It has come to my attention that this is far and away the most read of the three 20th Century Boys reviews. And that confuses me, because this is the third film in the trilogy - as such, there is a LOT of stuff that needs catching up on, so here is a link to the first movie, and here is a link to the second film. Read them, and you will know what's what.
Today, 20th Century Boys, Part 3 – The Last Chaper: Our Flag.
Previously, on 20th Century Boys – thanks to the New Book of Prophecies, Friend is assassinated, rises from death and is now looked upon as a new god, basically ruling Japan even moreso than he already had. The remaining heroes are run deep underground and Kenji is alive. And now, the balls to the wall conclusion...
Flashing back to 1969, we see Sadakiyo (or maybe not...) getting done for shoplifting then jump forward to a bold, new 2017 to see that the New Book of Prophecies is unfolding as planned... and that according to it, there will be an alien attack that wipes out most of mankind, leaving the World President and his friends unharmed. In a giant complex that was once Tokyo, a walled city that Friend (now World President) has remade in his image – the image of Tokyo that existed when they were children. Cut to outside, where Otcho and The Artist are still helping fight against the FDP, breaking into TokyoFDP, so that Otcho can launch an interior attack. After almost getting captured by the Global Defense Force (Friend’s military arm), he meets up with Katsuo and Sanae, two “orphans”, and tells them of life outside TokyoFDP which spurs them on to join the underground resistance – The Genji Faction, which is lead by Yoshitsune. In return, they let Otcho know of Friend’s plan to end mankind and make him aware of another resistance faction and its leader, The Ice Queen. They also play for him the big popular song of the day – Kenji’s song.
Otcho soon meets up with Kamisama, Koizumo and Father Nitani who now own the bowling alley built on the lot where Kenji and his childhood gang built their hideout and immediately finds out that The Ice Queen is Kanna. During their conversation, Otcho reveals that he has suspicion of Yoshitsune (due to his remembrance of the shoplifting incident), and that he cannot be bought back into the group. Menawhile, Yoshitsune is trying to get in contact with her, via Yukiji who implores him to allow the Genji Faction to rise up against Friend. A move that he can’t, or won’t do, revealing that he was mistaken for Sadakiyo that day.
Meanwhile; Naimu Haru, his manager, Maruo and Mrs Ichihara (who can find anyone) have launched their own investigation into the location of Kiriko and may have found her. During this time, Haru reveals that long ago he played drums in Kenji’s band, and has long known that Friend is evil. Haru pledges to Billy, noodle cook extraordinaire and bassist for the band, that when Kenji comes back, they will play again.
Maruo soon meets up with Keroyon who is trying to make amends for his cowardice on Bloody New Year’s Eve by hiding Kiriko, introducing them as she tests her newest vaccine. On herself, almost dying in the process. Flashing back to Kanna’s birth, we see that Kiriko almost immediately sees that Friend is evil and has been working to right what she did since then – also revealing that Friend is Kanna’s father and that Friend told her his real name (don’t worry, folks, I’m trying not to spoil everything in this).
Meanwhile, in the Ice Queen’s underground palace – Otcho has found his way in and meets with Kanna again, letting her know that he is not a fan of her tactics but will fight with her and that Kenji may still be alive through the use of his song. She soon realises it to be true as the version of the song she knew as a little girl has a new line she has not heard before – and soon, it becomes a rallying cry of hope for those fighting against Friend.
Oh hey there, Kenji – you riding your bike? Cool, keep it up. What’s that you are doing? Going from outside town to outside town, playing your song and trying to find a way in? Well, I’m sure Officer Chono can help with that. But first, you get to inspiring the people. I’m sure that Chono will remember his time with Kanna and help you in your plan past the barrier, perhaps with the help of Kanna’s ex-neighbours. Fake permits X1000 for all!! And lo, the plan doth work so the entire town gets in, spreading the song of hope (for completion sake, the song is called Bob Lennon, but I will continue calling it the song of hope from now on). That was easy...
Too easy, as it seems that Manjome let him in so that they could meet again. Manjome, bitter after falling from grace in Friend’s eyes reveals how they met and how he was responsible for not only Friend’s original magic trick in the lab those many years ago, but all subsequent acts that bought Friend to the position that he is in. He also revealed how Kenji survived the actions of Bloody New Year’s Eve. From this, Kenji revealed the life he’d led since then, and refuses to believe that Manjome is repentant in any way, defying his orders to kill Friend, and refusing to let him kill himself with one of the best lines in the whole series.
Meanwhile, in TokyoFDP, Friend’s alien attack message has the city in a panic. But the GDF are still there to try to capture Kanna and her faction, who actually lets herself and Otcho be taken to Friend HQ. Unknown to them, Yoshitsune and Yukiji below, waiting to help break them out. Above – Otcho is handed over to Chief of Security, Yanbo (or is it Mabo?) and Kanna meets with her father for the first time in the flesh, pulling a gun on him. Otcho and Yukiji meet up with Yanbo who is trying to atone, and shows the duo how far Friend’s alien attack plan has progressed. Kanna, however, has been tricked and told she will be made a far worse “villain” than her uncle. Yanbo introduces Otcho and Yukiji to Professor Shikishima, who was blackmailed into joining Friend’s cause many years ago, designing both the Bloody New Year’s Eve robot, but also the bomb robot for the alien attack and giving Otcho a specially designed rocket launcher that can destroy the new robot.
Back in ’69, it is revealed that Friend has written a story about his love of the upcoming Expo, and how it will lead to a peaceful and harmonious progress for mankind, revelling in the fact that his story has made him (at least momentarily) popular. Then the mask/identity switch that Sadakiyo spoke of in the second film happens, leading to Friend losing his identity and the birth of his new dream. Meanwhile, in 2017, Friend reveals that he was behind the original attacks and his plan is in fact to destroy the world. Kanna reunites with Yukiji and tells of what happened; gaining forgiveness for not becoming like her father and revealing to Yukiji that Kenji is alive.
Somewhere in Japan, the DJ reveals that he was another of Kenji’s old classmates, and has been playing the song of hope because he thinks that it is something that Kenji would like. Who he reveals it to – Friend’s assassin (number 13), who now realises that Friend has tricked the world, so they team up to head to Tokyo.
Back in Tokyo, since Friend’s reveal, chaos has broken out. Yukiji tells her students what Kenji told her on Bloody New Year’s Eve (“If you are in danger, run for your life – don’t get killed”), Yamazaki reveals to Chono that he was responsible for Cho-san’s death and Kanna tells her faction to save all the live they can, with a new plan. A music festival to lure the people to the one place Friend revealed would be safe from the attacks – the site of Expo 15. And, as they gear up for the new plan, Marou, Keroyon and Kiriko get the new vaccine to Tokyo.
Attack Day – Kanna, Koizumo and Haru make final preparations for the festival just as a massive throng of people show up, all singing the song of hope. Friend, however, makes ready his plan and launches the new robot attack (in a cutscene that I swear they took from the offcuts of FFVII – even the music is reminiscent of that game), ravaging TokyoFDP with the new virus as those at the festival (true to Friend’s clue) remain safe. At the vaccine station, chaos reigns supreme, though, with a massive attack by the Genji Faction at FriendHQ that is talked down by Yukiji, leading to Friend launching the bomb robot. Outside, Otcho manages to take down one of the two virus UFOs but loses the other in the smoke, leading to Number 13 regaining his identity and destroying the other, sacrificing his life in the process.
Meanwhile, Kenji confronts the still active bomb robot. As it stops, he begins a perilous climb into it, eventually confronting Friend and crashing the robot, with outside help from Otcho. As Otcho pulls Friend from the crash, he demasks him, revealing Yoshitsune who revealed that it was he who pretended to be Friend as children, which leads to Kenji and Otcho reuniting to confront the actual Friend. Friend then revealed that it was Kenji who started Friend on his road, as Friend took the blame for Kenji’s shoplifting. Friend then reveals his true identity (and no, I will NOT reveal it here) and goes to restart the bomb robot before being talked down by Kenji, who begs forgiveness for making Friend into what he was. Needless to say, this action ends with Friend dying, the robot being destroyed and no forgiveness being given.
Meanwhile, back at the concert, the lack of Kenji causes the crowd to turn, forcing Kanna to reveal herself as The Ice Queen...Then Kenji shows up, reveals that Friend is dead, kicks the world’s ass with the song of hope and we all live. Just this once, EVERYBODY LIVES!!
And then, because this is based on an anime, and they do things like that – we get a rather sweet little coda. I won’t spoil it for you, but it involves Friend Land Bonus Stage.
I cannot talk this series up enough, in all honesty. You know how you always have that one thing that you recommend to everyone – well, 20th Century Boys is mine. I am a sucker for giant, sprawling post-apocalyptic stories, and that is exactly what this is – with the added bonus of showing the lead up. Seriously, everything that this movie series does, I am a huge fan of – huge interconnected character webs, multi-generational stories, multiple hero’s journeys. It has everything, even the smallest amount of WSD (which travelled across from the manga, so I will allow it).
One thing in particular to note about the whole trilogy is how good the acting is, both adult and child. You truly believe that this is the end of the world to them, for them, and because of them. Every character is played brilliantly, in particular both the child and adult Kenji, adult Kanna and adult Yukiji. And everyone involved in Friend, from voice actor to body actor is great, coming together to make one of the best antagonists that I have seen on film in a long while.
As I said at the very beginning of this review series, you really should see these films. I’m not saying that they will change your life, but you will be better off for having seen them.