A man with a cut-out newspaper mask streams videos of his threats of violence on the internet before carrying them out. Now it’s up to the members of the Metropolitan Anti-Cyber Crimes Division to catch him and his helpers before he and his partners commit more crimes in the real world. However, public sentiment is not on the police’s side here. “Paperboy,” as he’s called, is targeting trolls and other scum in his attacks. A man who commented online that the victim of a sexual assault “shouldn’t have been so easy.” An interviewer at an IT firm who mocks an older applicant trying to re-enter the workforce. These are some of his targets and at this point it’s not hard to say that they don’t deserve the punishments they’ve received. Paperboy has also vowed to take revenge on those who rob the self-respect of others, but is the righteousness of his crusade something that can be maintained long-term? The question is will the purity of his purpose still be there when the cops finally catch up to him.
“Prophecy’s” main selling point is its focus on cyber-crime and social media’s reaction to it. There’s a neat scene early on that establishes the ACCD and it’s ice-cold leader Erika Yoshino as she and her crew bust a teenage pirate who claims he’s doing this to benefit the Japanese games industry, yet subsequently breaks down in tears when his audience starts mocking him online for getting caught. While it’s clear from this part that mangaka Tetsuya Tsutsui has a good handle on his subject matter, there is a bit of hand-holding in his narrative as he explains things like “flame wars” that will come off as redundant to anyone familiar with this kind of subject matter. He does succeed in making Paperboy’s antics and quest fairly sympathetic, while also hinting that things will likely take a darker turn as time goes on. The main problem here is that the overall direction of this three-volume series feels a bit predictable as it seems inevitable that the digital crusade at the heart of this story will eventually lose its way, allowing for the police to come in and sweep up what remains. At this point, it’s still a decent read as Tsutsui keeps the narrative moving briskly along and the whole emphasis on cyber-crime sets the book apart from most other manga out there.