21st Century Boys 1

April 6, 2013

Naoki Urasawa – Viz – 2012 – 2 volumes
this is the last two volumes of 20th Century Boys

So… I read this a couple weeks ago, then re-read it again for pleasure and to brace myself for the 2nd volume, which would be the real end of the series.

The thing that struck me the most when I first started reading this was that everyone seemed so unconcerned with the true identity of the Friend. Or, the second Friend, I suppose. They pull his mask off to reveal that he’s had plastic surgery, then nobody knows or remembers who he is. I loved that anticlimax, especially after so much work went into hiding the identity throughout the course of the series.

Then… I started taking the last parts into consideration. That there were two kids in masks. That someone vanished occasionally in the past. That one person claims not to be who anyone thinks. Normally, I would scoff and not care at this point, both because 20th Century Boys has been doing this the whole time, and also because the series is over and it doesn’t matter. But this is the only time it does matter, actually. And I also looked at the cover to volume two. I’m… a little concerned. It can’t be, can it? That would be one of the wildest flips of all time. Also, it would break my heart.

The rest of this… I was a bit ambivalent. After the epic concert last volume that simply ended with Kanna in Kenji’s arms, loose ends and all, I thought that was an appropriate way to end the series. I didn’t really care about the identity of the 2nd Friend, or why Kenji wasn’t playing the right song, or about explaining the weirdness. Then this volume kept the story going, with one last page of the New Book of Prophecy sending everyone scrambling to find one last booby trap. We’d been through all this before. I wasn’t sure I wanted more. But if my suspicions are correct, all of that stuff will make sense and wrap up in a fairly interesting way. I’m not too sure where the… control part is going, but I am very interested in what a copy of a copy can do, and how that may make the original feel.

In other words, this is sort of a coda for the series, and I’m shocked to find that it truly is keeping me guessing all the way to the end. Way to go, Naoki Urasawa.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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