Literally Psycho Love Comedy, the title of this light novel is just as what you would expect… with a particularly extreme twist to a classic genre. Written by Mizushiro Mizuki with illustrations by Namanie, how does Psycome hold up?
Engaged in countless street fights, Kamiya Kyousuke is an otherwise ordinary high school student in a normal society. His strength and toughness however have garnered some unwanted attention and one day, he was falsely accused with a murder charge and was sent to “Purgatorium School of Rehabilitation”, a school specially designed to reform underage criminals. In a new school with an environment filled with bloodthirsty murderers, and furthermore, with their unsolicited respect for Kyousuke’s “highest kill count”, will Kyousuke survive long enough to graduate back into normal society?
With the title and synopsis, Psycome obviously belongs in the side of wacky light novels, and it’s even fairly enjoyable with some dramatic peaks. Psycome’s twist makes this story a less light-hearted romantic comedy but more a psychotic thriller with a few surprisingly good action scenes. The story being what it is, there are quite a few disturbing characters and scenes that get swept up by all the humor and jokes on the foreground, so it does require a sort of acquired taste for readers.
Even without that and just looking at the novel from a strictly plot-perspective, it also have a few segments where it feels weaker and even a bit anticlimactic, and there are a few disagreeable parts in my opinion, though in the end, it’s premise of getting stuck in a school meant to reform juvenile criminals is enough to maintain my interest. Furthermore, despite such a nonsensical setup, the character backstories all connect in the end and the story actually wrapped up pretty nicely against all odds.
Speaking of characters, in a light novel with a premise like this, characters are also a little bit out there to match the absurdity. Just on the main characters-side, there is Renko, an almost 24-hour gas-mask wearing girl; Maina, a girl whose clumsiness can (literally) kill; Eiri, a girl with rust red hair whose family is a clan of professional assassins, most of the support characters are also similarly in design and shtick. Their gimmicks are seemingly repeated archetypes at first, but with the literally murderous twists make them a little bit different that what you would expect.
Even outside of the boundary of “just fun”, and especially in a genre that is already long drawn-out in the medium twist or not — they are all still surprisingly well-executed archetypes, with an ample focus especially on the main characters that make them feel less one-dimensional. Aforementioned, the character backstories also all tie up surprisingly well at the end with some well-deserved self-growth and development; so it does have some decent character writings.
Namanie’s artworks nicely illustrate the light novel’s wacky and rumbustious tone; the character designed in such a way that they might even fit perfectly well in a Danganronpa game. The setting’s uniquely hooligan-like tone also makes for some peculiar designs like prison black-and-white jerseys and character introductions in mugshot-styles, and whatnot. And because of Renko’s strange psychological condition, the design also uniquely incorporate that with music motifs throughout the novel.
To me, Psycome belongs to the side of wacky light novels that is more focused on fun and entertainment than purely good storytelling, so don’t go into this novel expecting some deep message involving a loss of life or anything. However, Psycome has some surprisingly decent character stories and despite such a bizarre premise, everything managed to wrap up nicely in the end. It does has some things I certainly disagree with, but in the end, I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun reading it, and I’m way more invested in these characters than I initially thought.