Manga Reviews

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

20th Century Boys

20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa
Licensed by VIZ

Topic: Seinen, Mystery, Science-Fiction
Warning: Mild Nudity, Some Violence

This series fluctuates between 3 time-periods, jumping back and forth to fill in gaps in the reader's knowledge. In the 1960s Kenji and his friends are young children pretending that they are heros who will save the world from a mysterious villian. The villian's plots are written out by Kenji is a book called "The book of prophecy."

Flash-forward to the late 1990s, where Kenji and his friends are reunited after the mysterious suicide of Donkey, one of them. As Kenji delves deeper into Donkey's suicide, he begins to discover that there are sinister forces at work. A cult is rallying itself around a charismatic leader, known only as "Friend." Not only that, but "Friend" seems intent on carrying out the doomsday scenario created in Kenji's "Book of Prophecy," which calls for a giant robot attack to ring in the new millenium. This means that "Friend" must know about the book, but how is that possible? What ties does "Friend" have to Kenji?

Flash-forward again to 2014, where Kenji and several of his friends are presumed dead, and most of the others on the run. At this point Kenji's niece, Kanna, is 17 and is trying to discover the truth of what happened on New Years Eve 1999. This is no simple task because "Friend" has become the ruler of the world and can suppress the truth at will.

This is a very hit or miss manga. Either you enjoy the constant twists and turns, the constant questions and suspense, or you don't. Personally I enjoy the way the author keeps us in the dark about "Friend's" identity, and all the false trails the author lays down. The fact that the reader is kept out of the loop, makes it so that we can discover the truth among the tangles lies, at the same time the characters do. This means we're not left yelling, "It's so obvious who it is!" Being able to relate to the characters, and watching them fight their David Vs. Goliath struggle, is very inspiring.

Rating: 8.0/10.0


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