Psycome Vol. 1: Murderer in the Flower of Death - Light Novel Review

Kyousuke Kamiya isn’t a murderer - but the rest of his classmates at Purgatorium Remedial Academy are! How is Kyouske going to survive his high-school hell when surrounded by such fetching and dangerous girls?

The Lowdown

Kyousuke Kamiya’s life was turned upside-down when he was found guilty of killing twelve people as the infamous “Warehouse Butcher”, and as his punishment he’ll have to live out his high-school life at Puragtorium Remedial Academy. He might not be a murderer, but the rest of his classmates sure are, and they all think that he’s the most famous killer at the school! Kyousuke becomes unexpectedly popular among the ladies at his school- from the gas-mask wearing beauty Renko Hikawa to the ice-cold “Rusty Nail” Eiri Akabane, all the girls seem to want to have a piece of him, putting Kyousuke in a dangerous position as he tries to survive his time at school.

How Was It?

As you might expect from a series that has “Psycho” in its title, Psycome revels in its ability to shock the reader with the over-the-top violence and sexuality that takes place throughout. This is enabled by the series interesting prison-school setting, and I thought that the concept of a non-murderer being forced to go to school with a class full of murders was a compelling basis for this volume’s story. The first half of the book is largely spent establishing this setting and the crazy characters which inhabit it, and this set-up definitely has some scenes that shock adequately when students try to murder each other or are beaten down by their teacher. This conveyed Kyousuke’s own shock quite well, and I felt that the book did a good job characterizing him through his reactions to those scenes. Although his emotions occasionally left me puzzled about where they came from, I have to give this series credit for trying because of the way that his characterization made the story feel more personal with him as a bit of an outlier among these hardened killers.

The characters of this series are also similarly outlandish, and I found Kyousuke’s supporting cast to generally be interesting enough to hold my attention. I enjoyed the dynamic between Kyousuke and Renko that was set-up early on because of Renko’s bubbly but ominously unpredictable behaviour adding some interesting mystery to the story, and I was glad that she got the most focus compared to the other. In contrast, class teacher Kurumiya is another one of your typical 10-year old looking killer teachers, and clumsy-killer Maina is extremely grating due to her diction. Maina’s speech is supposed to be overly cutesy, but this just ended up making the dialogue harder to understand. This might have been forgiven if her character was interesting, but his volume does very little interesting with her, and her backstory failed to keep me interested at all in compared to Renko and Eiri. The rest of the characters aren’t particularly interesting either, and they seem to largely exist for plot-convenience to push forward Kyousuke’s story with little time devoted to fleshing them out as interesting members of the school.

Although the violence and sexuality described above might be reminiscent of a series like Prison School, the difference is that Psycome’s sexuality isn’t used particularly smartly, and instead devolves into the same pandering antics that are present in many other anime and manga series. Thankfully is doesn’t quite go full-harem, and I was thankful that the volume spent time building Kyousuke’s relationships with the girls without sexual intent even if his perspective is needlessly leery. It also got a little bit grating to hear Renko talk about her boobs for no particular reason because these conversations felt like filler. It would have been one thing if this provided some interesting characterization, but it felt like the sexual references merely took up space and slowed down the actual plot particularly in the first half of the book. The violence also starts off in fairly shocking fashion, but a lot of this edge is lost when we see Kurumiya continually threaten violence in the same way throughout the book. That said, for those who know what they are getting into with this type of series my misgivings are unlikely to outweigh the rest of the plot, but overall I felt that this aspect of the book could have been done in a more interesting fashion.

Although the first half of the volume dragged along a little bit, the second half picks up very enjoyably to take advantage of the setting in a compelling manner. This was burgeoned by a few seriously interesting twists that definitely captured my attention, and I am eager to see how this turns out in the long run with regard to Kyousuke’s ending predicament. We got some entertaining characterization for both Eiri and Renko which I felt made their character arcs much more compelling, leading to a final confrontation which raised a number of interesting questions going forward. Although this dragged on for a little longer than I thought was necessary, I thought this provided a reasonably strong end to the volume which definitely captured my attention much more than the first half did. Interestingly, Psycome ends its first volume with a much stronger premise than it begins with, and I think this bodes well for this series as it heads into its second volume.

Final Thoughts

Psycome Vol. 1 presents an interesting premise, but the execution leaves a little bit to be desired. It drags on a little bit longer than necessary thanks to the inclusion of a number of pandery scenes throughout, and the characters on the whole are a little bit hit and miss in terms of their contribution to my overall entertainment. That said, the second half of the volume is much stronger thanks to a number of interesting twists which flesh out Renko and Eiri as characters, and this volume’s conclusion ended the story on a strong note which bodes well for the series going forward. This is a borderline recommendation - if you’re perfectly fine with the pandery aspects not having any particular purpose in the plot, I’d say this volume is worth a read. However, if you’re put off by the fanservice I’d recommend waiting to see if the second volume continues the strong build seen at the end of this volume.


Psycome, Vol. 1 - light novel
By Mizuki Mizushiro

Psycome Vol. 1: Murderer in the Flower of Death was translated by Nicole Wilder and published by Yen Press on June 21st, 2016. Authored by Mizuki Mizushiro and illustrated by Namanie, the series ran for six volumes and was published by Enterbrain. Volume 2 is scheduled to be published in English on October 25th, 2016.

Verdict:

C+

Date of Publication: June 21st, 2016

Translator: Nicole Wilder

Author: Mizuki Mizushiro

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka