20th century boys

Did you ever build a fort and pretend to save the world? What would you do if years later those imaginary villains came to life? That’s the premise of 20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End, a trilogy based on the manga of the same name.

It begins in the year 1973 with a rebellious kid taking over his school’s loudspeaker system and playing the song 20th Century Boy by T.Rex, in the hope that rock ‘n’ roll would change the world – “it didn’t.” Flash-forward to 2015 where a young man is being incarcerated for drawing a comic book about a hero who turns out to be a villain, which reminds his fellow inmate of a real hero, his best friend. Flashback to 1997 (noticing a pattern), our “hero” Kenji is getting is scolded by his boss at the local convenience store.

To say Kenji’s life hasn’t turned out like he hoped would be an understatement. After a failed music career, Kenji was saddled with raising his runaway sister’s daughter. Things get worse for Kenji when he goes to his school reunion and his classmates suspect he’s Friend, the leader of a mysterious cult, who is fulfilling the stories Kenji imagined so long ago.

Kenji eventually convinces his classmates that it’s not him, but the mystery remains. Who is Friend? As more of the “prophecies” come true they get closer to the truth, but they’re always one-step behind as it’s hard to remember all the details. You know what that means – more flashbacks!

It all builds up to epic showdown between Kenji and a giant robot! (naturally) But don’t mistake this for some kinda Power Rangers kids show. It never gets too campy. If anything it’s endearing. For example there’s one scene where Kenji gets his hands on a prototype laser gun but instead of a powerful beam, all that comes out is some sparks. Everything’s done in a semi-believable way, especially the violence. There are murders, a virus that makes people spew blood, and some eerily real terrorist bombings. Like I said not Power Rangers.

20th Century Boys is one of those movies that’s great for the kid in all of us. And the ending will leave you anxious to see more as it leaves a lot unanswered. Luckily you won’t have to wait long. The trilogy is being release over the course of one year. The 2nd movie is already playing in theaters in Japan, so it should be on DVD & subbed by this summer.