Tag Archives: Naoki Urasawa

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 11: List of Ingredients by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 11: List of Ingredients     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 19, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Kanna is shocked to learn that her father is none other than the Friend himself, leader of the Friend Society which her Uncle Kenji tried to protect the world from.  As if that weren’t bad enough, her Walkman is broken, leaving her unable to hear Kenji’s voice when she needs to hear it the most. Taking her frustration out by playing video games, she afterward accepts a ride with three other gamers who are impressed with her skills. During the drive, a news bulletin tells of the escape of the Friend Museum director, along with student Koizumi Kyoko, in a Toyota 2000GT. Now the guys are on the watch for the old car.

Manjome is Friend’s right-hand man. Apparently, he is thought to have a harem, including one lady in particular, Takasu, director of the Dream Navigators, whom one of his underlings mistakes for a man. She has a meeting with Manjone, in which he reminds her that the upcoming Expo is what is important. That and making their Friend the president of the world. Manjome isn’t surprised to hear about Sadakiyo, and he knows he has a certain memo in his possession. The one left by the man known by his friends as Mon-chan. Takasu fears that with Otcho escaped from prison, Kanna’s powers awakening, and the memo being held in hostile hands, the Kenji faction may just learn about the lie of 1970! Manjome doesn’t seem concerned, and reminds her that she has agreed to carry the Friend’s child!

Meanwhile, at the nursing home, Koizumi and Sadakiyo learn that the home has been surrounded. Sadakiyo surmises that they are there to reject him. Surely that can’t be good? He remembers a meeting he had with Mon-chan years ago, and tells Koizumi how he ended up with the Mon-chan memo. He gives it to Koizumi to hold on to. Kanna’s arrival at the same nursing home can’t be a coincidence, can it? In evacuating the residents to safety, Kanna is mistaken for her mother by a former teacher, and is shocked to learn things about her that she didn’t know. Such as her mother once dreamed of being a famous bacteriologist. The teacher tells Kanna her mother was good, to believe in her.

Kanna ends up at an old cinema, which has old film footage that includes her mother. She won’t give up on looking for her, even though it seems like she may be involved in what is going on now. Koizumi is being pressured to pick out which face in the yearbook belongs to Friend, since she caught a glimpse of him as a child, but she can’t tell one face from another.

I can’t even begin to describe how exciting this is all getting. So much going on, so much new information, and yet so much needs to be learned. Maybe we’ll even find out where Kanna’s mother, Kiriko, has been all these years and what she’s been doing. Is she the good girl her former teacher claims, or is she on the side of the Friends? Only time will tell.

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!