Heads are exploding “like watermelons,” ghosts are simultaneously “transparent” and “semi-transparent,” and spineless male leads finally get a clue--it’s another volume of Psycho Busters!
Writer/Artist:Yuya Aoki and Rando Ayamine
Translated by:Katy Bridges
What They Say
The trouble began when ninth grader Kakeru found a beautiful teenage psychic named Ayano in his room - in desperate need of help. She and her equally gifted friends had just escaped from a secret organization whose agents train young psychics to carry out their fiendish plans.
Now psychic thugs have been ordered to hunt down the runaways - and Kakeru. Ayano is certain the only reason they haven't been caught is that Kakeru's supernatural skills are saving them. Kakeru, who thinks he's utterly ordinary, finds this hard to believe. Still, why do amazing things happen whenever disaster threatens to strike? Why did a girl whisper "Kakeru" right before experiencing a truly mind-blowing death?
For better or worse, what happens next will depend on Kakeru. But first he must discover what his friends and enemies already know: the dangerous truth about himself.
Kakeru has settled into a familiar routine at school, although it’s one filled with far more excitement than his old life--he has a group of friends, and even if they didn’t all have psychic abilities, that would have been enough of a change. And yes, he really is that lame of a character. That’s what makes it so hard to believe all of the amazing, supernatural situations that arise around him, and even Kakeru’s own acknowledgement of this fact doesn’t lessen its ridiculousness. These situations are not limited to lots of mysterious transfer students, or a new cute girl who seems to have a crush on him, because he begins to be implicated in a mysterious death.
When the police begin to investigate Kakeru, he has to come to grips with the fact that he just might be more responsible for that crime than he could have realized. Unfortunately for him, this knowledge is too much for him to handle, and he finds himself running away from everything, cute new transfer student in tow. And even though his decision to flee from everything is certainly fitting with Kakeru’s weak character, the amount of space that it takes up--more than half of the book--is just too much, even if the twist at the end of it might not be entirely what you’d expect.
While the second volume of Psycho Busters does have a few improvements over the first one, probably courtesy of the fact that the basic plot elements have already been introduced, it’s still an awkward read that’s a struggle to get through. Kakeru gains a little bit of depth as a main character, although he never reaches the point of being compelling, while the side characters introduced in the first volume fade into nothingness in the background. The arrival of a plot twist that I personally didn’t see coming tries to salvage the volume, but the sluggish pacing and second, less clever twist, keep it from being too much better than the first volume. Add on a ten-dollar price tag for under 150 pages of prose and a few lackluster illustrations, and the Psycho Busters novels remain a hard thing to recommend for anyone other than the most ardent fans of the franchise.