Two psychic brothers get swept up in a spiral of intrigue and conspiracy.
Writer/Artist: You Higuri
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Adaptation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
What They Say
The world is a lonely place for Naoto and Naoya, brothers with amazing psychic powers that set them apart from humanity. Their parents cast them out and had them imprisoned in an exploitative research center. But after they make a daring escape from the institution, Naoya has a psychic vision of an even greater threat: a deadly plague that threatens the entire world!
Graceful, sparse, color illustrations of brothers Naoto and Naoya against a blue cityscape adorn the front cover. The back cover is split nearly in half, with the left side devoted to the summary —white text on solid black—and on the right side, another willowy image of the brothers shows Naoto protectively embracing a languishing Naoya. The two men are given an oddly chosen (for a seinen title), though well executed "pretty" shoujo/josei treatment throughout, but in the pages to follow, older brother Naoto spends more time being a high-powered psychic badass than merely looking stylish, and younger brother Naoya's fair appearance only serves to accentuate his fragility—effectively drawing our sympathy as he must bear the burden of seeing some downright hellish visions.
The rest of the art is an appealing variety of beautiful, distinct characters, detailed technical illustrations, textural screen tone and elegant inking. Original katakana sound effects appear next to their appropriately translated English and frame layouts are somewhat standard, though efficiently used. Del Rey's paper and ink quality are quite good and extras include: notes from the creators, an educational section explaining honorifics—which are included in the excellent translation—and a useful page of translation notes to help dispel any "East meets West" confusion.
Content (may contain spoilers):
A girl reading in a library occupies the opening pages. The cryptic tomb she is engrossed in seems to be an account of the very same journey on which we are about to embark—a sort of story-within-story setup. "Memories", the title of the first chapter, prepares us for a little flashback-style exposition, but the girls relevance to everything never really gets explained... though, it seems safe to trust she will have proper introductions later. Moving on, scenes of young brothers Naoto and Nayoa relate to us their traumatic childhood abandonment and demonstrate that they are powerful psychics: Naota wields some wickedly devastating telekinetic power, while Naoya has keen ESP abilities. These gifts are also their curses as they have been held captive—the subjects of scientific experimentation—for most of their lives.
After managing to escape the research institution, Naoto and Naoya (now young men) are able to fend for themselves, though details like how they procured their sweet ride and money to crash at a hotel go unexplained. Their newfound freedom is soon eclipsed by a cult-like prophet who implicates them in an end-of-mankind-via-pandemic-disease scenario which has been haunting him in visions. His devotees target Naoto, Naoya and others in misguided attempts to stave off the impending doom by eliminating those thought to be connected with it.
Naoto and Naoya cruise town, thwarting some awfully ham-fisted assassination attempts and paying visits to folks involved in the visions, namely saucy vaccine scientist Kurahashi and aforementioned prophet, the ever-prim Kamiya. When another powerful psychic—sporting a nasty penchant for mind control—further escalates the havoc and paranoia surrounding Naoto and Naoya, the line between truth and illusion becomes increasingly blurred. A twisted web of visions and premonitions will have readers questioning what is real, and what is psychological manipulation, as the brothers grasp at making sense of their world on the verge of a nightmarish calamity which they must prevent.
Knight Head Genesis Vol. #01 is a quick-reading, entertaining blend of survival-drama and psychic-power action. It deals with some ominous themes which never really give way to any sort of comic relief, but the resulting tension does keep the plot moving. Mangaka You Higuri admits that much of author George Iida's material was cut (during the adaptation from the original live action T.V. show) which produces some loose ends, but overall establishes a fairly sharp narrative focus. It's a suspenseful psychological exploration into the will-bending power of devotion and the destructive, dehumanizing effects of paranoia.