Psycho Busters Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 222
  • ISBN: 0-345-49935-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Faust Anthology

Psycho Busters Vol. #01

By Greg Hackmann     September 11, 2007
Release Date: October 31, 2007


Psycho Busters Vol.#01
© Del Rey


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuya Aoki / Akinari Nao
Translated by:Stephen Paul
Adapted by:Stephen Paul

What They Say
Out of the blue, a beautiful girl asks Kakeru to run away with her. This could be any boy’s dream come true, but there’s something strange afoot. It turns out that the girl is on the run from a shadowy government organization intent on using her psychic abilities for its own nefarious ends. But why does she need Kakeru’s help? Could it be that he has secret powers, too?

The Review
With its cookie-cutter storyline, dopey male lead, and share of printing snafus, this first volume of Psycho Busters is a frustrating -- if often entertaining -- read.

Packaging:

The front cover features our hero Kakeru hunched over a series of glowing rune symbols, with the remainder of the cast posed on the back cover. The use of vibrant blues and purples is a nice effect, but the character artwork on both covers has oddly been vertically stretched by 25% or so. Whatever the intended artistic effect, the stretching makes the whole thing look chintzy, and smacks of the kind of cover art you find on cheap bootleg videos.

Del Rey includes their standard honorifics guide and translator's notes, which are always appreciated. The backmatter also contains four extra "Special Thanks" illustrations of some of the story's cast, as well as one page of strange messages from the creative staff.

Artwork:

The artwork is perfectly fine from a technical point-of-view, with characters consistently staying on-model and action sequences never devolving into visual chaos. The psychic showdowns at the book's tail end reveal a few impressive artistic touches: the illusory bugs are downright creepy-looking; the panels featuring Kakeru hanging in mid-air are notably well-composed; and the expression on Kakeru's face as he's being chewed on by zombies is priceless. Otherwise, the artwork is certainly good enough to serve its purpose, but never really crosses the line into being truly exceptional.

Print quality is generally good throughout, except for a nine particular pages that are excessively dark and murky. The look of these pages screams "converted from color to black and white"; I'm disappointed if this is indeed the case, especially considering Del Rey's higher-than-average MSRP.

Text/SFX:

The translation reads smoothly, without obvious errors or typos. SFX are translated alongside the Japanese lettering.

Unfortunately, the artwork is printed so far into the book's inner margins that some text bubbles are rendered partially unreadable, as half the text sinks into the spine. Be prepared to damage the book's spine if you want to read the dialogue in its entirety.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Stop me if you've heard this one before: boy meets girl. Girl has psychic powers. Boy meets troupe of good psychics. Boy gets dragged into the middle of a grudge match between good psychics and rival cabal of evil psychics. Boy flees with good psychic troupe. Boy starts exhibiting his own latent psychic powers.

If you add "boy is as thick as a brick, but not half as useful in a street fight" to that list, then you've roughly described the plot of the first volume of Psycho Busters. In this case, our would-be boy wonder is 15-year-old high school student Kakeru, who is in the midst of enjoying his newly found liberty while the rest of his family is away on vacation and business. Pawing through his sister's manga collection and hacking away at his self-created video game only keep him occupied for a day or so, leading him to pine for a more interesting life. Ah, if only he could just open a door, and have a beautiful girl whisk him away on an adventure!

Exactly one panel after uttering this wish, Kakeru opens the door to his room to find -- wait for it -- a mysterious beautiful girl sitting in his room. Or the specter of one, anyway. Wasting no time on introductions, the girl possesses Kakeru's body and leads him to a run-down house. Inside, she introduces Kakeru to Xiao Long, the world's most over-achieving practitioner of qilong; herself, Ayano, master of astral projection and telepathy; and Joi, the teenaged gang's mysterious leader. Oh, and don't forget the Farmers: an elite paramilitary force who run the psychic development institute that the group escaped from, and who have inconveniently barricaded the house. And what psychic-hunting death squad would be complete without their own teenaged psychic savant, Ikushima, who appears out of nowhere to brandish a pistol behind Kakeru's head?

Kakeru helpfully stands back and watches as Ayano & Co. take care of the situation, and improbably escapes harm when a loose piece of ceiling tile deflects a bullet aimed squarely at his head. After a quick escape to Kakeru's house and a visit to his school's requisite Hot Female Teacher, the band of psychics head to Yokohama in the hopes of tracking down fellow escapee Kaito, and ultimately end up encountering a couple of the Farmers' rival "Category One" psychics. (Not, of course, before Joi has the chance to tell Kakeru that he's going to save the world. Betcha didn't see that one coming.)

Comments
While Psycho Busters isn't really a bad title per se, it's unoriginal and predictable to a fault. The whole premise gives me a bad case of déjà vu, and it's obvious where Aoki is heading when Kakeru constantly denies having psychic powers. (You'd think that after worming out of so many life-or-death situations by sheer luck, he'd start noticing a pattern...) The little bits of humor mixed in here and there manage to keep things churning so far; but with some of the running gags already starting to wear a little thin, I wonder how long Aoki can continue to ride that wave.

The first volume of Psycho Busters walks a dangerous line between being entertaining and just plain loopy, with no clear indication of where it's going to fall by the time the reader reaches the last page. As the story develops, upcoming volumes may push it solidly into one camp or the other. With that in mind, I'm giving it a mild recommendation, with a warning that things could go downhill fast if the storyline doesn't take a turn for the better in the next few chapters.

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