Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 07 (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 13, 2010 by  

Gripping, addictive and a wonderful manga series thus far! Vol. 7 features Otcho and Kakuta doing all they can to escape from the high security prison. Highly recommended!

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(C) Image courtesy of 20 SEIKI SHONEN 7 by Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts. All Rights Reserved.


STORY AND ART BY: Naoki Urasawa (浦沢直樹)



RATED: T for Older Teen

Out in the middle of Tokyo Bay, a man called Shogun is trying to break out of Umihotaru Prison, a maximum-security island fortress, so he can save the world. Accompanied by a frightened young manga artist, these two men are prepared to risk everything as their daring escape plan grows deadlier by the minute. However, the prison authorities will do whatever it takes to return Shogun and his reluctant companion to custody.

Shogun’s ultimate goal: Tokyo, where a girl he calls the “final hope” lives, but a murder in Kabuki-cho has triggered a chain reaction of terror. Can Shogun reveal the truth about the false peace created by the Friends? And what are the facts behind the disaster that took place in the final moments of the 20th century?!

Naoki Urasawa is well-known in the manga industry. Having created excellent titles such as “Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl”, “Pineapple ARMY”, “Master Keaton” and “Monster”, his manga series “20th CENTURY BOYS” was the winner of the 2001 Kodansha Manga Award, Winner of the 2003 Shogakukan Manga Award and Urasawa was the recipient of the “Excellence Price at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival”.

The manga has been made into a live film, with the first film having been released as a part of a trilogy with a budget of 6 billion yen and will feature a cast of 300 people, it’s natural to say that the manga series “20th CENTURY BOYS” will definitely be a manga classic. And now the the seventh volume of the popular manga series has been released by Viz Media.

Naoki Urasawa’s “20th CENTURY BOYS” follows a group of friends when they were as children and the present time as adults. When these friends were children, they played a group of super heroes who would take down evildoers. But first, they needed to come up with their own storylines of the bad things the evil side would do and how they, as superheroes would have to conquer evil.

This plot of what the evil group would do was written down in a little guide which they called “The Prophecy”. As for the group, they devised a symbol of their group. But now many years later, this symbol has re-emerged as the symbol of a religious cult who may be behind terrorist activities.

Kenji and friends tried their best to stop the Friends but something happened on December 31, 2000 and fourteen years later, Kenji and friends are seen as the terrorists and the Friends have now further permeated into society worldwide.

As the stories from 2014 have focused on Kanna as a teenager who will never forget her uncle, a few of Kenji’s friends have turned up.  Some missing, some alive and some dead.  One of the friends, Otcho (Samurai), has been kept in a high level security prison and put into an area that is pitch black and where he will never escape or see sunlight.

Volume 7 takes place 14 years later after the New Year’s Eve incident. Otcho is serving time in a prison and has repeatedly tried to escape with no success. But when he and manga artist Kakuta focus on escaping the prison, Kakuta wants to make sure Otcho’s story is told and the truth of what happened that New Year’s Day is featured in his manga if they managed to survive their escape.  Meanwhile, we are introduced to high school student Kyoko Koizumi who has chosen to write about the well-known terrorist Kenji Endo for her homework and meets someone who actually knew Kenji quite well.

“20th CENTURY BOYS” features the following characters:

Kanna Endo: The daughter of Kenji’s missing sister. She is now a 17-year-old teenager who tries to keep her missing uncle Kenji in her memories by listening to his music (rather loudly) and works at a restaurant and is very protective over her friends and her living area. Has street smarts and adopted her guardian, Yukiji’s fighting spirit and not afraid of anything.

Yukiji: The only member of Kenji’s group who wasn’t part of the New Year’s Eve devastation as Kenji left young Kanna with her to raise in case if something went bad. Yukiji is the guardian of Kanna.

Chono Shohei – A freshman detective following his grandfather’s footsteps of being a great detective and to have the name “Cho-san”. Is always interested in Kanna but she and him are like fire and water and as he tries to get along with her, Kanna’s distrust of the police pushes him away.

Ujiko Ujio – Manga artists who are neighbors of Kanna.

Kakuta – A manga artist who was friends with Ujiko and Ujio who has been given prison time for his manga work which goes against the rules by “the Friends”.

Kamisama – The homeless man who had visions of what Kenji should be doing and would relay it to him but 14 years later, somehow he has become a millionaire.

Kyoko Koizumi – A high school student who selects Japan’s notorious terrorist Kenji Endo as the historic figure for her homework.

Here is a brief summary of each chapter of volume 7 (spoiler-less summaries):

Chapter 1: Escape– Otcho and Kakuta try to escape from prison.

Chapter 2: Air – Otcho and Kakuta are close to escaping but notice that a heavy search is taking place throughout Japan.

Chapter 3: Landing – Otcho finds a way for he and Kakuta to escape.  Otcho remembers a time when Kenji beat him in a competition.

Chapter 4: Expo of Dreams – Otcho talks about a story when he and Kenji were supposed to go to a Japan Expo in 1970.

Chapter 5: Koizumi – High school student Kyoko Koizumi chooses to write her assignment on Japan’s most notorious terrorist Kenji Endo.

Chapter 6: Kamisama’s Autograph – As Kyoko goes to learn more about Kenji, she meets someone who actually knew Kenji quite well.

Chapter 7: The Truth – Otcho explains to Kakuta and Kamisama to Kyoko about what really took place on New Year’s Eve.

Chapter 8: Control Room – Otcho continues his story of what happened on New Year’s Eve 2000.

Chapter 9: Face-Off – Kenji and Fukube discover a man who may be responsible for unleashing the robot attack in Tokyo.

Chapter 10: Fukube – Fukube takes on the assailant who may be responsible for the robotic destruction in Tokyo.

Chapter 11: Charge – Maruo and Kenji decide to go after the giant robot.

Volume 7 focuses on the present time (2014) and is a Otcho-driven storyline as he tries to escape from prison, meanwhile manga artist Kakuta learns more and more from Otcho of what took place on New Year’s Eve 2000.  The seventh volume also introduces us to a new character named Kyoko Koizumi who chooses to write about Kenji and meets Kamisama who also tells her of what happened back then.

This latest volume continues where vol. 5 left off and gives us insight on what transpired on New Years Eve 2000 as Kenji and friends tried to put a stop to the Friends.  Giving us insight to why Otcho and Kamisama look up to Kenji as a hero and how intent he was in stopping them but also a tragedy that hit Kenji and friends on that day.

If anything, the story of what took place on New Year’s Eve 2000 is just beginning and will continue in the vol. 8 but for the most part, this volume is action driven in the sense that the chapters focus on Otcho and Kakuta’s escape from prison.

Needless to say, readers are being setup for something huge and I definitely can’t wait for the next volume.  Overall, a gripping and exciting seventh volume of Naoki Urasawa’s “20th CENTURY BOYS”.  If you haven’t started already and you are looking for a deep, well-drawn, well-written manga series, Naoki Urasawa’s “20th CENTURY BOYS” is highly recommended!

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