We sensed that after reading volume 16 & 17 and seeing how Japan has gone through chaos since the Friend Era, that things were not going to be the same.
We learned of what happened to Otcho during the Friend Era and seeing the carnage as people killed each other in order to get a vaccine from the deadly virus and we were treated with teasers of possibly Kenji being alive.
With volume 18, it takes a step forward in furthering the tease that Kenji is still alive...but is he the same man as "Yabuki Joe"? Also, we learn about what has happened to Kanna since the first year of the Friend Era and that she has become cold and bitter because of so many friends she has lost due to the Friends.
But we expected those things to happen as part of the progression from the last two volumes covering the Friend Era, but there is so much more story to be told of what happened to Yoshitsune and friends but also these twists that Urasawa has planted in this latest volume. One being the Yabuki Joe storyline in which so many followers (ala hippies) have joined in following the singer in his nationwide tour. But yet this person sings variations of Kenji's song, so it may or may not be him that is being heard on the radio.
But possibly the biggest twist was the final page of volume 18 which I best not spoil for readers of this wonderful manga series! Suffice to say, the unveiling of that final page definitely showcases a major change that definitely sets things up for the final four volumes of the series.
I personally don't know what is going to happen now, especially with these twists. Needless to say, this volume really has me excited in seeing how things play out for the final volumes because the storyline not only has gotten exciting but this time, our heroes are in so much despair at this point in time that all hope seemed to be lost, that is until Otcho and Kanna hear Kenji's song being played on the radio, albeit a new version of the song.
Naoki Urasawa's "20th Century Boys" just gets better and better and as we now are nearing the final stretch of the series, one can only wonder what Naoki Urasawa has planned. And I'm guessing that we are going to see a lot of deaths and possible demise of several main characters.
Featuring wonderful illustration and awesome storytelling, which Naoki Ursawa is known for, "Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vol. 18″ is awesome! And I emphasize "AWESOME!". Every chapter in this volume just builds and builds to the final shot and you can't help but be surprised!
As always, Naoki Urasawa knows how to grab the attention of the reader. His artwork and how he is able to capture the sense of action and emotion through the pages is magnificent and so far, this series has been engrossing and highly enjoyable thus far.
If you have been following this series this long, you're probably as addicted as I am and can't wait until the next volume. "Naoki Urasawa's 20th CENTURY BOYS vol. 18″ is highly recommended!