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Title: 20th Century Boys
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Seinen, Sci-Fi
Author: Naoki Urasawa
Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Start Date: 30 January 2000
End Date: 2006
Number of chapters at review: 249
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 249
General Overview: Growing older is pretty rough and Kenji is finding out just how hard it can be as life starts wearing down on him. On top of trying to make ends meet running a convenience store he has to care for the niece that his missing sister left in his care. Memories of youth make it easier, until those memories come back to haunt him.
Kenji and his old friends are slowly being drawn into a mysterious conspiracy that could threaten the world. Who is the mysterious "Friend" and how does he tie into Kenji's youth? Why are there disappearances and deaths tied into Ochanomizu University? Their memories hold the keys to the puzzle, but time and age have clouded their minds.
The strange occurrences and the reach of the "Friend" conspiracy grow by the day. It will all culminate on New Year's Eve 2000. Will Kenji and the others be able to put together the puzzle and save the world? (- from wikipedia)
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Everything is detailed, especially characters. Urasawa's art has it's own style, making manga look realistic (and cool robots). Even if you won't like it at the beginning, you'll get used to it later.
Many people say that this manga's story is the best ever among mangas. And I do agree. The amount of twists is almost immeasurable, the story overall is global, long enough and thrilling. Though it is pretty slow at first few chapters, after them, I'm pretty sure, you won't stop reading. I think that this is the only manga that could work even without pictures.
The characters are awesome! There are a lot of them, they are greatly developed, opened to us, and you can see almost everyone's life path - from the childhood to maturity. It's interesting to see how fortune plays with their lives, and what choices they are making.
There is a lot of themes on this manga, like "world destruction", "true evil", "value of life" and many others, making this manga a little philosophic too.
Well, this manga is not too original, "evil plots for world domination" is pretty often used.. But who cares?
Okay. 20th Century Boys is a masterpiece. I've already said it, but I'll say it again: "Just read it". After all, you can't spend your time only reading shounens, it's good sometimes to read something serious.
Oh, and I also can recommend another Urasawa-sensei's work - Monster, which is even has it's own TV series.
Spoiler: Manga's images taken from earlier chapters to avoid spoiler, generally the art improves show
Last edited by Luckas; April 16, 2008 at 10:08 AM.
i kinda agree with most of what you said.. this manga is awesome anyway.. you (I think) didn't wrote the General Overview so at least credit whatever source you taken it from..
originality (i thinking) should be 10 out of 10
okay... this manga is very good... as snaker said.. at first i dont really care about this manga because i kinda dislike the art but after i read it... the plot is masterpiece... you cant find the story like this in manga world... its one hella story... Overall 10/10... one of masterpiece that i admit..
Thanks for introducing me to this awesome series guys. I'm only at Volume 6 right now and I seriously can't get enough of it. I haven't been this thrilled and on the edge since Death Note. So yeah, thanks for the great review.
The last 3 chapters really made it better. It was going down hill when Friend Era started.
I will give this manga 10/10. Too perfect.
And, the cast for the moive had been realeased! Urasawa is writing the script too, so it should be good.
I disagree with the art; even if everything looks great, basically all the characters are rehashed from older series. It's not a problem if you've never seen or read another Urasawa series, but if you have it can get extremely annoying. For instance, you know Doctor Reichwein in Monster? He makes a cameo in Master Keaton, has a larger role in Pluto and I'm sure he's also somewhere in 20th CB, Yawara and who knows what other series. Urasawa's character designs are too limited to warrant the art a 9 as far as I'm concerned.
I know! Half of Pluto's cast looks like someone from Monster ><'
But I love Urasawa's background. So detailed.
I agree with everything except the art, I would give it an 8. I would have also given originality a 10.
Urasawa's artwork is characteristically top notch. Each of the characters is unique looking. The faces are expressive and as the characters age in the manga their looks change appropriately. The artwork displays an uncanny amount of realism and the backgrounds are lush. A great example is the gorgeously drawn secret base the boys build in an empty field.
As always, the plotting is tight and intricately woven. Urasawa is peerless in manga when it comes to creating general suspense and he puts a fresh spin on the classic conspiracy cabal genre. I hesitate to say any more for spoiling the tiniest bit of the manga. Suffice it to say that this series has some of the most memorable and effective plot twists that this reviewer has ever seen. And Urasawa brings out all sorts of narrative magic to weave his the story with. Their are flashbacks, flash forwards, virtual worlds, and Rashomon like recollections from various characters and every bit of it feels natural.
Although, as with Monster, Urasawa has a tendency to go overboard with introducing new characters in the middle of story arcs. This sometimes disrupts the pacing of the story and it would be a bigger problem if the characters weren't all so damn interesting.
The cast of characters in the manga is sprawling and full of bada$$es, weirdos, artists, crooks, heroes, a pope, and downright villains. As in his previous work, Monster, Urasawa populates his manga with believable characters with various motivations and shades of grey on the scale of good and evil.
20th Century Boys explores childhood, conspiracy, heroism, technological progress, religion, friendship, parenting, nostalgia, and a host of other themes. If there is one fault I have with the series, it's that the breadth of what the manga is trying to accomplish is so large that there is really little thematic connective thread. There aren't large overriding themes so much as there are many smaller themes that Urasawa explores in bits and pieces.
The conspiracy genre wherein a secret cabal plot world domination is a very old trope. But 20th Century Boys breathes new life into it by taking its central conceit to weird and sometimes surprisingly dark places. Urasawa also presents a mastery of nostalgia for times long past that is akin to that of Wes Anderson.
And I haven't even mentioned how much fun the manga is to read. Aside from the central story, the manga gives time to side characters to talk about convenience stores, music, manga, ramen, religion, and simply live in the world that's been created. The character's who populate the manga's world wouldn't be out of place in a Japanese version of Pulp Fiction.
Moreover, 20th Century Boys probably presents the most realistic depiction of a giant robot ever to feature in a manga.
20th Century Boys is usually referred to as Urasawa's magnum opus. Personally, I loved every chapter of it, but it isn't my favorite Urasawa series. Still, it's well worth the read and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves suspense, conspiracies, science fiction, seinen, or just a good fun popcorn manga. Since, the series is a little lighter in tone than Monster and Pluto, it makes a good starting point for anyone looking to explore Urasawa's work.