Tag Archives: Kenji

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 5 by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 5: Reunion     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 20, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kenji summons all his friends who knew of the clubhouse and the book to a secret meeting. Well, almost all. But she shows up anyway, thanks to a map carelessly left behind by one of the group, and dares them to deny she is as strong as they are, maybe even stronger. Kenji tells them he was told they would need nine people to accomplish their task, but only have seven have assembled. Luckily, as he tells them, he has contacted two others.

Yanbo and Mabo were twin terrors who made the lives of Kenji and his friends living Hell back in the day. Grown now, they own their own IT company and seem the antithesis of what they once were. Yoshitsune goes to see them on Kenji’s behalf and is amazed at the change in them. They seem to understand what Kenji is asking of them… but then they take a meeting with Inshu, the smarmy FDP politician. Are they deluded as to what is going on, and do they really not remember how awful they once were?

Kenji disguises himself in order to take his niece Kanna out for ramen before he sends her and his mom off in order to keep them safe. Yukiji tells him he’s doing the right thing, and also not to worry about her. She’ll be fine, and she wants to be a part of what’s going on. Consulting their book of Doom, they see that a giant robot is due to make an appearance, but aren’t sure what the picture before that means.

Kenji begins to doubt himself, doubt their theories. Everything is quiet. Is he just being paranoid? Is he causing trouble for his friends for no good reason? And then Ocho remembers what the picture means, and that too comes to pass… all around the world.

In the year 2014, a young woman named Kanna Endo has her own apartment…

In this volume of Twentieth Century Boys, the plot definitely thickens. There are so many questions, and few answers as of now. What about the twins? Are they going to be a help or a hindrance to Kenji and his friends? Do they not really remember what bullies they were when they speak of having played with these guys as kids? Is Kenji really blind to the fact that Yukiji likes him? Can they really take on the Friends and do they have any hope of defeating them? Will they ever find out the true identity of their mysterious leader?

Is this future written in stone? Can it end in some other way? Prepare to be shocked at the ending. What the hell happened? And is everything we assumed totally wrong?

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one.

 

Book Review: In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

In the Miso Soup   

Author: Ryu Murakami

Publisher: Penguin Books

American release date:  March 28, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Fuctuib/224 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Twenty-year-old Kenji works as a guide for tourists who come to Tokyo and wish to enjoy the seamier side of the city. He knows the “best” places to go to get the most bang for your buck and which places to avoid, no matter what it is you’re looking for. He knows what women do what for how much, and he is also a translator, speaking English pretty well.  But there’s something about this tourist, the American named Frank, that is frankly off-putting, although Kenji can’t put his finger on just what it is. On the surface, he seems like a regular guy. But then, at times, there is… the Face.

Frank is… for lack of a better word, different.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Kenji has been reading about the recent deaths of young women. A serial killer is on the loose. Could Frank be the guy they’re looking for? And is Kenji in more danger than he’s ever been in before?

This is one heck of a ride, a great read from beginning to end. I was never sure how this one was going to turn out until the very end. Murakami is great at digging into his characters’ very souls, and making us question what is normal and what is not. Horror does not have to be in the form of a chainsaw-wielding maniac or a guy in a strange mask carrying an axe or knife. Horror can look like an average Joe. And it’s all the scarier for it.

I am really enjoying getting to know this author’s works and look forward to more. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates a good horror story.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, VOl 4: Love and Peace

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 4: Love and Peace   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 18, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A man from Japan who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, and goes by the name of Shogun, is being sought by a dangerous element. Mostly because he helps girls in slippery situations out of those situations and sends them home, thus putting himself on the radar of some very bad people. But there is more to his being wanted than just that, as a business associate tells him, it has to do with the drugs he destroyed. A valuable new street drug called Rainbow Kid. The associate has a new job for Shogun. He’s to go to a hotel and remove some low-life drug user before he dies and ruins the reputation of the place. Shogun goes to the room, and the druggie tells him a story involving the police, and the military, and cabinet members… and he’s a cop himself. Nothing is making sense. Friends? What friends? And then Shogun finds a pin, a symbol long forgotten from his childhood….

Shogun learns the last girl he saved has been captured again, and so of course he goes to free her.  Once they get out of the place she is being held, she asks him why he is helping her, and Shogun replies, “ (because) I wasn’t there when my own kid died.” On the verge of being attacked, Shogun and the girl are assisted by a group of men, the leader of which introduces himself as a member of the house of representatives, and a member of the FDP—the Friendship and Democracy Party.

Shogun takes the girl to safety then returns to his business associate at the travel agency. But the girl suddenly turns up, much the worse for wear, with an important message about the politician they just met, where she’s seen him before. And an unexpected phone call from an old friend in Japan brings Shogun to the realization that it’s time to go back to Japan. But first, there’s something he’s gotta do…

This volume of Twentieth Century Boys is primarily about Shogun, a character we’ve been long awaiting to take his place on this particular stage. In filling in the blanks of his life, past and present, we get a more cohesive picture of our heroes, and what they’re about, and what they are capable of.

Some time has passed, with Kenji in hiding, blamed for the death of the homeless man. But he’s managed to eluded capture and fly under the rader, and his niece, Kanna, is now three, and cute as can be. Kenji, his mom, and Kanna, have all found shelter with the group of homeless men who insist they need his help, that he is the one who will save the world. Not that Kenji believes that, but at this point, he has few options.

Having learned in the previous volume who the baby daddy is, it’s not hard to extrapolate that at some point, Kanna will become a target for his group. Things are really happening. I love all the back story, as more and more things begin to make sense, and we get a lot of omg and wtf moments.  From the beginning of the series, we know that a group of men saves the world, and we can kindof guess who they are, but how they do it definitely remains to be seen. One can surmise that the how involves music in some way, but against this growing group of crazies who are hell-bent on achieving the destruction of the world, that doesn’t seem like a very strong defense.

With every volume, I think I love this series more and more. Can’t wait for the next one!