Denji trying to obtain a normal life is one of the many focal points of Chainsaw Man that still demands relevance to the present day. Not only did the goal begin the moment Denji and Pochita fused together inside a dumpster, it was one of the driving forces behind Denji working in the Public Safety Bureau and eventually becoming a vigilante as Chainsaw Man. Recently though, as a result of various extenuating circumstances, which included the kidnapping of Nayuta and his cataclysmic battle with the Falling Devil, Denji was subsequently prohibited from turning into his devil form, found himself locked in a state of limbo all the while experiencing the exact normal life he has been striving for in Chapter 136.
This display started in the first page when Denji sluggishly entered the school. As Denji changed his shoes, a student approached him and asked why he was wearing a Chainsaw Man T-shirt at a time when there’s rampant speculation about Asa Mitaka, their classmate, being the person responsible for the recent string of “accomplishments,” which included defeating the Eternity Devil in Chapter 117 (true) and a large devil (Yuko) in Chapter 109 (debatable). Though this moment looked trivial at the surface level, it reinforced Asa’s presence in the public eye, thereby leading to people abandoning Chainsaw Man and supplanting him with Asa as their new heroine.
With Denji showing his support for Chainsaw Man (himself) through his shirt, the student questions why he likes a “victimizer,” but before Denji could reply to that claim, another student entered the conversation after overhearing supposed slander about the vigilante hero. Then, without a second to spare, the second student punches Denji on the face for having taken part in a discussion that degraded the name of his idol. Never mind the fact that this person unknowingly punched the very same guy whose devil form he’s following, the second student’s actions showed, much like how the first person spoke on behalf of Asa, how devoted he is to Chainsaw Man, thus continuing the rift between the two factions.
The readers know all too well the second student was the person responsible for starting the fight with Denji, but by the time it wrapped up and Denji was called to the faculty room, it was the latter who received the brunt of the blame. Unfair as it is, when a teacher sees one of the participants injured with urgent need to go the hospital and the other being known for growing up without a stable household, it’s not hard to understand which side they will take. Such is the social stigma behind those who weren’t as fortunate to be brought up on the same level as their average peers.
As Denji left the faculty room, he coincidentally found Hirofumi Yoshida waiting for him in the hallway with an invitation to skip class. Even after Yoshida mentioned the damage Denji laid on to the other student during the fight, which saw the student lose a tooth, he brushed it off by saying such physical things are customary with normal high schoolers, much to Denji’s bemusement. Yoshida follows that by asking Denji if skipping school would make both of them ordinary high schoolers, compounding his confusion.
Fortunately for Denji, the movie theater wasn’t remotely close to confusing as he had previously been on a date with Makima during the early portion of the story. Even as the two watched a movie in an evacuated theater, which happened after a devil appeared and was immediately killed by hunters, Yoshida wondered if this activity was any fun from his own point-of-view.
With the lifeless body of the slain devil lying at the front of the theater, Yoshida talks about the current lack of necessity people have for Chainsaw Man with the presence of devil hunters and their capability of quickly finishing a job. With that, Yoshida emphasized to Denji that he doesn’t need to go back to his antics as Chainsaw Man. By experiencing the events in the chapter and continuing to do everything related to that, he should be content with the life he now has instead of reverting to his old ways.
Yoshida’s point is laid bare when he tells Denji he isn’t “the protagonist of the movie” and how “it’s not like the world will end” without him. The world will keep moving and he will keep existing unimpeded, a state vastly different from the kind of life Denji had when he was a member of Public Safety. Sure, this means he won’t enjoy his devilish ways like killing devils without pause, but at least everyone he cares about will be safe.
And yet, after reaching this point of absolute normalcy and tranquility, which should have left Denji absolutely satisfied, when he sat alone in the theater–by the way, that scene paralleled the events of Chapter 39 where Denji and Makima were by themselves late at night during their movie date–-he didn’t feel a sliver of that desired emotion.
“Hey,” Denji said to Yoshida as he was leaving, “is this what it’s like to be normal?” When Yoshida replied affirmatively, Denji wasn’t sure if he should be believe his word. Even after Yoshida gave him the courtesy of setting up a date with a girl in his class that was eager to date him, Denji wasn’t in the mood to engage in the slightest.
As for the girl in question, she was definitely in the mood to engage. She, as Denji eloquently described, “is touching [his] wiener.”
That is right. A girl, the fifth one so far in Denji’s life after Makima, Himeno, Reze, and Asa, is making an advance on Denji, touching his good friend and all. On the other hand, in recognizing Denji’s past history with women, then–wait, no. A girl is making an advance on Denji.
But still, throughout the story, Denji has had monumental bad luck with women. Bad things always happened whenever he paired up with someone and all signs point towards him facing the same ugly conclusion. Additionally, in what world is it possible for a girl to just get down on a guy at the first meeting? That works for prostitution, but in an evacuated movie theater? The trouble is writing itself.
Besides focusing on Denji fighting with fire in the form of women yet again and the continuing discord between the anti and pro-Chainsaw Man factions, Chapter 136 offered an interesting development behind Denji’s character. The more Denji lives within the idyllic normal life Yoshida has mapped out for him without opting to turn into Chainsaw Man, the more he appears to be a shell of himself.
There’s no energy within Denji nor is there an incentive for him to do anything. After all, he can’t be Chainsaw Man any more. He doesn’t receive the same adulation as before compared to earlier in the second part of this story. As Yoshida said, he isn’t “the protagonist of the movie.” In essence, Denji has been relegated to the role of an extra.
By this point, it’s obvious that Denji is not himself under this new normal life and is not enjoying it in the slightest. From relishing his popularity in front of a crowd of fans to being a nuisance within the eyes of his school’s faculty, Denji has become a lifeless version of himself that is drifting along the world in dire need of substance. Was this the life he, and Pochita in essence, visualized from the beginning? Moreover, is this the kind of life he really wants?
Remember back to what Nayuta said to Denji in Chapter 134. “Do you really think nothing beats a normal life?” She said this during a conversation about Denji’s decision to accept the terms of Yoshida’s ultimatum. Though Denji reaffirmed his commitment at that time to not turn into Chainsaw Man again as a way to preserve Nayuta’s life, he’s now at a stage where he is pondering whether such a move is worth it for his own enjoyment. Additionally, with a change of focus on his goals, he might also be considering the extent of affluence to which he wants to live his life (i.e. women and popularity), which has been mentioned over and over again (Chapters 92, 93, 103, and 127).
Then again, when a girl is touching his wiener without warning, perhaps that subject is the least of his concern. The mind of a young man craving for sex is an enigma.