The following contains minor spoilers from the Chainsaw Man manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto, now available in English via Viz Media.
Many modern shonen anime fit the unofficial “monster hunter” subgenre, where the heroes use specialized equipment and training to dispatch dangerous monsters who threaten humanity. Older examples include Bleach and Tokyo Ghoul, while the newest, hottest monster slayer titles include the much-anticipated Chainsaw Man and the beloved, beautifully animated Demon Slayer.
These two series vary greatly in tone and visual style, but they still have some thematic overlap. Protagonist Tanjiro Kamado and antihero Denji/Chainsaw Man are both sworn to hunt and destroy monsters and protect humanity, dangerous jobs indeed. Devils and demons are worthy adversaries, but fans might wonder which monster species is more dangerous and why. Many factors are at play, from the monsters’ intelligence and cunning to their abilities, coordination with other monsters, and more.
The Sinister Powers of Chainsaw Man’s Devils
In Chainsaw Man‘s alternate 1990s timeline, devils are the supernatural manifestation of humanity’s worst fears, with stronger, more widely held fears giving rise to stronger devils. A few stand out as apocalyptically powerful foes, such as the splintered but still deadly gun devil, along with the formidable Hell devil and the chilling darkness devil. They vary hugely in shape, size and nature as a result, but on average, any devil can easily kill a human. All devils are dangerous somehow, but interestingly, humanity can borrow their power with formal pacts.
“A deal with the devil” is a major theme in Chainsaw Man, with most offering bargains to interested humans. The tsundere Aki Hayakawa made a sacrifice to the fox devil to summon its power, and the eyepatch-wearing Himeno made a deal with a ghostly devil as her best weapon. Then there’s the eternity devil, a huge creature that asked for Denji as a sacrifice in exchange for everyone else going free. Some devil hunters are sent to capture devils for bargains rather than kill them, though it’s a risky proposition.
Devils can easily overwhelm most humans with their diverse powers in battle. No two fight the same way, since they all represent different fears. The bat devil can fly while most cannot, while the fox devil has mighty jaws and the zombie devil can send hordes of undead minions to smother a victim in a crowd of grasping hands. This means devil hunters must be prepared for anything. Then again, if they learn a particular devil’s name, they can make educated guesses on how it functions. Rarely do these devils have powers beyond the fears they represent. A shark devil, for example, is unlikely to breathe fire or shoot missiles.
The Insidious, Predatory Demons of Demon Slayer
Demon Slayer‘s demons are both more and less predictable than devils. On one hand, most demons are roughly humanoid in their size and shape, with the gigantic hand demon being an aberration and Akaza and Daki being more the norm. Demons are formed not from humanity’s fears, but Muzan Kibutsuji’s blood, permanently turning humans into demons. Unlike Chainsaw Man‘s devils, demons are vulnerable to sunlight and wisteria, and cannot lend their powers to humans — but in return, they are more adept at preying on humans as tactically inclined predators.
Demons were once human and still have a familiar shape, so they know how to blend into human society and take advantage of it. The himedere Daki, for example, is an Upper Moon who posed as an oiran for many years, with no one ever seeing through her disguise even in the crowded Entertainment District. Demons are also more deliberate about their actions, carefully choosing human prey ahead of time and using ambush and stealth to overwhelm them. The swamp demon was like that, using his swamps to teleport into girls’ rooms and abduct them before anyone even knew what was happening.
The demons also benefit from some semblance of organization with the twelve Moons and Muzan at their head. Ordinary demons are loners, but Muzan can coordinate the Moons’ actions to take down the Hashira one by one or ambush small squads of demon slayers on the road. One instance was when the warlike Akaza was sent to finish off Kyojuro Rengoku and Tanjiro’s squad when Enmu was slain. Muzan is a master schemer, with all twelve Moons benefiting from his advanced planning abilities and insight to guide their actions.
Chainsaw Man’s Devils vs Demon Slayer’s Demons – Which Monster Race Is More Dangerous?
Devils and demons are both overwhelmingly powerful and scary. Ultimately, though, Demon Slayer‘s demons are more effective predators and worthier opponents for monster hunters. Despite their weaknesses to the sun and wisteria, demons still have a serious advantage because they have Muzan to command them and superior stealth tactics. Chainsaw Man‘s Devils are often big and obvious monsters, making ambushes and stealth difficult for them unless a human puppet lures the prey toward them. Demons can slip into any town, village, or even Tokyo itself undetected and strike when the time is right.
Demons also benefit from faster regeneration — especially the Moons — and have unpredictable powers with their demonic blood arts. Devils are a known quantity because of their symbolic fears, but demons like Yahaba, Daki and Enmu took the heroes by total surprise because their appearance and personality didn’t give away their capabilities. Demons’ stealth, ambushes, leadership and unpredictable blood arts make them modern shonen’s most fearsome monsters of all.