20th Century Boys Vol. #10 - Mania.com

Manga Review

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 17 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 9781421523453
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

20th Century Boys Vol. #10

20th Century Boys Vol. #10 Manga Review

By Chris Kirby     September 13, 2010
Release Date: August 17, 2010

20th Century Boys Vol. #10
© Viz Media

Paging Mr. Hitchcock, paging Mr. Hooper; your influence has been shown in a flattering and non-demeaning way!

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

What They Say
It appears that Kanna's ambitious gamble has paid off as the leaders of the local Thai and Chinese mafias agree to both call a truce and offer to back her up. This doesn't sit too well with Yukiji, though, who is furious that Kanna would risk her life in such a brazen way. But one thing seems certain: when it comes to fighting the Friends, there's no limit to how far Kanna will go.

Meanwhile, Koizumi Kyoko begins following Kanna in an attempt to tell her about everything she learned while at Friend Land. Her behavior, however, does not go unnoticed by the Friends, and a menacing dream navigator suddenly appears to inform Kyoko that she will need to go to Friend World for further reeducation. Luckily for Kyoko, there are no immediate spaces available, but will she have enough time to get help from Kanna and Yoshitsune before her number is called?

The Review!

The cop with the mole is dead, Otcho has appeared before Kanna, the “Holy Mother” will appear soon, and the Chinese and Thai Mafias are on the brink of a truce.  Volume 9 had so much packed into its 11 chapters that it is time for a change of pace.  A pace that needs to tie up some affairs and delve deeper into the mythology of 20th Century Boys, with Volume 10 that is just what we get.
The volume starts off by concluding the meeting at Shinjuku church.  After the events at the end of the last volume, the attendees of the meeting decide to make a hasty retreat from the police and the possible danger that still lingers.  However, not one to let business go unfinished, Kanna speaks to the mafia leaders in a final attempt to earn their trust and aid for the coming events.  
One thing interesting about Kanna, especially in the last couple of volumes, is the amount of charisma and power of persuasion she possesses.  It almost seems unbelievable, superhuman almost, but because no one, including the readers, really understands why these powers are so strong in her these events add some perplexity to everything.  We understand Kanna’s background, we understand her emotions involving the Friends and the events of Bloody New Year’s Eve, but we don’t understand why both Kanna and the Friend have such a strong power over people and fate.  In a standard comic we might be lead to believe some supernatural force or alien power is involved, but with 20th Century Boys everything is strongly grounded in reality.  Everything that occurs is feasible in our world but fantastical because of how different it is from our own.  I am very curious as to how the reasons behind these powers are explained but slightly fearful that they could be absolutely preposterous and break the suspense this series has been building towards.  I have faith however.
The story then switches focus back to Koizumi who has recovered from her traumatic experience at Friend Land and is trying to readjust to “normal” life.  She is constantly plagued by nightmares from her experience in the bonus stage but can’t remember what she saw and why it was so terrifying.  Then the moment I was personally waiting for occurs, Koizumi meets Kanna.  It isn’t a very good first meeting but very fitting based on their established personalities, this scene adds a bit of humor and frustration on the readers behalf, “Just tell her for crying out loud!!”  Koizumi then spends some time spying on Kanna trying to figure her out and decide on the best way to approach her about the situation.  Things get a feeling of dread added when Dream Navigator Takasu appears literally out of nowhere and informs Koizumi that she has been selected to go to Friend World for being a “very bad girl.”  Thankfully for Koizumi she has to be put on a waiting list, unfortunately for her, that wait is about 48 hours max!
The next day a new English Teacher begins work at school and the mere sight of his face sends Koizumi into shock, is he the Friend?, will we finally find out the identity of the enemy?? 
After awakening at the nurse’s office and officially meeting Kanna, Koizumi explains what she saw in the bonus stage and who the Friend truly is, the new English Teacher!  The full page panel where the Friend is shown without his mask is pretty humorous when I think about it; but honestly, if I saw such a sight in real life with all the tension and fear that accompanies these characters I would be scared out of my mind as well.  The image of the Friend from the bonus stage is so simple and plain, yet so grotesque and disturbing that you realize how lucky Koizumi was in surviving Friend Land and why other applicants died so violently.
The teacher is then identified as Sadakiyo.  This development is interesting because Sadakiyo was Kenji and the gang’s first choice as to who the friend was because of the mask he always wore as a child. But if I remember correctly Sadakiyo was cleared of suspicion due to various circumstances, why is he appearing for the first time to us under these conditions?  Sadakiyo then offers to give Koizumi a ride home because a storm is coming and she reluctantly accepts the offer.  This scene is very strange because, as an American reader, we know she knows better and obviously should turn the other way and run like hell; why then does she accept his offer?  There are three reasons I can think of for this, 1)She is so scared she can’t turn and run, 2)It is necessary to move the plot forward, or 3)The Japanese culture of having great respect for ones elders prevents her from doing the right thing because that is how she has been raised from birth.  Whatever the reason, next begins the most engrossing and terrifying section of the book and maybe of the entire series up to this point.
Think of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, or Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, remember how frighteningly normal everything seemed, how the “family” of the murderers played such a role in their behavior, how you never knew what the killer was going to do or how it was going to happen, and remember the mask, how it covered Leatherface’s identity thus giving a truly ominous feel where anything could happen and you were sure none of it was going to be good.  Now combine all these elements and you have a good 4 or 5 chapters of twists and turns that simultaneously raise the blood pressure and intrigue the intellect.  Urasawa created something truly frightening with these scenes because we are given all the information that our characters have, there is no level of omnipotence placed upon us, and we can only take the information given and draw conclusions based on that information.  With the exception of the original events of Bloody New Year’s Eve (Volume 4/5), there has never been suspense like this, suspense so thick you could cut the air.  The suspense is always present but the intellect is mainly affected, here the suspense reaches above the intellect to strike our core.
After the events between Koizumi and Sadakiyo settle down, to the relief of both the characters and the audience, we return to Kanna for the final chapter which takes place simultaneously with the events between Koizumi and Sadakiyo.  This chapter is the only part of this book that I felt was out of place, we already know what is going on with Koizumi, and Kanna is in no peril despite being desperate to save Koizumi.  This chapter was very relaxed and helped move the story without compromising the suspense we felt earlier.  However, I do not think this was a good place to end the volume as the stunning revelation revealed in the final pages is something we have known for volumes now.  Sure this is a new revelation to Kanna but an additional chapter that deals with how Kanna processes this information and how it affects her current demeanor and plans would have been much more effective.  Similar to the ending of the sixth Harry Potter book, that extra chapter where Harry makes his decision based on the revelations and events proceeding made the ending a satisfying one.  Here we get the revelation but no follow through; here’s hoping the follow through is how Volume 11 opens up.
In Summary:
Another excellent continuation to Urasawa’s ongoing saga that lives up to every precedent set before it.  I found it really interesting how Urasawa combined influences from classic horror/suspense movies and truly made it his own.  You know how Tarantino pays blatant and obvious homage to his influences?; Urasawa instead goes the Scorsese route and mixes his influences into something new, original, and totally his own.  Seeing how the story will play out continues to become more unbearable as we have to continue to wait 3 months for each new volume.  This isn’t so much true for this volume because of the disappointing nature of the final chapter, but the wait continues to be tough because I need to know that Urasawa doesn’t disappoint in regards to Kanna’s revelation, my faith is there but curiosity does kill the cat.


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