Well, the year is almost over, and while technically the Mayan Long Count calendar is already up. However, there are still opportunities for the world to end before the end of the year, so let’s keep going with the apocalyptic tale of 20th Century Boys.

Title: 20th Century Boys – Volume 4
Written & Illustrated by Naoki Urasawa
Translation by Akemi Wegmuller
Published by Shogakukan (Japan) & Viz Media (USA)
Publication Date: August 2009

Available from Amazon.com

The Premise

In Bangkok, a mysterious man known as Shogun is working in the Underworld. When he discovers that the Friends are after him, he decides to take them on. Shogun destroys the Friends’ drug production operation and returns to Japan… and gets in touch with his childhood friend – Kenji

High Points

The whole reveal that Shogun is really Otcho is incredibly well done, and the chain of events that we see that caused Otcho to become Shogun is incredibly impressive.

Low Points

Considering the finances required for the Friends plans, how are they bankrolling things? In particular, there’s the matter of inventing and building the giant robot. Further, with the number of people involved in creating these things, how do they keep them under the radar – especially their biological weapon.

Scores

Originality: The shift to Bangkok is interesting and the Thailand parts of the story are something I didn’t see coming. 4/6.

Story: The Shogun part of the story is extremely impressive, as well of the bits setting up the development of the Giant Robot. 4/6.

Artwork: The Bangkok sections of the film are gorgeously drawn, with atmosphere and texture. 4/6

Characterization: Otcho didn’t so much as take a level in badass as much as he took the badass prestige class.[/spoiler. 5/6

Emotional Response: I cannot say enough how excellently the character of Shogun works. 5/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: The manga is getting more and more intense. 5/6

In total, 20th Century Boys, Volume 4 gets 33/42.