Synonyms: 20 Seiki Shounen, Nijuu Seiki Shounen, Nijuusseiki Shounen, 20thCB
Published: Sep 27, 1999 to Apr 24, 2006
Authors: Urasawa, Naoki (Story & Art)
Serialization: Big Comic Spirits
Score: 9.091 (scored by 9507 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top manga page.
Popular Tagsdrama mystery sci-fi seinen
Apr 6, 2013
Story(10/10): To make a long story short 20th Century Boys tells the tale of Kenji Endo, a failed rock star in his 30's living and working with his mother at a convenience store, all while taking care of his abandoned niece. One day Kenji starts to realize a crazy cult on the rise, with world domination as their agenda and rallying behind a symbol Kenji created as a child. With the mysterious death of a childhood friend being linked to this cult, Kenji recruits his old childhood gang to save the world and unlock the mystery around the cult known as "Friend", and take back their childhood symbol! The plot of 20th Century Boys might sound silly at first to some, a group of childhood friends have to team up and save the world from an unknown cult leader that has a mysterious connection to them, but I assure you it isn't silly at all. It's about ordinary people doing extraordinary things to save mankind as we know it. The plot is very serious but never tries to act more mature or complex then it actually is, and even throws a good amount of hilarious comic relief with the relationship between Kyoko, a innocent high school student targeted by this insane cult, and a homeless man named God, that can see into the future. The mangaka Naoki Urasawa has to be applauded for the complexity of the plot in 20th Century Boys, he can have multiple story lines and sub-plots in different timelines dealing with various themes or just moving the story forward all at the same time. Urasawa also makes a lot of pop-culture references, allusions to older anime and manga series from the 70's and early 80's, and even allusions to blues music history and the legend of Robert Johnson, a blues player that sold his soul to the devil. Lastly the themes, the themes in this manga range from the nostalgia and innocents of being a child, identity, politics, the power of music, redemption, self-sacrifice, and much much more, however the beauty of 20th Century Boys is its so open to interpretation, the meaning of its work can change from reader to reader, but some themes are universal.
Art(9/10): Not much to say here the artwork is simply beautiful and unique, you can't confuse Naoki Urasawa's artwork with any other artist. The facial features are the best part of his artwork, when someone is consumed by overwhelming fear, or is just very anger you know it just by looking at their face, words don't need to be said.
Characters(9/10): The characters are amazing in 20th Century Boys, I can't even think of one character I hated or thought was written badly, which is very rare for me. The main cast gets great development during the series, the main antagonist had complex motivations for being "evil", the side characters never felt useless, and everyone plays their part well in the story. Most of the characters represented some larger idea or theme and the conflict between said characters tend to be a battle of opposing ideologies. The only real flaw I can think of is that some side characters aren't that realistic and sometimes do some irrational actions to act as a plot device to move the story forward.
Enjoyment(10/10): 20th Century Boys kept me on the edge of my seat for over 249 chapters! That is more than what most longer series can say, such as the more famous series like Bleach or Naruto that lose steam after a point, 20th Century Boys never felt old or repetitive. The mystery and thriller was always there even until the very end, and I literally marathoned the series in a few seatings, it was that addictive. I found myself saying just "one more chapter" and before I even realized it, it was already 4 a.m. and I had school in a few hours!
Overall(10/10): I don't give out 10's like free candy only to the best of the best get them, and 20th Century Boys is in a class of it's own. The story is easy to pick up and get sucked into while still being complex and mature. I don't wanna sound like some fan boy but no one should let this one slip by, it is truly a masterpiece!
On a final note I hope this review makes you want to check out 20th Century Boys if you haven't already, and also give me some feedback as well so I can know what to do better next time I write a review, Thanks!
Until next time: "Justice Never Dies." - Kenji Endo (20th Century Boys) read more
Jan 6, 2009
While the whole "saving the world" kind of storyline isn't anything new, it does it so well that it makes the reader so engrossed in the story and not want to stop reading. The switch between timelines are done so well that it hardly leaves you confused on what is going on. There are so many twist and turns in the story which makes nearly every chapter such an enjoyable read.
The art is quite detailed and even as the art was already quite good from the start, as it goes on it steadily improves. I have to say Urusawa's distinct art style definitely is growing on me as it's such a refreshing treat compared to the sea of "Moe" that is pretty common in anime and manga.
My favourite aspect of 20th Century Boys has to be the cast of characters and their development through out the story. All of them have interesting traits and everyone was given a time to shine.
There isn't much cliched character archetypes here, most of the characters act mostly realistically so no annoying tsunderes etc. One example would be Yoshitsune as at the beginning he would seem like one of those stereotypical anime characters with glasses which are usually really weak and cowardly but it turns out he was the one that really stood up for his friends and always tried to do everything to help them.
The main character, Kenji seemed like the most "normal" out of all the characters, while some people would find him boring and they'd probably like Otcho (Kenji's best friend) more but honestly there isn't anyone more suited that him to be the main character since he's the most normal and easiest to relate to.
I saw 20th Century Boys ranked quite highly here in MAL and I'm glad I gave it a chance. It's truly a masterpiece in my eyes. It's highly recommendable and I can't even say it enough you HAVE to check this manga out. After finishing it I literally just took my time thinking about what an amazing manga I just read.
Also how can you not want to read a manga that has a villian called Friend and a homeless guy called God. read more
Aug 16, 2007
Years later, they find themselves leading ordinary, unglamorous lives, their dreams of greatness long-buried under the dust of adult pragmatism. But then strange deaths caused by a mysterious virus begin occurring, and murders and disappearances occur one after another. Then one of their number becomes one of the dead, and all the clues point Kenji to a mysterious man who calls himself "Tomodachi (Friend)," who uses as his sign a symbol known only to Kenji's circle of friends.
As the scale of damage and the number of deaths rapidly increase, Kenji realizes that all the terrors are occurring as he had once set down on paper, in a story he and his friends had written, and buried in the time capsule they had sworn over.
20th Century Boys is difficult for me to summarize without giving too much away, but even if I were to divulge half of its secrets, we would still not be anywhere near solving the mystery of "Friend" and of his motives.
At first glance, 20thCB seems to be a crude shounen manga that would probably not appeal to everyone, judging by the artwork alone. But it is not. True, there are no pretty boys or girls to easily fangirl (or boy) over in this series, but this kind of story does not need exaggerated, surreal beauty in its artwork to survive. This truly is a graphic novel, where the plot moves with speed, certainty, and intelligence rather than rely on hundreds of feathers and cherry blossoms to depict angst and drama. The art is actually pretty polished as well, the inking clean and deliberate, and the panels arranged simply but effectively. Like movies these days, many manga artists tend to rely on "special effects" or glamorous art rather than plot to attract readers, but 20thCB has enough plot that any eye candy would just be a bonus.
Character development in 20thCB is also something I liked. Kenji grows and changes as the series progresses, and so do the other characters. The dynamics between the friends are believable, and their heroism so simple and understated.
I can't really find much to say about this manga, simply because it's so good and interesting and I probably wouldn't be able to do it much justice. But if you're looking for a fast-paced intelligent plot, masterfully created characters, and a mystery that can have you at the edge of your seat, then give this series a chance. read more
Dec 8, 2007
From the beginning of the manga it is already clear what already happened and so the story just basically reveals, bit by bit, explaining the events that took place. However you have to be prepared for some major plot twists. What is so interesting about the story, is that it is set in different timelines (Childhood Era, Adult Era and Friend Era), which gives more insight into the characters and events that took place. However it is very hard to follow these different timelines, because it feels like reading a story within a story. Yet after a while it is easy to get used to it and there are plenty of plot twist and unexpected surprises a long the way.
The characters of 20th Century Boys are an essential part of the story, because it is basically about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Even though the characters may not be well defined, in the beginning, they are incredibly well developed. The only problem is that there are a lot of characters to remember and a lot of different timelines to keep track of them in.
The artwork is pretty amazing as it has the same sketchy style as Urasawa’s other works. The environments have a lot of detail put into them and the only problem I just that the character designs can be too sketchy. This means that subtle changes in facial expressions can be unnoticed; on the other hand the characters have well defined facial features that allows you to tell them apart, once you get used to it.
Overall 20th Century Boys is a manga that brings a whole new meaning to regular people trying to save the world, from evil villains? As I started this manga I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t know why it was so popular, but I’m glad I found out. However from reading this manga I have learned the terrible truth; Good will not always prevail over Evil. That’s what made this manga so frustrating to read, at times, but very addicting at the same time. So if you’re a manga fan, then 20th Century Boys is a must read. read more
Dec 19, 2009
The Story of the manga isn't something new,but really it's something special even it the 21 century ;) It's about Kenji and a group of his friends which create their own "shelter" in which they go when they feel anxious or have their own problems.They have a lot of fights with other children,but there they feel protected from everything doesn't matter what is it.While Kenji is there with his friends they are talking to each other a lot and are thinking a lot of stories which they write in a notebook.Even at that time when they are together they don't know that every their action will really change their live sooner or later.Every their word,action or decision really changes their lives.At the beginning of the manga the story is based on Kenji who is has a lot of work and he is having a hard live.His sister gives a birth to a child and leaves.So Kenji have to take care of his niece and turn her into a good person ,who will have a normal life.While struggling with his position in life he notices a number of events that remind him of his childhood and not after a while he gets involved in a great adventure with a lot of plot twists.
The art of the manga is fantastic.It's the well known style of the manga artist.The characters are drawn simply,but in the same time they are very detailed.The artwork is really on a very high level and not even for a moment there is something even at the background that is drawn bad.Really the consistency of the art is breathtaking.The main characters aren't made with gigantic breasts or big muscles,but after a few chapters you couldn't see them drawn in another way they are so well chosen and well based.
The Characters is making one of the differences with the other mangas in the same genre.Their character development is despite their role in the story isn't slowed up even for a moment in the whole manga.At first glance the main characters don't have the superpowers which could help them with their fight with the "evil",but their have something even better - Charisma.Kenji is one of the best leading characters in the mangas,but he is not the best in the manga the thing that really catches the eyes is the Kanna character.She is one of the most complete woman/girl characters in the whole manga history.She isn't made the kind of girl that could not live without help from somewhere.She is strong and in the same time she's having the brain.She isn't doing something stupid without thinking.Every her action is very well thought before that.
20 century boys is really something you should really have to read.Despite that the volumes are 22 you wouldn't feel for a minute how you are reading chapter after chapter just to understand what is going to happen at the end. read more
Jul 22, 2009
The story in 20th Century Boy is a strange one, and can be quite self-contradicting at times. It revolves around a group of childhood friends (there grown up now) who used to hang out at there secret base, reading Manga, listening to the Radio, and just having fun. One day one of the boys called Kenji decided to start righting his own Manga plot, revolving around a hero who would have to save the world from a virus and a giant robot. A simple childish story at first, however in the future when the events starting happening in reality, and the symbol they used for their fort is being used by a strange cult-like leader called "Friend", Kenji quickly finds out that something is wrong. Being the ones who created it, Kenji and his group of friends that knew about the story (or the ones who he managed to gather), now are the only people who can save the world. A save the world plot, that quickly contradicts itself with characters referencing that they can't just be ride out there and be a hero, like in Shounen stories. It quickly moves itself into being an amazing plot, with one big question, who is Friend?
As much as I loved the series though, and Friend himself, Friend is one of the my major complaints about the series. I understand people like Kenji and his friends reason for going against Friend, but what about Friend? Is he just some freak that wants to have fun, so he starts killing of people and trying to put an end to the world. I wanted to feel more of a back-story from Friend than him just having a little fun by killing people and watching other people try to stop him. To me along with the shallow music references, it was one of the letdowns of an amazing story, and seemed rather a pointless villain, even though I can't help but love a crazy guy who makes people call him Friend. Some people might not care about a back-story, but I guess that just comes down to a matter of opinion.
The art was probably the best part of this series, if I base it off of my ratings that is. The art was wonderfully drawn, moments like the first two pages of Chapter 100, not only stand out in my mind for the amazing script, but the drawing was beautiful to behold. Most of the characters didn't even look that great, but I still found myself stopping the reading for a second to gaze upon the beautiful drawings in the Manga, and I never got tired of doing it. Even now I love going back and looking at Chapter 100, the mysterious aura, the music reference, and the great drawings all tied together, and it helped give it that feeling of greatness, and is one of my favorite things about it.
The characters are another one of my favorite parts of the story, though I seem to be saying that for everything. The main character, though absent for a good amount of the series, is a great lead. If there is one line that I remember in that show, it will be what he said to the young guitarist at the crossroads. The other character's also prove to be great characters, from the strange villain of Friend and his twisted and confused servants, the group of childhood friends, and most notably, the hobo called God. God is one of the best characters of the entire series, and his mix of humor and foresight, plus the name, makes him always entraining when he shows up. That's not to say we don't have problems, as I said sometimes the Villains can seem rather pointless, one of my biggest dislikes of the series. However even if they seem pointless, I can't deny that they have some great moments, and if they did have a reason, then I would probably have loved them.
20th Century Boy is a story that has it all, great art, unique and great story, amazing scripting, great characters, amusing references, and most importantly, is just an extremely enjoyable read. As I stated before I can't say I agree with the #1 ranking that is given to on this site, but I don't mind, because Urasawa, once again, presented us with a great story filled with mystery, thrills, drama, and those little hints at other genres like Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life, etc. It's all there, and 20th Century Boy is certainly worth reading. read more
Feb 23, 2009
The story will capture your imagination, refusing to let go until you finish. (I read it twice in as many years; both occasions barely allowed me to complete the neccessary tasks of my life for those couple weeks I spent reading.) "20th Century Boys" does not attempt to transcend its melodramatic model, but it is an all-the-more-praiseworthy effort as a result. Simply put, Naoki Urasawa is a master of melodrama and plays the reader like a puppet. You root for the good guys and hiss at the seamingly unbeatable evils they face.
The great scope of the story lends itself to the enjoyment. It combines the summer antics of school children with twist-and-turn mystery and against-all-odds action that span from the nostalgic '60s to present times and even into the future.You will sink into this massive, expansive, epic world and feel every triumph, loss, joy, and tragedy beset upon its many characters.
On the technical side, Naoki Urasawa's phenomenal cartooning skills lend themselves to every emotional and dramatic turn of his story. Every location and scene distinctly communicates the appropriate tone to ensnare the reader. Even more impressive is the mangaka's character renderings; in a story with too many characters to count, you will know exactly who's who by their distinct features and gestures.
If any complaint about "20th Century Boys" exists, it must be the ending. After such an engrossing, roller coaster of a story, the end seems more like a crashing hault. However, this criticism is unfair; for such a great, epic story, any conclusion would fail to suffice. The real dissappointment is that the story ends at all. read more
Jan 18, 2011
The art is great. The characters and environments have a consistent and interesting style, and the drawings are a pleasure to look at. Urasawa-sensei does a great job at keeping the physical look of the characters consistent and recognizable at different ages. If there are any complaints to be had, it's that a couple of the characters look rather cartoonish compared to the scenery they're placed against, and that some of the women are hard to tell apart.
While 20th Century Boys has a large menagerie of characters, they lack any real personality and are mostly defined by their physical characteristics (i.e. Yoshitsune is timid and has small eyes, Maruo is fat, Keroyon looks like a frog, etc). I fear that the creator was too focused on involving the characters with the plot that the audience is never given time to share in the experience of the characters and connect to them on an emotional level. Even the heroine of the story is never placed in a recognizable human situation (i.e. having a crush, being pressured by school or work, dealing with a friend in trouble). She's just a fearless, determined go-getter, and we can only guess at where her unbridled confidence comes from, since we're never shown. Koizumi is perhaps the only character who acts rationally, and she simply serves as comic relief. I must say that having "normal human behavior" be comical is telling of the story.
The story follows a cyclic pattern of A Revelation / We Save The Day (at least, for now). Since this is a mystery at its core, the Revelations concern clues as to the identity of friend or his next evil plot. The "Who's the culprit? Find out next week!" scenario can be interesting, but it's extended throughout the entire manga and soon becomes tedious. Since there aren't many characters to care about, their actions and speeches more or less pad out the long trip to the closing action of a conflict.
I have a problem with accepting conspiracy theories. It's difficult to believe that so many people in different levels of the plot are "in on" the conspiracy. Even more difficult to explain is the motivations of the conspirators, and moreover, their reasons for not rebelling against the plot or spilling the beans. 20th Century Boys waves a hand over the issue of millions of people blindly following the evil "Friend". There are quite a few plot threads that are left hanging by the end, but ultimately all the audience wants to know the identity and motivations of Friend, and I must say that this is handled brilliantly.
Love, Peace, & Rock'n'Roll
20th Century Boys makes numerous reference to classic American rock bands and world events, such as the lunar landing and Woodstock. Rock reverberates through the story and gives it a unique style. The rock and hippie vibe exuded by 20th Century Boys is perhaps its most endearing trait.
It's hard to say whether the bands mentioned are reflective of Urasawa-sensei's own taste, but he does thrust three manga artists into the story who act as his mouthpiece for the hardships faced by manga artists. They exist to showcase "Friend"'s suppression and censoring of the arts, but for me the mangaka were a constant reminder that I was, in fact, reading a manga. I'm still not sure whether creating such blatantly autobiographical characters is appropriate or distracting, but I will note that the ratio of manga artist characters to main characters is about 1:5.
I don't recommend 20th Century Boys to the passing manga fan. The concept is very interesting and the events of the story are a fun ride, but ultimately it's stretched out to a tedious length. However, if you want to buckle down and enjoy a manga for a while, 20th Century Boys is worth it. read more
Apr 13, 2009
Perhaps the manga is so good because the story is not really about saving the world, but about friendship and youth memories. Bonds with old friends and how every person has his own qualities. The many side-characters are all like real people, with real lives and etc.And what makes this maga very special are all the 'memories'. In these flashbacks you see the characters when they were young. This really makes you understand and love them more.
About the story: As I said it is about saving the world. Someone in Kenji's (Kenji is the main character) youth has become a psycopath. Who is it? Who is this bad guy who calls himself 'friend'? That question really keeps you reading and reading. Untill you finally'll know who it is. And after that moment, the time skips fifteen years further. I don't want to spoil anything, but after a certain moment when the story is about the future, the whole serie loses his power. There isn't any tension anymore. Some characters who were lost get found and that is really fun to read, but the stoy just loses his tension. The mystery seems solved and there isn't anything you want to know anymore. It still was a good read, but compared to rest of the manga it is just worse.
The art was really realistic and not fantasy-like. I didn't bother because this was a serious manga. There were some nice pictures and everything was drawn realistic. Not very special, the artist didn't made an own world for this manga. But it was still very nice drawn and o.k.
The Characters were outstanding and the best part of this manga. It were the characters that made this manga so fantastic. You'll love them and nearly cry when someone is about to die or whatever. After reading this, I feel like I've made new friends, no matter how lifeless that may sound.
I enjoyed reading this, altough the story in the last part of the manga is little worse than the rest. But still worth a 9, certainly!!!!! read more
Oct 25, 2010
Story: First of all just like Monster, the story is far too long for its own good. There are 2 or 3 points where it could have been ended satisfactorily, but it lurched back to its feet and kept plodding along for many more volumes.
The contents of the story are very simple. Man is trying to destroy the world, people try to stop man from destroying the world. To be fair, the fact that I read all the way to the end tells you that Urusawa keeps you wondering what happens next, but god it's such a waste of time. You keep anticipating something mind-blowing, but the only really interesting revelation in the whole story is Friend's identity.
Basically, what we have here is and endlessly drug-out story like Bleach or Naruto without any of the flashy bits or fanservice that make them popular. The moments that make you stand up in your chair and go "hell yeah!" are few and far between. The second half in particular is very blatantly milking it for all it's worth.
Art: Urusawa's art style is unique, but it's not for everybody. Personally I find it very bland and uninteresting. He is particularly good at drawing facial expressions, and he really conveys they characters' emotions well, but as far as manga artists go, he's pretty mediocre.
Character: A symptom of the story being too long, there are too many characters. Because of Urusawa's semi-realistic art style, some of them end up looking really similar and it becomes very confusing by the end. Since there are so many, their personalities are somewhat shallow. The main cast is fairly solid and there are a few likeable characters in there, but I feel like the story would have been served better by a smaller, more interesting cast.
Enjoyment/Overall: I was disappointed, considering how highly-rated this series is. If you're looking for something to kill time, you could do much worse, but I wouldn't recommend putting this very high on your priority list. read more