Prophecy Volume 3
My hopes for this series raised in volume 1 weren’t completely fulfilled. Instead of thoroughly exploring the nature of computer crimes and behavior online, Prophecy volume 3 follows up on the manhunt started in volume 2, focusing on more human motivations of loyalty.
It’s certainly a more dramatic way for Tetsuya Tsutsui to wrap up the series in this book, and it makes for a tighter character arc, but I liked the themes of how growing computerization are affecting society more than the somewhat standard cast members. And the revenge stunts in the first book were clever.
Anyway, enough about what I would rather have seen the series do. Let’s talk about what’s on the page. Typical of really complex modern crimes, the Paperboy collective is done in by a tip from a source, someone spilling the beans, which then drives the followup detective work.
Meanwhile, Paperboy is setting up for a stunt at an energy drink launch event, one that’s being promoted through a viral campaign on social networks and one that’s also attended by the government official they’ve threatened to kill. There’s a public debate over whether the drink should legitimately be promoted as “healthy” given rumors of bribery to get it approved.
The real scheme, though, is to expose the official’s hypocrisy. He’s pushing a bill to regulate the internet in order to make it more “wholesome”, but he’s been engaging in sock puppetry and false support to make support for his position seem more widespread. By making his life so troubled, Paperboy sends a lesson to anyone else who wants to try and control the online world. In this case, it’s a crusade the reader can get behind, but I can’t help but wonder how I’d feel if I agreed more strongly with the official’s position. Mob justice is a dangerous weapon, not one easily controlled.
The final caper is twisty, with multiple meanings. They aim to give the vicious, bloodthirsty internet users what they’ve asked for, but even once they get their “justice”, they’re not satisfied. Still, the reader gets to know the secret, the driving force behind the actions, and comes away feeling smarter than the authorities.