Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys : The Prophet, Paperback

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys : The Prophet Paperback

Illustrated by Naoki Urasawa

Part of the 20th Century Boys series

4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Humanity, having faced extinction at the end of the 20th century, would not have entered the new millennium if it weren't for them.

In 1969, during their youth, they created a symbol. In 1997, as the coming disaster slowly starts to unfold, that symbol returns.

This is the story of a group of boys who try to save the world.

Failed rock musician Kenji's memories of his past come rushing back when one of his childhood friends mysteriously commits suicide.

Could this new death be related to the rise of a bizarre new cult that's been implicated in several other murders and disappearances?

Determined to dig deeper, Kenji reunites with some of his old buddies in the hope of learning the truth behind it all.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192 pages, chiefly Illustrations
  • Publisher: Viz Media, Subs. of Shogakukan Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Manga
  • ISBN: 9781591169222



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa, is about what happens when childhood dreams and ambitions meet adult reality.For many of the characters in the story – particularly failed rock guitarist Kenji – the onset of adulthood has caused their dreams to be squashed, dashed or crushed. But not for all of them. One mysterious member of Kenji’s group of school acquaintances has clung to his ambitions. Through hard work and careful planning this person is now on the point of bringing his childhood dream to fruition. The problem is, that dream involves biological warfare, giant robots and world domination!Like its theme, 20th Century Boys is a collision between wild imagination and stark realism. Every character in this story is exquisitely realised to the point where you feel touched by the details of their lives, while at the same time the plot pulls each character – and the reader – into a whirlwind world-wide conspiracy, leaping fearlessly back and forth across locations, times and tones without ever once losing its capacity to grip and astonish.This manga is a huge phenomenon in Japan. There have been three live action films made out of it - but I don’t know what those are like, I haven’t seen them, because lately I’m too busy being utterly, obsessively wrapped up in reading this comic.At the time of writing this review I’m halfway through the sixth volume. As an adult I think that 20th Century Boys is one of the most amazing and original things I’ve ever read. Will sophisticated younger readers like it,too? I honestly don’t know. Give it a try and find out.

Review by
20th Century Boys Vol. 1-320th Century Boys is a mystery sci-fi thriller that begins with a middle-aged, former-wannabe-rock-guitarist encountering a mysterious symbol and ends with saving the world. Possibly from an evil cult. And there’s a giant robot. Well, sorta.What struck me within the first few pages is Naoki Urasawa’s total assuredness with the form and how clear he makes it that this is going to be an epic ride… by immediately setting the story up as unfolding in three different time periods. But the most significant part unfolds in 1997—where a customer of convenience-store owner Kenji has been murdered… in connection with a symbol that has to do with Kenji’s group of childhood friends in 1969, an underground personality cult in the present, and an apocalypse at the turn of the millennium.I was certainly drawn in by the pure mystery of these first few volumes. And showing a steady hand, Urasawa is clearly taking his sweet time in letting the true scope of the story reveal itself—though luckily by the end of the 2nd volume, at which point I was starting to become impatient with the coyness, he more straightforwardly sets up the drive of the series. But while the mystery will make me go out and look for the volume four as soon as possible, the real joy in these first few volumes is the realism with which Urasawa embues the story. Period details immediately transport you to 60s and 90s Japan, the former particularly heady with impressions of growing up in that decade’s popular culture. Good art, design, and pacing effortlessly communicate the complicated narrative.But at the moment, what I’m most drawn by is the characters. The character designs are all very distinctive (even across time), without being cartoonish, but also their characterization is particularly vivid. It applies not only to the central group of friends, but also to colorful side characters such as the precognitive homeless man known as ‘God’. (Yes, it has a giant robot, rock-and-roll, and a psychic hobo.) But that’s most displayed so far in protagonist Kenji, who besides stumbling upon a vast conspiracy connected to his past, is also struggling to keep the family business afloat and raising his sister’s bastard baby. At middle age, his friends have all mostly fallen into holding patterns themselves, and beyond telling a thrilling tale, Urasawa also seems to be commenting on the child-like impulse to ‘change the world’ and the adult disillusionment of this notion… except the world might just actually need Kenji and company to change it. I guess I've got to read more to find out.
Review by

Just fantastic work. The basic story is a little similar to all the good parts of Stephen King's "It," without some of the hoakiness that King can sometimes dive into (I'm not expecting to find a giant spider at the end of this one, for instance). I love the linework, here, and the fact that each character's face is different (sometimes Manga...or even non-Manga...faces can get a bit difficult to distinguish, at least for me). Another one that I highly recommend (but do make sure to check out a quick tutorial on how to read a Manga if you've never read one before). I can't wait to read volume 2.

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