Tuesday, February 16

20th Century Boys Part 2 (Japan, 2009)

It's you and me against the world, baby.

The middle child of the most ambitious film trilogy in recent years---there's no use arguing with me on this one---moves so briskly that oftentimes I felt the need to come up for air, but I loved every stubbornly dense moment of it.

No, I haven't finished the manga because, for this one, I wanted to experience the head rush and the nitpicking of puzzle pieces. (If LOST is your thing and haven't given up on the parallel time-line mindfuck, then you'll have a hoot with this one.)

It's years after the New Year's Eve attack of 2000, and it's the kids' turn to figure out how to strike back against Friend and his creepily smiling followers. Time lines and lives intersect, what Donkey saw in the science lab is revealed, and a messiah rises from the dead. Reviews keep mentioning how the uninitiated will find it difficult to wade through layers of subplots and time jumps. I'm not filing this under For Manga Readers Only and won't stereotype a fantastic plot as convoluted or impossible to follow.

Some parts, I admit, are just too unbelievable. But the Pope's speech aside, 20th Century Boys is similar in texture, in whiffs of melancholia, to Stephen King's novel IT. There's something about the journey from childhood to adulthood that bites with bittersweet pangs. Contrasts become warm and fuzzy memories, and along with the memories come the longing. I began to wonder whatever happened to the kids I used to spend afternoons with playing until my knees were bruised and bleeding. Are they doing well and living comfortably? Have they turned into monsters? Fighters? And where is that kid now, the six year-old Thor who told stories to his friends everyday but now barely has time to write down his own thoughts? ****

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