Kamiya Kyousuke’s parents were always off on business, so as would be expected he was quite close to the only member of his family that he lived with, his younger sister Ayaka, a girl very mature for her age. Kyousuke was very much of a delinquent, constantly getting into fights and making a name for himself on the streets. However, he very much was not a murdered, despite him ultimately being framed for the murder of twelve other delinquents in a warehouse and being forced to enter the Purgatorium School of Rehabilitation, a high school specifically for juvenile murderers. Furthermore, his 12-kill count is especially high for the school, instantly gaining him popularity and respect among the other murderers. Hence he is stuck in the situation where he can’t just come out and claim that he was framed, as its not like that would help in getting him out, but would instead simply paint him as a weakling which would make him a target for the others. So he decides to try to live up to his title of Warehouse Butcher. As a result, he ends up getting close to a number of other students. There’s Eiri, a very sharp-tongued and elegant girl that comes from a long line of assassins, though seems to have some issues in joining the profession herself. There’s Maina, a girl that seems to be terribly afraid of violence and is a complete pushover, but seems to have a level of clumsiness fatal to those around her. But most importantly, there’s Renko, a girl that’s almost always wearing a gas mask but beneath that is a beautiful and alluring girl, who falls in love with Kyousuke and pursues him with all her might. And though she is generally quite fun to be around, she has the issue of a murderous melody playing in her head when she takes her mask off, resulting in her wanting to murder everyone around her, especially the guy she falls head over heels for, Kyousuke.
Note: Spoilers that aren’t related to specific plot events but related to themes and how a character grows are included in this review.
This is a really interesting novel series in that it’s a mish mash of a lot of things that kind of don’t work but also work pretty well. For the most part, it feels a lot like a high school slice of life novel series where the focus is on character relationships and development, even with the extreme violence and craziness throughout. For the most part, there’s not much of an overarching plot, but rather smaller plots per novel that focus on introducing new characters or further developing old ones in regards to their effect on the overarching narrative. These plots are pretty interesting, in that the twist on the slice of life aspect makes it quite unique and allows for a lot of interesting elements, such as a good amount of suspense and crazy twists, as well as the large amount of action. I should note though, that the action was somewhat disappointing a lot of the time, due to the MC not being all that great in terms of this. The series is tagged as “protagonist strong from the start” but that’s not entirely true. His ‘strength’ comes mostly in the form of heavy endurance which allows him to survive taking heavy punishment, but in terms of actual combat ability compared to the other major characters he’s pretty low. That results in him being able to easily take on dozens of small fry, but when he’s put up against the major players, he’s actually pretty weak, and in such situations he doesn’t usually do much, and strength wise he never grows, which was kind of disappointing. He and the other characters do go through a lot of character growth though, and ultimately the character development overall felt really solid. Ayaka comes to have a better view of other people. Maina gains confidence in herself and a will to continue moving forward. Eiri becomes more honest with herself. Renko becomes more human and in tune with her emotions. But most importantly is of course the protagonist Kyousuke. His development is interesting and I quite liked it, though I can see why it may miff some people because I can see why it would be controversial and in the end it’s tied pretty heavily into the whole narrative and is a running theme throughout. When he starts out, he is incredibly wary of the other students, seeing as they’re murderers and all. He begins to make friends with murders that aren’t really murderers and begins to settle in. The tone throughout the first five books is pretty lighthearted, wherein even though the style is pretty dark, in terms of tone and atmosphere it doesn’t feel oppressive at all and though lots of terrible things are described as having been done by characters outside the narrative, nothing truly bad happens during the narrative itself. Hence, while most all the characters are killers there’s nothing to truly make them seem like bad people. As a result, over the course of these books he begins to make friends with the true murderers, the cannibal, the serial killer, the necrophiliac, etc. That they’re killers just gets pushed aside. However, ultimately it very much is brought to the forefront, and Kyousuke has to question himself, as a normal person is it really okay for him to have friendly relations with murderers? And in the end he decides, yes, it is fine even if he doesn’t understand their desire to kill, nor does he want to, for him to respect, be friends with, like, or love them anyway, which is a tremendous shift in world view from how he started in the first book that was slowly built up until it finally clicked near the end. This shift is of course incredibly important to the main relationship in the book, the love triangle between Kyousuke, Renko, and Eiri, wherein though other characters also seem to be in love with Kyousuke they don’t seem as prominent. This relationship is what serves as the core of the ending, and probably what everyone reading up to that point truly cared about. To some degree, the ending was disappointing in that it was an open ending, but at the same time, it did everything really well, and though it was open, it wrote around that incredibly well, so ultimately I was very satisfied with the ending, and look back on the series overall quite fondly.
The art for the illustrations was really good, and I also liked the interesting character designs. I can’t judge the original writing style, but the translation by Yen Press wasn’t very good. It had a pretty stiff writing style, and a number of obvious mistakes regarding sentence subjects, and probably others that I couldn’t tell.
A series with a really unique and darkly comedic premise that has some core tonal and thematic issues but ultimately manages to resolve them in an incredibly interesting fashion.