out.
© Tatsuki Fujimoto/SHUEISHA, MAPPA
© Kosuke Kawamura