I can’t recommend manga and not recommend this. To leave it out of any list would be a travesty, because it is that good.
20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa, is, hands-down, one of the best-written suspense (drama?) mangas out there. It’s part of the seinen genre, which basically means “older boys.” But, like most good manga, it’s appeal reaches far beyond it’s target audience. After all, I’m not a young boy! I don’t think, anyways..
When I say drama, I mean an entirely different kind of drama than Nana had. Nana’s drama was mainly of the omg-relationship!! and omg-scandal!! variety, whereas 20th Century Boys have almost no (romantic) relationships to be found. Instead, 20th Century Boys is packed full of drama and suspense, of the omg-what-is-going-to-happen-next!! variety.
It’s such a page-turner! I literally could not put these books down, and spent weeks reading them back to back, until the very end. It isn’t even the sort of manga that I usually like! Very few girls, virtually no romance, and the artwork is amazing, but not the style that I usually like. Keep reading, though, to find out why I love it so much!!
The story begins in 1990, and revolves around a group of school friends who are now grown-up and have basically parted ways. The main character, Kenji, now works at his family’s convenience store and for the most part doesn’t talk to any of his old friends. Until one day, he hears that one of them had committed suicide.
The suicide of one of his old friends prompts Kenji to research into what happened to an otherwise happy kid, and along the way he stumbles onto traces of adoomsday cult led by a mysterious masked man known only as “Friend.”
Not only that, but Kenji feels as if he’s seen the cult’s symbol somewhere before:
The funny thing is: all of these things were coming true, now. Is this mysterious “friendship cult” behind it? Who is “friend?” Kenji gathers together what he can of the old gang, along with a few new helpers, and sets out to solve the mystery.
Who would have thought, though, that Kenji would get framed for some of these crimes, and have to go on the run as a fugitive?
The story of the series spans 24 volumes of manga, and more than 30 years of timeline. Like I said, it’s one of those stories that you just can’t put down. You have to keep reading until the very end!!
Oh yes, and there is also a movie trilogy that came out recently that is very, very well done! If it wasn’t in Japanese, I could have mistaken it for a big-budget Hollywood movie, and I can’t think of another Japanese movie that I would ever say that about!
(Also lucky: it’s available in English! I swear, publishers are getting smarter!)
So, what are you waiting for?! Beg, buy, borrow, or do whatever you need to get this story in your hands, because I don’t think that there are many people who would be disappointed by it! I can’t recommend it enough!!