Posts Tagged ‘Takashi Nagasaki’

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]


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.


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.




Japan 2008   Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Hideyuki Sakurai, Nobuyuki Iinuma  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Naoki Urasawa, Yusuke Watanabe  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Editing: Nobuyuki Ito  Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Takako Tokiwa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Kuranosuke Sasaki

A manga artist is thrown into jail for criticizing the regime. There he meets a mysterious prisoner who tells him a tale of true heroes and very dark powers: at the end of the previous century a group of young boys creates the somewhat ultimate villain, a dictator who terrorizes the world with biological weapons and downtown Tokyo with a giant combat robot.

The children compile these and other fictitious scenarios of destruction in a sketchbook and bury it somewhere close to their playground. Many years later however the prophecies come true, and a new mysterious sect and its leader named „Friend“ take control of large parts of Japan before turning into a political party that is aiming for world domination.

Surprisingly Friend’s party logo resembles the very same symbol the boys had invented years ago for their villain – a coincidence that brings the boys who are already thirtysomethings now back together decades later. They need to find out who’s behind the recent events – because it must be one of them, or at least someone they know. But that’s only the beginning and very soon they’ll find out how much involved into the events they really are.

20TH CENTURY BOYS, an adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s epic manga, is revealing the early years of the main characters and follows their journey into the 20th century. For a large part 20TH CENTURY BOYS is an intelligent coming-of-age drama with interesting, multidimensional characters. At the same time the film documents how society changes over the decades and furthermore until the arrival of the new century. Even if the film doesn’t provide detailed evidence for the profound changes it nevertheless succeeds to capture the feeling of a society that develops from a warm and caring organism into a place of technocracy, isolation and depression. Everybody seeks redemption. Nobody is innocent. Friend, this highly symbolic icon and self-proclaimed world president faces little resistance in a society that has no more dreams, values or goals left to fight for. So it’s up to our (anti-) heroes to save Japan as they seem to be the only ones who can see right through Friend and his motifs and know better than anyone else what he might be up to in the near future.

With 20TH CENTURY BOYS Yukihiko Tsutsumi proves once more that he’s the right man for odd stuff, and this time he has chosen a story of truly encyclopedic proportions to show his sense for the unconventional. The characters are quirky, the storyline is an unpredictable rollercoaster ride and the attention to often strange details is outstanding. Even though Tsutsumi sticks very close to the original manga he has managed to separate the relevant from the not-so-relevant despite the enormous variety of events and characters. Furthermore is 20TH CENTURY BOYS yet another proof for the Japanese obsession with the fictional destruction of their own country in all possible forms of popular culture, and Tsutsumi is a specially talented and playful master of destruction who finds just the right balance between shock and laughter.

20TH CENTURY BOYS is indeed a fantastic film with many reference points to reality. The outstanding cast as well as Tsutsumi’s regular film team manage the complex plot, the numerous twists and of course the great finale with ease, putting the film in a class of its own. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is uncompromising entertainment while elegantly placing a serious message about totalitarian regimes and the recent history of Japan itself within a mainstream audience.

Those who think they might just want to try out this first part of the 20TH CENTURY BOYS trilogy beware: this one and the second part do not have an actual ending, nor do they have a partial answer to the question who Friend is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Once you start you’ll have to watch the next two parts as well. No problem though: 20TH CENTURY BOYS leaves us craving for more. Much more.