I often visit the manga subreddit in my free time to see if there are any interesting mangas I haven't heard of before or any interesting manga news. Recently, I read a post on the subreddit talking about 4 new mangas coming to shounen jump soon and one of them was Boku no Hero Academia, which follows a kid who doesn't have special powers in a society full of super powers. So this manga has a very similar premise to A Certain Magical Index, The Irregular at Magical School, or Rising x Rydeen.
The other redditors observed this as well, but they did mention a manga series I have occasionally seen while surfing the web, Iris Zero. Though Iris Zero has a similar premise to the pieces of media I mentioned above, but Iris Zero uses it's premise to its fullest, creating an interesting world with compelling characters that live in it.
Iris Zero follows the titular character, Toru, as he lives his life without an iris, a special ability unique to his generation that allows them to see special things like when people lie. Being an outcast in this world, Toru tries his best not to stand out, but through out the series his friends pull him into the world of irises when they need help or are helping someone.
The Execution of the Premise
It's rare that I find a piece of media that has an interesting premise and executes it in such an excellent fashion. Literally, everything from the premise to the setting is important. The high school setting of this manga is important because it is the time of life where people began transitioning from children to adults, but this is difficult due to the existence of the iris, which literally prevents people from seeing eye to eye.
These facts are tied together by the fact that each arc in the story is about exploring the mechanics a person's iris so they can clear up a misunderstanding with another iris user or solve some kind of mystery. The way this manga mixes all these elements together allows for a great amount of characterization because the manga is literally dissecting what the world looks like to each character.
Each character in the manga is incredibly interesting because we get to know them on a personal level. Toru is a great lead for this story because he doesn't have an iris. Though this fact has led him to be bullied and have a pessimistic attitude, but it also allows him to see the world more clearly than his peers. Specifically, he tries to see the world from another person's perspective to solve that said person's problem. Also, special mention goes Hijiri and Kuga who have great arcs that I won't spoil here except to say that they explain why each character acts the way they do and shows their darker side.
The main heroine, Sasamori, isn't that bad of a character, but compared to the other characters in the series, she feels a bit flat. This is mostly because she is always trying to solve other people's problems, even if they don't really want help, but we don't really get an explanation to why she is acting like this. In other words, there isn't much information about Sasmori's past or how she feels about her own iris.
I actually didn't have a problem with the art till I went back to get pictures for this article. Specifically, I find the background art to be bland or non existent, which can be a bit jarring because it feels like the characters are moving around a white void sometimes. Luckily, most of the times when there is no background, the white space is filled with well-written dialogue. On the other hand, the character art is pretty good, which sort of offsets the background art.
Iris Zero is probably the first piece of media that uses the normal man in a supernatural society trope that I actually like because it uses its concept to build an interesting society and characters. Almost every arc is about exploring a character's iris and in turn that character's psyche, which makes each character interesting. By having each arc revolve around an iris, the manga builds a society where literally the people can't see eye to eye, the world of Iris Zero feel incredibly real. In all, Iris Zero is a great realization of what a world where superpowers would be like.
AniTAY Verdict: Go for it
Pros: Great Usage of a Concept; Incredibly Compelling Characters; Well Used Themes.
Cons: A Heroine that isn't as Deep as the Other Characters and Subpar Background Art
Author: Hotaru Takana
Illustrator: Pro Shiki
Publisher: DMG in the US, Media Factory in Japan
All images were taken from mangahere.co. I do not own any of these images.