Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 11 (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 9, 2010 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. 11 features major revelations of Kenji’s sister Kiriko but also what happened to Mon-chan. 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

Is the Friend really Kanna’s father?! Will she still be able to stand up and fight, despite this anguishing news? Meanwhile, Koizumi Kyoko and Sadakiyo have gotten away from the Dream Navigators by the skin of their teeth, but as Yoshitsune once warned, these people will chase you to the ends of the earth… With Kanna in shock over the truth of her paternity, will she have the strength to go and rescue Koizumi?

Also, back in the summer of 2002, Mon-chan succeeded in tracking down Sadakiyo and got him to commit to paper the truth about the Friend’s identity and his actions. But to prove his loyalty to his trusted Friend, Sadakiyo took measures to ensure that the “Mon-chan Memo” stayed hidden. What exactly was “the Lie of 1970” and how far will the Dream Navigators go to prevent it from being revealed?

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 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.

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 11 (spoiler-less summaries):

Chapter 1: Depths of Despair – Kanna reminisces of a discussion she had on New Year’s Eve 2000 with her Uncle Kenji.

Chapter 2: List of Ingredients – Continuing Kanna’s last day with her Uncle Kenji back in New Year’s Eve 2000.

Chapter 3: The Lie of 1970 – We learn that there was some interesting dealings behind-the-scenes that the Friend is not aware of and that others knew about “The Lie of 1970”.

Chapter 4: Old Aquaintance – Sadakiyo talks to Kyoko about the day Mon-Chan met up with him.

Chapter 5: Heart and Soul – Sadakiyo talks about what he did to Mon-Chan the night he was with him.

Chapter 6: Space Aliens – The Friends try to get Kyoko Koizumi, meanwhile Kanna and friends work quickly to save her.

Chapter 7: Sadakiyo’s Decision – Kanna reunites with her Uncle Yoshitsune and Sadakiyo gives them the final notes from Mon-chan.

Chapter 8: Ruins – Kanna heads to the location where her mother had supposedly stayed at.

Chapter 9: Godzilla – Kanna discovers information that relates to her mother.

Chapter 10: Mother’s Words – Kanna is shown film footage taken of her mother and a dire message she had given.

Chapter 11: Yamane-kun – Otcho tries to look for Dr. Yamane.

Chapter 12: Science Lab Memories – Otcho meets up with a colleague who knows Yamane and tries to get information on him.

Finally, we get to know a little bit about Kiriko Endo.

For so long, we were teased that the Kanna’s father is the leader of the Friends but we never knew what Kiriko had to do with this cult.  We knew that she study microbiology and worked on bacteria, we knew that she left Kanna behind with Kenji and had not reappeared.  So, no one knew if she is dead or alive but this latest volume does let us know that everything leading up to the New Year’s event, she had some involvement.

As like before when Kanna was younger and the friends were after her then, the more they want her and Kyoko now.  Kyoko mainly for her virtual reality experience in unmasking the friend but unfortunately, she’s so bubbleheaded that you don’t know how she even will be able to help the rebellion.

If anything, what I enjoyed about this chapter is that we are starting to see all the original members return.  Yoshitsune, Otcho, Yukiji and even a story about Mon-chan and also a return of Sadakiyo.

The 11th volume of “20th Century Boys” features more action and suspense and also new revelations that many people have been waiting for and definitely will have some major impact in the next volume.

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 eleventh 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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