Monday, September 26, 2011

Manga Monday: Psyren

Psyren (Volume 1)
Toshiaki Iwashiro

Psyren begins as an intriguing mystery, but soon turns into something much more as the book plays out.  The story follows Ageha Yoshina, who picks up a phone when a random pay phone begins to ring.  No one answers, but he is left with a phone card with the words "psyren" printed on it.  When Ageha inquires into what this could mean, he discovers that people are disappearing with no explanation and some sort of "psyren cult" is allegedly to blame.  There are also some powerful men who will pay dearly for one of the unused "psyren" phone cards, and there is a substantial reward out there for whoever can solve the mystery behind it.  When one of Ageha's classmates becomes one of the latest disappearances, Ageha decides to use the card, and is magically transported to a desolate wasteland, where creatures called "Taboo" hunt the humans chosen to play this deadly game of "psyren."  After tracking down his classmate, Ageha finds himself fighting for his life as he tries to make it to the gateway that will end this level of the game and send him back home.  Meanwhile, it seems his classmate knows a little about what's going on, as she offers up several cryptic clues, and points the way a few times.  Overall, Psyren is a pretty entertaining action manga, illustrated competently with clear action sequences.  I like the game aspect of the book that comes out of the initial mystery, and it seems like there's a lot of potential for some great stories in later volumes of this series as well, as this volume seems like just the tip of the iceberg as far as the game goes.  Ageha is a little more well-rounded than you often see in shonen manga, with conflicting feelings and hardships in his life, and his ability to fight well makes him a prime candidate for the game.  The game itself is pretty creepy and really cool, as are the monsters who populate the levels.  The "surprises" that come along in this volume are pretty predictable, especially that last panel, but overall, Iwashiro knows how to create a suspenseful, engaging read.

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