Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manga Review: Psyren

Earlier this year there was an anime announcement and, after trying a few chapters of the manga, I decided I liked it and checked out the forum thread to see what other people were saying. Some people were saying that they liked that series and another Weekly Shonen Jump series, Psyren, checked that out, and kept following it until it ended back in December. I’m a bit sad that it ended since the pace got really rushed towards the end but if it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t even remember it in a few years.

Psyren by Toshiaki Iwashiro
Summary: Ageha Yoshina wasn’t the best kid in school but his life was a pretty normal one. But one day he comes across a strange payphone card with the word PSYREN printed on it. Soon after a friend of his, Sakurako Amamiya, goes missing after mentioning the word “pysren.” After a long and complicated over the phone quiz using the phone card, Ageha is drawn into the mysterious world of Psyren an unravels the mysteries of the world via timetravel.

The Good: Contrary to the length of that summary, Psyren is not an overcomplicated story, it simply has a setting that needs a bit of explaining (I found it to be an interesting twist on the standard dystopia story and it used time travel better than many series do, *coughtDoctorWhocough*). It’s also only 145 chapters (or roughly 20 volumes) which makes it a bit short for a shonen manga and the fights are much shorter than any of the ones in Bleach or Naruto. As for the plot and characters, the plot didn't grab me at first but it does make sense and this is one of my favorite WSJ series. There are plenty of characters (another shonen trademark) and, while I didn’t have any favorites or really connect to them, I liked most of the characters and they were interesting and believable to follow.

The Bad: The ending (and by that I mean the last five chapters or so) are really rushed. What happened is that the manga was consistently one of the lowest ranking series in the magazine so it sounds like they gave Iwashiro a chance to wrap it up really fast instead of cancelling it, so that’s a good thing at least. I saw a few people lamenting that since Iwashiro proved capable of speeding up fights without making them feel too short why he didn’t do this earlier to save the ratings but the real problem is that all the explanations and events feel way too rushed. The ending seemed to come out of nowhere (most of us thought there was going to be at least one more arc and there were several loose ends to support this theory) and I felt a bit confused and unsatisfied with it.

The Art: Nothing special here, I would call it standard shonen art except every shonen has a pretty different art style. The characters all look different from each other, the fights looked fine, and all the background art generally looked good. Nothing special but it’s far from awful, just not remarkable (except for the colored pages, some odd color schemes there but there aren’t that many colored pages) .

I did enjoy this series and, now that Viz has licensed it, I feel obligated to buy it. The thing is that I don’t know if I want to re-read it anytime soon and twenty volumes takes up a lot of shelf space. Viz actually has started offering volumes in their App store and I hope they continue to do so for this series, I’d love to buy all my long running series digitally and not have to worry about shelf space any time soon.