20th Century Boys 20

May 10, 2012

Naoki Urasawa – Viz – 2012 – 22 volumes

THIS VOLUME. I should have known the ending would be ridiculously epic. It’s just hard to imagine, because I have no idea where it’s going. My best and most recent prediction was that Yabuki Joe was going to lead the people in some sort of rock revolution, except that doesn’t appear to be the case. This volume re-introduces a lot of characters that have long been out of the picture, and even one whose been a major player without ever having been in the story. That’s quite interesting. But all these people have their own plots to foil the Friend, who is set up to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth because he’s bored. The Friend’s plan has something to do with making it look like a flying saucer is destroying humanity, and somehow giving people a fake option to settle on Mars enters into the picture. The counter-measures range from simple grenades to violent internal revolutions to… well, a repeat. A fantastic repeat.

There were a couple show-stoppers here, though. One of them was seeing Kanna and the Friend meet face to face for the first time. I’m not really going to say anything about this. Parts of it were confusing. The ending was baffling. But all of it had me flipping the pages as fast as I possibly could. Again, one of the absolute best things about 20th Century Boys is that it keeps me guessing, something which few manga can do now. I had no idea where any of this was going.

The other was when Maruo ran an errand to find a long-lost… brother in the struggle, so to speak. The story leading up to how this person was found is fantastic. The place where this person is being held is fantastic. And this person’s story fills in a lot of gaps. Well, some gaps. There are still a lot of strange things about 20th Century Boys, but I wonder how logical the explanations can be for some of them.

Two other very small shocks in this volume, though, then I’m finished.

The first was when Otcho and Yukiji walk in on Manjome. That was crazy. Just… crazy. There are a lot of things that come as unexpected here, but that was literally from left field. It will haunt me.

The second was… the 20th Century Boy. That was also incredibly creepy. He’s always creepy, but that was especially so.

I am so excited to figure out what that’s about. To be fair, I’ve been waiting for the story to tie back in to the first few pages of volume 1 for some time. I’m pretty sure this is it. It will have to be, because there are only two volumes left to… resolve all this. I don’t know how that will be possible. Perhaps that’s why we need the 2-volume epilogue of 21st Century Boys.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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