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20th Century Boys

(20-seiki shônen)
Sponsored by: Sympatico/MSN

Canadian Premiere

  • Japan 2008
  • 142 min
  • 35mm
  • Japanese/thai/english with English subtitles
Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2009
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Films Festival 2009
Official Selection, Sci-Fi-London 2009

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"Jouant volontiers la carte du contraste et du mélange des genres, 20th CENTURY BOYS alterne l’action, la science-fiction, la comédie, la nostalgie et le suspense en un cocktail surprenant et résolument divertissant" – Herbert West, CINEMAFANTASTIQUE.COM

"There have been a number of high profile manga adaptations from Japan in recent years… though even after just one film, 20th CENTURY BOYS already looks to be the genre’s crowning achievement" – James Mudge, BEYHONDHOLLYWOOD.COM


Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Screenplay: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Yûsuke Watanabe, from Naoki Urasawa
Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Takako Tokiwa
Producers: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Nobuyuki Iinuma
Distributor: NTV


It’s 2015 and a manga artist is languishing in a high-security prison for having created a work that was too subversive in the eyes of the authorities. He tells the tale of its creation to the mysterious stranger in the next cell, who in exchange tells him a story—that of one of the great heroes of modern times.

In 1969, the year of Woodstock and man’s first steps on the moon, and a gang of kids have built themselves a secret fort in a disused field, a place where they can listen to music, read racy magazines, hide from a pair of bullying, overweight twins and concoct a fantastic picture-book story in which they save the world from a malevolent organization bent on bringing the apocalypse in the final days of the 20th century. Kenji is the one who devises the catastrophic scenarios and Ocho is the one who draws them. He’s also dreamed up a logo which is soon on the flag flying over their secret base. With his pals around him, Kenji innocently reads out his tome of prophecies while listening to Bob Dylan.

In 1997, 28 years later, Kenji is the manager of a convenience store and nanny for his niece Kanna, as he has been since his sister vanished suddenly and mysteriously. His dreams of rock stardom and changing the world with his music have long since evaporated. Life is pretty mundane and monotonous for Kenji until the day he reunites with his old primary-school classmates, rebuilding his ties with the comrades of his youth and sharing anecdotes from the good old days. The conversation shifts to a strange religious cult led by the enigmatic Friend, a sect which seems to attract more adherents every day. They all know someone who has joined those ranks. What’s eerie is that the predictions issued by Friend match those in the storybook Kenji and Ocho created almost three decades earlier, and the cult’s symbol is identical to Ocho’s logo. An epidemic of deaths in Africa, the bodies drained of their blood, occurs in the exact locations which Kenji identified in their book. The situation is clearly disturbing, but when devotees of Friend attempt to kidnap Kanna, Kenji knows he must finally act. Even if they’re a bunch of ordinary, disillusioned adults, Kenji and his crew must save the world…


—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)

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