BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Prophecy (vols. 1-2) by Tetsuya Tsutsui, translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian

Prophecy (1-2) by Tetsuya Tsutsui on BookDragonHis user name is “paperboy_1878.” He rents booths at various Pit Boy internet café branches. He wears a newspaper mask that covers his whole head and a t-shirt with a smart phone screen. He posts video warnings. And then he carries out his own vigilante justice. If your food company caused a mass poisoning incident, your factory will burn. If you served deep-fried cockroaches to unsuspecting diners, you’ll be forced to eat a special menu on screen. If you publicly blame the victim for a sex crime, well … let’s just say you’ll be very, very shamefully uncomfortable.

“The things I hate most in this world are those which robbed you of the self-respect you once had,” Paperboy tells his growing audience. “I cannot improve the quality of your lives but that pent-up resentment you feel right now? I can relieve you of that, just a little. From now on if someone wounds your pride without cause, tell me about it. I WILL KILL THEM. I SWEAR I WILL.” Uh-oh.

Needless to say, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department Anti Cyber Crimes Division is not amused. But they’re definitely stumped. Erika Yoshino, the lead investigator, is especially riled. But she’s smart, savvy, tenacious – not to mention just a wee bit impatiently arrogant: “Since starting this job there’s one lesson I’ve learned well. The level of idiocy of some people in this world surpasses imagination.” Instant head-turner that she is, she’s figured out how best to use both her brains and her appeal to get answers.

So far, Paperboy remains a few steps ahead. While Yoshino and her team keep sleuthing, Paperboy’s reasons for seeking justice get revealed: illegal immigration, rights of workers, corporate abuses all play a role. People are going to keep getting hurt.

From smaller targets, Paperboy goes international against a Western environmentalist group called “Sea Guardians” when they go way too far with claims that the tragic March 2011 tsunami was “divine punishment,” that it “serve[d] the Japanese people right … for killing the dolphins.” Paperboy promises a cyber-attack that will take the group down – which escalates into more deadly battleground. A suspect is caught, a resignation is tendered, an umbrella is borrowed … and a very important telephone call is about to be made …

Although the series ended two years ago (already!) in its native Japan, its timing remains spot on given ongoing international headlines highlighting online privacy, WikiLeaks, cyber attacks, and even environmental groups with less-than-transparent business practices. Contemporary relevance aside, Prophecy is sharp breathtaking, blood pressure-raising, morals-questioning, brain-challenging fun. The series’ popularity doesn’t seem to be waning, with announcements last year about an upcoming film adaptation, as well as a spin-off series – called, appropriately, Yokokuhan – The Copycat. If Prophecy is any indicator of success, the spinning kitty should be loudly, proudly caterwauling. Let’s hope it, too, immigrates Stateside before too long.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2012 (Japan), 2014-15 (United States)


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