Neku Sakuraba is an anti-social fifteen-year-old boy who lives in the Shibuya district of Japan. He is the main protagonist of The World Ends With You.
The First Week
Neku, with no recollection as to how or why he got there, wakes up in the middle of an intersection in Shibuya, Japan. He has no memory of anything but his name and soon discovers that no one can see, hear, or touch him. He finds a black pin with a skull ensignia in his pocket, which allows him to read the minds of the people around him, which shakes him up quite a bit. He doesn't have much time to think about it, though, because within moments he is attacked by an odd monster that destroys people as they manifest. He flees, but just as he is about to be killed by the creatures, a girl his age appears and yells "Make a pact with me!" to him. He reluctantly accepts, and the two are then able to harness supernatural powers and defeat the monsters, which are revealed to be called "Noise". The girl shows her astonishment that Neku is so proficient with this attacks-which are activated by using a variety of Pins. She can only use one, while Neku can apparently use them all.
The girl doesn't tell him much other than her name-which is Shiki Misaki-as it appears she expects him to know everything important already. In a moment highlighting his detachment from other people, Neku leaves her alone, not caring about what she does. She catches up, and as the two begin to question each other, his cell phone rings. He finds a text message inside, which reads "Reach 104. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure-The Reapers". He assumes it to be junk mail and tries to delete it, discovering that he can't. A timer then painfully materializes on his hand, which has a sixty-minute countdown. 104 is a building only about a block away-the two reach there, Neku only doing so hoping to find some answers. As they reach the square where the building is located, the timer disappears, and the "Mission" is completed.
The two wake up back in the intersection where Neku first awoke, which is called "Scramble Crossing"-it is the next day, and they somehow jumped into the future day. Another mail appears, this time telling the two to "Cleanse the statue of its curse". Shiki, knowledgeable about the comings and goings of Shibuya, decides that the "Statue" must be the statue of the dog, Hachiko. The two walk to the statue and Neku uses his Pin to find that Noise is possessing it. They destroy the Noise, and the timer disappears from their hand, again. Another figure appears, one that introduces herself as a Reaper-while she never tells Neku her name, it is Uzuki Yashiro. All Reapers look like humans, but have odd black wings-and sends more Noise after the pair. After destroying the monsters, the female Reaper tries to trick Neku into killing Shiki, promising that she will free Neku from the game if he does so. Either that or she will erase Neku herself. He grudgingly enters the game without understanding it fully and is forced to kill Shiki. Before he can do so, a man appears, and stops him, ordering the Reaper to stop her trick. The man calls himself "Mr. H", and he tells Neku that even if he did kill Shiki, the Reaper would've erased him anyways, as a Player cannot fight without a pact with another.
Here is where Neku discovers much of "The Game". The area that The Game takes place in is called the Shibuya UG-Underground-another plane of the real Shibuya where everything that occurs is possible. All of the Players in the game have died in the RG-Real Ground-which is the "living world". Upon their deaths in Shibuya, they are given a choice, to either fade away or enter the game at the price of their most prized possession, which is their entry fee. If the Player survives for seven days by completing all of the missions, then they are resurrected into the RG and given another chance at life. If they fail one mission or are defeated in the UG, then they are erased from existence. Mr. H himself is like a guardian for the Players and makes sure that the Reapers who are the game runners do not break the "Rules" or The Game. The Game is run by The Composer, who is an extremely powerful being who created the UG and has several subordinates, who are Reapers. The Game has been going on for several years, a new one initiated every week. Each Game has a Game Master who brings their own style and missions to the Game. There is also more than just one Game area-the Shibuya UG is only one of them.
After explaining this to Neku, he sends them off, wishing them the best of luck and offering to tell them anything that they need should they come for it.
For the next several days, Neku and Shiki complete various tasks and meet new Reapers. Neku learns that Shiki is a skilled fashion designer and that everything she wears is of her own making. Even her stuffed animal-which she attacks Noise with telekinetically-she created. They meet another pair of Players, Beat and Rhyme, Beat being an act-first, think later kind of teenager, and Rhyme being a small, kind, and intelligent girl. Neku angers Beat with his anti-social attitude upon their first meeting. After a few days, the four Players work together and complete a mission, and it is revealed that if only one pair of Players complete the day's mission, then they all move on. However, on one of the days, a powerful Noise comes out of nowhere and attacks Beat on surprise-Rhyme pushes him out of the way and takes the attack, and is erased. Neku and Shiki destroy the Noise, but Beat runs off, alone against the missions.
Neku and Shiki gradually begin to know each other more, and Neku learns that Shiki's entry fee was her own appearance-the body that she inhabits is that of one of her RG friends, Eri. Shiki was jealous of everything that Eri had looks, popularity, talent-and wished to be her. At first, when she discovered that she looked like Eri in the UG, she was excited-but she soon began to hate herself for being so envious and really valued her own individuality the most. Neku convinces her that she does not need anyone else's abilities to succeed-that if she tries, she can reach for anything and grasp it. This comforts Shiki, and the two promise to meet each other in the RG in front of Hachiko after they complete the Game.
Upon the seventh day, the two are given their final mission-defeat this Game's Game Master. After traveling to the destination and fighting a long, hard battle, they defeat the powerful Reaper and are transported into an oddly decorated white room. They meet the Conductor-the Composer's, right-hand man. He congratulates the two on their success but tells them that only one can move forward-that was one of the rules all along. The player with the highest score of the game moves on, and the ones left behind have a few choices-either become a Reaper, play the Game again in the hopes of completing it, or be erased. The Conductor tells them that Shiki was the one with the higher score, and so, she is transported back into the RG, given the second chance that she was earlier afraid of. Beat then arrives, somehow surviving the remaining days with the loss of his partner, and asks the Conductor if he can enter the next Game as a Reaper. The Conductor allows him to do so and grants him the power of a Reaper.
Neku chooses to play the Game again, determined to win and fulfill his promise to Shiki. The Conductor returns Neku's first entry fee-his memory. Neku only gets fragments, though, as it appears he simply cannot remember what happened to him when he died. Then, in order for Neku to join the Game a second time, the Conductor takes Neku's now most valued thing in his life-Shiki. If Neku does not complete the game, then he and Shiki will both be erased. He then sends Neku back to the Scramble and starts the second Game.
The Second Week
Neku starts the next Game, and is immediately attacked by Noise, much like his first week. However, without even giving his consent, he makes a Pact with a boy his age named Joshua, and the two erase the Noise. Joshua tells Neku virtually nothing of himself, and the mission arrives. "34 + 70=X. T=60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure-The Reapers". The format changed, which means that a new Game Master has been put into play. Joshua quickly deduces that the message means to go to the 104 within 60 minutes (30 + 74=104), which is the same mission as last's week's first day.
For the next week, the two go fulfilling the missions, are attacked by a powerful Beat numerous times-but never erased or never defeating him-and traverse Shibuya looked for "The River". Neku discovers that he can scan Joshua, which is not normal, as Players cannot scan other Players or Reapers-they can only scan those in the RG. After delving into his mind, Neku finds bits of memory that make it seem like Joshua was the one who killed him in real life. Neku does not confront him about this, deciding that he does not have enough evidence. After much pressing, Neku discovers that Joshua is looking for The River, as it leads to the Composer-and he wants to defeat the Composer and take his place as the master of the UG. The two actually do find the entrance to the River, but it is blocked by a huge wall, and they cannot enter. Throughout the week, the meet the Game Master several times-he is a man named Sho, who has a obsession with numbers and mathematics. He is also painting mysterious symbols on walls, which summon Taboo Noise which attack anything, whether Reaper or Player, which is considered treason to the Reaper organization. Sho, however, has gone into hiding, and cannot be found. After encountering a large number of the superpowered Taboo Noise, it is revealed that Joshua has extra-powerful abilities, as he is not really dead-he can see the entire UG because, in the RG, he can see the dead, and has been watching The Game for many years. Since he is alive and playing the Game, he is much more powerful than most Players. He also tells Neku that Mr. H is a anonymous mega-millionaire who goes by the name of CAT-the art, fashion, and music that CAT produced is all of Neku's favourites, and so he adored the company and it's ideals of staying true to yourself. Mr. H even told Neku at his cafe that he should broaden his horizons, saying that "The world ends with you", meaning that how far you can have a perspective of something means that that is how far you can advance. Neku is ecstatic to know that he met CAT.
At the seventh day, they receive their final mail-defeat the Game Master at Pork City (the name of a building where several Reapers hide out). They traverse through the Taboo Noise-infested Shibuya as the once in-control Reapers are under attack from the Noise, and rise through the floors of Pork City, encountering Sho, who apparently did not send the mission mail. Neku scans him, and discovers that in the memory of Joshua shooting him, Joshua was really shooting past him-and hitting Sho, who then shot Neku. Neku and Joshua battle with Sho, and defeat him in battle. Before he fades away, Sho self-destructs, in a attempt to kill the two Players. Joshua pushes Neku away, and absorbs most of the attack himself, and is erased.
Neku once again finds himself in the white room with the Conductor. He is the only Player who survived this week, and is expecting to be reunited with Shiki back in the RG. However, since he was a partner with a Player who was in clear violation of the Game's rules, the entire week did not count-and the Conductor sends Neku back to start another week and play one more Game, with the same entry fee as the last, but an added penalty-the new entrance fee, along with Shiki, is all of the Players. This means that Neku is alone in the game, and cannot battle. Also, there can be no more Games for Neku after the third.
The Last Week
Neku wakes up in the Scramble for the last time. He is attacked, again by Noise and Reapers-however, Beat comes, and forms a Pact with him, deciding that joining the Reapers in the first place was a mistake. With his is a small, tame Noise. However, after defeating the Noise and Reapers, the new Game Master named Mitsuki appears, and charges Beat with a price for his betrayal. Not only does she steal his pet Noise and erase it-somehow also changing it into a Pin-but she gives Beat five days in the UG before he is erased, as his Reaper score-established by erasing Players, which Beat never did-was so low that it only gave him that long. She thens says that there is only one mission for this week-to find and erase her. She then leaves with the Pin, which Beat is furious about.
For the next days, Beat and Neku go looking for the Game Master, and it is eventually revealed that the Noise that Beat had with him was Rhyme. His plan all along was to find the Composer and defeat him, which would install Beat as the new one, and give him the power to resurrect Rhyme. Throughout all of this, Neku and Beat notice that the popularity of a Pin that looks startingly like the Player Pin is rising in the RG. The Pin is produced by CAT, and also is a Pin that the Reapers use to power themselves up-which they use often, as the UG has been put on Emergency Alert, allowing the Reapers to attack the Players at will. This would essentially mean that Mr. H is either the Composer or a high-ranking Reaper-something that Neku refuses to believe.
After a few days of searching, Neku and Beat again encounter Uzuki Yashiro and her partner, Kariya-who is a Reaper that has been asked to be promoted several times, only to turn it down time and time again, instead preferring the excitement of the field. Because of this, he is arguably the most powerful field Reaper active. Kariya has Beat's Pin, and tells Beat that if the two can defeat him, he will return it. The day ends and the two find them trapped underneath an overpass by several barriers. Here, Neku learns that Beat and Rhyme were siblings. They died in that very spot, as Beat had been arguing with his parents and ran off, and Rhyme followed him. A car sped towards them as they crossed the road, and Beat tried to push her out of the way and failed, and they both died. Beat is ashamed of the fact that Rhyme managed to save him from being erased by the Noise, but him, someone much stronger and faster, could not save her. Upon entry to the UG, Rhyme did not remember anything about Beat, which was apparently her entry fee. Neku manages to convince Beat that it was not his fault for doing what he did, and that he can still rectify things by defeating the composer. The two then manage to solve a puzzle box in order to find the Keypin inside, and meet with Kariya. The two find him at the meeting place, and battle him along with Uzuki, and are victorious. However, it is revealed that the Pin given to Kariya was a fake replica of the real one-he was unaware of this, and apologizes to Beat. As some consolation, he gives beat a Keypin, which will dispell a wall-barrier-that leads to one of the last places that the two haven't looked for the Game Master in. They go there-which is also Udagawa, the place where Neku was shot by Sho-and find the strange symbols that summon Taboo Noise. They should've been destroyed some time ago, but the symbol appears to be new. With a gadget installed in his phone by Mr. H that allows him to take pictures of what occured in the past, Neku discovers that Mr. H had been painting it. He still clings on to the hope that Mr. H is not the Game Master, however. They also discover that almost everyone in all of Shibuya-including Reapers-are seemingly possessed by the Red Pins that were growing in popularity. They all speak and think the same thing, and attack Beat and Neku upon sight.
They then discover that Sho has revived himself by possessing a body with the power of Taboo Noise-he is now incredibly powerful, and actively searching for the Composer. He is so strong that he can blast straight through walls themselves. There is now only one place that Neku and Beat have not investigated-Cat street, where Mr. H's cafe is. The stop by, but do not find the Game Master, and proceed to enter Mr. H's cafe, WildKATS. They find the place in shambles, as it had been searched. Neku takes out his phone to try and discover what happened, telling Beat what it is capable of. Excited, Beat tries it out, not aware of the fact that it can only snap three photos a day. Luckily, they find that in one of the photos, it shows Mr. H hiding something behind a painting. It is a Keypin that can open the door to the Shibuya River, and the two head off, hoping to find and defeat the Composer before Sho can. They find that the wall to the River is in ruins-and enter, rushing to find the Composer before Sho can. They find that there is one last barrier, and Beat is already starting to fade. Sho is already at the blocked path, and reveals to Beat and Neku that the Game Master was hiding out in Beat's shadow all along-the one place where he couldn't find her. She then opens up the barrier, allowing Sho to go ahead and confront the Conductor. She is really only using him, knowing that he cannot stand up against the Composer or the Conductor, and hopes to defeat the Conductor after he is weakened with his battle with Sho. She then battles with Neku and Beat. She is ultimately defeated after having stolen all of Neku's Pins, she drops the one that had Rhyme's Noise within it, and Neku uses the Pin to defeat her.
The two move ahead, now with the final barrier open. They hear footsteps behind, and discover that Shiki is now in the UG again. Neku explains everything that happened to her, and she is embarrassed to realize that she is the most prized thing in Neku's life.
The three move ahead, and enter the white room that they had found themselves in after they had completed the first week. Inside is the Conductor, who possesses's Shiki. Beat and Beku fight him while battling with the possessed Shiki, and erase the Composer. However, she still attacks them, not in her right self. Neku realizes that she is under the control of the Red Pin. Before he can act, she launches another attack at him. Beat takes the hit, and is knocked unconscious. Neku then destroys the Red Pin, and frees Shiki of it's influence. She blacks out, and Neku is now alone to face the Composer in battle.
He moves forward, finding himself at the end of the Shibuya area. The Conductor then appears, laughing at Neku for having assumed that he had defeated him. He then reveals that the Red Pins were of his making. He had been apalled at how Shibuya was quickly becoming a place of hate and fear. By using the Red Pins to make everyone think the same thing, he believed that he was saving it from eventual self-destruction. Not only that, but by using the equipment of the room they were in, he would pulse out the thoughts to the other Game areas, and take control of them all. It was how he possessed the Reapers, but the Pins cannot possess someone with a Player Pin. He destroys Neku's Player Pin, promising to free him from the pain of individuality. Upon trying to take control of him, though, he finds he cannot-for Neku has two Player Pins. Beat and Shiki then catch up, and the trio battle the Conductor again, and defeat him.
Suddenly, Joshua appears, to the surprise of the Conductor. However, Shiki, Joshua, and Beat are all held captive by the Conductor, who transforms into a huge monster. Neku battles him, forging a four-way pact with Beat, Shiki, and Joshua, and then finishes him off with a massive energy attack.
The Conductor reverts back to his normal form, and talks to Joshua. It is fully revealed that Joshua had been the Composer all along. A month ago, he planned to erase Shibuya off the map through the usage of his powers because of how much negativity and hate had been generating, not willing to have it move on and infect the rest of the Game areas, but was stopped at the willing of the Conductor, who promised that he could "save" Shibuya. The Composer then created a game with the Conductor-he would be given one month, and if he could change Shibuya enough, then he would not erase it. However, The Composer would be doing what he could-in moderation, as he could do whatever he wanted-to ensure that the Conductor fails. Joshua tells the Conductor that it was one of his most enjoyable games, and the Conductor says that he enjoyed it, and then fades away.
Joshua then returns the rest of Neku's memory, and finally, Neku is shown that Joshua did kill him, as Neku was the person that Joshua had chosen to be his representative in his Game. Sho had been trying to find and kill The Composer for some time, as he wanted his power-after Joshua shot Sho and wounded him in front of Neku in the RG, he then shot and killed Neku, and gave him the extra Player Pin which allowed him to not be possessed by The Conductor.
Neku had been playing on his team all along.
Now, Joshua lets Neku in for one more game. There are two guns-whoever shoots the other will get to be the Composer, and decide on Shibuya's fate. Joshua transports Shiki and Beat away, and Neku and The Composer draw. Neku, though, finds that he cannot kill Joshua, and is shot. Just as he blacks out, he sees Mr. H standing behind Joshua. He hadn't been the Composer, but rather the producer-he made the Pins.
Neku then wakes up at the Scramble again, confused and saddened. For one week, he explores, and then meets up with Beat and a restored Rhyme in front of Hachiko. Shiki then appears in her real body, and the four go off and enjoy their lives. Joshua did not erase Shibuya-the fact that a unsociable boy who hated life could meet friends and fight for them secured his mind that there was still good there, and he allowed it to continue to exist, and transported the four players back into the RG. Neku then changes the words that Mr. H told him those weeks ago-"The world begins with you".
The first chapters of The World Ends With You manga can be read here, at Square Enix's members site:
The manga has only been published in Japan by Square Enix's own manga magazine.