20th Century Boys
20th Century Boys is a science fiction-mystery manga created by Naoki Urasawa. A live action movie trilogy was released in Japan in 2008-2009, directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi. It was one of the biggest undertakings ever in the Japanese movie industry with a budget of 6 billion yen ($60M) featuring a cast of over 300 people.
In 1969, Kenji Endo (played by Toshiaki Karasawa) and his young friends build a hideout they call their secret base where they imagine a future where villains would try to destroy the world, and in which the boys would stand up and fight. This scenario is transcribed and labeled Book of Prophecy. They also draw a symbol as a flag for the base that would represent their friendship.
The movie opens in the late 1990s, where Kenji is a struggling convenience store manager, as he takes care of his baby niece Kanna. Kenji stumbles upon a large cult led by a man known only as “Friend” using the same symbol he and his friends created in their childhood. The cult has a plan to destroy the world on New Year’s Eve of 2000, (referred to in the latter half of the story as the Bloody New Year’s Eve), and the events that are currently unfolding are suspiciously close to the plan documented in the Book of Prophecy. Kenji begins to recruit some of his older friends in an attempt to stop Friend.
The second movie in the trilogy is titled “20th Century Boys: The Last Hope” as it follows the story of Kanna Endo (played by Airi Taira), niece of Kenji, as she leads a resistance against the society hypnotized by Friend and becomes labeled as the world’s most wanted terrorist.
The final movie in the trilogy is titled “20th Century Boys: Our Flag” and the year is 2017 as Friend now rules the entire world. A destructive virus has hit Tokyo and the government builds a gigantic wall to quarantine the city. Friend makes the revelation that on August 12th at 12:00 the human race will be destroyed by aliens. The only people who will survive are true believers of Friend. Kanna continues her fight with a more radical resistance group, as Kenji returns and enters the divided city of Tokyo with the final confrontation with Friend.
The official movie trilogy UK website in English can be found here. The DVD was released in May 2010.