Tag Archives: Naoki Urasawa

Book Review: Monster Perfect Edition, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 2

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 21, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horrorl/402 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A burglar named Heckel breaks into the home of the late councilman, intending to loot it, when he runs into Tenma. At the sound of sirens, however, they both make a hasty exit, Tenma following the burglar, to his dismay. When he learns that Tenma is a doctor, Heckel has a brilliant idea of how they can make easy money. Tenma isn’t interested until he finds out Heckel saw the councilman’s murderer, and makes him tell where he is. It turns out that the guy isn’t Johan, but Johan has left a message for Tenma. How did he know Tenma would be there?

With Heckel’s help, Tenma is kidnapped and led to a wounded man and ordered to help him. But the conditions are so primitive, Tenma doesn’t believe he can do it safely. Tenma has a decision to make. Afterward, he goes to East Germany and visits the home of the late Lieberts in the company of a real estate agent as he attempts to glean information about the current owner. The realtor has none to give but points him to a neighbor who does remember the Lieberts and the twins they adopted. This was news to Tenma. The orphanage was located at 511 Kinderheim, but it’s abandoned and very spooky now. A nearby woman guides Tenma to a man who once worked in the welfare ministry, who is fostering a little boy. Tenma bonds with the boy and promises to bring him a soccer ball. Things get ugly fast and Tenma turns to the system for help.

Tenma takes the child, Dieter, with him and gives him directions on how to find the good orphanage. But Dieter refuses to go and insists on following Tenma, so he has little choice but to look after him. He runs across a drunken man who has injured himself and takes him to the doctor’s house but the doctor is away so Tenma treats him himself and leaves. When the doctor returns, he is furious and tracks Tenma down. When the police arrive, he covers up for Tenma and tells the officer to have his mother come in soon, because she’s ill. Concerned about her, he takes Tenma to the woman’s house and Tenma talks her into letting them in. But she soon collapses and Tenma has no choice but to operate, or she’ll die. Will her son, the policeman, see it that way, or will he just see a man who is wanted for murder?

Detective Lunge is obsessed with finding a connection between a murdered prostitute and the late councilman. He is so obsessed that he neglects his wife and daughter. Tenma’s ex calls on him, demanding to know when he will arrest Tenma. And when he informs her that it wasn’t Tenma, it was Johan, she tells Lunge that Johan is just one of Tenma’s personalities!

Tenma runs into an ex-cop, one of the men who killed Herr Maurer and the journalist, who finally admits the truth about the murders, and about the Baby. Apparently Nina Fortner/Anna Liebert has been looking for Johan, and the Baby intends to use her as bait, for his own reasons. Meanwhile Heckel and Dieter uncover a plot that could potentially kill a lot of people.

There is nothing boring about this volume of Monster. Edge-of-your-seat action all the way through. Nina wants to finish the job she started years ago, and Tenma wants to right the wrong he committed by saving the monster’s life as a child.  Maybe he sees Dieter as a form of redemption, which is why he can’t just leave him. Also, I think he realizes that Dieter is wise beyond his years and has seen much that he should never have seen.

This book has some memorable characters, a great plot, and the artwork is awesome! Some of the people remind me of those in Twentieth Century Boys, but is that surprising? Same artist. I look forward to reading the next volume.

Book Review: Monster: Perfect Edition, Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 1   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 15, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/426 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma is a doctor whose life seems perfect. The Japanese doctor came to Germany to learn from a brilliant German hospital director, and he has become engaged to the man’s daughter, Eva. But this life is a façade, as he begins to learn. His fiancé is selfish and narcissistic, and her father only cares about the hospital making money rather than saving lives. In fact, the director has no compunction about taking credit for Dr. Tenma’s work, and his daughter tells Tenma that it is her father’s right to do so.

Dr. Tenma performs a grueling operation on a famous opera singer, although a Turkish laborer arrived before him and also needed Dr. Tenma’s attention. But the doctor was told to operate on the singer and the doctor who performed the operation on the laborer failed to save him. The grieving widow spots Tenma and wails that if he had operated, she would still have her husband and her child would have a father. Tenma’s fiancé’s Eva’s response to Tenma’s self-doubts is “Some lives are worth more than others.”

It’s1986, and Germany is still divided. An East German trade adviser defects to the west, and he, his wife, and two children settle in Dusseldorf. One night the police are called to their house to find a horrific scene. Both parents are dead, the son has been shot, and the daughter in shock. The boy is rushed to the hospital and Dr. Tenma is called in. As he is about to go into surgery, he receives word that the mayor is ill and needs Tenma to perform his surgery. He’s ordered to do so by the director. But, remembering how he abandoned the Turkish laborer who then died, Tenma decides to save the boy and tells them another doctor can save the mayor as it’s a simple procedure. He saves the boy but the mayor dies.

Tenma, who was once on a fast track to success, is now ostracized by all and told he will never amount to anything. The police are impatient to question the young girl who was the only witness to the tragedy, as her brother is still in a coma. They persuade the hospital to allow the girl to be brought to the brother’s room in the hope she can help bring him around, against Dr. Tenma’s medical advice, but this doesn’t seem to matter anymore. And that does not end well when the director and two of his flunkies are found murdered, and the children disappear from the hospital. Dr. Tenma has no choice but to step up and take charge in the midst of chaos.

Fast forward nine years. Someone is targeting and killing middle-aged childless couples, but why? Inspector Lunge of the BKA is assigned to the case. He ends up following a clue to Dusseldorf, where Tenma is now head of surgery and his former fiancé has become a whining, demanding drunk with three failed marriages behind her. One of Tenma’s colleagues urges him to get back in the game and at least date, but Tenma isn’t really interested in anything but saving people. He saves the man who Lunge is interested in, and the man tells Tenma about a monster who makes him do things. When the man goes missing from the hospital, Tenma has an idea where he is and finds him, along with the so-called monster, who he is horrified to learn is someone whose life he saved nine years before.

Tenma realizes that he is responsible in some measure for what the monster has done. Plus he needs to save the sister from her brother, and begins to search for her. In the meantime, a young woman named Nina, unaware that she is adopted, and knowing nothing of her past, has been receiving strange messages from someone, as well as flowers. His latest email says he wants to meet her on her 20th birthday at a particular location. Meanwhile, Lunge has become convinced that Tenma is the murderer and will stop at nothing to prove it.

I’ve been meaning to read this series for some time. It’s by the same author who brought us Twentieth Century Boys, which I am still reading, and love. Monster is amazing. It has an extremely interesting story line you don’t often see in manga involving a serial killer. The hero, Dr. Tenma, is not only personable and cute, but he has standards and principles, which all doctors should have. Believing  he is responsible for unleashing the monster on the world by saving his life, he wants to do something to correct that mistake. At this point, I’m not sure if he plans to talk him out of killing or if he is capable of taking the next step and ending the monster’s life. We shall see.

I didn’t like Eva, his fiancé, from the beginning, and my dislike of her is only growing, as well as for the persistent, obstinate, and single-minded Lunge, who wants to solve his case one way or another.  You have to feel for the sister who has everything dumped on her when she has been so happily clueless and she is forced to relive the horrible memory of what actually happened the night her parents were murdered.

This is a great first volume, looking forward to more of the same.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 10: The Faceless Boy by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 10: Faceless Boy   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 17, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The meeting which Kanna has arranged has been interrupted by a man who styles himself a savior, and who dies for his cause. Now the police are outside, demanding the crowd disperse. Has Kanna achieved her goals, or was this gathering a failure? The young detective, Chono, is able to keep the police force at bay, at least for now, by claiming he’s protecting a crime scene. How long can that last?

Koizumi, home from Friend Land, goes to see her favorite band but finds there is something different about them. Turns out they fired their guitarist, Damian Yoshida, because of irreconcilable differences. Koizumi can’t stop dreaming of Friend Land, and the strange boy who tries to take off his mask. She doesn’t want to see his face, though, fearful of what might happen to her if she does.

Koizumi attempts to speak with Kanna at school, but that doesn’t turn out very well. Instead, she’s approached by someone who calls themselves a Dream Navigator. They inform her that she is soon to go to Friend World, like it or not. The very thought is frightening to Koizumi. Her parents, on the other hand, seem thrilled for her and have no clue how dangerous a place it really is. A terrified Koizumi remembers the card she got from Yoshitsune. Can he help her? Things go from bad to worse when she sees the new home room teacher, and recognizes his face…

This series just gets better and better. It seems as though things are gearing up to happen during the Pope’s planned visit to Japan. Obviously, the Friends have an agenda, but what is it? To further ingratiate themselves to the world? Or maybe take it over? Either way, they need to be stopped. Not to mention, they need to be outed as the true perpetrators of Bloody New Year’s Eve, and Kenji needs to be exonerated.

Koizumi is playing a dangerous game, but with the aid of Yoshitsune, she may just turn out all right. And what we think we know turns out to be very wrong, which leaves us back at square one again. Makes you wonder why so many people put their trust in a man who never ever shows his face, based on the alleged actions of some of his followers. And what does Kanna’s mother have to do with anything? More questions than answers here!

Anxiously awaiting the next volume.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 9: Rabbit Nabokov by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 9: Rabbit Nabokov   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 15, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Koizumi was sent to Friend Land because of her desire to write her paper on Bloody New Year’s Eve, although she tried to change her subject but was not allowed to. There she discovers that people who do not conform disappear. And just what is Friend World? Can it be worse than this? She learns that being sent to Friend World is not something anyone wants. Koizumi is shocked to learn one of the janitors is none than Yoshitsune, one of the Kenji Faction and long presumed to be deceased. He warns her that if she flunks out of Friend Land she will be sent to Friend World, so she has to do well. When she places in the top three, she finds herself in the past, where she meets the Kenji Faction as children. She thinks this is her opportunity to get to the bottom of things, but Yoshitsune is afraid she will see the Friend’s actual face… and be killed for that knowledge. He must stop that from happening!

When Kanna finds a token, her friend Mariah explains that it comes from the Casino. Remembering her uncle Kenji’s stories about the Woodstock experience, Kanna decides to make a lot of money, using her unusual talents, in order to do what must be done. She and Mariah and Chono head to the Casino. She starts off winning a little, but decides that method is too slow. That’s when someone tells her about a game with great risks but enormous payoffs, known as Rabbit Nabokov.

Yukiji learns of the crowd that is gathering because someone is allegedly giving out money. But Yukiji remembers what was said in the Book of Prophecy: “At the meeting a savior will rise up for the forces of good…but the savior will be assassinated.” Both Yukiji and Otcho race to the scene of the meeting, hoping to prevent that from happening. Can they outrun Fate?

Things are really getting exciting, what with Koizumi undercover at Friend Land, and Kanna raising awareness to prevent the assassination of the Pope. Otcho comes out of hiding and we now know that Yoshitsune is still alive. Can we hope that Kenji’s arrival is imminent, or is that expecting too much? And yet, he has been the leader all along, the voice crying in the wilderness. I’m going to cross my fingers and keep on believing!

Also, look for someone we’ve often wondered about but never really met to make an unexpected appearance at the end of this volume! Can’t wait for the next one!

 

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.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 7: The Truth by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 7: The Truth     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: Feb 16, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Otcho and Kakuta struggle to escape from the island prison of Umihotaru. Kakuta is determined to become a famous manga artist, while Otcho’s desire is to get revenge for a friend. Once they reach the water, Kakuta is sure he can’t possibly swim the distance required to get to freedom, but Otcho tells him the story of his friend who beat him in a swimming competition, and the friend couldn’t even swim! Meanwhile, the warden has learned of the escapes and while he is not concerned with the manga artist, he is upset about Prisoner #3, and wants him back as soon as possible, or else…

Back in 1970, Kenji and his friends are planning to see the Exposition in Osaka. Since time will be at a premium, and lines long, they have to carefully arrange their time to see as much as they can. Donkey confesses to Kenji that his parents can’t afford for him to take the bullet train to Osaka, and asks to borrow Kenji’s bike, to which he agrees. When Otcho and Kakuta reach the mainland,  years later, they find, to Otcho’s amazement, a recreation of that very Expo, with one important exception.

In 2014, a class in a Tokyo high school is given an assignment to write an essay on the Japanese history topic of their choice. Koizumi, caught trying to sneak out of class, chooses to write about Hitler, but her teacher won’t allow that, so she picks up a book at random and points to her “choice” for her subject, which turns out to be Endo Kenji, leader of the Kenji terrorist group that unleashed Bloody New Years Eve in 2000. The teacher objects, but Koizumi insists, claims she always found the official story of that night suspicious, including the iconic photograph of the group who was supposedly controlling the giant monster threatening to destroy Japan. Koizumi isn’t doing well in class because she constantly skips school in order to follow bands that she loves. A classmate of Koizumi’s tells her about another student who went berserk during a discussion of Bloody New Year’s Eve. Her name was Endo Kanna! Koizumi has some research to do!

When Koizumi runs into Kamisama and learns he knew Kenji, she has to learn more!  Back in 2000, Kenji and his friends prepare to save the world from the Friends. They need to find the remote that controls the monster that is destroying Japan!

On top of worrying about Kenji and what has happened to him and the others, we have to deal with Otcho and Kakuta and their ordeal in the current situation, still not knowing exactly what happened in the past. Plus we have a new character, Koizumi, who I feel is going to play a part in revealing the truth about the so-called Kenji terrorist group. I have to hope and believe that Kenji and the others survived whatever put Otcho in prison, and that they will yet emerge to save the day and defeat the evil Friends. Also, Kenji and Yukiji will finally get together!

Another great volume, can’t wait to read the next one!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 6: Final Hope by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 6: Final Hope   

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

Business is way down at the tiny restaurant where Kanna works, thanks to the tight security surrounding the Papal visit to Japan. A young detective named Chono stops by and Kanna, who hates the cops, bites his head off. But he is there on official business, looking for a drag queen named Britney.  Once the detective leaves, Kanna’s boss sends her to look for Britney, as she owes him money. It turns out that Britney saw something she shouldn’t, ie a murder, and that is why she is being sought, as a witness. Kanna and Mariah persuade Britney to go to the police station to turn herself in, but while waiting in line, she recognizes the killer… and he’s a cop!

Detective Chono Shohei is the grandson of a legendary detective, and he wants to be the policeman his grandfather was, to be called Cho-san too. But so far, that isn’t happening. Cho is also rather gullible. When he goes to Britney’s home, he catches Kanna coming out and confronts her. Kanna tells him that she knows Britney witnessed a cop killing someone, and she describes the cop before fleeing the scene. Cho can’t believe his ears. That can’t be true, can it?

Meanwhile, new prisoners are being taken to the island prison of Umihotaru. The bridge to the island was destroyed fourteen years before, as was the tunnel, so there is no way off this hellish place. Kakuta has been sent there, his only crime being he’s a manga artist. His new roommate scares him with stories of this place, and the last roommate who died in the bed that now belongs to Kakuta. Also, there is talk of the Monster, a man who has been in this place for fourteen years, and is housed in the Punishment Block. Supposedly he is more monster than human, and is kept chained at all times. Unfortunately for Kakuta, he is caught with the pencil his roommate loaned him to draw with and he is sent to the Punishment Block!

Kakuta is in a terrible pickle with the guards in the Punishment Block and they are about to hurt him when the Monster intervenes and saves him from a terrible fate. He begins to talk to the man and learns he is not what they make him out to be at all. And he plans to escape this place. Meanwhile, Kanna is frustrated, hiding out with Britney and Mariah to keep them safe. She pens a letter to her uncle, who is in Umihotaru Prison, knowing it will never reach him. But she badly wants his advice.

In this volume, we learn the awful truth of what is referred to as Bloody New Year’s Eve. Up until now, we assumed that Kenji and his friends were victorious, saved the world and rid it of the evil Friend. Quite the contrary. Something else happened, the Friends emerged on top and Kenji and the others are nowhere to be seen. The only one I know the whereabouts of is the one in the prison. I have to admit I am very anxious about Kenji and will be very upset if something bad has happened to him.

Kanna is every bit her uncle’s niece, with a strong sense of right and wrong. Completely suspicious of the young detective, I think with time she will come to trust him, and perhaps more. He needs to lose some of his naivete, and I think that will happen. Unfortunately, not in time to save someone he inadvertently puts in danger.

A lot going on in this volume, what with Kanna trying to save her friends, and with the escape from the prison in order to continue the fight begun so many years ago. Mixed in with all that is the visit of the Pope, and a plot to assassinate him. So many questions, so much I want to know. And there is also an appearance by an old friend of Kenji, who has become unexpectedly successful thanks to a particular gift he has, the same gift which told him of the importance of Kenji to the world.

Great volume, can’t wait for the next one!

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: 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!

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!