20th Century Boys read by some 20th Century girls

Our thoughts from the monthly Mangaforum 

20th Century Boys read by some 20th century girls

This month we read the first 3-and-a-bit volumes of the long running, award winning manga, 20th Century Boys  by seminal author and artist Naoki Urasawa; It tells the story of Kenji Endō and his friends, who’s childhood histories are some how entwined with an expanding cult and it’s leader, “Friend”, who is out to destroy the current day world, using plans that the friends had made up as 10 year olds.

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So, What we all thought in a nutshell;

  • Strong story. Strong Characters; Just get past the slow start ;
    • I want to continue reading; I’m now too invested in the multiple characters and the world’s impending doom.
  • I would definitely recommend to Non-Manga readers
    • Like my dad, for example
  • But not a manga for mindless reading 
    • There is lot of (great) dialogue and a relatively high number of diverse (and multi-dimensional) characters, plus the back and forth of time, the introduction of more characters in every volume and the high tension over all, means that this is not necessary for the post-work zombies or parents with sick-child-caring exhaustion.

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What we liked

It’s just great.

It manages to be quint-essentially Japanese and brings in a real slice of slice feel to the mystery and drama of the story. Targeted for adults and no pandering to classic tropes; It introduces topics that are seldom discussed in fiction comics, such as single parent-ism, family security vulnerability, female expectation of marriage and even the universal cringe of a 10 year high school re-union – and this is only 3 books in!

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For people like me , we’ve got dark undertones and outright creepy goings-on from murder, mysterious suicide and terrorist activities by an expanding cult, which definitely builds the tension. Lex, who wouldn’t usually go for this level of creepy-ness out of choice,  also really enjoyed reading, and we both agreed we’ve never read anything like it.

The art style is also simplistic realism with true depictions of Japan, of the modern day and back in the late 60s, giving it a real depth and even nostalgia feel, even for me, a late-80s baby.

 

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What we disliked…

If we wanted to be nit picky, maybe a few too many characters and it is undeniably a slow starter. Other people who have finished the series have suggested that the tension is drawn out over a few books longer than it should have, but to be honest, the reception is universally positive.

Although, ok, I’ll tell you what I disliked – I disliked that, because it’s such a solid good read, Lex and I didn’t have much to say about it on our pod cast, leaving us to whirl off into tangents about job-fatigue, library confusion and early 90’s shojo that we might consider reading on the side…Or perhaps it was just Lex and I were both too ill/tired to gather the energy to make comprehensive comments about such an intelligent story. Completely the opposite to our last read, Sword Art Online, where I basically got the jist by osmosis, even through those terrible action sketches.

Back to 20th Century Boys, I genuinely plan to pick the series up at some point to read to the end, And I’d also like to watch the live action of 20th Century boys. But as always, I invite the reader/listener of the podcast to share your thoughts on the series too.

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Tune in at http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum on 19th May for our next read, Attack On Titan -Lost Girls, originally a novel by Hiroshi Seko, but adapted for Manga by Ryōsuke Fuji , a spinoff of the hugely influential manga series Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama. I think it’ll be interesting to compare another light novel conversion. And did someone say legit fan fiction? I do hope so. 

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter and Youtube too, where we’ll posting our thoughts and faces- https://twitter.com/themangaforum.

As always, We look forward to hearing what you think so comment below!

Lara and Lexa

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