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20th CENTURY BOYS: CHAPTER 2 – THE LAST HOPE [20-seiki shônen: Dai 2 shô – Saigo no kibô | 20世紀少年 第二章 / 20世紀少年<第2章> 最後の希望]


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: Takako Tokiwa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Airi Taira, Teruyuki Kagawa, Naohito Fujiki, Arata, Fumiyo Kohinata, Yusuke Santamaria, Hitomi Kuroki, Haruka Kinami, Mirai Moriyama, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Renji Ishibashi, Eiko Koike, Toshiaki Karasawa, Takashi Ukaji, Hidehiko Ishizuka, Arata Furuta, Naomasa Rokudaira, Jiro Sato, Rina Hatakeyama, Nana Katase, Ken Mitsuishi, Yoji Tanaka, Katsuo Nakamura, Osamu Shitara, Masahiko Nishimura, Katsuhisa Namase, Cynthia Cheston, Toru Tezuka, Ken Tanaka, Kenjiro Ishimaru, Fred McQueen, Shigenori Yamazaki, Masahiro Komoto, Hirofumi Araki, Sumie Sasaki, Jun Nishiyama, Yuki Himura, Kazuhiko Nishimura, Raita Ryu, Shinichi Hatori, Tamaki Matsumoto, Masao Komatsu, Ken Maeda, Naoko Ken, Hanawa, Kenichiro Tanabe, Yoshihiro Nozoe, Muneyoshi Abiko, Sakae Umezu, Kazuo Tokumitsu, Kaoru Fujiwara

Friend’s world domination and mankind’s struggle for survival are going into the next round. With a vengeance: a mysterious book with new prophecies that was obviously not written by Kenji emerges and more shit happens soon afterwards. The stakes are high: an anonymous hero is about to be assassinated, and an army of agents is about to release a deadly virus all across the planet. While Kanna is confronted with her family’s past and their involvement into recent events, an underground organization is fighting against Friend’s regime – an organization run by old acquaintances, as is turns out. But the most burning question is: is it Friend himself who will be murdered? And if so, who’s trying to take his life? Once more every second counts until the ultimate showdown begins.

There are many good reasons why 20TH CENTURY BOYS is one of the most successful manga adaptations and hence the trilogy shouldn’t be mistaken for just another average genre work. Helmed once more by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, a true visionary of modern Japanese cinema, 20TH CENTURY BOYS proves to be irresistible eye-candy, but above all a classy motion picture. THE LAST HOPE is as brilliant as its predecessor – another epic story with authentic characters, accompanied by a tense who-dunnit-plot and more than sufficient conspiracy theories that will make even the most demanding suspense fans happy.

The time leap into the year 2015 naturally helps to rearrange some things: the relevancy of characters, their relationship to each other, their motivations, the new world order. Above all it’s the link between part 1 and 3: after the overture does THE LAST HOPE define the world according to Friend and prepares everything for a finale that will blow Tokyo – and us – away. That doesn’t mean that THE LAST HOPE is less interesting than part 1: since the characters and background need no further introduction or explanation CHAPTER 2 can concentrate more on story development and gear towards the big bang. The showdown of part 2 is once more magnificent, but Tsutsumi keeps the best for part 3.

THE LAST HOPE is more than satisfying without compromising our expectations for part 3. 20TH CENTURY BOYS CHAPTER 2 is another faithful manga-movie, but without the copycat feeling of, say, Ron Howard’s childish Dan Brown adaptations. Love it or hate it, but most of all don’t be intimidated by its complexity or by the likes and dislikes of others. Enjoy THE LAST HOPE for what it is: a cinematographic roller coaster ride, a wild fantasy, a vision, a story of friendship, rivalry, power, love, and the circumstances of our existence.

Sometimes you simply have to enjoy sheer creativity unfolding in front of your eyes, especially in view of so many predictable, soulless films screening around us. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is an outstanding work of the human imagination. If there’s something distinctly humanistic about the film, then it is this simple fact.