For the first week of July’s reading program, we will discuss the first third of Psycome (volume 1) and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (volume 1). For Psycome, you need to have read up to the chapter titled “Third Period: Destructive Hurricane.” Meanwhile for Grimgar, you need to have read up to chapter 9: “Heavy Resolution.”
If you have read further ahead, please refrain from spoiling anything past the points in the stories mentioned above. (Also, obviously, if you’ve experienced a manga or anime adaptation in the past, don’t reveal what happens next.)
Our strange story begins with the protagonist Kyousuke Kamiya finding himself in a prison-themed high school, having been falsely found guilty of murdering twelve ruffians. Over the course of his first day at this school, he gets to know his unusual classmates–each of whom is a murderer, and each of whom finds Kyousuke either someone to fear or someone who piques their great curiosity.
How are you all liking this one so far? Psycome is a bit of an odd light novel, especially compared to what else is currently offered among official English releases. What genre would you say this book fits under? So far my feelings for this one are mixed: I’ve generally found the dark humor here surprisingly amusing, but the story is bogged down by a lot of uninspired jokes as well. I’m hoping the story is just finding its footing.
What do you think about the main character? The story insists that he is a normal high school student, and then proceeds to reveal his penchant for beating up entire groups of gang members. Do you feel he is innocent of the crime of murder? Horror stories often have an “unreliable narrator,” so it is possible we never got the full story behind the showdown between Kyousuke and the gang.
That said, it’s still entirely possible that this was a setup. Is there a reason you can think of for someone wanting Kyousuke to go to the school prison?
How do you feel about the other characters introduced so far? Also, any thoughts on the premise in general? What direction are you hoping this volume will go?
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
A group of teenagers find themselves in another world, but with no memories of what transpired in their lives beforehand. They are swiftly guided to a Crimson Moon headquarters, where they are volunteered into becoming monster hunters as a means of earning their livelihood. Haruhiro ultimately finds himself in a team of six, but as it turns out hunting monsters is something easier said than done.
The “trapped in another world” subgenre has become the biggest continent in the light novel world as of late, but to be honest it’s not the sort of story I’ve generally been that interested in. One of the reasons for this is perhaps due to the rather “video game” sort of atmosphere the stories tend to go for, even when the setting isn’t actually meant to be a video game world. The influence of medieval Europe-style RPGs is readily apparent in pretty much all of these stories, and Grimgar is no different. What do you feel is the appeal of this sort of setting, particularly for readers in Japan? In what ways would you argue Grimgar stands out among other light novels in this subgenre?
At this point it looks like we have our team of six main characters. What do you think about them? To be honest I have had some difficulty really caring for any of them–but I do recognize that it might just take some time to get to know them better, thanks to all of them having amnesia. Regardless though, I will have to note that Ranta is a truly obnoxious character, and I can’t help but feel exasperated every time he starts whining and/or gloating… which is literally every time there is any dialogue among the characters at all. I really hope this gets toned down significantly, the sooner the better.
I can’t think of much else to bring up, as the plot has primarily just been devoted to setting things up. How do you feel about the story’s pacing? Or the level of detail it gets into regarding life in this other world?
As mentioned before, feel free to discuss any point you would like to bring up about either (or both) of these two books. General impressions, predictions for how the stories will play out, some compare/contrast between the two books, or any random observations and things you’d like to analyze are all fair game.