The alien invasion is about to hit and Friend's hatred of everyone is about to be realized.
What They Say It is now 2017, and after the spread of the deadly virus in Tokyo, a wall was built around the city and people's lives have been restricted. As World President, Friend tells everyone that on August 20th, aliens will destroy mankind and only those who believe in him will be saved. Kanna is now the leader of a group much more radical than Yoshitune's, but both continue to fight against Friend. Along with Haru, Maruo finally finds Kenji's sister. Outside the wall, a man with a guitar who calls himself Joe Yabuki is on his way to see Kanna.
Viz Pictures' releases tend to be pretty good in what they offer for language tracks, though they haven't done much in the way of English language versions. 20th Century Boys is no different as we only get the Japanese language mix but we do get both the 5.1 and stereo mixes, so it'll work best with whatever setup you have. Listening to the 5.1 mix, encoded at 448kbps, the film doesn't really utilize the various channels all that much, especially when it comes to the rear speakers. The film has a good forward soundstage mix with its dialogue but there isn't a huge amount of depth or placement to it, but it's laid out well and the track comes across in a clean manner. Outside of some music cues and a few ambient effects here and there, it's not terribly distinct but it works to keep the flow of the movie working without the sound effects overpowering it, or the music for that matter.
Originally in theaters in August of 2009, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The feature has a very good clean look to it, but still retains the feel of film with some mild grain. There's a good sense of detail throughout much of it but there are some scenes where it's obscured and indistinct when it comes to the shadows. The source itself is unaltered from the original with the Japanese logo intact and no hard subtitles found when it comes to signs that are translated when appropriate. This is a pretty good looking release that holds its own quite well.
The third feature takes on a darker tone with the blood red skies as we get the large image of Friend along the top and a cast shot along the bottom of the good guys and key players. There's a nice inclusion of some important locations as well which includes the flying saucers. The back cover is pretty traditional with a blurb about the films origins and another series of headshots that look more serious. The summary for the feature is pretty decent though it gives away a little too much depending on how much you want to know. The rest is filled with a lot of small production text and the technical information that's far clearer and better laid out than anything under the Viz Media label. Add in a few additional shots from the film and you've got a decent cover overall. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the film is fairly standard for a lot of releases these days as it takes the actor shots from the front cover and uses that zoomed in as its primary piece. The logo stands out well as does the navigation as they use the same kind of font and colors as are used on the front cover. The navigation is simple and easy to navigate though there are some interstitial animations mixed into it when it shifts from menu to menu. Everything does load quickly once that piece is done though and I was glad to see that it defaults to the 5.1 mix with full subtitles instead of the lower grade audio as has been done on some earlier releases.
The only extras included with this release are a couple of the original Japanese trailers and a couple of the English release trailers.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Clocking in at just over two and a half hours, 20th Century Boys final movie in the trilogy series does one thing very right from the start. And that's to give us a five minute overview recap of the storyline so far. Granted, it's pretty damn slimmed down considering we've had nearly five hours of story so far, but just the little bit here does a really good job of reminding you about a few key things and players in a storyline that covers some forty-seven years worth of a time line. If there's anything about the trilogy that's bothered me, it's that it's felt a little too complicated at times with the way there are so many characters and the back and forth to the childhood days and the present. Remembering who is who in the past isn't always easy.
Similar to the previous two movies, there are a number of flashbacks to the past, both in the early 70's and to 2000 and 2015. The majority if it is spent in 2017 though, or the third year of Friend after he rose from the dead in his Jesus moment and became a god. Because of that, he's had carte blanche to do anything that he wants in Japan and doesn't get a bit of grief about it from anywhere else in the world. One of the things he's done in his quest to protect his faithful followers is to build a massive wall around Tokyo to help keep out the virus that was released in 2015.
What he's really done in there though is to change much of it to look like the town he grew up in back in the late 60's. The upper level facade is interesting enough, and quite the surprise for Otcho when he manages to sneak over the wall to find out what's going on in there, but it's what's below that's even more interesting. It's here that Friend's plans have been worked on the most with the science side working to create his alien invasion. Unlike the past instances of the virus outbreaks, this one is being delivered in a far different way as Friend intends to deliver it via flying saucers he's had built to cement his invasion prophecy. He takes it a step further though with a real giant robot this time as well, though it's less clear exactly what the intent of it all is.
Of course, there are plenty of people that are trying to fight back against Friend, though many are putting all their faith and hopes in him. Kanna has taken on the role of the Ice Queen and is creating her terrorist army under the streets of Toyko. Yoshitsune has worked his Genji Faction into something sizeable as well, though his goals are less clear and the revelations made about him as time goes on end up becoming confusing. And into all of this comes Otcho as the unifying force as he has the connections to everyone as the countdown goes on to when Friend's alien invasion hits. And before that happens, he intends to take out a lot of them in his passive-aggressive way.
Everything moves towards that date and we see a lot of things coming together from a wide range of characters. Subplots are tied up, though some of them are less memorable than others, and a good deal of time is spent in the past. So much of what's going on here is because of what happened when these people, now in their fifties, were kids. And those issues changed them, though some of them were pretty messed up in the head from the start to even think how they do. Going back to then, finally revealing the truth about what happened with the bullying, who was really behind the mask and the lies and deceits that were told is important. But at the same time, you realize that all the evil that has happened, the billions dead and the dramatic change to the world, is because one young child was abused by others and longed to end the world. I'm still not sure how I feel about that.
With the trilogy running over six hours, it's certainly a better than normal adaptation of a manga series, even if it makes changes for flow and differences in media and structure. The storyline itself is really an interesting one and I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the characters throughout, particularly Kenji and Otcho. The presence of Friend gave it the right kind of odd creepiness to it and they took it to a fun level with the mask and how he tweaked the world the whole time. Taking it all from a childhood made up story and expanding it into a real world plot isn't something you see often and 20th Century Boys offers a very layered and detailed story about it that goes in a lot of directions. This isn't a sit down and turn your mind off kind of movie or trilogy, but one that you have to really pay attention to. Definitely worth taking the time to check out if you want something complicated and non-linear.
Features Japanese 5.1 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
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