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Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys volume 1 [Paperback]

Naoki Urasawa
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Nov 2009 Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys (Book 1)
Humanity, having faced extinction at the end of the 20th century, would not have entered the new millennium if it weren't for them. In 1969, during their youth, they created a symbol. In 1997, as the coming disaster slowly starts to unfold, that symbol returns. This is the story of a group of boys who try to save the world. Failed rock musician Kenji's memories of his past come rushing back when one of his childhood friends mysteriously commits suicide. Could this new death be related to the rise of a bizarre new cult that's been implicated in several other murders and disappearances? Determined to dig deeper, Kenji reunites with some of his old buddies in the hope of learning the truth behind it all.

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Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys volume 1 + Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys: v. 2 + Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Volume 3
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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Viz Media, Subs. of Shogakukan Inc; 1 edition (26 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591169224
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591169222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.2 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Naoki Urasawa has been a highly recognized and successful manga artist for more than twenty years. Creator of popular series such as 20th Century Boys and Yawara, Urasawa has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the first Japanese Media Art Festival Manga Award of Excellence, the Osamu Tezuka Culture Award in 1999, and the 46th Shogakukan Manga Award. Naoki Urasawa's Monster has thrilled and entertained well over 25 million readers in Japan.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Find out why Urasawa is the King of Suspense... 13 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After hearing a lot of glowing reviews about Naoki Urasawa's many manga series, I decided I'd find out for myself how good they were, so I purchased the first volume of 20th Century Boys. I was not disappointed.

The plot-line captivates you with ease and immerses you into his world, following the lives of a group of childhood friends, reunited as adults to solve a shocking mystery and fight against the greatest threat modern man has ever had to face. The story is woven together perfectly; the mystery and suspense are mind-blowing, linking things in a way that only a true master of suspense could. This book will have you guessing all the way through, and changing your guess every other chapter as the mystery grows. Just as a warning, the cliffhangers in this series are phenomenal; after reading the first volume (all in one sitting!), I immediately hopped onto Amazon and bought the next few in the set!

The artwork is amazing; the character designs and backgrounds are much more detailed than other manga, and have been drawn to top-notch quality. The books themselves are of very good quality; the covers are very well designed and look great lined up, and the pages are made of good quality paper. The size of the book was slightly larger than I expected, but it's still a good size. For first-time authentic manga readers, the book is laid out 'back to front' to preserve the original Japanese design; it is surprisingly easy to get used to, and once you've got past it, full immersion is within your hands.

I have read many other manga series, but none like this one. If you love a brilliant plot-line, suspense like no other and are not afraid of reading a 'picture book', then check this out!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
30 years after, a strange, forgotten logotype reappears in the life of a bunch of friends. They had hand-designed it as a symbol for the small group of children they were back in the early 1970s. It now seems to be linked with a strange, growing cult and a recent series of deaths. The product of a master storyteller, the book gets you hook, line and sinker. It seems Naoki Urasawa can't put a foot wrong as he also made Naoki Urasawa's Monster: Volume 1 and Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka volume 1. All highly recommendable. If you love comics, don't miss Urasawa, as he is without any doubt one of the best in this field, ever. And yes, '20th Century Boys' has something to do with the T.Rex song of -- almost -- the same name.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great. 8 Jan 2014
By Brianne
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was ordered as a Christmas present. It came quickly and on time. It was in great condition and was exactly what I was looking for :)
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, suspenseful storyline and detailed artwork. I can't wait for the second volume! 7 Mar 2009
By Dennis A. Amith (kndy) - Published on Amazon.com
Naoki Urasawa is well-known in the manga industry. Having created excellent titles such as "Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl", "Pineapple ARMY", "Master Keaton" and "Monster", his manga series "20th CENTURY BOYS" was the winner of the 2001 Kodansha Manga Award, Winner of the 2003 Shogakukan Manga Award and Urasawa was the recipient of the "Excellence Price at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival".

The manga has been made into a live film, with the first film having been released as a part of a trilogy with a budget of 6 billion yen and will feature a cast of 300 people, it's natural to say that the manga series "20th CENTURY BOYS" will definitely be a bonafide classic. And now the manga series has been released by Viz Media.

The manga series goes back and forth from present time to 1969 and 1997 as we are introduced to a group of friends as children and adults.

The manga focuses on Kenji as he receives a letter from his childhood friend before he supposedly committed suicide. The letter from his friend asks if Kenji remembers a symbol. Kenji can't believe his friend would kill himself and in 1997, he tries to investigate more about the symbol while flashbacks in 1969 show Kenji and friends making their own club and using the symbol for their club. Then you get glimpses of the present which allude to something terrible happening, something so terrible that humanity was nearly annihilated.


Overall, the first volume of "20th CENTURY BOYS" was an enjoyable read. One of the major enjoyments of the manga is the artwork. From the detail of the outdoor settings and indoor settings. Detail in the backgrounds and emotions from each character.

Granted, there are a good number of characters introduced in the first volume but it definitely helps that the storyline for several chapters focuses on character development.

"20TH CENTURY BOYS" Vol. 01 was a pretty enjoyable read. I really enjoyed the detail of the artwork and the various timelines, it's definitely complex to plan but so far every chapter has been quite enjoyable and intriguing.

As with any manga series, typically the first volume is used for character development. At first, I have to admit that it was almost like watching a series of "LOST" with the storyline jumping around time periods and it was a bit confusing at first. But as the story started to progress, everything started to become clear.

At first, because of the young characters, it seemed as if the storyline was going to be about youth and something fun but once you start seeing death and people missing or dying, a cult and crazy lunatics murdering, you start to realize that perhaps "20TH CENTURY BOYS" is setting things up as the series will more than likely become a deep storyline.

Knowing how suspenseful Urasawa's work can get, especially with "MONSTER", I'm pretty excited to finally start reading this manga and seeing how it progresses over time. Afterall, this manga has won numerous awards and it has been made to a live action film. So, I'm definitely sticking with it.

"20th CENTURY BOYS" features a fun but somewhat dark storyline and wonderful artwork, I definitely look forward to see what Urasawa has in store for Vol. 02.

Overally, "20th CENTURY BOYS" is a manga definitely worth checking out!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Urasawa is a Master of Suspense 23 Jun 2010
By GraphicNovelReporter.com - Published on Amazon.com
Kenji's life is not what he'd imagined it would be. As a child, he was determined to do great things--play in a rock band, live life on his terms, and, of course, save the world from evil. But as an adult, his life is ordinary. He tries to keep his family's convenience store running and works to raise his sister's baby daughter. But when a childhood friend commits suicide, Kenji's safe world is knocked off its orbit. Not believing that his friend was suicidal, Kenji begins investigating and discovers a tie between that death and a mysterious new cult that has sprung up recently. The cult is run by a man known only as "Friend," and he has plans for world domination--plans based directly on a story that Kenji himself wrote when he was a little boy. Now a mild-mannered shopkeeper must find within himself the strength to save the world from the forces of evil.

Urasawa's thriller series is a coming-of-age tale for thirty- and forty-somethings. He slowly takes an ordinary man and forces him--and those around him--to dip into heretofore undiscovered depths of strength. Kenji and his friends are all the more amazing for how normal they are. Readers will instantly identify with them, especially as they themselves wonder what happened to the dreams they had as children. Some of the characters are satisfied with their adult lives, which makes their sacrifices all the more poignant. Others, such as Kenji, are not where they might like to be, but they feel the weight of responsibility to family and work so heavily that they cannot drag themselves out from under it. Their decision to fight against evil is liberating, but it is also terrifying, because they know that they will lose everything they have worked so hard for. Even the evil force is in many ways ordinary. Because no one knows who the "Friend" is and because his followers are made up of everyday people, the person who offers the greatest threat could be a next-door neighbor, a coworker, or even a family member.

It's that overwhelming feeling of doom and suspicion that proves that Urasawa is a master of suspense. He builds the terror slowly, offering clues in one volume that do not pay off until later volumes. The story is always moving forward but is told by skipping back-and-forth in time. Bits from Kenji's and the others' pasts will be revisited when needed and Urasawa isn't afraid to make a huge leap forward, skipping what seems like an essential part of the tale. Readers have to trust that he will give them that information later, and he does, but in his own unique way. This is not a tale where you should read the back of the next volume or even look too closely at the cover. The enjoyment is in allowing the twists and turns of the plot to catch you by surprise. At one point there will be a humorous line and then, a mere page or two later, a terrifying or sobering image will hit you right between the eyes.

Urasawa is known for his more realistic and slightly noir style of drawing. Kenji and his friends each have a distinct look, one that is easy to identify, even when they are drawn as children, but they all also look like real people. Even the evildoers are as benign in appearance as the good people are, appropriate for a story where evil is not always easily identifiable. The only downfall of this masterful work is that, at 22 volumes, readers will have to wait for their next fix once they have finished a volume. But the building of anticipation is only fitting for a work that so subtly and gracefully builds tension and suspense.
-- Snow Wildsmith
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece Unfolding Before Me 20 May 2009
By lovelyduckie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This manga...is awesome! I can hardly remember the last time I felt THIS confident about the merit of a manga series only 1 volume in. Besides just my gut feeling, I expect it to continue to be awesome due to the fact that it's already completed its run in Japan (22 volumes) and has won the Kodansha, Japan Media Arts, and Shogakukan Manga awards. Not to mention that Naoki Urasawa is one of the rare and few manga artists in Japan that has the power and ability to pull off a series like this.

This series is going to be a masterpiece that falls together one little piece at a time. I can't help but admire series where almost every action has a meaning that plays in the background and eventually all these separate actions fall together to reveal a grand finale. I can't believe how well the author strings together so many stories without confusing the reader. I had been getting into too much of a rut lately with the manga I read (typical shonen/shoujo titles) and this series was a perfect wakeup call.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The plot intrigued me 20 Jan 2010
By J. Maxon - Published on Amazon.com
According to Wiki, this manga is a science fiction / mystery. It won the 2001 Kodansha Manga Award in the General category, an Excellence Prize at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival, and the 2003 Shogakukan Manga Award in the General category.

Sounded impressive so I checked it out.

Story overview:
We find ourselves moving between 1969 and 1997 (and perhaps the future?) The story follows the man-version and boy-version of Kenji, along with his friends from the present and the past. In the present, Kenji takes care of his sister's infant, Kanna, whom she abandoned before disappearing. Along with this he has taken over the family liquor store and turned it into a convenience store.

One day Kenji stumbles across a strange symbol of an eye in the center of a hand pointing upwards. He vaguely remembers this symbol from somewhere, but gives it little thought until one of his old childhood pals (Donkey) commits suicide. Shortly after receiving news of his friend, a letter from Donkey (apparently written shortly before his death) arrives asking Kenji if he remembered the symbol.

It appears as if a mysterious cult is using it as their logo. The man in charge is only ever seen in shadows, and is oddly known as "Friend." Kenji goes on a hunt to discover the meaning behind the symbol and find answers to Donkey's mysterious suicide. In the process he reunites with some of his childhood buddies (who came for the funeral) as they try and recall the past.

My thoughts:
At first I didn't care for the artwork, obnoxious characters, and the jumping back and forth between present and past, but by the end I saw the brilliance in it. The story is real. No, not real as in it really happened, but as in the situations, people, and dialog all being believable. In one sense this is a coming of age story; in another it is for adults to remember what it was like to be a child. The plot has intrigued me enough to make me want to check out the next volume.

Things to consider:
I have a hard time seeing this as being appropriate for children. Later teens perhaps, or young adult, but it just doesn't settle right for anyone younger. The age rating from Viz Media is: "TEEN PLUS. May be suitable for older teens and adults. For example, may contain intense and/or gory violence, sexual content, frequent strong language, alcohol, tobacco and/or other substance use." This does indeed contain most of those elements, except for gory violence and perhaps tobacco use (I can't remember). That said, strangely enough, these elements contributed well to the realism of the story rather than just being there for poor taste. This I'm willing to forgive as long as the audience is the right age group.

James D. Maxon
Author of Traphis: A Wizard's Tale
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally this awesome series comes to the USA! 22 Feb 2009
By Kris - Published on Amazon.com
Years ago, I read the fan translation of this story. I even picked up the Japanese versions of this when I was over there in 2006. The storytelling in this manga is amazing. The author keeps you on your feet at all times as to what is going on. I look forward for the whole series to be translated into English so that I can enjoy them without having to either read fan translations or muddle through it in the original Japanese. If you liked the manga/anime series Monster by this same author, you probably will love this one as well.
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