Viz Signature Quick Takes – 20th Century Boys, Children of the Sea, and Detroit Metal City

20th Century Boys Volume 11

I made a conscious decision that I was going to invest in one Urasawa series, and that would be 20th Century Boys. I read the first three volumes of Monster, and a couple volumes of Pluto but I just feel more invested in finding out what’s going to happen in the sprawling narrative of 20th Century Boys than Urasawa’s other series. With the eleventh volume, we’re at the halfway mark for the series, and there’s plenty of emotional trauma and action as Kanna finds out the truth behind her parentage and the Friends are on the street persecuting any ally of Kanna’s they can find.

Kanna finds out that her father is the Friend, and lapses into a fugue-like state because she’s utterly unable to process that information. Her connection to her beloved uncle Kenji is severed when her old walkman finally stops working and she’s no longer able to listen to his songs. Seeing Kanna brought down so much made me realize again how young she is, even though she’s exhibited cleverness and charisma as she moves towards being the focus of a resistance movement against the friends. Kanna works through the revelation about her father only to find out that her missing mother was a biomedical researcher who might have contributed the disease outbreak that proceeded the Bloody New Year’s Eve. Sadakiyo makes a final decision about what to do with his life, and Kanna meets up with classmate Kyoko and some of Kenji’s other allies. A special bonus in this volume was the reappearance of Otcho, who is one of my favorite characters. I can see the different threads of Urasawa’s story start to come together, and I’m happy to be on board for the next ten volumes.

Children of the Sea Volume 4

I read the first volume of Children of the Sea and caught a few chapters online, but I’ve missed a some chapters. Fortunately so much of this series is expressed in the beautiful art, it was easy just to crack open the book and let the atmosphere created by the philosophical characters and gorgeous illustrations wash over me.

Ruka has vanished with Umi and quirky scientist Anglade. Her parents and Jim are left alone to unravel the mystery behind her disappearance. While sending out search parties is ineffective, Ruka’s mother who used to be a traditional shell diver sets out to find her daughter along with the wisewoman Dehdeh. Kanoko works through her own relationship with the sea as being on the ocean to find her daughter makes her recall her childhood. Other flashbacks feature the strained relationship between Anglade and Jim, with plenty of scientific theorizing from Anglade as he touches on issues of evolution, astronomy, and the nature of time and space. Ruka and Sora explore a strange underwater world in the presence of a mystical meteorite. I had no idea what was going on with Ruka and Sora, but the images of them encountering bizarre sea creatures were arresting. Igarashi creates this manga with such a unique atmosphere and reading experience. I wouldn’t have thought that the mysteries of the sea combined with child explorers and a healthy dose of scientific theorizing would be so compelling, but Children of the Sea pulls it off admirably.

Detroit Metal City #7

Detroit Metal City is a manga that I’m happy to read if I stumble across a copy, but I probably wouldn’t make a special effort to seek it out. I did think in my review of the previous volume that the hints of an ongoing storyline might combat the repetitive nature of the main joke behind this manga about the meek Soichi who is helpless in the face of his uncanny talent for being a profane front man for a death metal band.

Unfortunately I found that the story carried over from the last volume dragged a little bit. Soichi has found a substitute Krauser II to take his place, but a challenger named Krauser I may destroy DMC. Despite a truly odd sequence of Krauser I raping Tokyo Tower, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in the Krauser confrontation, as it seems that every contest ends with establishing that Soichi can yell “rape” faster than any human on the planet. I did enjoy Soichi’s ill-fated attempt to connect with his desire to create pop music by entering an artists’ colony. Despite the fact that Wakasugi isn’t the most gifted cartoonist around, seeing the blandly happy faces of the art students and reading Soichi’s lame pronouncements like “the curry might get cold, but never our passion” was hilarious. The volume finished up with a few short chapters about a bad hair day for Soichi and the lengths he will go to in order to prevent his younger brother from losing his virginity. So overall, DMC 7 was a bit of a mixed bag – there were a few very funny moments mixed in with some episodes that were a bit long.

Review copies for Children of the Sea and Detroit Metal City provided by the publisher.

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