Psyren continues its action packed story in the fifth volume of this psychic-meets-survival genre manga, from author Toshiaki Iwashiro.
Volume 5 picks up right where we left, as our group in Psyren watch a video recording from the future-past, where they witness the little psychic children Kyle, Fredrika, Shao, and Van take on W.I.S.E. head on, and fail hard. This tears Ageha apart since he trained with those kids, but before much more can be established other than the children’s deaths, the warrior Dolkey attacks the shelter, driving them out. The group – Ageha, Hiryu, Sakurako, Kabuto, and Oboro – try to pass as survivors who have hidden all these years. Dolkey doesn’t buy it, and calls in his monstrous helpers Goldorf and Gizzani, to take these “survivors” to turn them into higher life forms of Psyren. Things quickly turn into battle mode, as it becomes clear they need to get past these guys and to an exit point. Sakurako squares off against the blood thirsty and cruel Gizzani, Ageha and Kabuto against Dolkey, and Hiryu and Oboro against Goldorf. Sakurako is the first one to win, barely making it out of her battle with Gizzani with a lot of nail biting trickery. Hiryu and Oboro have it a bit easier, but an equally horrific battle as Oboro uses his healing power on the Psyren warrior, returning him to a gigantic pile of nothing more than multiple connected mounds of flesh and limbs. In the final battle, Kabuto reluctantly agress to be a decoy as Ageha, who has learned to focus his Melzez Door, gets the upperhand on Dolkey, who is saved last minute by W.I.S.E. third-commander, Shiner. The two retreat to W.I.S.E., leaving our heroes to live for another day, as a meeting is called on how to deal with our band of heroes that have formed.
Psyren volume 5 is a great ride that you’ll love all the way until the very last chapter, where you’ll fear it’s jumped the shark. In that last chapter, W.I.S.E. calls a meeting about the heroes, and we are introduced suddenly to all of W.I.S.E.’s commanders, each with their own stereotypical manga/anime personalities, including their first-commander Granar, who is introduced as a big goof ball, waking up from a nap and not wanting to even do this meeting. In one swoop, the entire gravity of the manga has been killed by completely humanizing the villains and making them relatable. Author Iwashiro undoes the feeling that our heroes might not make it out of this game alive, since the people they are fighting are apparently super powered folks, but just like them, just like you and me, and that no longer makes these villains scary. Aside from that huge let down at the end, the rest of volume is a great nail-biter, filled with action and a few “wtf” moments of surprise (making the final chapter of this volume almost even more of a painful 180 when we hit it).
Still, 90% of the volume is a solid ride like the volumes before, and we still don’t know where we are headed in the future. Psyren is totally worth the check out up until this point, and sci-fi fans should pick it up. Available in print and digital from Viz.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.