What’s that, you want more Tatsuki Fujimoto from before Chainsaw Man? Well, you are in luck because there is another book featuring manga one-shots from when Tatsuki was aged 22 to 26.
Tatsuki Fujimoto Before Chainsaw Man: 22-26
I only recently reviewed 17-21 by Tatsuki Fujimoto, so diving into the next book 22-26 seems only natural. It helps that I’m a big fan of short stories and one-shots. I do love a good epic, but there’s something quite exciting about the way short stories pack a lot of story into a smaller time frame. They often deliver a lasting impression in the form of twists, gut punches, or ambiguous endings. Anyhow, just like the last one, I’m going to look at each of the stories individually.
Toshihide has been missing school since his mother died. Instead, he likes to go down to the and spend his time there reminiscing about her. Well, she was a mermaid after all. He’s almost forgotten everything about her, but there’s an underwater piano built by mermaids that he can play. He has to hold his breath while he plays, but he can play it and it reminds him of his mother. One day, he sees another mermaid watching him. He tries to call to her but forgets he’s underwater and drowns. The mermaid, Shiju revives him and to thank her, he offers to teach her to play the piano.
They spend more and more time together to the point that Toshihide thinks he’s fallen for her. It might just be fear since mermaids are known to eat humans occasionally. Then, one day Toshihide is attacked by a shark. It bit his legs and one of his arms. Shiju bit off one of his ears in the frenzy. The humans are angry at the mermaids and Toshihide is told to stay away. However, he asks his father about his mother and why he married her if she was a mermaid. It turns out he had the same reaction that Toshihide does to Shiju. He goes back to the sea and plays the piano. The mermaids try to keep Shiju away but are transfixed by the music. They take turns giving him air so that he can keep playing.
I really enjoyed this one. I loved the way the mermaids were cute but also dangerous. The scene where Toshihide was attacked by a shark was shocking, but finding out that Shiju bit off his ear was even more so. I liked how it ended too with the mermaids desperate for Toshihide to play for them to the point that they were all waiting for him in the water when he went back to school. Apparently, Tatsuki wrote this because he was told he can’t write normal stories… “normal”… Love it.
Toshihide (a different one from the last story) woke up with a very rare condition. Basically, his body changed during the night and he was now a girl. He confided in his girlfriend who seemed to be puzzled but supportive. However, when Toshihide went to school, the real nightmare began. He would be treated as a girl going forward since there was no known cure and any attempts to reverse the process on others had failed. That meant that he would change with the girls, which left them feeling like he was just trying to spy on them.
Then the boys decided that they would all have sex with Toshihide now that he was a girl and they would only stop bullying him if he did. Luckily, Toshihide’s girlfriend’s brother burst into the room and knocked out the lead bully. He whisked Toshihide away and took him home. Later on, Toshihide met with his girlfriend once more and confided in her that he felt strange feelings for Rei’s brother. She panicked and told Toshihide to have sex with her, but he didn’t understand. How could he? When Rei’s brother came home, things got worse as Rei ran off. He then told Toshihide that if he was a man he would go after Rei. He did.
This was a fascinating story and oh-so terrifying. The idea of swapping genders in fiction has often been used as a source of comedy. However, this story treated it more seriously and then showed just how horrifying it might be. Not necessarily the idea of swapping, but the way the boys in his class treated him was horrific. It’s not that much of a stretch to imagine things going that way too. There was a lot of talk about behaving like a man or a woman that seemed to go against a lot of the messages so it was a mixed bag, but it was good. I did like how Rei was considered more “manly” than Toshihide even before he changed.
Nayuta of the Prophecy
Someone once predicted that a child would be born with horns that would kill their mother. They wouldn’t have a human heart and no one would be able to understand their speech. That child would be a mage and would one day destroy the world. That child was Nayuta, Kenji’s little sister. He swore early on that he would protect his sister. He didn’t believe in any prophecies. Unfortunately, lots of other people did. When their father died, Kenji tried to get jobs to support Nayuta, but it was hard when people found out about his relationship to Nayuta, whether they believed in the prophecy or not.
Kenji would often give his food to Nayuta as feeding both of them was expensive. Then, one evening, Nayuta went out and slaughter a load of cows, bringing their bodies back to the apartment. Kenji told the angry people that he did it and would accept the blame. He would find a way to pay them all back. Nayuta was angry at how her brother was treated and upset that he had to cover for her. She went outside and when the people noticed her she summoned thousands of giant swords that flew through the sky. Kenji woke up and hurried outside. He told Nayuta off who instantly made the swords vanish. No one was hurt so nothing more came of it. Kenji moved to a remote village with Nayuta in the hopes of starting fresh.
I don’t believe in prophecies. Thought I should get that out of the way before we continue. What I do like, however, is how people interpret prophecies. It’s the same as horoscopes. People will see what they want to see and make their point of view fit the prediction. Now, in this instance, I fully believe that Nayuta had the power to destroy the world. She fits the prophecy perfectly, but she didn’t destroy the world. Will that stop people from believing? No, not at all. They will find another way to interpret it and go after some other poor unsuspecting child. I liked this one a lot.
Mitsuko is in her final year of art school and she’s walked into the mother of all shocks. Every year, there is an art contest and the winning piece is displayed in the main foyer for the entire school year. The latest winner is a lifesize nude painting of Mitsuko! She’s embarrassed, incensed, and doesn’t know what to do. Her teachers won’t remove it because of tradition. It’s an art school so no one is going to get weird over a nude. Well, that’s not the experience Mitsuko is having. If she has a complaint she needs to take it up with the artist, her little sister. However, they don’t exactly get along.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Anzu idolises her sister and made the painting from her imagination. She does everything her sister does, including attending art school. After all of their relatives showed up one day to get a family picture with the painting, Mitsuko decides she will get her little sister back and demands that she pose for a nude painting. However, she starts to realise that she can’t paint her sister because she doesn’t look at her enough. In the end, she paints an accurate nude of herself and wins the contest.
There’s a lot to unpack with this short. What I’m taking away is that Mitsuko is somewhat blind to her sister because she is constantly focused on herself. That’s why she ended up painting a nude self-portrait rather than one of her sister. So, it wasn’t even about it being a nude painting of Mitsuko. It was the fact that it wasn’t an accurate painting that bothered her.
I feel like short fiction in all forms often gets ignored because of its length. It’s as if people think that short fiction is somehow an easy option and whoever is making it just can’t create anything longer. I do not like that opinion. I think short fiction is fantastic. For the record, I read fiction of all lengths and types so I feel that I can share my thoughts on the matter. There are times when I want to read a long sprawling epic. Sometimes, I love a story that is done in three books. Other times, I love nothing more than being able to breeze through a story in twenty minutes. Basically, length isn’t important… it’s what you do with it that counts… Anyhow, this was another good collection of shorts from the mind behind Chainsaw Man. It’s well worth checking out, regardless of your thoughts on Chainsaw Man.
Other posts in the series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – Dog & Chainsaw
- Episode 2 – Arrival in Tokyo
- Episode 3 – Meowy’s Whereabouts
- Episode 4 – Rescue
- Episode 5 – Gun Devil
- Episode 6 – Kill Denji
- Episode 7 – The Taste of a Kiss
- Episode 8 – Gunfire
- Episode 9 – From Kyoto
- Episode 10 – Bruised & Battered
- Episode 11 – Mission Start
- Episode 12 – Katana vs. Chainsaw
- Season One
- Tatsuki Fujimoto Before Chainsaw Man