20th Century Boys (Manga)

Side Note: I was going to post another figure review soon but the images I took are sub par in terms of the lighting. I JUST ordered an awesome lighting set last Friday, I was inspired by Meronpan’s improvement in lighting when he bought a set. So until that arrives I’m afraid I want to put my figure review posts on hold, should probably only be another week at most. But in the meantime…a manga review!

Cover 1

Plot Summary
Humanity is facing extinction at the end of the 20th Century for reasons yet to be fully known/understood to the reader. In 1969 a group of boys created a symbol for their friendship and played games of world dominantion and war…however…28 years later the symbol they created is appearing in seemingly random places. These symbols slowly start to string together dark dealings and mysterious deaths of alarming severity. The main character Kenji was a member of this group of boys. Kenji is now an adult and he long ago gave up on all his dreams and currently runs a convenience store with his mother, and watches his missing sister’s child. When Kenji’s old friend is reported to have committed suicide he begins to get involved in a real life version of the game he played as a child.

20th 2

Review Blurb
This manga…is awesome! I can hardly remember the last time I felt THIS confident about the merit of a manga series only 2 volumes in. Besides just my gut feeling, I expect it to continue to be awesome due to the fact that it’s already completed its run in Japan and has won the Kodansha, Japan Media Arts, and Shogakukan Manga awards. Not to mention that Naoki Urasawa is one of the rare and few manga artists in Japan that has the power and ability to pull off a series like this.

20th 6

I read about this series a bit in Otaku USA and they talked about how he is one of the few manga artists that can state his own terms when he starts a new series. And a series of this complexity needs to be lengthy and well planned out. Do you think if a newbie manga artist sat down and said his series was going to be 22 volumes that people would immediately accomodate him? Probably not. Most manga artists are incredibly lucky to make it past 2 volumes, and as a result sometimes they put a lot more into the first few volumes in order to draw in the readers quicker. I think that if you build the foundation of a series too quickly the shakiness that existed in the beginning will be able to perceived as the series goes on, and overall it will be a lesser series as a result.

20th 4

The first two volumes are jam packed with so many characters, memories, and stories you won’t be bored. I can’t believe how well this manga-ka strings together so much without confusing the reader. I had been getting into too much of a rut lately with the manga I read (typical shonen/shoujo titles) and this series was a perfect wakeup call. This is a series that is complex and deep and it’s not read to drool over bishies or to see gravity defying fight scenes (that I know of).

20th 5

The art is realistic and detailed. The people all have depth, their weaknesses, strengths, and overall personalities that seem to correctly embody someone who might actually exist. I see these characters burdened by the same selfish and weak characteristics that I possess. When the main character is thrust into the position of trying to be the “hero” he played in his childhood games you’re fully aware of the fact that he is someone who has become an every day average joe as an adult. He doesn’t have any powers or connections…and he is going to be tasked with an undertaking so large that I’m anxious to see how the hell it can be done.

20th 1

The way that the past stories of all these characters are portrayed makes you sympathize with them and begin to care for them. Urasawa shows their past memories and even though most are sad ones they pull on your heartsrings in a very real way, it’s not like it’s some past that some person threw together just to try and milk some tears out of the reader. I’m moved by this series and its characters and I anxiously watch them dance their story across each panel knowing that death is a very real possibility and I already get the clear impression from the manga-ka that ANYONE from this series has the potential to die. Oftentimes I’ll watch a series where characters go against death but…lets face it in the back of your mind you know they’re safe.

20th 10

This series is going to be a masterpiece that falls together little piece by piece. I can’t help but admire series where almost every action has a meaning that plays in the background and eventually all these separate actions fall together to reveal a grand finale. I admire the intelligence of this series so much, to be honest I’m probably not good enough of a writer to be able to portray what this series is and what I expect it to become.

20th 7

The only negative…the retail price is $12.99 whereas Monster (another series by the author) sold at $9.99 a volume. Once again, I suggest buying from Amazon because they sell it at less then retail and you get free shipping at the $25 mark. But like I said before, I pinch pennies when I can.

My next series will be Monster, I plan on devouring this series while I wait for more 20th Century Boys. I would buy it all right now if I could, but I need to wait.

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11 Responses to 20th Century Boys (Manga)

  1. […] on 20th Century Boys (Lovelyduckie’s Weblog) Dave Ferraro on vol. 1 of Animal Academy (Comics-and-More) Connie on […]

  2. xjaymanx says:

    @Duckie-chan: Wow, just hearing the emotion in your words makes me think there’s definitely something here. Reading this multi-layered 1969-to-the-present-day premise, and looking at the art reminds me not only of the detail and symbolism in Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen” comic (haven’t seen the new film, but I doubt two hours can capture the multi-timelined psychological comic), but also Satoshi Kon’s psychological directions in the Hitchcockian “Perfect Blue”, “Millennium Actress”, and especially the mystery-thrilling “Paranoia Agent”. If “20th Century Boys” is ever made into an anime, I hope Satoshi Kon directs it! ^_^

  3. gordanham says:

    When you started out the review with, “This manga…is awesome!” it already sold me. I’ve been wanting to start this series for a while ever since I saw the gross it got in the Japanese box office with its live action movie, but every time I head down to the bookstore I see the little “USA $12.99” sign above barcode and I walk out in sorrow. I already have two $12.99 series (Gantz/Black Lagoon) on my plate and I don’t think my wallet could take another. I’ve been falling back on a lot of my ongoing manga too(ex:GinTama/Rosario+Vampire). I think I will make room for it this summer though and hopefully I can start “Pluto” too.

  4. Otaku Dan says:

    20th Century Boys is truly awesome. A while back I did read a couple of scans and it is on my top priority to be my next manga series.

  5. meronpan says:

    ahhhh a japanese gal i met a while back recommended this to me and i got the first volume… but haven’t started it yet ^^;;; your enthusiasm has inspired me to try to do so soon… will get on that right after k-on ^^

    lights arrive yet? hoping you have as much success as i did ^^

  6. DeMasque says:

    Incidentally I read of it somewhere else yesterday. I’d like to start reading it, even more after had read your thoughts about it. I hope I’ll be able to find it at the comic-shop today. O:

    For what concern the new lighting set, I envy you. @_@
    I’m still trying to set up the one I’ve read of on Otaku Dan’s blog but I hadn’t be able to find good lamps yet. I would buy this new one in a rush but I live in Italy and I don’t know if amazon permit the buying of such things outside of USA.

    Pardon for my bad english. 😄

  7. lovelyduckie says:

    @ jay – I have every intentions of reading Watchmen now. Generally I stay away from comics (that are not from Japan or Korea) and just watch the resulting movies but…Watchmen was really such a pleasant surprise in the theaters and I want more.

    @ gordan – That’s kind of what happens to me too, I start hearing some generally positive things about something and then suddenly there is one last positive remark that finally breaks me and the series goes to being my #1 priority.

    @ dan – Actually as I was reading this I thought of you, seemed like a series that would be right up your alley.

    @ meronpan – They arrived a few days ago and I unwrapped them last night. I didn’t get a chance to actually set them up last night because another of my cats got ill at that exact moment…I can’t believe my luck with them this week. I’ve been in and out of the vet almost every night this week. They caught URI…so basically they have the cat sniffles, but one of them had a 106 temp and we had to rush to the animal hospital.

    @DeMasque – If I can’t get the lighting right with this stuff…then I need to read some photography articles or something because the darkness in my pictures will blatantly be because of my lack of skill, this will be the proof.

  8. xjaymanx says:

    @Duckie-chan: Ahh, intriguing situation, lol… Let’s see, did “Air” offend u because of the ending? If so, I think “Ef” could be 50-50 love-hate probability, lol. In any case, I’d recommend “Petite Cossette” first before “Ef”, not because it’s a requirement or because it’s better or worse, but just as an earlier psychological-stylistic reference… In terms of overall entertainment or intensity, “Ef” (both seasons) definitely reaches the same level as “Air” or “Kannagi” or even “Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei”. At least, for me. ^_^

    P.S. Wow, really? I thought “Ironman” was a real surprise. But the “Watchmen” film was really that good? Hmm, unexpected! I may have to catch it sooner than later, hehe. In fact, here’s my “Watchmen” flashback from two years ago! ^_^

  9. meimi132 says:

    I downloaded the movie of this a while ago… *Mainly* because of Arata’s presence. (Ever since seeing Ping Pong I wanted more Arata…. Was one of the movie more easily available.) I still have yet to watch it though…. Would you say its worth putting off watching it untill I’ve read at least some of the manga?
    Your review makes me intrested… I didn’t really consider it before… Usually I go for things I have good feelings about, or hear good things about. Now I’ve heard good things, so I can safely give it a go lol.
    Have you read any of King of Thorn? I read as much as I could a while ago, but it hadn’t finished being released, was fantastic though. I’d recommend it to anyone.

    Almost forgot lol, Lovely Complex, I think I started the manga and didn’t like it much, so didnt continue, that was after seeing the anime though. Same for Ouran High Host Club actually…. Both only with one series but tons more manga…

  10. DeMasque says:

    Oh, well, in this case I wish you good luck! 😄

  11. I heard this series is amazing. My sister and I both adore Monster so I think we might enjoy this too.

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