For general information on this series: Psycome entry
This review is for the first volume of Psycome by Mizuki Misushiro, subtitled Murderer in the Flower of Death. The English edition was released by Yen Press in June 2016. The second volume will release in October 2016, followed by the third in February 2017. The series is completed in Japan with six volumes.
It’s probably safe to say Psycome is the most unexpected light novel series picked up by Yen Press in recent years. These days it is rare for publishers to bring over light novels that haven’t already gained a sizable fanbase via popular anime adaptations, so I found myself intrigued by this strange-sounding title. While I am not the target audience for this sort of story (namely the “harem” aspect of its setup), I still thought it would be fun to try.
The story is about a boy named Kyousuke, who finds himself framed for killing twelve ruffians and is subsequently imprisoned in a jail-themed high school. His classmates are cold-blooded murderers, and his teachers are sadistic wardens. The series of violent (or “psycho”) events that transpire are mingled within long stretches of bizarre slice-of-life (or “love comedy”) scenes. It’s much more about the comedy than it is the love though, at least for this introductory volume.
The comedy in this story takes two forms: 1) dark humor, which I generally found myself surprisingly amused by, and 2) rather generic “harem anime” humor. Unfortunately there seemed to be much more of the latter than the former, and the end result is a number of scenes that drag on far longer than they need to. Had it not been for the book’s quality translation (which gives the characters’ dialogue a bit more pizazz than is typical), I perhaps wouldn’t have wanted to read this one through to the end.
The characters, much like the jokes, are hit-or-miss. The protagonist Kyousuke was not that interesting, save for the mystery regarding his being framed for murder. Meanwhile there are three girls who spend time with him in this volume. Renko, the unpredictable girl wearing the gas mask, falls for Kyousuke due to his high kill count. Eiri meanwhile is much colder, and in her silence holds some big secrets. And then there’s the fretful Maina, whose astronomical clumsiness is the source of her unintentional violence. They’re following some tried-and-true archetypes, but the author gives the tropes a dark and/or silly twist… with varying degrees of success.
Though this novel didn’t click with me, I do believe there is still an audience for it (e.g. fans of Prison School, Deadman Wonderland, Future Diary, and Danganronpa, possibly). If you are in the mood for an outlandish plot that cuts loose and pushes the envelope in terms of violence and suggestive content, give Psycome a try. The series as a whole holds some promise, and it may be nice to get a completed story relatively quickly thanks to its smaller volume count.
Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended