In 1969, Kenji, an elementary school kid and his friends built a secret base during their summer holidays. They fantasized that they had to fight villains who were out to conquer the world and wrote them in the Book of Prophecies. Years later in 1997, Kenji becomes a convenience store manager and leads a regular life after giving up his dreams to become a rock star. His boring life is suddenly turned upside down when his old classmate dies mysteriously and an entire family in the neighborhood disappears. At the same time, a religious cult and its mysterious leader, Friend emerges and a strange chain of events duplicating exactly the events described in the Book of Prophecies follow.Written by
Could 20th Century Boys be the Japanese Watchmen? Like in the case of Alan Moore's masterpiece, Urasawa's sprawling story covers the cultural myths and obsessions of the past century: from the nuclear catastrophe following the war to the western cultural influences, conformism and totalitarian tendencies, the demilitarized, defenseless Japan, the economic boom of the sixties . Even a touch of mecha and the pervasiveness of media in society.
Judging the movie, however, can be more difficult: its competently shot and acted, but like most transpositions, it makes its manga origin very clear, which can be appalling for the manga-illiterate in the audience, which at the projections I was sighed, left early or giggled in all the wrong places. Sound editing was awful, but it might be a result of the copy I saw.
Where the film could use some help is in the editing. Fans will appreciate the attempt to be faithful to the original source, but movies simply work in a different way: act II is too long, and the final climax and resolution is reduced to a few choppy scenes. It might definitely look better when parts 2 and 3 are released.
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