It feels like a long time ago, but I actually read this series as recently as the end of May. (May 31st is when I had the original post up) I haven’t read many mystery series in the past so it’s great to finally meet a long one and it naturally has the Shonen twist to spice things up. All that aside, could it end up being as good as Assassination Classroom and join the big leagues? (Not saying that Classroom is in the big leagues yet, but it’s a solid series thus far) Time to find out!
The main character of this series is a girl named Yako and she was leading a normal life until her father is murdered. This naturally distresses her and she’s unsure of what to do next. Luckily, a demon by the name of Neuro appears and he agrees to solve her mystery, but now she will have to be his assistant…forever. That seems like a small price to pay so Yako accepts. There are many mysteries that make up about half of the series (Feels like it anyway) until the real plot begins. An organization of terrorists appear and they want to spread chaos and panic throughout the world. Their actual goals beyond that are pretty vague, but they want to conquer the world. They’re all human and Neuro’s a city busting demon so this should be easy…right? Well, Neuro gets weaker for every day that he is in the human world, so that helps to even the scales a little bit.
The artwork is pretty great and it’s very easy to follow the action along. This isn’t the Sword Art Online manga that we’re dealing with! It can certainly hold its own against just about any other series on the artwork and while it may not stand out as terrific, I would call it very good. The character designs are all fairly unique, which helps you to remember them pretty well. (Names are another matter altogether. I can’t say that I remembered the names of just about anyone after I finished and let my thoughts stew for 4-5 months.)
The humor in the series wasn’t for me and it certainly played a part in the series inevitable drop in the ratings. One of the running gags in the series is that Neuro is constantly making Yako’s life as miserable as he can. He puts demons in her food so that she can’t eat and he never lets her sleep by placing many traps around the apartment. If she tries to go to sleep, she runs the risk of being impaled, electrocuted, or basically destroyed. Keep in mind that this is all in a comic relief/slap stick so to some it may not seem as bad as it sounds, but the humor is still too morbid for me. The stuff that Neuro really crosses the line into being a villain no matter how Yako may try to sympathize with him. It’s just not enjoyable to watch.
As a main character, Yako is pretty good. I still think that she shouldn’t put up with Neuro so much, but she really does want to help solve mysteries relating to crime and she’s always ready for a good meal. I’m not sure who to compare her too in terms of main characters, but she’s likable. Naturally, she won’t be very similar to someone like Luffy or Ichigo since she never gets to fight, but she helps for the brain vs brawn argument. Of course, this does lead to some plot hax during her big action scenes. I have to say that the ending of the series is pretty sad for her.
Neuro is the other main character and I don’t care for him. He has some good parts of course. I like that he’s one of those fighters who never backs down from a villain and he could care less about what the villains are threatening to do. He’s very skilled and he enjoys a good challenge. This is just outweighed by his bad aspects. He loves inflicting pain and misery to people and his whole gimmick is that he eats mysteries so he loves when things happen to create them. No matter what the act is. The only reason why he is against murder is because it eliminates future mysteries that could have appeared. He’s simply too over the top. Also, he may be insanely strong, but it’s simply not enough at times. He grows weaker with every chapter and eating mysteries doesn’t give him back enough strength to counter what he has lost. So, he gets less impressive as the series goes on and it gets to the point where a human (Amped of course) is giving him some trouble. It was still pretty interesting though and Neuro is one of the few main characters in media who uses fear as his weapon. (Nura is the only other one that I know of who uses this attribute)
X is one of the biggest villains and he/she is decently cool at first. X is a human who can shapeshift and “he” doesn’t even know if he is a guy or a girl. I’m just going to refer to X as a him for this paragraph since the first form that we see him in is that of a guy. He’s pretty quick and since his DNA has been messed with, he’s far superior to an average human. I found myself looking forward to his fights with Neuro. That being said, he was ultimately doomed since he went after a dog. That was the moment of no return for him. His method of destroying people is also rather sinister as he literally turns them into a box. It’s pretty dicey to say the least. I gotta admit that it is a great name for a villain though!
Godai is a former thug who is forced by Neuro to work as the Detective Agency’s bouncer. He does the dirty work for the heroes like filing for an eternity and Neuro messes with him just as much as Yako. Unlike Yako, he doesn’t really get to participate in the mysteries very often though so it’s a pretty rough situation for him. At least he has started to work legitimately so we can thank Neuro for that. I still didn’t care for Godai no matter how much the series tried to make him likable. He just didn’t really add anything to the series.
Sasazuka is one of the best characters in the series. He’s a Policeman with a mysterious past and he has no problems with talking back to Neuro. He’s one of the few humans who is actually very helpful against the villains and he has a pretty emotional wrap up to his plot. His past is rather tragic as you would expect from someone in this series. Upon further thought, I would say that Sasazuka is the best character in the franchise. It’s just hard to top him and he’s basically perfect. It would have been great if he had been the main character.
Sicks is the main villain and he’s certainly unlikable. He’s meant to represent evil in its purest form. Everything that he does is evil and his goals are for the sake of evil. The author makes it clear that you will be rooting against him and we are reminded of this pretty regularly as he attacks people and decimates many buildings as the casualties continue to rise. He’s pretty tough for a human, but it was still pretty hard to buy the fact that he held his own against Neuro. No matter how many power ups he gets, Sicks is still a human so it shouldn’t have been much of a fight. He does have an intimidating presence about him so he was certainly a good match to fight Neuro.
Ishigaki is Sazazuka’s sidekick and he’s typically humiliated throughout the series. Someone is always breaking his toys and all of the villains are able to defeat him rather easily. It’s a running gag in the series on just how weak he is and the worst part is that one of the big tragedies in the series is arguably his fault. It’s because he typically messes up that we assume that he did in one scene, which ends up hurting the heroes. He’s technically pretty likable, but he can become way too full of himself at times.
Usui is one of the higher ups in the police and he’s pretty good. He sets a lot of traps and while Sasazuka may be more of a direct combatant, Usui likes to set traps from the shadows. They both find some success in their methods, but I still prefer Sasazuka. Usui does manage to come through when it counts though, which should not be overlooked. He’s a pretty solid character and it’s easy to root for him.
Higuchi is a top notch hacker who joins the ranks of the heroes about halfway through the series or maybe a little earlier. He’s all right, but he never got a whole lot of character. He’s just what you would expect from a hacker and he’s not quite as tough as Daisy. (The hacker of course) He looks pretty bad as the series goes on since he’s not exactly immune to mind control and that’s what Hal does best.
Speaking of Hal…he’s a pretty cool villain. After he is built, Hal naturally evolves and decides that he will rule the world on his own. His powers inside of the Cyber World are absolute and he is actually able to give Neuro a good fight. Neuro may be the strongest fighter in the human world, but the net is a different story. It was also a fun way to show off some more of Neuro’s powers since there were no bystanders to worry about. It was a fun mini arc and Hal may be the best villain in the series.
Aya is one of the first villains to be defeated by Yako and she gets a decently large role in the series. Her crime wasn’t as bad as some of the others as she only destroyed two people. Her music has the power to control people’s minds and she’s quite good at it. She is rehabilitated after her first crime and she gives Yako advice from time to time. It would have been cool to see her fight, but I guess her powers probably wouldn’t have much of an effect on the villains. She’s certainly better than some of the other villains.
Ai is X’s assistant and it feels like she just got a bad draw. She’s a lot like Konan from Naruto. She is not inherently evil, but she was an assassin for a while and then she began to work for X. She developed a pretty close bond to the villain and decided to work with him until he discovered his true self. She will do just about anything to help him and she is also one of the only people not to fear him. She keeps him in line and watches over him when it comes to conventional things like reminding him that he needs to eat. You end up feeling bad for her since she seems to be a very nice person at heart.
Hisanori and Yukinori are brothers who get their own mini arc and then help out in the final arc. They’re pretty minor villains at first and they seem to be on their way to being more on the side of justice by the end. Yukinori tries to attack Neuro, which is admirable, but both of these guys are seriously outmatched compared to the real villains. One of them has a fishhook and the other one can’t even fight. I wasn’t really a fan of either character.
Genuine was one of the worst villains from the big 5. She can’t really fight, but she is able to lure men to her and mesmerize them so that they can distract the heroes. We all know that this technique won’t work on Neuro so she was really doomed from the start. Her character is just pretty bad and she is just letting herself get used by the villains. Her story was not going to have a very happy ending.
Of course, at least Genuine got character. You can’t really say the same for DR, Tierra, and Vijaya. Vijaya has poison abilities and he barely gets to appear. He puts up a decent fight with the heroes, but he is the only one who doesn’t even get to fight against Neuro. That shows how he is simply not at the same level. His abilities are dangerous since getting near the poison will destroy you, but it’s simply not enough. DR and Tierra have been modified so that they have animal DNA like claws and sharp fins. They’re decently tough metahumans, but they’re basically throwaway fighters for Neuro to take down.
Kasai has fire abilities and he easily gets the biggest role from the villains. He’s decent for the most part, but there is a scene with an old lady that doesn’t help his case and he’s ultimately just not that likable. He’s probably the only villain to talk back to Sicks, but he’s still extremely afraid of the man so it’s not much of a consolation. It’s sad too since his fire abilities guarantee that he is the strongest human from the bunch. He is not amped up so he may lose to some of the other villains, but there is no defense against a good fire blast.
There are many more villains that I didn’t even name from the mini arcs since each mystery brings a new cast along with it. There is also a new policewoman who joins the force towards the end, but her character arc never really went anywhere. She got her own sub plot and mini arc of course, but it just didn’t have a lot of meat to it. She’s super serious so she is naturally paired with the comic relief guy, which leads to sadness for the both of them.
One of the issues that I had with the series is how gruesome the villains and situations can be. Aside from the main arc there are many small mysteries that take up 3-5 chapters. They usually involve something sinister, but I wouldn’t say that it’s anything too drastic. The plot is where things start to go a little overboard. There are really a few types of violence and I categorize them in various ways. In this case, the one that stands out is fighter violence vs bystander violence. See, it’s one thing to see someone like Ichigo or Goku take a beating and another altogether to see a random cop or expendable fighter get crushed. The first typically isn’t as bad, but not beyond reason of course. Here, many of the characters suffer fates worse than death, which is when things get too dark for me. If the character’s never going to reach the light at the end of the tunnel…just let the character die already! (From an author’s standpoint, not the hero’s)
The atmospheric writing is very similar to Attack on Titan’s. You know how Titan loves to show a scene every other chapter where the heroes remind us that we have to lose our humanity while some expendables talk about how they don’t want to die? It’s supposed to add realism, but you just start to tune out the whining from the expendables after a wile. Neuro loves to do that with the characters as well. They deeply think about life and how pointless it is while others are just sad by how frightened they are. One scene that stands out is when a villain is so scared of the main villain that he obeys an order to destroy himself in a rather painful way. The logical choice would be to attack, run away, or quickly destroy yourself before they can stop you. Just obeying like that out of fear is a little much, but we get tons of speeches to try and rationalize it. There comes a point where all of the self doubt and realism just makes it too “realistic” to the point where it isn’t like the real world anymore. That’s an example of one of the “worse than death” moments, but there are several others throughout the series. Torture, or any other fate that you can think of, which fits that criteria is not acceptable in any medium under any circumstances. It always helps me drop the score from something and that’s where Neuro lost the majority of its points. It probably took it all the way down from a 7 to a 5 because that was really the big negative in the series.
There aren’t many fight scenes to be found until the plot really begins, but the ones that we do get are pretty fun. The author takes the easy way out though since Neuro continues to invent new powers throughout the series. He seems like he can do just about anything that one can think of if he wants too. He has a bad habit of playing around with his opponents until he’s so weakened that it’s a close fight though, which is pretty dangerous. It usually turns out okay though I suppose.
Overall, Neuro was really teetering between a 4 and a 5 for a while. On one hand, I was pretty hooked once the plot began and it was hard to tear myself away from what was happening. On the other hand, that’s simply an effect of the well written universe that the characters were interacting in. It still had too many unnecessary scenes and themes for me to rank it as a 5. The villains are simply too disturbed and the casualties could have been lessened or made less intense. I also think that Neuro should have been more likable or heroic since it would have made the ending more believable and emotional. This is a pretty good series if you want a mystery and you want something that is pretty dark tones. Otherwise, you may want to check out Spiral for a good mystery title. That one was pretty great and it even has a prequel to check out once you’re done with the main series. After reading this review, you should hopefully recognize him in the PS3 fighting game with Goku and friends!