Two volumes in and it still feels like I know exactly where this series is going to go. This is mainly because it’s striking to see how movie-like “Prophecy’s” pacing is here. Volumes one and two really do read like the first two acts of a feature film. In the first volume we had the introduction of the cast, the rise of the protagonists and their cause, and the initial efforts of law enforcement to catch them. Here, we have the Paperboy group setting their sights on a bigger target -- an environmental group that targets Japanese maritime activities -- and nearly getting caught in the act. Not only are the police closing in, but copycats perpetrating violent acts, and the efforts of a politician to stamp out anonymous messageboards also threaten to put an end to their activities. The stakes are raised even higher as the group’s leader issues an online death threat to the politician, and one of their own threatens to betray them to save his own neck.
To its credit, “Prophecy” feels like it was made to be on film in a way that few comics do. Yes, there are plenty of manga that are adapted into movies every year, but this one could make the jump with little to no compromise of the source material. The pacing is spot-on and even if the characters aren’t all that deep, they have enough personality to get you invested in their stories. Of course, even if this is slick, well-crafted entertainment it ultimately feels like any movie made out of it would be best enjoyed on a weekend night while channel-surfing or (more likely and appropriately) checking out the latest streaming video options. Despite its of-the-moment subject matter, “Prophecy’s” narrative doesn’t really go anywhere we haven’t seen before. In fact, I’d be very surprised if the third volume doesn’t involve the following: things ending with the death and/or imprisonment of the members of the Paperboy group, the ambitions of the politician exposed as a fraud, police lieutenant Yoshino commenting on the group’s demise with an unexpected amount of regret, and a rebellious act by one or more persons involving the internet to show that the spirit of Paperboy lives on. Predictability isn’t necessarily a bad thing in storytelling, only when it inspires cynicism more than excitement. Right now, “Prophecy” is trending a little more towards the former than the latter.