The Face Behind the Mask
OK, this is simple. “20th Century Boys” is pretty much the greatest ongoing series currently getting an English release. Really. It is amazing. And if you aren’t reading it, you should be.
Urasawa Naoki (Monster, Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl) is a genius, and everything he touches is pure gold. The more I read of his work, the more shallow and lifeless other manga seems by comparison. Urasawa is one of those rare creators that has a complete and total grasp of the genre of comic books. He knows how to balance out loose, cartoony art with flawless realism. His storyteller skills are simply incredible; he can lead the reader down exactly the paths he wants you to follow, dropping clues you never see until the second or third time reading the book, and surprise you at every turn.
If you love manga, or comics at all, or just great storytelling, then you should be reading “20th Century Boys.” Plain and simple.
Now, onto Volume 10. It is, of course, a masterpiece. Everything about it, every panel, every paragraph, is perfect. Do I gush? Of course I do. And rightfully so.
The focus in Volume 10 is on Koizumi Kyoko, freshly back from Friendland although not as re-educated as the Dream Navigators would like. In school she tries to make contact with her classmate Endo Kanna, but Kanna blows her off leaving Kyoko to go slowly mad. Kyoko saw something she wasn’t supposed to see at Friendland. She saw the face behind the mask. And that knowledge and the horror it holds is too much for her to handle alone. But her erratic behavior is drawing eyes, and the Dream Navigators see everything.
If you have seen the films, Volume 10 coincides with the second of the 20th Century Boys films. This is an emotional chapter, with too many good surprises for me to ruin for you in a review.
Just trust me. Read it. It will blow your mind.