Psyren is a 16 volume shonen manga that was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2007 to 2010, where it was sadly canceled. It is about a group of teenagers trying to stop the future from being destroyed
Shonen action stories are generally about hype and fights, generally have a lack of truly major characters, and focus around a loose plot that exists solely to add in as many fights as possible. Shonen is my favorite genre, and I have read/seen 40+ of them, so I mean this as a pure summary of the tropes in the genre.
Psyren, however, focuses on a deep, well written plot with great twists and a, while overpowered, somewhat new energy system. As someone that doesn’t care much for plot stories, Psyren’s plot and twists were good enough to make this manga one of my favorites. On top of that, volume 3 of Psyren has the single most shockingly badass moment I’ve seen in manga in a very, very long time.
I’ve established that Psyren focuses more on plot than most shonen, and that it succeeds in that department. Though Psyren’s plot isn’t the only thing that sets it apart. The protagonist of Psyren, Ageha, is calm, somewhat smart, smooth, is the “sleek” kind of badass and a breathtaking character design. Most shonen mains are loud, screaming, comically stupid, food addicts with a death wish, who win every fight by powering up until everything dies. Ageha is a lot like Yusuke Urameshi. While Yusuke may be more memorable, Ageha seems like a more perfected version of the archetype.
The series also has an amazing start, and morphs into something completely different, but just as good. The beginning of the series is a traditional seinen-shonen (A shonen type story but with blood and tragic backstories) that is more or less a really good version of the basic shonen I explained earlier. Around volume 5, it becomes apparent that Psyren is about it’s world and plot. This change eases you in to it’s unique style, while also giving some classic shonen greatness at the beginning.
The unique style isn’t only in the storytelling, but also in the fights. While some fights feel cluttered, and awkward, the way the main power, Psy, is presented, gets serious awesomeness points. Quick warning: Anyone who has not read up to volume 3 of this series should skip to the next paragraph, because I am going to talk about perfected shonen hype. The moment that I fell in love with Psyren was the first use of Melzez’ Door. Hiryu/Kuwabara is emotionally and physically broken. He’s torn by what happened to his friend, and his literally dying. Ageha, pulls out the coolest design I’ve ever seen for a shonen attack and says “Get away from my friend” in what I imagine to be Shirou’s most intense philosophical screaming voice. The way Ageha then slowly develops this power into something far more effective is satisfying as well.
Psyren’s ending, from a pure plot standpoint, along with it’s epicness levels, is fantastic. It’s conclusive, HYPE, romantically satisfying, reasonable and overall a solid conclusion. I have no issues with the ending of Psyren ON PAPER. The problem is, it’s an 8+ volume arc shoved into 2 volumes. As I mentioned earlier, Psyren was cut short early, and forced to rush it’s finale. The amount of characters pre the last 3 volumes was manageable. Each of them was at least some what distinct, and got a good amount of screen time. They all had unique designs as well, which is a plus. But then the mangaka force introduces 10 characters who all have backstories and powers and it’s all shoved down your throat in the span of a single volume and it’s TOO MUCH!
To add, the fights become so cluttered that I feel like I’m looking at a black page. The new designs are all the same, and GOD WHY IS EVERYONE SO STRONG?!?!?!?
While the final fight is absolutely stunning, the bazillion fights between random side characters kills me. It feels like there was such a good ending here and it just fell apart with the rushing of it.
Even with all that, the style and storytelling of Psyren more than make up for it. I find Psyren to be criminally underrated, and in serious need of a 50 episode anime adaptation to make the pacing slower at the end, and make the fights less cluttered. And I just want it to get more exposure. It gets a rock solid 8.75 from me. I highly recommend it to people wanting a more unique take on the shonen formula, along with a great sense of style and surprisingly intense romance. If anyone has read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if anyone reads it because of this post, then I’ve fulfilled my purpose in writing this.Here’s my MAL, Twitter, and VNDB. It’s Fullmetal Ghoul, and that’s all for today.