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The main threat of human kind in the Betterman series and it is the target of eradication of Akamatsu Industries. Algernon, the name of which derives from the man who discovered it. The name of which itself derives from the book Flowers for Algernon, is never completely understood until the final moments of the series. Even then, it is left to the viewer to deduce what algernon exactly is. Algernon seems to be, as mentioned, either a virus or a mutation. Victims of Algernon show symptoms like those in the end chapters of "Flowers for Algernon," (loss of intellect and emotional control) but on a larger, more violent scale. Rage isn't the only symptom, as insanity and bodily mutation are evident in many cases.
However, it is in fact a natural method of preventing human perfection which is understood to be the root of evil. Algernon is a form of "apoptosis" that provides a defense mechanism for the human race. When humans subconsciously detect "danger," such as a "cancerous," perfect entity, they become affected by Algernon, and spread it through contact with others.
Those affected by Algernon have inherently shorter lifespans as a result of their destabilized mental state, and when they die they produce Animus Flowers. These provide the Somniums or in a newer term Betterman the "immune system" of the human race, with a food source to combat the perceived threat. The battle between Algernon and Betterman is actually the process of human evolution. It is not entirely impossible that Algernon is everything that it is theorized to be.
In Betterman series, the creation of Cancer resulted in an outbreak of Algernon.