Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 21: Arrival of the Space Aliens by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 21: Arrival of the Space Aliens     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 17, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

A lone DJ plays the same song constantly, and begs for listeners, if there are any, to please call in. He finds he has to travel farther to forage for food as his local sources run out. What is this place with an old helicopter sitting close at hand? The DJ finds someone who has locked himself into the back room, and begins to talk to him. About the friend he let down in the year 2000 when his friend needed him. Turns out the DJ was a friend of Kenji’s. Small world.

In Rome, the Pope is rumored to be very ill, and people wait anxiously outside the Vatican. Father Nitani has been summoned by the Pontiff himself but finds he cannot gain entrance due to the fact he can’t prove he isn’t a space alien such as the Friend says are coming. Day after day he waits nearby, and notices a young boy who goes in and out through a subterranean entrance. Turns out this child has been looking for him, on the orders of the Pope himself. The boy’s family, who once lived in Japan, cook for the Pope, because he doesn’t trust anyone else, thinking he is being poisoned by them.  And the boy carries a message for the priest.

Just a wall separates Kenji and the others from Tokyo, but it’s a big one. Kenji talks to Chono about the Osaka Expo in 1970 and how badly he wanted to go but couldn’t. Chono then tells Kenji about the Expo he was at in Tokyo, and how he and a priest named Luciano ended up inside the Dark Tower, and what he heard— the sound of playing children and a voice crying “Yoo hoo, Kenji, c’mon let’s play.” Now Kenji is convinced he needs to go to the new Tokyo Expo. Luckily an underground entrance has been found to circumvent the wall. It might be smelly, but they have little choice but to take it.

Takasu has assumed the title of secretary-general, following the death of Manjome (at her hands). And she has accomplished her other goal as well – she is pregnant! She doesn’t even care if the current Friend isn’t the one they once knew. It’s all the same to her, as long as she is the Holy Mother.

Friend has told the people of the world of the coming of the space aliens with a dreadful virus that will wipe out all of humanity. The only way to survive is to emigrate to Mars! But even that is a sham, as the first rocket sent to Mars disappeared, and the footage shown of their arrival is all computer-generated. Meanwhile, space ships have begun to appear above various locations around the world, and they are shooting out red paint, as if doing a test run. It’s only a matter of time until they begin to spray the actual virus.

How can humanity be saved? Is there any place on Earth that is safe? And why is the Friend making this announcement right now? Did he just make a major confession?

Omigosh, everything is coming to a head and yet who knows how it will end? This could go so many ways. One more volume, do you believe it? Such an exciting ride this has been. I’ll be sorry when it ends. Good thing the author has other books. I intend to start reading Pluto, and I’m already reading Monster.

My hope is that Kenji and his song will save the day, and the Friend (whoever he is now) and his organization will be defeated and then the world can go back to normal. Whatever normal is now.  But I also worry that something will go horribly wrong. I have to say I am really curious to know who is playing the part of the Friend now.

Cross your fingers and keep rooting for Kenji!

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