Tag Archives: Friend

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 15: Expo Hurray by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 15: Expo Hurray     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 21, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Despite warnings advising against it, the Pope’s visit to Japan is moving forward as planned, including the opening ceremony of Expo 2015. Brother Luciano has returned to his home of Italy, after spending some time in Argentina, arriving too late to attend the funeral of his friend and mentor, Father Perrin. He finds the priest’s desk in the same disorganized disarray he remembered. Searching through the mess, he discovers a particular book with a receipt, which he tracks down to a bookseller of antiquities. However Brother Luciano knows this is not an old book and traces it to its forger. He is confused as to why Perrin would trouble with such a book, which is jumbled and confused, containing prophecies such as history will end in 2015. Brother Luciano realizes Father Perrin believed in this book, and did not believe they would ever see 2016 because history would end in 2015.He takes his concerns to his Cardinal, who tells him he is very wrong, and hints that he should return to Argentina. When Luciano returns to his room to find it stripped of everything, he knows what he has to do.

Back in Japan, Detective Chono goes to work, only to be given the task of interrogating someone who doesn’t speak Japanese. But Chono doesn’t speak Italian. How is he going to get through to him? And why does this man sound so urgent… maybe even desperate? Meanwhile, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate and cautionary travel measures are being taken.

Chono gets in touch with Kanna, takes the strange man to her, although she isn’t sure why, but they go to the church and the man confesses to the priest. The priest believes his story and tells Kanna and Chono that the plot to assassinate the Pope is still on. And there is worse… someone thought to be dead has been seen alive by multiple people, including Otcho and Yukiji. Friend alive? How? Now it’s more imperative than ever that Kanna remind the gangs of their promise to stand behind her and protect the Pope. They know the assassin is #13, but can they track him down and stop him before he carries out his mission? And is it possible that Friend has prophesied everything… including his own resurrection?

This volume is intense, so much going on, and omg, Friend alive? What’s up with that? Why? It can’t bode well for anyone. The virus is spreading, the Pope is due to die, can this get any worse? Especially if Friend gets back in the saddle again, what can stop him? I loved this book, and can’t wait for the next one. Especially as… dare I hope it… something I’ve wanted, longed for, and yearned for… is about to come true!

*crosses fingers*

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 13: Beginning of the End by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 13: Beginning of the End     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 15, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yoshitsune thinks back to that fateful New Year’s Eve, and the man who snapped the picture of them as they faced down the Friend’s menace, none other than Fukube. Why doesn’t he have any childhood memories of Fukube as a boy? Where did he come from and when exactly did he become part of their group? As Yoshitsune and the others try to fathom this, all hell has broken out at the elementary school where rumor has it that Friend has been shot! Kanna recognizes Maruo at the scene, and he tells her he knows a secret way to get into the school, so they can find out what has happened. Meanwhile, Manjome is wakened from a fitful sleep with the news.

Kanna is amazed to find that so many people she believed to be dead are very much alive, working to rid the world of Friend. But not only is Friend dead, his identity has been revealed. Who would have thought it?

Friend’s group assemble, but they are one short – Yamane, who betrayed them. What are they going to do now? Will a successor to Friend be appointed? If so, who? Everyone accuses Manjome of wishing to take over, but he assures them he has no such aspirations. A new member arrives, whom they refer to as Number 13, claiming there is now room for him at the table, and counseling that they continue with Friend’s plans to end the world. Not everyone agrees with this course of action… and suddenly some of the high ranking members wind up dead!

While the others seem content to rest on their laurels now that Friend is dead, Otcho is far from convinced that the threat he represented is over. Kanna says she wants to go with him, since what is happening is her mother’s fault. But Otcho has a story to tell her, one that Yamane told him, about what happened in 2003.

Meanwhile, in 2015, people are starting to die…

Wow, now we know who Friend is… or was. Not at all what I expected. Him? Seriously? How the heck did he become Kanna’s father? What could Kenji’s sister ever see in him? There must be more to this story than we know.

Friend’s followers are divided on whether to continue with his plan or not, but there are fanatics among them, determined to set a dangerous course. I loved finding out the truth about Kanna’s mother, who has been a shadowy figure up until now but who has finally stepped into the spotlight. And in the far-off United States, a player long since forgotten has taken the stage once more.

So much going on, and so many threads to follow. I keep hoping at the end of one of them that Kenji will emerge. Guess we just have to wait and see. Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 14: A Boy and a Dream by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 14: A Boy and a Dream

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 19, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The mourners of Friend are many. Griefstricken people wait in line for hours to sign the register and file past his masked body. It seems as if all Friend’s predictions are coming to pass. Manjome is dispirited himself, and confused, and decides to take a trip into Friend Land to find answers to his questions, such as why is this happening.

At the same time, Kanna wants to send Koizumi with Yoshitsune  into Friend Land to find their own answers. Kanna would rather go herself, but he tells her she is too emotionally involved, since Friend is her father and all.  On their arrival, Yoshitsune shows Koizumi around to all the familiar places he remembers from 1971. But when they come to the location that was once their secret headquarters, they find a bowling alley there… one which Koizumi insists wasn’t there when she visited. What’s going on? She’s sure she’s right, but Yoshitsune remembers the place that destroyed their secret clubhouse. How can that be? Yoshitsune is having a difficult time remembering what he was doing that summer. While they are in the bowling alley, he comes face to face with the owner, the man he refers to as the King of Evil. Koizumi is shocked to discover that the man is actually Kamisama!

As they monitor Yoshitsune and Koizumi in the game, Kanna realizes they have been joined by another player, who is quickly headed toward them. They are unaware that it is Manjome, and he wonders if he is going to learn the real truth about 1971. As Manjome “sleeps”, his lover takes control, and she is ruthless.

Yoshitsune thinks the key to what happened lies in what happened at the science lab one particular night, and hinges on what Donkey saw, so he and Koizumi head there. And a fourth player has entered the game, and this person is swiftly descending upon Yoshitsune and Koizumi! Kanna asks to be placed into the game in the spot where they are, but winds up in Kenji’s room instead. She gives him some words of wisdom and heads to the school. And now they are all there…

The more I learn, the less I know. Nothing is what it appears to be, including 1971. Why the deception? Why hide the fact that a bowling alley was built where the boys had their secret headquarters? What is real and what isn’t? As for what Donkey saw that night… how does that even work? And why?

And the fourth player… could it be….

So many questions. Can’t wait to keep going on this crazy rollercoaster ride. Love it!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 12: Friend’s Face by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 12: Friend’s Face     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 21, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

2014 is drawing to a close. Fourteen years since Bloody New Years Eve. A new year, new beginnings. But what will 2015 hold?

A large gathering is being held for the occasion in Friendship Plaza, with Haru Namio singing the “Hello, Hello Expo Song”. Watching the events on television, Yoshitsune and his group are celebrating in a much quieter way. Kanna has gone to where her uncle used to sing, and is listening to a street singer. Finishing his performance, Haru leaves for home, accompanied by his right-hand man…. Maruo!

The next day, Haru goes to make a New Year’s visit to Friend, Maruo by his side, although Maruo has to wait in the outer office. Admission to Friend’s presence is strictly limited. Maruo tells Haru that he has explosives strapped to his body, but that isn’t entirely true. As he sits in the outer office and waits, Kenji’s words keep going through Maruo’s mind: “Try to make sure ordinary people don’t get caught in the crossfire.” And “If you ever feel your own life is in danger, turn and run like Hell.” Can Maruo do what he feels needs to be done to rid the world of Friend?

Acting on an old tip, Otcho and Kakuta go to the last known address of Dr Yamane. It’s a long shot, sure, but what else can do they? They believe he holds the key to what is going on. The house is deserted but a neighbor is able to give them useful information. Otcho is startled to realize the address she gives them is in the neighborhood where he grew up. Suddenly Otcho remembers a conversation he had with a classmate many years ago, and says it’s imperative he go to his old school. The conversation included the New Book of Prophecy and germ warfare!

Otcho and Kakuta find Dr Yamane at the old Science Lab. As he waits for what he feels is Friend’s imminent arrival, he tells them a little about Kanna’s mother and her involvement with the group. Yoshitsune and his group are studying the infamous Bloody New Year’s Eve photo. Koizumi claims it’s photostopped, clearly, but Yoshitsune says it isn’t, that is actually them facing the monster. But then, who took the picture from behind them?

The moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived… or has it? Now I’m not sure that what we think happened happened, but I have to wait for the next volume to know for sure. The face of the Friend has been revealed. Maybe. So much going on, like threads being woven together to form a complete picture. This series just keeps on getting better. Can’t wait for the next book to find out what’s really going on.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 3: Hero With a Guitar by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 3: Hero With a Guitar     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 16, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kenji is baffled as to why the dying homeless man proclaimed him to be the one who has to save the world? Who is he but a lowly shop owner, and what can he do to save anyone when he’s clearly made a mess of his own life?

Things are starting to come back to him, though, as Kenji begins to connect the dots, as he realizes that what is happening mirrors the story he wrote so long ago, as a child. A tale told among friends about super heroes saving the world from a deadly menace. How can it be coming true now? And why?

Kenji tries to talk to each of his friends, but after they unload their tales of woe on him, he doesn’t have the heart to involve them in what is going on. In pursuing Donkey’s student, whom he is unable to find, he learns about a concert being given by The Friends, and his blood runs cold. He knows he has to be there, so tells his mother to watch Kanna and heads to the concert. There he ends up on stage and comes face to face with Friend. Well, relatively speaking, as Friend is hiding behind a mask. But his words are clear and strike distinct fear in Kenji.

Kenji almost forgets about his class reunion. Maybe he’ll recognize Friend among the attendees. Or at least gain some clues as to which kid wore a mask. But he doesn’t recognize a lot of his former classmates after so many years. Yukiji doesn’t make the reunion because she has to work at the airport. But someone else shows up who recognizes Kenji, and as they catch up, Kenji remembers things he’d forgotten, such as who the kid in the mask was, and what the next target in the story was. But can he stop the next disaster from taking place?

He has a sudden premonition that his niece Kanna is in trouble, and races to save her, but from what… or who…

Things are really happening in this volume of Twentieth Century Boys! When I read what Kenji learned at the Friend concert, I literally gasped! Imagine how he must feel, wondering if he is crazy or is there someone out there following the plot of a story written when Kenji was just a child? But if he’s right, and that’s what happening, then the fate of the world could very well be at stake.

This volume is action packed and exciting. I love the artwork a lot, as well as the story. Kenji is not your typical hero, in that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary job and an ordinary life, who thinks he’s accomplished nothing of note in that life. He fails to realize how special he really is, what a good man he is, but I have the feeling a lot of people will know about him before this tale is through.

Seeing Friend for the first time, albeit behind a mask, was very interesting, his surprise announcement even more so. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 2: The Prophet     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 21, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

As children, Kenji and his friends were terrorized by Yanbo and Manbo, the “evilest twins in history”.  There was only one person who could put them in their place, a scrawny looking girl who would knock the stuffing out of the two boys. And they’ve just run into her at the airport, none other than Yukiji!  Apparently she’s a customs officer who has a dog for a partner. The boys are thrilled to see her, although she seems less enthusiastic about the chance meeting.

Two attorneys approach a man named Manjome Inshu regarding complaints from parents about their children being involved in an organization this man is part of. They want their children back. However, he is very evasive, and won’t give the name of the organization or of its leader, known simply as friend. Strangely, after Manjome’s departure, the attorneys notice something odd—all the spoons on the table are bent!

Yukiji shows up unexpectedly at Kenji’s convenience mart, and tells him she remembers the symbol they were asking about, and also who came up with it—their friend Otcho. When Kenji tries to question her, the franchise district manager chooses that unfortunate time to come in and demands Kenji’s time. She invites Kenji to the victims’ meeting, and he says he’ll try to make it.

Cho is a long-time policeman whose dedication to his job has caused problems in his personal life, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. He buys his grandson a Pikachu for his birthday, because apparently that’s what he wants and it’s all the rage.  Cho is investigating the disappearance of the Shikishima family. He runs into his colleague, Yama, who is working on the death of the professor’s student, but learns that the case was taken out of police hands. Cho is concerned about being late to his grandson’s party. His daughter, who hasn’t spoken to him in years, has personally invited him, so he can’t mess this up. He shares the details of his investigation with Yama before leaving for the party.

Kamisama is a homeless man who sometimes has nightmares. But his dreams aren’t like that of other people—his are often prescient. He shows up at Kenji’s store to check the stock prices and tells him things are going to get hard for him, but doesn’t explain why. Sometimes he tells his friends about his dreams, but this last one, he’s keeping that to himself.

While rooting around in his absent sister’s desk, Kenji finds a hidden envelope containing a strange message… and the same mysterious symbol he’s been asking about! He asks his mother about the symbol and it’s then he learns why his sister has always taken such good care of him, even before he was born. Which is why he won’t give up on raising her only child for anything. He also learns about the rich man who once courted her and what became of him.

Kamisama and his friends find an injured man in their midst. He won’t leave, no matter what they say, and insists on seeing the Great Kenji. Kamisama devises a plan to get Kenji to come to them. Hopefully he’ll understand what the man wants and will be able to do something about it.

Things are certainly getting strange and mysterious in this second volume of Twentieth Century Boys. Unexplained deaths are occurring, and we are getting more of a glimpse into the organization led by Friend. Not so friendly, are they? Is their leader one of Kenji’s old group of friends, who came up with the symbol originally, and had a plan to save the world… if only they could remember what that was. How will Kenji’s band figure into this? Could Friend be the missing Otcho, or did he disappear for a more sinister reason?

Also, am I wrong in thinking there’s an attraction between Kenji and Yukiji? If so, will they ever act on it? And who the heck is Kanna’s father? So many questions, so few answers. All we know for sure is the fate of the entire world depends on the answers!

Looking forward to volume 3!