20 Mensou ni Onegai!! is a about a nine-year-old boy named Ijuuin Akira who steals beautiful and valuable objects to please his two mothers and is known to the public as the dashing, clever thief named the Man of 20 Faces.
By day Ijuuin Akira is a normal student at Clamp School, but at night he becomes the mysterious thief 20 Masks. His thefts are usually subject to the whims of his two stepmothers, which Akira pulls off without any true objections or interactions. One night Akira ducks into the room of 5-year-old Ookawa Utako in an attempt to hide from the police. Although the pair shares a four-year age difference, they find themselves quickly falling for each other even as Akira finds himself being increasingly more involved with thefts, some of which include Utako's family. This as well as several other obstacles give the young couple's budding relationship a fair amount of difficulty.
The storyline of 20 Mensou ni Onegai!! occurs simultaneously with both CLAMP Gakuen Tanteidan and Gakuen Tokukei Duklyon. As demonstrated by a conversation between Nokoru and Suou which also takes place in CLAMP Gakuen Tanteidan, while in Duklyon Akira and Utako appear at their age as they do in 20 Mensou ni Onegai!!.
The manga took inspiration from the works of Edogawa Rampo, most notably from Kaijin Nijuu Mensou (The Fiend with Twenty Faces).
The manga has been published in English by TokyoPop on May 6, 2003 and Jul 15, 2003 respectively.
While far from being Clamp's best or most memorable work, Man of Many Faces (20 Mensou ni Onegai) is an incredibly adorable, light hearted story and good for a fun read.
Man of Many Faces follows the adventured (or misadventures) of 9 year old Akira Ijyuin who attends Clamp School by day, and by night becomes a legendary thief. He lives with his two beautiful, but very childish and demanding mothers, and steals for them whenever they ask him to, keeping them happy. It is on one of these escapades that, while running from the police, meets 5 (later 6) year old Utako Okawa who he
befriends, and falls in love with.
Man of Many Faces crosses over and occurs simultaneously with Clamp School Detectives and Duklyon though it is not necessary to read those two mangas to enjoy this one. Characters from the first two mentioned series also appear as 18 years olds in Clamp's tragic masterpiece, X as they take place in the same "Clamp universe". And again, Akira and his two best friends from Clamp School Detectives appear (in their alternate universe selves) in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Once again, it is not necessary to read all of these other works to enjoy Man of Many Faces.
The manga is only 2 volumes long and filled with simple stories that are not masterfully created nor deep in plot, but are still good for a romp, and a fun story nonetheless.
While famous thieves have been told about in countless animes and mangas, Clamp's spin on this well versed theme is still an enjoyable, albeit silly read.
Far from being ranked as Clamp's greatest tale, this is still a whimsical, adorable, fun and sweet read for anyone who wants a simple story to pass the time with.
★ Story (6) - The story is not intricate nor well thought out, and many of the situations are silly and outrageous. Despite that, its still amusing and readable.
★ Art (8) - This is Clamp, so good art is pretty much absolute in their series. While being an older series, it is drawn very well, with a somewhat old-fashioned late 80's/early 90's style. Though Clamp's artwork can be an acquired taste, the art in this is very appealing.
★ Character (7) - As it is a very short series, the characters do not have time to be truly fleshed out nor developed and some remain incredibly shallow. However, the characters are still very appealing, likable and adorable (especially Akira and Utako) and the side characters are funny, if somewhat flat. The children in this story are all very wise beyond their years, and put the silly adults to shame with their insight.
★ Enjoyment (7) - While not for everyone, the series is still an enjoyable read and good for a rainy day in which you need a simple story that warms you up.
★ Overall (7) - While the story's not the greatest, fun, likable characters, pretty art and whimsical (if outrageous) plot make this an overall fun read. You won't find a series, mind numbing and moving story here, but you will find a lot of humor and a cheerful theme that will surely bring a smile to your face.
Honestly ? It's far to be the best CLAMP work. This kind of story has already been used and there's nothing original in here. 20 Masks outfit reminds me too much of Kaito Kid which is also a bad point and well, I think the relationship between the two maincharacters is simply unbelievable. It just seems weird... The art isn't really the best either.
That apart you have the typical characters : one chara who ALWAYS want to catch the thief, the thief always being able to escape; and overall each chapter seems the same, there's not the slightest surprise, so I do not get the
feeling anything is happening at all. In other words : boring. Kaito Kid, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Cat's Eyes and DN Angel are far better mangas of this genre.
For those who are lazy to read : not worth reading.