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Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 22 (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 19, 2012 by  



Naoki Urasawa’s manga masterpiece…”20th Century Boys” and it’s 22nd volume features the chaos in Japan after the Friend has announced that he was responsible for the attacks and now he plans to destroy Japan.  With a possibly looming war against the FDP as other countries are set to attack, Kenji’s friends also plan to go on the offensive and defeat the Friend once and for all.  But what it comes down to is the final confrontation between Kenji vs. the Friend.  An important volume for fans of “20th Century Boys”, vol. 22 is one you do not want to miss!

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

MANGA TITLE: 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 21

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 September 18, 2012

The time has come. The Friend reveals all about his conspiracy and declares that he shall destroy the world within seven days. Kanna plans a music festival to evacuate people to the Expo venue, which is the only place the dictator holds sacred and the only place safe from destruction. While the 20th Century Boys race toward the final battle, Kenji is coming back to Tokyo!

The Friend has made his announcement and revealing that he was responsible for the bloody massacre years ago and that he is responsible for the virus outbreak killing many people.

With all that has been revealed, he intends to carry out destroying Japan with UFO’s dropping the virus on innocents.  And while the U.S. and other nations are preparing to launch an attack, Kana and friends make one last ditch effort to get everyone to safety by moving everyone to the Expo center.

Meanwhile, the Friend has been awaiting for his showdown with one man…and that man is Kenji

Can Kenji save the world?

What is “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. And now the 22nd 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 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.

In volume 21, it has been hinted that the Friend will try to kill humanity, but no one knew how.

We have seen him gain control through fear by spreading the virus and killing people, but of course, the blame going against terrorism. But now, the Friend is causing mass hysteria when UFO’s fly over the city and pretending they will be attacking civilization.

Under the guise of sending people to Mars, mass hysteria breaks out as everyone who wants to survive is hoping to get on the list. But Kanna and Kenji’s friends no better. This is a plot to annihilate humanity and the only way to save them is to get them to a safe point. But what massive structure can hold a lot of people and protect them from the UFO’s?

And here we are now with volume 22 as mass hysteria has broken out after the Friend has announced that he was responsible for the massacre back in 2000 and that he was responsible for the virus attacks all over the world.

While many are living in pain and desperation in Japan, the song of Kenji is being played all over Tokyo.  And with Kanna and friends doing all they can to bring everyone to safety, they try to tell everyone that Kenji will be performing live in front of everyone, in order to get them to safety.

Meanwhile, the Friend has launched three UFO’s to drop the virus on people at the Expo.  As the Maruo Twins now trying to assist by stopping the the UFO’s, some  from Kenji’s past decide to make the fatal decision of trying to stop the UFO’s themselves before anyone else is killed.

Meanwhile Dr. Endo Kiriko tries to prepare a vaccination, the hitman known as Number 13 makes his return and The Friend offers his challenge to Kenji, setting up the battle between these two men, that many have been waiting 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. 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.

With the latest volume of “20th Century Boys” vol. 22, the word that I can easily describe this release is “epic”.  With everyone making their return for this one volume, everyone must decide what their role is going to be in this final battle.  Are they going to fight or are they going to stand around?  Kenji’s friends faced this once before, now much older, they know that they must stay persistent in order to keep humanity alive and safe while the Friend and his people attack Tokyo.

This 22nd volume also appears slightly larger than previous volumes and is filled with so much story incorporating so many characters, there is no doubt that Urasawa had wanted to get everyone involved as we near the end of the series.

In this volume, Kanna finally learns about her Uncle Kenji as she and many friends have thought he was dead for so many years.  Chono finally finds out the truth of how his grandfather, the legendary detective Cho-san was killed, we also get to find out who the real identity of the DJ playing Kenji’s music is and also, learning how Takasu is pregnant with the Friend’s child and has replaced Manjome as the leader of the FDP.  So, where previous volumes focused on the action, this volume focuses on character development and bringing everyone, including past side characters together.

Naoki Urasawa’s “20th CENTURY BOYS” just gets better and better and the series will continue in vol. 1 of “21st CENTURY BOYS”.  And with so many twists and turns, one can only wonder what Naoki Urasawa has planned.   But for this volume alone, this is the big set-up for the final confrontation between Kenji and the Friend.

Featuring wonderful illustration and awesome storytelling, which Naoki Ursawa is known for, “Naoki Urasawa’s 20th CENTURY BOYS” Vol. 22 is another excellent volume for the series and an important volume, as it shows us how the people of Japan have now gone into chaos after finding out that the man they once believed as their leader, is in fact a murderer and psychopath.  And there is unfinished business between the Friend and Kenji, so everything culminates to volume 22 before the grand finale.

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. 22 is highly recommended.

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