Tag Archives: Naoki Urasawa

Book Review: 21st Century Boys, Vol 2: 20th Century Boy by Naoki Urasawa

21st Century Boys, Vol 2: 20th Century Boy     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 19, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Mystery/Sci-fi/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Time is ticking away! If they don’t figure out where the remote control for the giant robot is, it will press the button that detonates the anti-proton bomb, and all of mankind will die! Kanna tries to force her way in to see Kenji, saying she knows the remote is in the secret headquarters. But the guards won’t let her pass, since Kenji has gone into the game and is not to be disturbed. Will he find the answers he seeks in the past and will Kanna find him in time to stop the bomb?

And now we reach the climax of our story. Twenty-four volumes have brought us to this point. So much going on as the threads come together and complete the picture, and Kenji finds his answers. It just goes to show that even one small act can have dire consequences. Kenji isn’t the only one who learns this. Manjome too wishes he could undo what he did before, but alas, he cannot. However he can try to help Kenji as best he can.  Watching Kenji interact with his younger self was fun.  Watching the drama unfold as everyone tries to save the world was great. And at the end, balance is restored, and life goes on.

This was an amazing series, and I enjoyed the journey. Hope you enjoyed it as well. See you in the next series when I start to review Pluto.

Book Review: 21st Century Boys, Vol 1: Death of the Friend by Naoki Urasawa

21st Century Boys, Vol 1: Death of the Friend   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 15, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Mystery/Sci-fi/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Kenji’s arrived at the Expo Center and the crowd goes wild. They want to hear him play their song… but he refuses, tells the band to play instead. A helicopter explodes above them and crash lands inside the arena. Not everyone makes it, including Sadakiyo and Friend. When Kenji removes the Friend’s mask at last, he sees… Fukube!  How can that be? He died a long time ago. Nothing is making any sense.

Back in the past, an old woman in a convenience mart broods over which of the children has stolen a badge from her store and angrily scans every child who walks by, seeking the thief. A boy in a mask reveals his strange dream to a few of his friends, who aren’t particularly interested until he tells them they were in it, and one of them killed the other. They are not amused and walk away. The boy debates telling them the ending… about the final bomb. The one that will really kill all of mankind. Or at least those who remain on the planet.

Maruo and Yoshitsune tell Kenji they saw a ghost at a Shinto shrine, but Kenji doesn’t believe them and decides to find out for himself… only to come face to face with himself!

In the present, the UN forces have assumed control of Tokyo after the destruction of the Friend regime. A profiler interviews Kenji, to learn what he knows about the Friend. Most particularly he is interested in learning what Kenji knows about the last page of the New Book of Prophecy, the one that speaks of an anti-proton bomb that will destroy the world. The UN is taking this threat very seriously. They plan to send forces into Friend World, into the virtual reality game,  but Kenji tells them that won’t work. He has to be the one to go there.

So much of the past is finally being exposed as present, past, and future reveal themselves in an elaborate tapestry, one  woven by a master. Things that didn’t make sense before become clear.  I really enjoyed watching the relationship of Kenji and Yukiji from the beginning. Gosh, Kenji was… is… so dense.  At the same time, the more we learn, the less we know. So much to grasp. A copy of a copy?  Fukube? Sadakiyo? Someone else? Kenji runs into Manjome in Friend World. He’s lost his way and is seeking a way out, but Kenji has to tell him that won’t work because in the real world he is dead. We see more and more of Manjome in the past, and the part he played in what happened.

Detective Chono seeks answers regarding his grandfather, the legendary Cho-san. And Kenji wants to know why he was called evil. What did he do in the past that would warrant such an accusation? The story isn’t over yet, one more book to go. Is there an anti-proton bomb? And can they find it before it takes out the world? On pins and needles waiting to find out!

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition Vol 6 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 6

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 20, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/406 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma arrives in Prague and locates what was once an old pub whose sign contains three frogs and tries to learn about a woman who once lived there, years before. Did she have twins, by any chance? Nina talks to Detective Suk who was investigating Grimmer and reveals that Grimmer gave him the key to a safe deposit box.The key was given to him by the doctor who once ran 511 Kinderheim. She warns him to tell no one about the key. But is she who she appears to be?

Suk goes to meet Grimmer, unaware that his own department is trailing him, hoping to get a lead on their suspect. Together they go to the bank and open the safe deposit box to find a report and a cassette tape. On the tape is the voice of a young boy who is being asked questions, such as his name. He says his name is Johan, and he speaks about Anna and a monster with no name. Afterward, Suk is approached by members of the Secret Police, who accuse him of having something to do with the poisoning of the three policemen. Although he protests his innocence, things don’t look good when they find a package of the same whiskey bonbons the men were poisoned with! When Grimmer arrives, he finds Suk standing in a room with two dead detectives! What is going on here? And where are the tape and the report?

Tenma learns about what has happened, and goes to visit Suk’s mother in the hospital to see if she has heard from him. Unfortunately, she has memory lapses and thinks he is Suk, so that doesn’t help. But she does remember a secret hideout Jan played in as a boy, and reminds her “son” of where it is. Can Suk and Grimmer be there? When Tenma finds Grimmer, he learns about his background as a spy, and how he was once at 511 Kinderheim himself!

Now Suk is missing and not in the hospital he should be in. Tenma and Grimmer find themselves invited to dinner by the man who knows where he is, Colonel Lanke. He only wants the tape and the report in exchange for Suk’s whereabouts. It turns out he has a personal reason to destroy those behind the notorious orphanage.

Nina and Dieter are also in Prague and when they find the pub with the three toads, the place is strangely familiar to Nina. What she doesn’t understand is why people there seem to recognize her, and why do they call her Anna?

A lot of backstory here, history coming to light, as the threads in this incredible tapestry of a story become more and more tightly woven, a picture emerging. So Grimmer was at Kinderheim too? Interesting. His history explained much about him. It’s amazing he turned out as well as he did. Except for the part about the Amazing Steiner. But maybe that isn’t what it seems either. Johan must be getting nervous if he’s dressing up like his sister to fool people. Detective Lunge is still on the case, but he is so obsessed with being right about Tenma that he dismisses any other evidence as wrong, especially if it points to Johan being a real person who isn’t in Tenma’s mind. Then the unthinkable happens, and Tenma is captured. How will he get out of this? And yuck, his alcoholic ex is back in the picture. Hopefully not for long.

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 22: The Beginning of Justice by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 22: The Beginning of Justice 

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 18, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Kanna and the others decide that the only safe place to be, in order to avoid the virus that will rain down from the flying saucers, is Expo Park. But how to get the word to everyone in such a way that they will listen and not panic? Turns out that Kenji’s old enemies, Yanbo and Mabo, created the flying saucers for the Friend. But they say they had no choice, and they are on Kanna’s side now and only want to help. They tell Otcho he has to shoot the saucers down, and he can’t afford to miss. Otcho is up to the challenge, and will do whatever it takes.

Kanna takes a couple of teams to the TV station, expecting to meet with armed resistance, but it is eerily silent. Inside, they encounter Friend’s former assassin, Thirteen, along with the DJ who’s been playing Kenji’s song non-stop, and who turns out to be another childhood friend of Kanna’s uncle. He tells Kanna that Kenji is the one who introduced him to CCR.

Friend’s associates are stunned by his announcement that he is responsible for all the atrocities formerly attributed to Kenji and his group. Can it be true? If so, why, and what are they supposed to do now? Meanwhile, Kanna and the others begin plastering fliers all over town advertising a huge music festival in Expo Park – free! The big draw is that the elusive singer of “Bob Lennon” will be there. Who wouldn’t want to hear him live? Although Kanna entreated Haru Namio to perform, he declines, but shows up anyway with his old band.

Maruo and Keroyon and his son discover a group of masked children who lead them into a toy store, to their masked leader, whom they’ve dubbed the Mask King. He turns out to be another of Kenji’s childhood friends. Maruo and Keroyon vaccinate the children, and they are shown a way to get into Tokyo, over the wall.

Once they manage to cram all the people they can into Expo Park, the flying saucers are unleashed. But they aren’t headed in the direction they expected. In fact, they’re going straight to Expo Park! Did they just lead everyone into a trap? And the Giant Robot has been activated prematurely. How will this possibly end well? Will Friend’s insane plan be put into motion?

Wow, wow, wow. So much going on. So much drama, conflict, violence, hope, suspense… everything but resolution. Because this is not the last volume, contrary to popular belief. Good thing, because the ending, though sweet, isn’t enough, and explains so little and leaves so much hanging.

I confess to being angry at first at the ending, until I dug a little and discovered the story continues in Twenty-first Century Boys, which consists of two volumes. Okay, I can live with that. There is a certain amount of resolution in this volume, but there are people who need to be dealt with before the world can truly be safe. Or maybe the question is, can the world truly be safe?

All I can say is … to be continued.

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!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 20: Humanity in the Balance by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 20: Humanity in the Balance   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 17, 2012

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yukiji decides to close her dojo, to the dismay of her students. She tells them how proud she is of them and what they have accomplished then leaves them with the words of her hero: If you ever feel your life is in danger, just turn around and run like hell. She meets with Kanna, Yoshitsune, and Otcho, and tells Kanna she knows what she intends to do and she is coming with her. But first she advises her there is someone she needs to speak with first—namely, her mother.  She also says that Maruo is on his way there to find her even now.

Maruo finds himself at an armed checkpoint that is flying a flag with a frog on it? What the heck? Could it be? He requests to be taken to their leader, even though they try to shoot at him, claiming he knows him. And he is right. It’s none other than Keroyon.

In the year 2000, Kiriko has given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her baby daddy, Fukube, is acting strangely, going out for mysterious reasons. She follows him one night and sees his performance as Friend… and she is concerned. Now, in year 3 of Friendship era,  she wants to atone for what she unwittingly did back then. She has a vaccine she hopes will cure the new virus, but there is only one person she is willing to try it on.

Meanwhile, Kanna, Otcho, and Yukiji have gone to assassinate Friend, whoever he is. But Kanna has her own agenda, which does not involve risking anyone else’s life but hers. She faces down the Friend while Otcho and Yukiji  try to find her. They are confronted by Takasu, who reveals to them that Manjome is dead and they did it. Takasu’s agenda is simple. She wants to be the Holy Mother. Otcho and Yukiji escape, only to find an even greater secret, one that’s sure to play into Friend’s story about aliens coming to destroy them. What in the world is going on here? And what do the evil twins Yabo and Mabo have to do with anything?

We’re getting down to the wire, everything is coming to a head. And all indications point to the pivotal piece of the puzzle being Kenji. He is the one who will save the day. At least, that’s how I see it. He began it, with his Book of Prophecy. It’s only fitting that he be the one to end this madness.

Two more books to go, and then we’ll know all.

Book Review: Monster, Perfect Edition Vol 5 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 5   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 21, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/410 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma is hiding on top of a bookcase, rifle in hand, waiting for the moment when he can kill Johan, and end the life he never should have saved all those years ago. Dr. Reichwein has gone to see Herr Schuman, to warn him about Johan, fearful of what Tenma might do. But Schuman insists on going to the ceremony at the library anyway. Once they arrive, he tells Karl he has forgotten something and sends him home to retrieve it. Dr. Reichwein suddenly realizes where Tenma is and rushes out, but he can’t shake Dieter. And the persistent Detective Lunge, who still believes Tenma and Johan are the same person, heads to the library as well to talk to Herr Schuman.

Nina is shocked to learn that Lotte knows Johan and realizes she is a dead ringer for him. And what is this book that scared Johan so?  A Czech picture book about a monster with no name? Meanwhile Tenma has Johan in his sights. All he has to do is squeeze. So why can’t he? And who is this strange woman who has just set the library on fire?

Tenma receives a message, brought to him in the park on behalf of Herr Schuman by his son Karl. He says the mother of the twins is alive and living in Prague. A journalist named Grimmer is seeking information on the East German Kinderheim. He runs into Tenma on a train, and they become traveling companions. But when the authorities stop the train, he reveals his knowledge of Tenma’s identity and tells him to run. Afterward, Grimmer finds the former director of Kinderheim and learns, to his horror, that he has a number of young boys in his home. What is he doing, recreating experiments of the past? Can Grimmer stop him?

The more we know, the more I want to know, as these plots become more and more entwined.  I didn’t think Tenma would be able to shoot Johan, and yet I feel he has to die somehow. I think Nina can do it. Unless of course, there is more to her than meets the eye. I’m not even sure of that anymore.

Did Kinderheim create a monster, or was Johan always that? If he was, what about Nina? Grimmer’s alto ego is pretty amazing, I have to say. And Lunge is so delusional, I can’t wait to see his face when he learns the truth about Johan – that he is a real and horrible person who is not Tenma.

Another great volume of Monster, can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 19: The Man Who Came Back by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 19: The Man Who Came Back   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 14, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/230 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Friend’s right-hand man, Manjome, has approached Kanna and Otcho with a shocking proposition—he wants them to kill Friend. Furthermore, he believes Friend is not who he says he is and that Fukube is actually and really dead. That’s a lot for them to take in.

Chono is fishing on his time off and he is joined by the newcomer, the guy with the guitar. He keeps trying to get this Yabuki Joe to admit that he is really Kenji, but so far that hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, Maruo and Namio and an assistant producer at the TV station turn to Kamisama, looking for a way to get the producer to safety as he has seen too much. Koizumi is still at the bowling alley, and she is utterly bored. She even hates bowling!  But when she picks up a bowling ball just to show someone how it’s done, Kamisama realizes she might be the key to revitalizing the dying industry!

Chono travels with “Joe” toward Tokyo, but they’re stopped outside a great wall with a fortress, unable to pass. A town has sprung up there, filled with people trying to cross over to get to Tokyo. Forging travel permits is a big industry there. The trouble is that the fakes are quickly spotted for what they are, and the people carrying them are shot on the spot. Still, people try. A man in Western cowboy garb, who goes by the nickname of Ichi the Spade, catches some of the people leaving the bad forgery shops and convinces them not to try it, but to use his bus service to reach the other side through an underground tunnel. Can he be trusted?

Ichi runs into Joe and Chono, and admits that he knows Chono has a bounty on his head. He tells Joe about a man who used to be a really good forger but who isn’t in business anymore. They go to see him, and he turns out to be one of the manga artists who used to live next to Kanna. His partner was trapped on the other side, so he has had to go solo. He doesn’t make forged passes anymore because he doesn’t want to be responsible if people get killed because of him. Joe persuades the manga artist to make him an ID and agrees to take his pages to his partner inside of Tokyo, at the same time that Chono finds himself betrayed.

Joe takes his forged pass and not only gets inside the gate, but he comes back and tells the manga artist to make enough passes for everyone in town. It’s time for everyone to leave. But Kenji/Joe is about to meet someone from his past, someone who is the epitome of evil.

All right, it’s out in the open now, let’s say it all together.  KENJI IS ALIVE!  I’ve been saying that for some time, and I am finally vindicated!  Huzzah! Okay, back to business.

I can feel everything winding down, the beginning of the end. Everybody and everything are falling into place, wherever they are meant to be. Kenji is headed toward Tokyo, and nothing and no one can stop him. He has the strength and courage of his conviction, and he has the immoveable force which has sustained him for all these years—his music. I can’t wait for him to connect with Kanna and the others again! And to finish what was begun so long ago.

Now the mystery remains as to who Friend is, since we know Fukube is really dead. And has been for some time, apparently. We still need to see the Holy Mother make her appearance. Although I once doubted her, now I suspect her arrival will be on the side of good, and hopefully she and Kanna can have a chance to have a real relationship.

This series just gets more and more exciting. Only three volumes left, can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 18: Everybody’s Song by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 18: Everybody’s Song     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 27, 2011

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Otcho and the others are searching for Sanae, who went to warn the Ice Queen to call off the plans for August 20th, panicking when they can’t find her. But when she does turn up, Otcho is amazed that she did make contact, and that the Ice Queen is none other than Kanna, although that is really no surprise to him. But Sanae was unable to dissuade her from her ill-advised plans. Sanae further reveals that a guy she likes at work was singing a song that Kanna played for her on a cassette tape, but that his version went beyond what was on the tape. There is a refrain at the end: Gutarara, sudarara. Otcho perks up at that, eyes wide with wonder. Could it be…. Dare he hope…

Meanwhile at the border, there is a report of an alien invader attempting to gain entrance… and apparently he was admitted. Although it is his day off, Chono is called to action to help find the alien in their midst. They say he is carrying a guitar-shaped weapon. Huh?

Otcho catches up with Kanna, who reveals why she chose August 20th for her plans, and why she won’t change her mind. Otcho tells her what her friends did for her, and how she has to do the right thing now. And how he thinks maybe Kenji is really alive. A DJ in the middle of nowhere continues to play a particular song, even though he receives no comments, no calls regarding it. But still he plays it, hoping someone is listening. And the so-called alien begins to sing. He tells the guards, “When somebody’s singing a song, you can’t shoot them.” Suddenly they are being attacked… by a group of hippies?

Otcho and Kanna find themselves apprehended by the Confidential Guard and taken to a secure location. There, waiting for them, is none other than Manjome. And what he has to say is shocking on more than one level.

Everything is moving now with lightning swift speed, and threads are weaving together more and more, as details we’ve been missing come to light. For one thing, we see more of what Manjome did to propel Friend to where he’s at, which makes what he told Otcho and Kanna actually not as surprising as it might seem. Kanna is undergoing a crisis of faith. Can the hope and belief that her beloved Uncle Kenji is actually alive spur her to do what is right? There can be no doubt of that now, too much evidence not to believe, and I am beyond excited to have been proven right in this regard.

We are barreling toward the end. To be honest, I really don’t know how this will go. I mean, the good guys have to win, right? Right? But at the same time, what is Friend and how has he done what he did? Or did we just get a clue to that question after all?

Great volume, anxiously waiting for more!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 17: Cross-counter by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 17: Cross-counter      

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 11, 2011

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The unthinkable has happened… the world as they knew it has been destroyed. Three years later, Friend is the President of the World, ruling from inside the walled fortress that is Tokyo. The Global Defense Force ever keeps watch for the alien invaders that are predicted to be coming. But of course they are watching for humans as well, those deemed unworthy to be a part of society. What will they do to them?

Kamisama sits in a deserted bowling alley, waiting for bowling to become a thing again. The same bowling alley he built years ago that ruined the secret hideout of Kenji and his friends. With him are Otcho and the two young people who secretly helped him when he was injured, siblings Sanae and Katsuo. Kamisama recommends Otcho go to the Catholic Church for help with the Friend. He shows them a secret way to get there, but the passage is too small for Otcho, so they send the kids instead, as the passage is well marked, and he will meet them there. However, Katsuo becomes distracted by an old subway car, as he’s never seen one in his lifetime, and this small detour leads them to a member of the Genji faction. They try to help him but he begs them to take a message to the Ice Queen to warn her against going through with her plans, as there is a spy among them. The brother and sister have to split up. Sanae goes to deliver the message to the Ice Queen and Katsuo heads to the church.

Everyone who went to see the Expo was sent a vial of the vaccine. Those who didn’t go died of the virus. So vaccine is at a premium, and people are willing to take desperate measures to obtain it. Sanae finds the Ice Queen in a small ramen shop, and is surprised at how young she is. Turns out, she already had her suspicions concerning a spy in their midst and confronts him about it. Of course, it was all about the vaccine.

During Year 1 of the Friendship Era, Otcho is traveling with a group of men through the countryside, when a rider on a motorbike stops to deliver a package to one of the men. Turns out to be a vial of the vaccine, and what a can of worms that opens! Wounded in the scuffle, Otcho is helped by a man who lives in a nearby village. But things take a turn for the worst, and they aren’t what they seem. He remembers something Kenji told them when they were kids: “Justice never dies!” He also said, “…I’m saving this world from evil, no matter what happens!”

Back to Year 3. Kanna’s former associate, Officer Chono, is assigned to guard duty at a remote outpost where nothing ever happens, watching for aliens that may never come. He sees injustice all around him and he is incensed by it. By accident, he stumbles on a group of people who are illegally assembled in the quiet of the night, listening to a radio that should not exist… and he hears a song from long ago…

Gosh dang, this is so good. Every volume leaves me in great suspense to know what will happen next. I have my suspicions about the music, because it goes along with what I’ve been saying all along. Hopefully I will be able to crow about it in the next review.  The identity of the Ice Queen is no real surprise. I like the new kids, very brave and very strong characters. There is a brief mention of the Holy Mother, but no appearance. Also no Friend sighting in this volume, which works for me. He is beyond creepy, and the more I learn about him, the creepier I find him to be. I can’t help but wonder what’s with the Friend and aliens? A diversionary tactic or something more?

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