Kagerou is an ongoing web comic by Luka Delany. (That posts intermittently depending on how the muse strikes the creator. At the time of this review, we are in a lull.) It takes a large number of fantasy tropes, dumps them into a blender and sets the blender on disintegrate.
The hero of the story is Kano Jurgen, a young man with strange psychic powers he is generally unaware of because he is not the most mentally healthy person in the world. (And a great deal of why he is not mentally healthy is because of aforementioned psychic powers.) As often happens in fantasy stories, Our Hero is chosen to be the Champion of a princess and drawn into the Grey World so he can Defeat the Evil Overlord. Unfortunately, he is not Genre Savvy and very stupidly gets himself killed by one of the villains. (This is not a permanent condition.)
As the story develops, we learn more about the Grey World and about the princess, who it turns out, is the avatar and chosen vessel of Tcaolin. Tcaolin is a formerly human Goddess who is extremely evil and is responsible for causing a zombie apocalypse that happened centuries previous to the story. What starts out as a “save the princess from the Evil Overlord” becomes “save the princess from getting absorbed by the evil goddess while also saving the world from the Evil Overlord.”
We also learn that Kano’s mental landscape is a very scary place to be. One of Kano’s psychic powers is apparently to draw in souls. His skull mates are Red, a serial killer, many of Red’s victims, princess Tonbo’s soul Fuuka (who appears to be a independent personality of her own), and his sister Nadia. He also has multiple personalities. There is Kid, who is a very cute, very hyperactive kid with a highly active imagination. Kid’s job is to keep all of Kano’s memories safely stored in boxes. The other personality is Dark who at one point was there to protect Kid. That is no longer the case for a variety of spoiler-type reasons. Both alternate personalities have more control over Kano’s powers than Kano does. Unfortunately, Red also has control of Kano’s powers and seems to live for getting Kano into as much trouble as possible.
The art is fantastic, the writing is excellent and the characters are extremely engaging. (Of course, many of them are also nightmarishly creepy, but this is not a bad thing by any means.) As a general warning, there is often a lot of gore and disturbing imagery. (And by disturbing, I actually mean “horrifying.”) There are also many great comedic moments and a lot of snappy dialog.
The plot is a twisty thing that will pull you right along if you are not careful. This is one of those web comics where you end up going “okay, just one more page and then I’ll go do something useful with my time,” and the next thing you know it is several hours later and you still have not done the useful thing you were supposed to have been doing.