This is a story that hits very close to home because all of us live in it; the era of the internet and everything that entails, such as flame wars, hiding behind anonymity, getting viral, getting defamed overnight, etc and how those things can affect society. It has some very accurate depictions of what most of you have encountered online at some point and this is what makes it interesting.
The plot itself is simple enough; an almost classic police chase in a digital age. It is linear with our “villain”, Paperboy, notifying online and punishing mostly everyday people for their misdeeds which subsequently have caused pain to others and thus, slowly trying to gain support from the public. It comes down to brain battles between him and the leader of the team chasing him, Erika Yoshino, though none of them is direct; he is set on doing something and she is trying to solve the puzzles of his actions while figuring out how to stop his next attacks. There are no real plot twists, everything is revealed at a timely manner and that is how the story moves along.
It manages to keep the interest high, because our guy tells an aspect of society that many know but can do nothing about and it makes you wonder how right or wrong is either side. The pacing is pretty good as it is only 3 volumes long thankfully and is realistic enough at how things are done so it will not waste time on one thing forever just to drag on. Exposition-wise, it can be a bit dull as the first few chapters try to explain even the simplest of things through the form of a colleague who is forced to act as a pawn that knows nothing and always asks things. The ending albeit being fitting enough and semi-realistic, it was not the climax of the build-up I was waiting for. Something felt missing, rushed and not well done.
The characters do not have any development really, but that does not mean they are bad. They are set to act their roles in a specific story and that is what they do. We do have backstories and reasons for the things we get to know, so there is some character background, but that is it. They could have had more moments to themselves for us to see more of their human side instead of just seeing their actions. However, most of the characters are relatable and their actions make sense, which is really the most important thing for a story. On the side, we do get to see some of the behaviors of people online, which are really realistic…
Art-wise, it was very detailed and with a clean design that depicts everything as is. The character designs are unique giving a mature and realistic look to them, while the expressions are well made. It also features a lot of online instances such as Nico Nico comments on a video or 2chan, etc. which was a happy surprise to see sometimes and made it feel even more current. Was it memorable? Not really, but it did fit the whole story and was very pleasing to the eye.
All in all, I was satisfied with what I read. It was not the best story and it did not have the best characters, but I appreciated it that it used a current theme and kept the realism going for the most part, while providing enough interest. Towards the ending, with the reveal of the finer details, it can feel a bit forced, but it does not ruin the whole experience. I would definitely recommend it for a quick read.