This is kinda long winded and I don’t suppose it really matters but here’s how I came across 20th Century Boys. To begin with, I hadn’t ever read a manga before, I was far too much of a literary snob to take any interest in them in spite of my avid interest in Japanese culture.
So it was with some reluctance that recommendations from James Mielke formerly of 1UP now working at Q Entertainment in Japan inspired me to give manga a chance. In one of his blog posts he recommended both Death Note and Monster. I picked up Death Note and devoured it as quickly as I could obtain it, it flagged a little towards the end but I continued to enjoy it immensely.
After finishing Death Note, I thought I’d give the less immediately interesting Monster a try. This was a story about a Japanese doctor working at a German hospital, hardly the stuff to grab my attention the same way Death Note did. However with some perseverance I grew to look forward to reading through the series and after a trip around Europe found some of the settings a lot more personal.
So with my discovery and enjoyment of Monster I thought I’d have a look at what else had been written by it’s creator, Naoki Urasawa and came across 20th Century Boys which was apparently concurrently written with Monster. I had planned to pick it up to read until I heard that it’d just been released at the cinema as one of the most expensive projects in Japanese film history.
Which brings me to the trilogy of films based on the manga 20th Century Boys. Knowing nothing about the series, the first film “Beginning Of The End” seemed especially promising and I thought the character of Friend was intriguing, unfortunately it unravels in the later half with ridiculous robots, the second film “The Last Hope” was poorer still and the final instalment “The Last Chapter” is sadly equally bad.
I had hoped to enjoy the series and as a completist felt obliged to watch the collection of films but it has that overwrought Japanese acting style that I find takes me out of the film experience. A shame because the storyline of childhood friends and the cult of Friend could have been a much more interesting affair. Instead it’s frankly ridiculous. A shame.