As of writing this article, I just finished this manga and oh boy, I am still recovering. Judging from the rating and reviews I thought 20th Century Boys would be another cool thriller, sort of detective manga. But man, I was wrong. I never expected to walk away completely shocked from a manga like this. I still can’t get the plot out of my head, then again it is a Urasawa work so I was a fool to expect anything different.
So welcome back to another edition of our manga recommendation series! Let’s talk about 20th Century Boys today! I picked up this manga fairly recently, mostly based on its ratings and reviews everywhere. But now, I really do understand why this manga is held in such high regard. So let’s get started.
20th Century Boys or 20CB is written and illustrated by Urasawa Naoki. It was published in the Big Comic Spirits magazine from September 1999 to April 2006. It is 249 chapters or 22 volumes long which is, quite substantial but I promise it is well worth the read. The manga also has a few side stories and a short epilogue, 21st Century Boys. I highly recommend checking out 21CB after finishing this.
How do I even begin describing the plot of this manga? So 20th Century Boys follows Kenji who had big dreams for his life as a kid but ended up working as a normal convenience store manager. One day, his childhood friends start getting targeted by a mysterious organization and they are after him as well. After a series of events, Kenji realizes that everything the organization does is based on a story he and his friends wrote as children and buried in a time capsule. That is an oversimplification of the plot, but I have no idea how to even explain it in a short paragraph.
Now I know, it sounds confusing here but that is because as I said, I have no idea how, to sum up, this complicated plot in a small paragraph. That should give an idea for the theme of the manga though. Calling this manga “dark” would be a massive understatement. The story is very interesting and has a lot of awesome plot twists but it is bleak as hell too. Urasawa is such a chad too, he pulls off shit you’d never expect and leave you completely shocked.
20th Century Boys doesn’t have a lot of characters but the ones it does have are really really well-written. Now the antagonist, Tomodachi is an amazing character. He is always a mystery but when his identity and motivations are revealed, it hits really hard. It is divisive but it is very fitting to the theme. Kenji compared to Tomodachi is a less “impactful” character but he is also really written and developed. The side cast is really really good and they help Kenji grow as well.
20th Century Boys has a very down-to-earth art style. It is not as overwhelming or detail-rich as a lot of other good sci-fi mangas but that somehow favors the plot more. Because the details on the characters are excruciatingly realistic and you can almost feel their anguish just by looking at them. I don’t think everyone will like the art style but, it is something that I really appreciate.
Why should you read 20th Century Boys?
Quick pointers on why you should check out this manga:
- Great plot
- Lots of twists
- Really well paced
- Great characters
Well, that is all I have for now. Let me know what you guys think in the comments, 20CB is definitely a really good thriller manga. So yeah, I will take leave here. See ya!!