Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Psyren vol. 1 – October 2011 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Psyren Vol. 1

YEAR: October 2011 (USA release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story and Art by Toshiaki Iwashiro

Bad-ass!  Words to describe Toshiaki Iwashiro’s manga series “Psyren” which will be released by Viz Media in Oct. 2011 and was featured in Japan on Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine (as well as the American edition).

Reminiscent of manga such as “Yu Yu Hakusho” and even “Bleach”, “Psyren” is one of those stories featuring a student who just tends to get himself in trouble but somehow finds his way in fighting things that are not necessarily human.  It’s the basis of the manga series which revolves around the character Ageha Yoshina.

Ageha is a high-school student who is known to take people’s money (10,000 yen) to provide his service and he will take care of  their problem.   Known for getting into fights and being a troublemaker, helping people is his good side and even at times not charging the pretty students at school for his services.

But not so supportive of his fighting is his older sister Fubuki, his guardian who is a pretty strong fighter herself and will not put up with him being late or getting in trouble.

One day, while Ageha is coming home, he hears a payphone ringing.  He goes to answer it but hears nothing, but sees a phone card inside with the words “Psyren” but thinks nothing of it.

The following day, he sees his old former childhood friend Sakurako Amamiya coming into class and thinks about the old days when she was popular, friendly, social and caring.  But now she’s anti-social, often coming to class with bruises and cuts and he can only wonder what is going on in her life.

Later in the day, he sees a few female students stealing her stuff and hiding it.  As he goes to see what they have hidden, he realizes that the girls stole her wallet which has her “Psyren” card.  As he goes to return it to her, she notices that she was frantic.  As Ageha reminds her that for 10,000 yen ($100 bucks) he can help her, she cries out “Save Me” which startles him.

The following day, Sakurako had stopped showing up to school.

His friends tell him that Sakurako has been caught up with the whole “Psyren” legend and that there is a secret society and people have been disappearing.  He also learns that for anyone with an unused Psyren card, people are willing to pay 5 million yen for one.

Worried about Sakurako, Ageha chooses to use the card and suddenly he is asked all these questions.  The next day at school, men posing as police men are going after him, men who want his Psyren card.  As he fights these men, the two are overpowering him and he runs away.  While running away, his cell phone rings and while he is being chased, he disappears and ends up in an unknown location.

While he walks around the devastated area, he sees a giant caterpillar going after a man who screams for help.  As Ageha goes to help, Sakurako with her sword comes out of nowhere and defeats it.

But Sakurako is very sick and before she faints in Ageha’s arms, she tells him that they need to clear the stage before they can get back home.  And she asks him to please clear the stage with her.

As Ageha carries Sakurako, he seeks shelter in a building where people are gathered.  He quickly realizes that the people gathering are a bunch of punks who have been wanting a Psyren card for the purpose of making money.

And within this group, each seem as if they will kill each other for the sake of making money.

When the phone rings, the group are told that they need to find a gate and everyone except Ageha and Sakurako go out and search for this gate.  But when Sakurako awakens and finds out that everyone has headed towards a dangerous area, she fears that all of them will be slaughtered and feels that they need to be warned.

So, now Ageha and a sick Sakurako must hurry and get to the group before they are slaughtered.  Will they make it in time?

“Psyren” features the following characters:

Ageha Yoshina: The tough troublemaker in school who will help people with their problems for 10,000 yen.  Although, he tends to not take money from pretty girls at his school.  He lives with his sister Fubuki who is very tough on him.  One day, while walking home, Ageha hears a payphone ringing and discovers a Psyren telephone card.  Very good at fighting.

Sakurako Amamiya: She was once a popular, smiling, sociable student.  Now she has become anti-social, no longer smiling and comes to school looking as if she was beaten up.  One day, a group of girls steal her purse and inside is a psyren card. Fortunately, Ageha finds it but when he returns it to her, he tells her that if she needs him, he’ll be there…for 10,000 yen.   Her request to Ageha was to save her.

Hiryu Asaga – One of the tough guys that Ageha meets when he enters the Psyren world.  Hiryu has been searching for his friend and agrees to help Ageha, who saved his life in the Psyren world.

Fubiki Yoshina – Ageha’s older sister and guardian.  She is very strict with Ageha and doesn’t like him being late or getting into trouble.  She is also a fighter.

Nemesis Q – A mysterious being that is sent from the future to find people worthy of using PSI and teaching them about the future and stop Psyren from occurring.

I know that when it comes to manga series, there are a bunch of stories about one brash young man who tends to get in trouble a lot in school but is also a person with a good heart and will protect the people that he cares about. It’s a typical storyline plot that we see from time-to-time in manga but “Psyren” is an intriguing concept.

I kind of liken the story to a series to “Yu Yu Hakusho” and “Bleach” meets “Gantz”…but the concept is a enjoyable and entertaining storyline as you have your strong-willed, troublesome protagonist Ageha Yoshina, concerned about his missing childhood friend, finds a mysterious card and whisked away in a new land where things look as if it has been devastated and sure enough, he finds his missing friend.

And the concept is that each time they are whisked away to this new land (which is future Japan), they must accomplish a goal and make it to the gate before they can return back home. Until the next round of Psyren begins.

So far, the first volume was quite intriguing but how it all plays out and if its a manga series worth following, it’s too early to say. But I do enjoy the storyline, character designs and also curious about what has happened to Japan in the distant future and why these monster or supernatural beings are in this land. Especially what this Psyren is all about?

I’m quite confident to say that I do enjoy these type of shonen manga series and if you enjoy “Yu Yu Hakusho” or “Bleach”, this is probably a manga series that will be to your liking.

Overall, “PSYREN” does have the banality of past manga series but has a plot element that makes it different and entertaining. So, I’ll give this first volume a thumbs up and I definitely look forward to the next volume!


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