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

April 9, 2012 by  



Naoki Urasawa’s manga masterpiece…”20th Century Boys” just gets better and better.  With vol. 20, the stage is set as it is leading viewers with what may be the final battle.  There are a few twists and turns and a few surprises but fans will definitely enjoy what they read in this latest volume.  Another wonderful volume of “20th Century Boys” worth owning!

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

MANGA TITLE: 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 20

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 April 10, 2012

There once was a hero who stood against evil. He sacrificed himself to save the world, and everyone believed he died on Bloody New Year’s Eve. But eighteen years later, when the entire world is under the control of the enigmatic figure known as the Friend, the hero comes back!

Kenji is back and is heading for Tokyo, where the Friend is preparing his next horrific plan. Meanwhile, Kanna and the rest of Kenji’s group make their move toward the final battle! Could it finally be time for justice to rise once again?

Last volume, we saw the return of Kenji.  But while Kenji Endo is making his return to Tokyo to finish what he started, his niece Kanna and his friends, who all think that Kenji is dead, have made their decision that they must kill the Friend ASAP and will literally be their final stand.

But still, questions have remained in Naoki Urasawa’s “20th Century Boys”.  Who has now replaced the Friend?  And what happened to Kenji’s sister (and Kanna’s mother) Kiriko, who was working on an antidote to fight the Friend’s virus?

One of these questions are answered in vol. 20 of “20th Century Boys”!

“20th Century Boys” is simply the masterpiece manga series created by Naoki Urasawa. 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 over 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 volume 20, as Kanna and Otcho have pretty much decided that they are going to go to war and try to kill the Friend, they reunite with their old friends.    Who will fight with them and who won’t?  Meanwhile, Maruo goes to visit one of the gang’s old friends and in the process, to find out if Kiriko Endo is alive and what she has been doing all this time.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a shift of allegiance in the FDP and Manjome, Takasu, Yanbo & Mabo are up to something devious and much more worse than what took place on Dec 31, 2000.

“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. In the Friend Era, she is known as the “White Queen”.

Chono Shohei – A freshman detective following his grandfather’s footsteps of being a great detective and to have the name “Cho-san”. In the Friend Era, he has abandoned his job to join forces with Kenji Endo and now is a wanted man.

Kamisama – The homeless man who had visions of what Kenji should be doing and would relay it to him but 14 years later, he has become millionaire and now tries to keep some of Kenji’s friends safe through his bowling building.

Kyoko Koizumi – A high school student who has helped the Kenji faction and is now working for a music company searching for talent during the Friend Era.

Otcho – One of Kenji’s friends who escaped from prison to reunite and help Kanna. He and Kanna want to stop the Friend immediately.

Yukiji – The only female member from the original Kenji faction, Yukiji raised Kanna after Kenji disappeared and looks at Kanna like her own daughter and will do all she can to protect her, as she had promised to Kenji.

Yoshitsune – The young and shy Yoshitsune has grown up to become the leader of the underground dissident organization.

Maruo – A friend of Kenji who now works at a music company and has used his position to help the Kenji faction.

It’s a race against time as Kanna and Otcho feel they can’t wait any longer.  The two with the help of Yukiji are determined to kill the Friend, meanwhile Yoshitsune wishes Kanna would wait until she talks to her mother, details which Maruo has found out some new details about her and is investigating it on his own.

Meanwhile, the FDP seem to have their own agenda, that maybe even the Friend knows nothing about…considering the original Friend was killed.

Who is this new Friend?  What are the FDP up to?  And what will happen to Kanna, Otcho and Yukiji as they have decided to make their assassination attempt against the Friend?

And that’s all I can say about vol. 20 of “20th Century Boys” because there are a lot of twists and turns, including some surprises.  Fans and longtime readers will enjoy this volume when they see the final panel of the chapter but knowing that things are going to get crazy from this point on.

Naoki Urasawa’s “20th Century Boys” just gets better and better and as we now are nearing the final stretch of the series, one can only wonder what Naoki Urasawa has planned. And I’m guessing that we are going to see a lot of deaths and possible demise of several main characters.  So far, “20th Century Boys” has been edgy and hasn’t pulled any punches so far.  So, anything can happen right now in this manga series!

Featuring wonderful illustration and awesome storytelling, which Naoki Ursawa is known for, “Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys Vol. 20” is another solid volume for the series and an important storyline as it definitely sets things up for these last final volumes of the series.

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.

If you have been following this series this long, you’re probably as addicted as I am and with this latest volume, “Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 20” is a no-brainer, it’s a must buy volume and quite simply, “20th Century Boys” is a must buy series!

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