Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 10 (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 23, 2011 by  

Engrossing and highly entertaining. Definitely one of the must-buy, must-own manga titles available right now! “Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys” is a manga series that continues to capture your attention and never feels like it’s getting old! Vol. 10 is a Kyoko Koizumi-centric storyline but we do have major revelations of who she saw in the virtual game room and also Kanna finding out her connection to “The Friend”.  Highly recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2003 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts. All Rights Reserved.


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



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2010

It appears that Kanna’s ambitious gamble has paid off as the leaders of the local Thai and Chinese mafias agree to both call a truce and offer to back her up. This doesn’t sit too well with Yukiji, though, who is furious that Kanna would risk her life in such a brazen way. But one thing seems certain: when it comes to fighting the Friends, there’s no limit to how far Kanna will go.

Meanwhile, Koizumi Kyoko begins following Kanna in an attempt to tell her about everything she learned while at Friend Land. Her behavior, however, does not go unnoticed by the Friends, and a menacing dream navigator suddenly appears to inform Kyoko that she will need to go to Friend World for further reeducation. Luckily for Kyoko, there are no immediate spaces available, but will she have enough time to get help from Kanna and Yoshitsune before her number is called?

For so long, readers of the Naoki Urasawa’s “20th Century Boys” have wondered about Kenji Endo’s sister Kiriko. Why she left her daughter behind? Why she went missing? But now we get some of those answers in the latest 11th volume!

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.

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 storyline 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.

The story now takes place 14 years later after the New Year’s Eve incident. A new prophecy has since emerged and the Friends are after Kanna and Kyoko. Both are on the run. Volume 11 focuses on Kanna and Kyoko’s plight. We also learn details on what happened to Mon-Chan and the discovery of what had happen to Kiriko all these years. This latest volume features major revelations of Kanna’s last moments with Kenji on New Year’s Eve but also Kiriko’s experiments and who she worked for.

“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, he now believes in Kanna that there is corruption in the police.

Mariah – A transvestite friend of Kanna who is trying to help her.

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. She finds herself in Friend Land.

Otcho – One of Kenji’s friends who escaped from prison to reunite and help Kanna.

Yoshitsune – A friend of Kenji who used his position as a cleaner at Friend Land to spy on the Friends.

Mon-Chan – One of Kenji’s friends who died while trying to gather information on the Friend’s conspiracy.

Sadakiyo – A childhood acquaintance of Kenji who always wore a mask. At first he is thought of as the Friend but he is a guy who is the director of the Friend museum and works with them.

Manjome Inshu – Top cadre of the Friends organization and head of the Friendship and Democracy Party.

Director Takasu – A Dream Navigator at Friend Land.

Here is a brief summary of each chapter of volume 10 (spoiler-less summaries):

Chapter 1: Truce – As the Friends and police search for Otcho, did Kana’s plan to reunite the two gangs and have them call a truce work?

Chapter 2: Crossroads – Kyoko Koizumi continues to have nightmares of the face she saw in the Friend’s virtual game world.

Chapter 3: Surveillance – Kyoko realizes that the Friends have been following her.

Chapter 4: New Teacher – Kyoko receives a mysterious call…

Chapter 5: Horror Explained – Kyoko finds out who her new English teacher is and what she sees is a major shock.

Chapter 6: Collector – Kyoko’s new English teacher Sadakiyo  takes her to his place.

Chapter 7: Hearing Voices – Sadakiyo keeps Kyoko at his home and he begins to freak her out.

Chapter 8: Friend’s Room – The Friend’s go after Sadakiyo but Sadakiyo has one thing he must do first.

Chapter 9: The Faceless Boy – Sadakiyo talks about why he wore the mask and how he became friends with the “Friend”.

Chapter 10: Faceless No More – Kyoko and Sadakiyo go to visit his old teacher.

Chapter 11: Thunder – Kanna learns the truth about who the “Friend” really is.

With the 10th volume of “Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys”, this volume is more Kyoko Koizumi-centric as the majority of the all chapters are about her.  But with her storyline, two major plot lines are revealed.  One, who was the face that she saw in the virtual game world and two, what relation “The Friend” has with Kanna.

Although, the latter is no surprise to the reader, as earlier volumes have shown us that Kanna’s mother (Kenji’s sister) was in a relationship with a man who is the friend and they had a child, the fact that her father is “The Friend” is revealed to her for the first time.  But also, we get to see how Yukiji has pretty much accepted Kanna as her own daughter and loves her as one as opposed to a friend of Kenji who raised her because he asked her to.

But the main storyline involves the identity of Sadakiyo, the young boy who was always wearing a mask.  In many ways, his character was a red herring because earlier on, we thought this boy with the mask was “The Friend”. But he turns out to be a person who had a deep connection with the Friend and it is revealed in this volume of what connection the two have.

Similar to an earlier volume which was Kyoko Koizumi-centric, some may be disappointed that the other characters were not as featured as much but in this case, it’s hard to be upset because we do get a little of Otcho, Yukiji and also Kanna but the revelations that are featured in this volume are quite important to the storyline and to see Sadakiyo seeing things in a new light because of Kyoko is quite intriguing.

Of course, this storyline continues in volume 11 and it will be interesting to see how the storyline continues.

As always, Naoki Urasawa knows how to grab the attention of the reader. His artwork and how he is able to capture the sense of action and emotion through the pages is magnificent and so far, this series has been engrossing and highly enjoyable thus far.

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 tenth 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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