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20th Century Boys – Manga Review

20th Century Boys cover art

Widge Sez: Everyone please give a warm welcome to Sir Tuck, who thought he might expand our field of vision by talking about some manga for us. We say huzzah. And away we go…

When you were little did you and your friends have a secret base? Or imagine scenarios where evil forces would try to destroy the world, and you would stand up and fight for justice? I sure did, often playing the scenarios out with action figures and Legos. 20th Century Boys shines a whole new light on childhood companions and the dreams of being heroes.

20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (creator of the popular title Monster), is a Science Fiction mystery manga that spans several decades, from 1969 to 2017. It makes many cultural references to rock (its name for instance), classic manga, movies, and comic books. The series itself opens in the late 1990s, and follows the life of Kenji, a convenience store owner, who find solace in his childhood memories as he works with his mother and takes care of his niece Kanna. Suddenly, his seemingly normal life takes a drastic turn, and Kenji finds himself involved in a series of mysterious events that are somehow connected to his childhood.

[ad#longpost]The first thing I want to point out about the manga is the art style. 20th Century Boys is by no means drawn in a typical style. There are no shiny-eyed, pink-haired, busty women, or suave, almost feminine guys. The characters look and feel like everyday people, with both physical and mental flaws. If you’re hoping to find fan service then look elsewhere. Each and every character has their own unique quirks that make them stand out, including their childhood selves, seen in flashbacks. Not only are the character designs amazing, the detail of the backgrounds are astounding! Throughout the series you will see images that will not only tug at your heart, but strike you with a sense of awe and the chill of terror.

I literally had to make myself stop reading this series so that I wouldn’t finish it too fast. Because I knew when it was done, I would want more. Never have I read anything that has made me feel the way 20th Century Boys did. This manga sent chills up my spine many a time. But it needs to be said: this series is very plot-heavy and very reliant on the many flashbacks that fill its pages. Flashbacks can be very confusing, but luckily Urasawa does them well. And you know how I said the art was my no means typical? Well the same can be said about the manga in general. It’s just not like any other manga I’ve read, plain and simple. It’s also a decently long series: twenty-two volumes and each holds about ten chapters, so plan on a good read! All in all it is the absolute best manga or comic I’ve ever read, and I’ve read quite a few. I would definitely suggest this series to anyone be they manga/comic reader or not.

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