5.25.2011

20th Century Boys: 07

This volume centers mainly on manga artist Kakuta and Shogun/Otcho breaking out of Umihotaro Prison in the New Tokyo of 2014. The self-referential bits of this series are really entertaining, for example during the breakout, Kakuta stop and notices that the scene they’re in would be “good material for a manga.” It’s also become something of a predictable pattern where flashbacks can now be counted on to inform current events, such as the dangerous game Kenji and Otcho play in the pool as kids. It all leads up to the principle Otcho remembers of “his belief that he was right was stronger than his fear.” The juxtaposition of the 1970 World Expo the gang ate up as kids and their innocent dreams of the 21st century now being dashed is a really nice mismatch of nostalgia and reality. I enjoyed seeing that Kamisama was still around, and as the richest person in Japan no less, complete with space flight. We finally get to see some details of the actions during Bloody New Year’s Eve on 12/31/2000 as Kamisama informs new character Koizumi for her research paper on The Kenji Faction, and Shogun fills in Kakuta during their prison escape. As The Kenji Faction enters FDP HQ while the robot rampages, the shot of Otcho discharging a round in the control room is an arresting visual. Kenji hesitates and Fukube surprisingly steps up to take charge, in the end managing only to confirm that Friend is not Sadakiyo and sacrificing himself in the process. It’s interesting to note how pervasive the disinformation campaign is at the hands of the conspiratorial FDP; for an entire generation, kids are being taught the reverse of what The Kenji Faction and The Friends actually did. Unless it’s all an elusive red herring, and the two groups are just one and the same. In any case, I’m continually moved by Kenji’s group and how they all inspire each other with friendship, fried rice, music appreciation, their inclusive nature, healthy competition, humor, or bravery. What a great group of friends. The cliffhanger here is solid. We see the Prime Minister in an Operations Center contending with the ultimate spectre of radioactivity right as the truck full of dynamite is about to detonate under the belly of the beast, and we cut away to the next volume!

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