The incredible storyline of "20th Century Boys" has captured the imagination of millions since 1999. Now, the live action feature of this manga series is coming to you in a trilogy at a production budget of USD60 millions!
In the summer of 1969, Kenji, an elementary school kid and his friends built a secret base and one of their activities held there was writing the "Book of Prophecy". In their "Prophecy", the children fantasized that they had to fight villains who were out to conquer the world.
Years later in 1997, Kenji is the manager of a convenience store. He has given up his dream to be a rock star and chooses to live a regular life, taking care of his sister's baby girl after his sister has disappeared for an unknown reason.
His boring life is turned upside down one day when his old classmate dies mysteriously and an entire family in the neighbourhood disappears. At the same time, a religious cult and its mysterious leader, "Friend" emerges and a strange chain of events which duplicate exactly the events described in the "Book of Prophecy" follow.
As the events in the "Book of Prophecy" unfold, Kenji and his former classmates decide to take on the villain but the cunning "Friend"
frames Kenji and his gang so people believe that they are a group of terrorists instead!
31 December 2000 is the day described in the "Book of Prophecy" as doomsday. With earth-shattering footsteps, the shadow of terror arrives in Tokyo. It is their atomic-powered Gigantic Robot! The destiny of mankind is now on the verge of doom!
There’s this thing about mainstream Japanese movies that we feel is worth commending. They always manage to entertain without falling into the traps of being crappy. Hmm, we don’t really know how to put this more academically – you know the feeling after watching a Japanese movie? That there’s always a nice balance of entertainment and art? This Yukihiko Tsutsumi directed movie proves that point again - even when it has a 141 minute runtime.
Based on an award winning science fiction mystery manga created by Naoki Urasawa, this live action adaptation is the first of the three films planned for the trilogy. And the best part for female audiences? It stars popular Japanese actor Toshiaki Karasawa (TV’s Love Complex) as a down to earth convenience store owner. What most people do not know is, he gave up his dreams to become a rock star to lead this normal life. No need to worry though, because when an old classmate passes away mysteriously, his life is thrown into chaos again, with strange events involving a religious cult unfolding before his very eyes. There’s also something about the world coming to an end, if it’s of any concern to the human race at all.
What stands out most about this movie is the prominent characterization of the protagonists. Being a manga series, the story reaps its potential in setting up a plot involving a group of school kids building a secret base when they were young, and then fantasizing about fighting bad guys and writing the details down in a “Book of Prophecies”. With the number of characters the movie has to handle, each one is given a unique treatment, making them memorable long after the credits roll.
The movie also takes its time in developing the story, making sure that it is true to the source series. To the impatient viewer (it won’t help if you are not particularly excited about anything Japanese), the pacing can be tighter to reduce those “when is this going to end?” thoughts, but to the seasoned Japanese movie viewer, the movie is intriguing to follow. To the impatient viewer, the shifting of timelines may be frustrating, but to the seasoned Japanese movie viewer, this will only prove to be captivating.
You already know this movie will end with a cliffhanger, and what a fine cliffhanger it is. You’d be left wanting to find out more about the fate of the world, as well as the fates of the various characters. If you can’t wait, go get the comic series.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains only a seven minute Cast Interview with the movie’s main cast. Hear whether Karasawa has read the manga before starring in the movie, how Etsushi Toyokawa (10 Promises to My Dog) prepared for his role in the movie, and what Takako Tokiwa (Moonlight Express) thinks about the film adaptation.
There is nothing to complain about the DVD’s visual transfer, and you can choose to watch the movie in Japanese DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1, or in dubbed Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1.
by John Li