I will say that I was a little concerned about how the strange and cinematic style of the Chainsaw Man comics would work in prose. After all, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s careful but seemingly roughshod art is a big part of why the manga works so well. Thank goodness I only had to read a few pages of Chainsaw Man: Buddy Stories to calm down. Kevin Steinbach did a great job translating the manga into English. The author, Sakaku Hishikawa, does a great job getting the crazy tone of the manga and the cute and, er, unique quirks of the characters’ voices. When it comes to capturing the more scary and action-packed parts of the Chainsaw Man style, the prose has some trouble. But with a name like Buddy Stories, the book at least makes it clear that we’re here for the vibes, which means it can still play to CSM’s best qualities. Another thing that makes the book seem more real is that Fujimoto himself made a few nice, original drawings for it.
Considering that this is a collection, it makes the most sense to look at each story on its own. Without further ado:
Buddy Story #1: The Great Detective Power and Her Assistant Denji
Power is the funniest and best character in the comic, so it makes sense that this story is the funniest of the bunch. Because both her and Denji’s characters are so strong, this story is also where the book did the best job of capturing their voices. As always, the funniest and most racy parts are when Power and Denji talk to each other. The main plot, in which our heroes try to use their detective skills to find out if the Devil is behind a string of recent disappearances at a very creepy inn, is also pretty interesting on its own. But Power’s obsession with anime is what makes it funny, and that’s what gets it to the end. Someday, I’d love to see an OVA version of this book (hint, hint, MAPPA). It’s a great read.
Buddy Story #2: Nine Years’ Savor
That’s too bad; this wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, but it wasn’t because it was truly awful. It just had so much promise that it fell short in the end. Although Kishibe and Quanxi are both interesting characters, they haven’t had much room to grow in the manga. However, there are hints in the comic that the two may have a history together that Nine Years’ Savor will explore. Unfortunately, the story never really goes anywhere interesting or new, even though the idea of the two working out their relationship problems while training a new Devil Hunter could have been very useful. I liked spending more time with the characters, but this doesn’t really feel like its own story. Instead, it reads like a collection of scenes that were cut from the manga.
Buddy Story #3: The Day We Became Buddies
We’re cooking with gas now! I have to say that my love and respect for both Aki and Himeno has grown since the great anime Chainsaw Man came out. The Day We Became Buddies builds on all of that love and respect by adding new scenes to the ones we already saw of them working together and telling a whole new story about the first devil they killed. I think this monster is one of the most interesting Devils I’ve seen in the Chainsaw Man series. Its special abilities affect Aki and Himeno’s relationship in both the past and the “present” of the story. It’s exciting, sad, and almost just the right length. The best Chainsaw Man ever.
Buddy Story #4: Enoshima: Island of Dreams
Last but not least, there is a slightly different story that is more of a “What If…” situation in which Denji and his friends take their much-talked-about trip to Enoshima. For people who read the manga, this is a setting that is both cute and sad, and it lives up to expectations in every way. Naturally, the story is pretty light and fluffy, but since it’s Chainsaw Man, it doesn’t forget to give readers a little kick in the gut before it’s over. As a little treat.
I think that Chainsaw Man: Buddy Stories is a great collection for Chainsaw Fans who know what they’re looking for. But I think you should read the manga first because some of the stories give away major plot points from Part 1 of the comic. That’s still another reason to finish reading CSM right away! This book will be there for you when you’re done to help fill the Pochita-shaped hole in your heart.