Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 8: Kenji’s Song by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 8: Kenji’s Song     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 25, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Otcho continues telling Kakuta, the manga artist, what actually happened on the night of Bloody New Year’s Eve. When the Kenji Faction reached the giant robot that was wreaking such havoc and spreading disease, they discovered how crude and haphazard it really was, nothing like what they had envisioned as children. With only three minutes remaining until the next chemical spray was to release, Kenji decides to go up into the mechanism himself, despite the objections of his friends. But when does Kenji ever really listen to advice? Meanwhile, the Friends, led by Manjome Inshu, offer the government the vaccine which they just happen to have on hand for just such an occasion, and they will also destroy the beast which is spreading it, thus saving everyone. Such good Samaritans, eh?

As the twentieth century comes to an end, Kenji confronts Friend, who reveals his identity. Years later, Kanna visits the site where Kenji died with Chono, the detective, and plays the tape of Kenji’s last song for him. And the group of saviors, whose arrival has been foreshadowed since the series began, turns out to be… none other than the Friends, who “saved” the world from the evil Kenji Faction. Koizumi, the student who has decided to do her paper on the events of Bloody New Years Eve, learns to her amazement, from Kamisma, that what is being taught in the schools about that day is all wrong. Kamisama tells her that he has been looking for Kenji’s niece Kanna ever since, and Koizumi has an idea where she might be.

When Koizumi tells her teacher she’s changed her mind about the subject of her paper and wishes to change it, he tells her it’s too late, she’s already been chosen to go to Friend Land, and such an honor that is. The question is, can she survive such an honor?

The tension is rising to unbearable levels as we continue to learn what actually happened on that fateful New Year’s Eve. Having assumed that Kenji and his friends successfully saved the world, it’s both shocking and appalling to learn that quite the opposite has happened, and the Friends have taken the upper hand all the way. When Koizumi finds herself at Friend Land, she discovers that it’s far from being a friendly place, and if she doesn’t watch her step, she might be sent to Friend World! She meets someone long thought dead and joins a group determined to right the wrongs of the past.

I still find it hard to believe Kenji died that night, and I hold out the hope that he will turn up at some point, and that he will be reunited with Kanna, with his friends, and with Yukiji.  Another great volume, looking forward to the next.

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