Tag Archives: Otcho

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!

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 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 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!