Tokyo Demons: You're Never Alone written by Lianne Sentar, adapted by Rebecca Scoble, illustrated by Rem
There's a school in Tokyo known for being a last ditch resort for the lost and criminal youth which is how Ayase Watanabe and Jo Oda found themselves in the same class freshman year. Jo is looking for new marks and Ayase doesn't want anyone to find out her creepy-crawly secret but they have some rather persistent classmates who want them to enjoy their next three years as friends. And friends rescue friends from botched drug deals, join gangs, and try to take down the criminal underworld whether they mean to or not!
To actually talk about the story, I feel as if I make this comparison a lot these days but the story reminded me a bit of Durarara!! with how the setting is confined to such a small area of Tokyo and yet there are enough going-ons and crime to rival what you might see from a small city. One good and bad thing about DRRR!! is how it ultimately revolves more around it's teenaged characters than anyone else, good because it keeps the story together and bad because they aren't always the most interesting characters, and while there certainly were shenanigans in Ikebukuro before Mikado showed up you can't deny that his presence is a major kickstarter to the story. In here while Ayase and Jo (our two most "main character, ish" types) are certainly important they aren't the pivotal game changers, if anything that honor goes more to side character Kiyoshi more than anyone else since it's his involvement in Core that changes everyone's lives. There's also a great sense in this story that this conflict already existed well before our high school characters came on the scene, especially given the high number of adult characters for what's ostensibly YA, they didn't start this fight but now that they're here they'll be sure to finish it.
I would also like to applaud Sentar for not merely having normal superpowers for the characters but some bizarre ones, like being able to project your mood and well-being onto others to Ayase literally turning into a swarm of killer bees. It's a bit of a tough idea to swallow but by the end of the story I could really see the practical applications of it! At this point the characters are slightly more important than the plot and the story has managed to differentiate all of it's teenaged cast from each other very well (a feat made harder by everyone having similar back stories) even with only two point of view characters. The rather colloquial speech patterns work for this story, although it may come off as too quippy for some, and lends itself to an overall style I don't usually see in published, written works. So between all of those things, a fast moving plot, stylistic leanings I don't usually see, and a well-balanced cast of slightly-crazy characters, I'm completely hooked and only wish I had read the started the series when I first saw Ash's reviews!
*although I will admit I was also surprised to hear that Nick's accent was supposed to be a Boston one, I initially thought it was a bad Texas-area southern impression.