20th CENTURY BOYS 3 – REDEMPTION a.k.a. 20th CENTURY BOYS 3 – THE LAST CHAPTER: OUR FLAG [20-seiki Shônen: Saishushô – Bokura no Hata | 20世紀少年 最終章/ぼくらの旗]

http://www.20thboys.com/index.html

Japan 2009  Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Yusuke Watanabe  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Nobuyuki Iinuma, Futoshi Ohira, Seiji Okuda  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Editing: Noboyuki Ito  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Takako Tokiwa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Airi Taira, Teruyuki Kagawa, Hitomi Kuroki, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Renji Ishibashi, Naoto Takenaka, Nana Katase, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Fumiyo Kohinata

The third and last chapter of the 20TH CENTURY BOYS saga is kind of one big showdown. Everything will be resolved: Friend’s identity, his reasons and the question, what exactly his relationship with Kenji and his friends is. At the peak of Friend’s reign doomsday is near and his opponents are willing to do everything in order to stop him. Kanna and la résistance are ready to take on Friend face to face – but can they prevent the worst? Can anyone get to Friend or stop his master plan on time?

20TH CENTURY BOYS – REDEMPTION begins with a short summary of the previous episodes, but that will not be enough to understand what has happened so far. If you haven’t seen part 1 & 2 or read the manga you shouldn’t bother watching REDEMPTION. For fans however CHAPTER 3 is the worthy conclusion of an outstanding film trilogy that dares all and wins all. This time the tension reaches new heights and various new twists are pushing the story to the limit until the end – and end that consists of various endings.

While some of it may be predictable the grand finale is a neat web of deception that’s simply fun to watch. The “first“ ending is intentionally disappointing, whereas the second ending is by far more satisfying. It is interesting to see how the who-dunnit plot more and more turns into a why-dunnit plot. This is a strength and a weakness at the same time: 20TH CENTURY BOYS has spent a substantial amount of its running time to make us believe the who-dunnit question is the key we’re looking for. But those who are particularly interested in Friend’s identity must be warned – REDEMPTION does not offer a really satisfying answer.

Instead the “why” is now our main concern, which is fine with me but it also disappoints expectations. Overall the why is far more interesting though: the psyche of the deviant dictator has always been the central motif of the manga and even if REDEMPTION and its predecessors do not tell us anything really new here they raise our awareness for past regimes and future dictatorships just as effectively as any other film dealing with similar topics.

Instead of painting the world in black and white REDEMPTION blurs the line between good and evil: perhaps it’s not exactly true that societies per se get the government they deserve, but each and every one of us is responsible for what constitutes society at the end of the day. Friend’s “career” clearly reminds us of certain historical figures and raises the question whether and how such a friend can be prevented. In addition the attack of the Ōmu Shinrikyō („Aum“) sect and their attack of the Tokyo Metro is clearly alive in the memories of the Japanese – 20TH CENTURY BOYS can’t hide its local origins.

REDEMPTION, garnished with a touch of BATTLE ROYALE II, is fast, furious, complex and amusing. Who’s paying attention may have learned a lesson or two about ourselves and about the fact that actions must always uphold ethical and moral standards since we cannot rely on getting a second chance.

20TH CENTURY BOYS – REDEMPTION is serious entertainment, but most of all it’s a categorical imperative in celluloid.

J.




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