the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘flashbacks

 

I talked briefly about this graphic novel the other day,  and now I’m gonna talk about it some more!  20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa was serialized between 1999 and 2006.  This is worth buying the omnibus editions, each one is around $18 and includes three-ish volumes.

 

 

think back to your childhood.  Did you and your friends have a secret hide out? maybe a treehouse, or behind a garden shed?  Did you come up with play acting adventures with your friends? Maybe one of you (or all of you!) were superheroes?

 

I’ll come back to that in a minute, but first I want to talk about the art style of 20th Century Boys.    Urasawa’s art style is fairly realistic,  and there is a ton of detail.  Much of the first volume takes place out doors,  there is just the right amount of detail (in my opinion) of the landscape – backyards, trees,  walking through a shopping district, etc.   There are tons of references to 60s and 70s rock music, and to world events that happened during that time.   I don’t know all the correct art terms, I just know that I like this style a lot!  With all the detail, you can reread over and over,  and you’ll always find something that you didn’t notice the last time.

here is a nice piece of full color art at the beginning of the first volume:

 

 

ok, back to what I started with:

sounds like you had a similar childhood to Kenji and his friends. In the late 1960s, their “hang out” was a spot in an empty field.   They made up stories, listened to rock music on a portable radio, dreamt of joining a rock band, and did all the normal silly things that 12 year olds do.  They even came up with a secret symbol:

 

I think readers of any age will enjoy 20th Century Boys, but I think readers of a certain age,  say, 40 years and older, will especially appreciate it.  Our childhood memories are fuzzy,  we know we hid in tree houses, or in alleyways, we know we made up stories with our friends, but it’s been enough years that we don’t remember the specifics.

 

In the first volume, most of the story line takes place in the late 90s.  Kenji is grown up and is managing his family’s convenience store. He’s still friends with Keroyon and few of his other childhood friends, but he’s completely lost touch with Donkey and Yukiji.  When Kenji learns that Donkey has committed suicide, he goes to the funeral in shock.  Why would happily married Donkey jump off a building to his death? And why did Donkey sent Kenji a letter right before he died?

 

A bunch of friends who are drawn back together after one of them kills themself, and they have to remember what they did as children?   This sounds like it could be a Stephen King novel, doesn’t it?

 

But the world doesn’t stop because some rando jumped off a building.  Thanks to the newspapers sold in Kenji’s store, we get a view of strange happenings in the world – religious cults,  unsolved disapearances, terrorism, mysterious diseases,  and even stranger,  more and more people are using the symbol that Kenji thought was their childhood secret.

Read the rest of this entry »


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.