While anime and manga are very diverse in terms of genre, it can be difficult to find good representations of marginalized identities. Could Chainsaw Man be breaking the mold again? After some of the latest Chainsaw Man manga chapters, many fans think that Asa Mitaka could be autistic. But could Asa really be on the spectrum?
Not only is ordinary Denji a different and refreshing shonen protagonist but Asa is also an interesting antagonist. Her mannerisms and motivations set her apart from many stereotypical female characters we often see in anime.
She doesn't show unrealistically cute, demure, or childish behaviors often present in teenage or even adult female characters. Moreover, she doesn't exactly fit into the main dere anime archetypes.
To make things even more interesting, fans have noticed reactions and behaviors that might be associated with autism. And judging from the enthusiastic responses, something was done right.
Could Asa Mitaka Be Autistic?
While there is currently no explicit confirmation by creator Tatsuki Fujimoto, it's highly likely that Asa could be autistic, as noted by fans who are on the autism spectrum.
Many readers who are on the spectrum themselves see relatable elements in Asa's behavior, especially during her recent date with Denji.
Is Asa Mitaka Autistic? Evidence so Far
According to neurodivergent Chainsaw Man fans, one of the best indicators so far that Asa Mitaka might be autistic is the way she handles her recent date with Denji.
Of the many places they could have gone to, Asa picks an aquarium. She goes on to meticulously plan the date and even figure out the exact number of minutes they should spend in front of each animal.
Asa is very informed about the aquarium and talks to Denji extensively about her favorite sea creatures, giving him many, many facts about jellyfish.
Special Interest in the Aquarium
While some evidence had been there from earlier on, many readers are interpreting Asa's love for the aquarium in particular as a special interest -- a common trait in autistic people.
Special interests, which refer to topics or activities that autistic people are very passionate and enthusiastic about, used to be regarded with some prejudice.
But as society's understanding of the spectrum deepens, they are now often seen as positive and beneficial for autistic people.
As such, some fans were able to relate to Asa's intense passion for the aquarium, which led her to a lengthy monologue full of facts that overwhelmed Denji.
Challenged Social Skills
Before this scene, Asa had been shown to be socially awkward, struggling to connect with her classmates or express her feelings.
Of course, this isn't exclusive to autistic people as many children, neurodivergent or not, often get bullied or have a tough time at school.
Asa's possible neurodivergence was rather ambiguous before, but after Chapter 113, certain character traits might be viewed differently in retrospect.
Lack of Intense Expressions or Reactions
For instance, Asa has been through some pretty intense situations but doesn't often respond with intense facial expressions or other external signs of her feelings.
She was only shown to get along with Yuko, who was rather quirky herself before her contract with the Justice Devil permanently changed her.
Otherwise, she would've kept to herself, as those around her did not understand her.
As for the aquarium date, even body language and the way Asa and Denji stand are telling.
Both are facing the sea creatures they are looking at and one could suggest that Asa picked this type of date in order to avoid prolonged eye contact, which is uncomfortable for some neurodivergent people.
While we don't have any official confirmation as to whether or not Asa is autistic, a fair number of neurodivergent fans are excited about her development.
Why Asa Is a Unique and Effective Protagonist
Like Denji, Asa is an unlikely main character who never aspired to destroy or save the world. She was simply living an ordinary life before she became associated with the War Devil. But in this case -- as with Denji -- ordinary doesn't equal boring.
Asa has interesting quirks and she interacts with the world around her in unexpected ways that move the plot forward.
With that being the case, Asa's potential autism doesn't feel like a token representation but an important part of the identity of an already well-developed character.
This being Chainsaw Man, we can't tell whether Asa will prevail, but for now, many fans are enjoying her unique portrayal.