Leon Mori is a stereotypical high school outcast, bored with life and bored with school. The only person he interacts with on a frequent basis is Ami, his middle-school tutor, stand-in guardian and current teacher, whom he also has a secret crush on. All very normal so far, except for a few niggling tidbits, like the fact that he is born with synesthesia and see sounds in colors. Or that he has been having a recurring nightmare for weeks, where he wanders in darkness running from disturbing laughter that paints his world in red. He sinks into the nightmare whenever he dozes off, and it is so vivid that it blurs his sense between dream and reality, turning his everyday life into something … monstrous. Soon though, Leon realizes his dreams may not be just dreams…
Realistically Sensible Main Character
Leon Mori is unwittingly drawn into the world of Catharsis, an organization formed to help ordinary people combat demons formed by a person’s inner fears, despair, self-hatred, etc. The key word here is “unwittingly”. Leon may be bored of life, but that doesn’t mean he wants to die, thank you very much.
Curiosity kills the cat, and Leon understands this intimately. MC walks down empty street and hears screaming. Does he feel the hero’s calling? Does he think he’s special and go investigate? No! He calls the cops!
MC walks down creepy corridor, hears suspicious noise by the side…does he shakily turn around and fulfill his curiosity? Noooope! Didn’t hear anything! Moving On!
Boys and girls, take heed. To live to a ripe old age, when you see this:
You do this:
In a way, Catharsis satirizes the ordinary protagonist who discovers or is dropped into a fantastical, violent universe … and suddenly realizes a wellspring of courage, determination, social charisma, altruistic heroism he never had while spending 12 years as a lonely nerd in school. Not to burst any bubbles, folks, but life doesn’t work like that.
Now here manga-lovers might also be thinking, “hmm…social outcast, sensible MC dragged to fight emotional demons… sounds a lot like The World God Only Knows!” And definitely, Catharsis has a lot of similar themes to TWGOK…
Except it is Much, Much Creepier
Read the horror tag. Don’t expect Catharsis to be cathartic.
At the worst, you fight this deranged Pikachu in The World God Only Knows…
But in Catharsis, you run in a dark tunnel, see a familiar figure in the distance, feel like you might cry in relief because you finally found your friend / salvation, only for “friend” to turn around and be this
Or you are running away from a monster with your crush, holding her hand, heart thumping…
Only to realize your crush IS the monster.
This is what the main character is thrown into. Not a dating sim with a cute loli for company.
Actually … there’s still a cute loli
But as a guide, she’s not as nice and fluffy guide as Elle. She says things like, “Leon you’re a pathetic waste of a human being.” “Get up, Leon, you sniveling coward.” “Leon, you loser, did you seriously get this injured just from running away?!”
OK some of those insults were embellished, but the gist is pretty much implied anyways.
But unkind loli is not always unkind – she does do helpful things. Like getting you out of that nasty dungeon of darkness where you’re just running in circles. And giving you helpful tips, like “you better get the f*** up or else you’re going to die.” OR “lol you thought you were hidden in the hole, you newb, the monster already knows you’re there and is just toying with you.”
So her words still burn, but at least they’re useful.
Catharsis is an interesting read with solid potential. I can’t give any higher remarks right now because believe it or not, even up until chapter 60, nothing much has happened. In fact, a warning I’d give readers is that initial chapter pacing is really, really deliberate, … which is pretty much as expected of a webtoon. As of chapter 63, the most up-to-date chapter for this post, Leon is finally not completely clueless anymore, though he is still mostly clueless.
But what you really want to know is, “DOES HE BECOME A BADASS?!” I would put MC’s probability of OPness at 80%. Even the slight improvement in Leon’s ability at the not-much-has-happened point has made him exponentially more badass, so I foresee more badassery coming. This might be the sort of webtoon like Noblesse that was mind-achingly boring in the early chapters, but once it gets going, it really blows your mind. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Read Catharsis here
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