Manga-ka: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: June 2011
Synopsis: “Around the globe, the mysterious and deadly virus continues to spread as the death toll mounts. However, Kanna, Otcho and Yoshitsune have another concern: despite what is being reported in the media, several people have claimed to see the Friend alive and walking the streets of Tokyo. But what does this bode for the pope’s visit to Japan and the 2015 World Exposition in Tokyo? “
One of my favourite parts of 20th Century Boys is how it comes at the plot from numerous different angles. The opening chapter of this fifteenth volume follows a priest in mourning over the death of his mentor. What begins as the task of going through the deceased Priest’s research, turns into Brother Luciano uncovering the new book of a prophecy and a plot to assassinate the Pope. How this brings the story full-circle back to Kanna and the others in Japan is another example of what makes this series such an addicting read.
An increasingly important character in the story is the priest who’s church the anti-Friend often houses themselves in. He’s the important tie-in between Brother Luciano and the Pope that brings everyone together for a plan to save the religious leader. First this was an important event simply as another effort to stop the Friend’s grip on the world but Urasawa takes it a step further. A chapter is dedicated to the priest’s backstory which in turn ends up being back story to none other than the Pope himself. The story itself is heartwarming enough on its own but it’s priceless as a way of making us care for him as more than just a figure head.
While Kanna, Otcho, Chono and the others plan how they’re going to stop the next disaster, the world continues to be under siege from the deadly virus that causes your body to erupt in a bloody death. Just as the Pope’s back story made him a more sympathetic character, the plight affecting the world is rarely short of pinnacle keeping the story gripping. It’s terrifying thinking of it happening in real life as the whole world lives in terror the virus will strike them next. It’s only getting worse though, as evident by flashes of Friend supporters taking to the street with even more distribution. Meanwhile the rest of the story hits its climax when the Pope’s great worldwide address occurs and all eyes fall to the body of the Friend laying in a casket but a few feet away…
Like every volume of 20th Century Boys however, the big kicker is the very end – that cliffhanger we always anticipate with glee and completely dread at the same time. This volume hits with a double-whammy of “where’s the next volume?!” – first with events of the Pope’s speech taking some very unexpected turns, and then with a short epilogue chapter that reintroduces someone that will leave you shaking the book in frustration.
While at some point I had apprehensions about the shift forward in time after Bloody New Years’ eve, volumes like this one washes away those worries and replaces them with an eager need for the next book. It remains a series I recommend to any mature reader for its cinematic flair and suspenseful story.
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Book bought from Strange Adventures