This week I continue with 20th Century Boys, and the mystery of the identity of Friend.

Title: 20th Century Boys Volume 2
Written & Illustrated by Naoki Urasawa
With the collaboration of Takashi Nagasaki
Translated by Akemi Wagmuller
Published by Shogakukan (Japan) & Viz Media (USA)
US Publication Date 2000

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf

The Premise

Kenji and his companions have discovered that they created the logo of the Friends as children. He now tries to investigate how the Friends tied into the death of Donkey. Meanwhile, the Friends sinister plans advance further foreward.

High Points

IN this volume, the menace of the Friends becomes more dangerous. Last volume established that they’re willing to kill. This volume established that they’re capable of far, far worse things than that.

Low Points

The more mundane elements of the story, with Kenji trying to hold on to his store’s franchise, feel out of place when by all available information the very fate of the world is at stake.

Scores

Originality: While I compared this story with It before. This volume makes it clear that’s not totally fair. While the plot of It is about a group of friends reuniting to fight a horror they faced as children, this is much more about the childhood games of Kanji and his friends being brought back as a threat. 5/6

Artwork: Urasawa’s art is still great. 6/6

Story: The story is excellent and escalates the overall arc very well – aside from the Low Point. 5/6

Characterization: Kenji and his friends are still written well, and Kenji’s search for the truth is interesting. The Friends also have a bigger sense of menace to them. The only characters who really fall flat are Kenji’s mother, and the Suit from the company which whose convenience store franchise he’s running. 4/6

Emotional Response: The mystery of the identity of “Friend” is holding me in, even if Kenji’s mundane life isn’t. 4/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: I am continuing to love this manga. 6/6.

In total, 20th Century Boys – Volume 2 gets 36/42.