20th Century Boys Vol. #09 - Mania.com



Manga Review

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 978-1421523446
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

20th Century Boys Vol. #09

20th Century Boys Vol. #09 Manga Review

By Chris Kirby     September 03, 2010
Release Date: June 15, 2010


20th Century Boys Vol. #09
© Viz Media

When Kanna’s plan to save the world lies in a high stakes game, the bluff is just as big as the gamble.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Translation: Akemi Wegmuller
Adaptation: Akemi Wegmuller

What They Say
The year is 2014, and Neo Tokyo is completely under the control of the Friend. Kanna has decided to stand up and avenge Kenji--will she be able to muster up enough support for her cause? Kanna makes her way to a mafia-operated casino and quickly finds herself at a high stakes table. Is she lucky (and smart) enough to turn the odds in her favor at the bizarre and fast-paced game of Rabbit Nabokov?

While Kanna marshals her forces, Koizumi Kyoko experiences true horror at the reeducation camp known as Friend Land. Going back in time in their "Virtual World," she meets Kenji and his pals as boys in 1971 and sees something that is strictly taboo: the Friend's childhood face! Will she live to report back on the Friend's identity?

The Review!

After the nerve clenching cliffhanger of Vol. 8, Vol. 9 joins us again with Koizumi as she continues to navigate the Friend Land virtual "bonus stage.” Urasawa really knows how to keep tensions high as we begin to undersand why some entrants of the bonus stage die violently during the stage and as Yoshitsune races to prevent this fate from happening to Koizumi. While any sort emotional attachment to Koizumi hasn’t fully generated yet, the anticipation about what she has discovered is enough for us to hope that she makes it out okay.  If she doesn’t no one will be able to learn from her experience and this terribly nail-biting “filler” story will only upset everyone involved!  Thankfully, Urasawa knows better than that but still never kowtows to the “Hollywood” ending.
 
After more questions get raised about the Friend's true identity, we at least know what event has to be remembered, the story shifts back to Kanna. Kanna starts putting into motion a plan to save the pope by following some inspiring words from Kenji, "Play for real!" The introduction of this flashback is something I really enjoy in particular.  The heavy inclusion of music as a focal point, which lends to greater philosophical leanings, is something I can really identify with. Kenji’s life revolved around music and has directly influenced Kanna with his own interpretation of music.  This ideology is something many people are familiar with because “true” music has the ability to speak to the mind AND the soul.  This lead to Kenji’s decisions and is playing a large part in Kanna’s decision making. 
 
The first phase of Kanna’s plan involves taking a single casino token and winning big! After winning a bit of money on slots, Kanna learns of a high stakes game called Rabbit Nabokov, where you either win big or you lose big. I haven’t read any straight up gambling manga, but I sure hope they are like these chapters.  Much like Casino Royale, we understand the stakes of the game and all we do is simply watch the game.  However, the feeling of fret and worry about how things will turn out, how the tables will turn, and the events that will come afterward is what keeps us captivated and on the edge of our seat.  A surprising turn of events at the climax of the game sets Kanna’s second phase into motion. She instructs all present to meet at the Shinjuku church for a reason she does not specify.
 
 
Why did she go through all the trouble of winning the money just to use it the way she did?  It all seems kind of perplexing at first but we know the light will be shown soon enough.  But first!, a flashback to Yukiji and Mon-chan in 2002.  Here we learn that another book has been discovered! However this book was not written by Kenji and the gang and is plainly titled “The New Book of Prophecy.”  In this book we are shown everything that is recorded at the time, giving an ominous feel as we already know what the book is talking about and it deals with the second phase of Kanna’s plan.  
 
The rest of the book deals with Kanna’s church meeting and the various gang members that have assembled.  We remember that number 13 is out to make an assassination, we know what the “New” book states, we know that Otcho is on his way to meet with Kanna,  and we know that Urasawa never sugar coats his stories.  The ultimate climax of this volume is so mysterious that nothing gets answered but the big question only gets bigger, “What does it all mean in the end?”
 
In Summary:
Naoki Urasawa never stops amazing me in how he can take a story that can simply be told rather quickly, and in turn creates something so complex and moving that I wish it would never end.  In this volume so many themes are focused on, that we become helpless and can only sit back and watch as it all unfolds.  The character depth and growth with each volume has managed to emotionally attach me to everyone in the story. Especially since Kanna really starts to shine here and we don’t just learn more about her but we learn what she is capable of doing and the interesting manner in which she does it.  This volume doesn’t end on a crazy cliffhanger like others have, which is good; it allows me to take a breather and soak everything in, instead of clamoring for the next volume until I explode with anticipation!  But don’t buy that lie for a second; I still cannot wait to continue reading!

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