Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 13 (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
January 7, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Volume 13: 16 years after the bloody New Year’s Eve, chaos has now returned but this time it has been unleashed throughout the world. This latest volume of Naoki Urasawa’s “20th Century Boys” is fantastic! Definitely one of the best manga series out there and if you want suspense, mystery and storylines that are so addicting, you can’t go wrong with this manga series! Highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2003 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 13
STORY AND ART BY: Naoki Urasawa (浦沢直樹)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC
RATED: T for Older Teen
Available on February 15, 2011
The Friend is dead. As the news spreads around the world, the members of the Friends’ executive committee are faced with a dilemma: Is it all over, or will the events predicted in the New Book of Prophecy still be carried out? Otcho insists that things are not over at all, and that is exactly what his old nemesis – Number 13 – tells the fractious Friends’ committee, where quite a few members are prepared to call it quits. Soon thereafter, certain members begin disappearing, one after the other.
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 and scenarios of the bad things the evil side would do and how they, as superheroes would have to conquer the evil bad guys.
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.
What we know of December 31, 2000… Many lives were lost and although Kenji and his friends did what they can to stop the Friend’s giant robot from killing people in the city. They were blamed for it and since then have been reviled as the terrorists who massacred innocent people (when it was actually “the Friends” who were responsible).
And 15 years later, the Friends have used the massacre to grow their cult and to take control of society, politics, law enforcement and have their foot in the door worldwide.
But for friends of Kenji who survived that fatal day, they will continue to do what they can to defeat their friends in the honor of their friend Kenji and save the world. The last volume featured Kanna, who is now a teenager who will never forget her uncle and is investigating any details or leads to her uncle Kenji but also her mother and possible father.
In Naoki Urasawa’s “20th CENTURY BOYS” volume 13, the story continues after the surprising death of “The Friend” who was gunned down by a former member of his circle. But the biggest shock was the big reveal of who the Friend was…Fukube, one of Kenji’s classmates and a member of his circle… or was he?
With Kenji’s friends united once again, Yoshitsune, Maruo, Otcho and Yukiji try to remember if Fukube was even one of their own when they were kids. Also, revealed is the connection between Japan’s popular singer Haru Namio and Kenji and also Kanna learns the truth about her mother Kiriko.
Meanwhile, internal strife hits the Friend’s Committee very hard and many vie for the position of their fallen leader.
“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.
Keroyon – Also known as “Froggy”, one of Kenji’s friends who got married and is now living in the USA.
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 13 (spoiler-less summaries):
- Chapter 1: Missing From Memory – Kenji’s friends hear about “The Friend” and his true identity and they try to figure out if he was even part of their group when they were younger.
- Chapter 2: Friend’s Death – Kenji’s friends all reunite for the first time in 15 years.
- Chapter 3: Round Table – Internal strife at the Friend’s Committee when they find out about The Friend’s death.
- Chapter 4: Reunion – Kakuta reunites with his fellow manga friends.
- Chapter 5: Revelation of 2003 – Otcho tells Kanna the truth about his mother Kiriko and Yamane-san.
- Chapter 6: The Real Thing – The connection of Haru Namio and Kenji is revealed. A virus is unleashed around the globe.
- Chapter 7: Beginning of the End – Kyoko Koizumi helps her friend check on her boyfriend who isn’t returning his message and finds all these people dead in the apartment complex.
- Chapter 8: Revenge of the Frogdoom (1) – The story shifts to the United States to Kenji’s old friend Keroyon aka Froggy and his teenage son who discover a boy nearly dying.
- Chapter 9: Revenge of the Frogdoom (2) – The boy tells Froggy about the story of how he was vaccinated by Kenji’s sister Kiriko.
- Chapter 10: A Quiet Town in Germany – A story about how Kiriko was living in Germany and trying to develop a vaccine and hiding out.
- Chapter 11: Creeping Fear – Chaos as many people who are healthy are trying to evacuate. Meanwhile, Kyoko discovers who was responsible for killing her friend’s boyfriend.
- Chapter 12: New Command – A member of the Friend’s who was responsible for killing many by infecting people with the virus with poisoned fish goes after Kyoko and her friend.
It seems that I tend to always say with each review that each volume of “20th Century Boys” gets better and better, but its the truth. Naoki Urasawa is a wonderful mangaka and along with his wonderful artwork, his stories are well-crafted and he knows how to entice the readers with suspense.
Each chapter continues to build with more mysteries and more shocking storylines and if you thought volume 12 was fantastic, volume 13 is excellent.
Nearly every character featured from the original, earlier storyline pre-2000 are featured in this 2016 storyline as we see reactions to the death of “The Friend” but then seeing the chaos that goes within the committee as those who vie for the top position in order to take the place of “The Friend”. Some who are for it, some who are against it but all of a sudden, members of the committee are being killed one by one in accidents.
Meanwhile, we get to learn more about Kenji’s sister Kiriko who was a mysterious character throughout the series but we start to realize that her reasons for leaving Kanna behind were important. Where Yamane-san was responsible for creating a killing virus, it was Kiriko’s job to create a vaccine, an antidote. But Yamane has gone so far to create one killer virus that even she is not sure if she can stop it.
So, literally the storyline goes through one chaotic scene with people feeling the shock of the death of “The Friend” and then all of a sudden, chaos in the world as people are dying of a new virus with no antidote or vaccine.
While we get to see the reunion of Kenji’s friends, we also get to see the reappearance of Froggy, who is now living in the United States and I get a feeling that we will see more of him in future volumes.
Volume 13 of Naoki Urasawa’s “20th Century Boys” once again is exciting and a marvelous volume that I can’t wait for volume 14 because this latest volume leaves us with a cliffhanger and to see so much chaos, we wonder how are group of underdogs will manage to stay alive and continue in fighting the Friend’s and whoever unleashed the virus in the world.
With nine more volumes left of this popular manga series, this series really goes all out with this 13th volume and if you have not picked up this manga series yet, I’m telling you right now, this is one of the best out there and I highly recommend it!
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