Spoilers through vol. 16 or so. Summary:
Because girl groups, childhood games, henshin pens, secret passwords, and shoujo manga can save the world.Notes:
Written for ambientlight
for Yuletide 2010.
Thanks so much to etothey
for beta-ing despite not knowing the source; to busaikko
for answering completely random questions about growing up in Japan in the 1990s and 2000s (all cultural mistakes are my fault, not hirs!); and to edonohana
for basically coming up with my plot, beta-ing and pointing out that things were entirely too confusing, and mutual moaning and whining as we procrastinated.Read 21st Century GirlsSource information
２０世紀少年/20th Century Boys
is a 24-volume seinen manga series by Urasawa Naoki (the final two volumes are published as ２１世紀少年/21st Century Boys
) about a group of boys growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. They have a secret base where they read shounen manga and the occasional porn magazine spirited away from their dads, and while there, they invent a complicated scenario in which they defeat a supervillain trying to take over the world via an ebola-esque virus, giant robots, possible psychic powers, and laser guns. Fast forward to the 1990s, and Kenji is your average convenience store owner who has put aside childhood dreams of rock and roll and is currently raising his sister Kiriko's infant Kanna. A cult leader called Friend has grown in popularity, and suddenly, things that are eerily like Kenji's boyhood games are happening around the world. The series goes through several timeskips and numerous flashbacks, and I think I spent the first three weeks just re-reading and trying to piece together the timeline.
I love everything of Urasawa's that I've read, and although I don't think 20thCB is his best series, it's my favorite. (The ending is kind of incoherent, even on a reread. Or should I say, especially on a reread when one is attempting to map out when and where everything happens and getting extremely frustrated by the lack of months.) I love it because as with all Urasawa series I've read, it has awesome side characters and kitchen-sink plotting and plot twists like whoa and ordinary people being heroes, but I love it best because you can tell Urasawa crammed it full of all his own id buttons—secret forts and shounen manga and rock and roll and pulp sf, that he loves all the boys in the gang, that even though the specific scenarios are made up, he's drawing from his own boyhood memories.
I actually have no idea how necessary previous knowledge of the source is. The fic spoils a few plot points around volume 16 or so, but mostly in the background as worldbuilding. I think it's confusing if you don't even know the premise of the series, but several people have commented saying that they've only read one volume, or a few volumes, and it was fine. YMMV?
Everything after this has spoilers for the story itself (I can't believe I actually wrote a story that can be spoiled). I'll warn for additional spoilers for 20thCB and other manga as it comes up.
Embarrassingly, this may be longer than the fic itself. It should not be necessary for reading the fic, which hopefully stands by itself without explanations! It's just here for anyone who was curious about details, references, etc.( Process notes )( Language notes )( References (spoilers for 20CB through vol. 14 or so and for Sailor Moon through Death Busters) )( Final notes (vague spoilers for vol. 18 or so of 20thCB) )
Re: guessing, I suspect the question isn't so much "what gave me away?" so much as "what didn't
Also, I had figured a grand total of two people would read this, especially compared to the Nikita story, since this one is a) 9000+ words long, b) with almost all original characters, c) and series spoilers, d) for a 24-volume long series, e) that hasn't finished coming out in the US, and f) is from a non-Western fandom. YAY YULETIDE for proving me wrong!