Kenji’s life is not what he’d imagined it would be. As a child, he was determined to do great things—play in a rock band, live life on his terms, and, of course, save the world from evil. But as an adult, his life is ordinary. He tries to keep his family’s convenience store running and works to raise his sister’s baby daughter. But when a childhood friend commits suicide, Kenji’s safe world is knocked off its orbit. Not believing that his friend was suicidal, Kenji begins investigating and discovers a tie between that death and a mysterious new cult that has sprung up recently. The cult is run by a man known only as “Friend,” and he has plans for world domination—plans based directly on a story that Kenji himself wrote when he was a little boy. Now a mild-mannered shopkeeper must find within himself the strength to save the world from the forces of evil.
Urasawa’s thriller series is a coming-of-age tale for thirty- and forty-somethings. He slowly takes an ordinary man and forces him—and those around him—to dip into heretofore undiscovered depths of strength. Kenji and his friends are all the more amazing for how normal they are. Readers will instantly identify with them, especially as they themselves wonder what happened to the dreams they had as children. Some of the characters are satisfied with their adult lives, which makes their sacrifices all the more poignant. Others, such as Kenji, are not where they might like to be, but they feel the weight of responsibility to family and work so heavily that they cannot drag themselves out from under it. Their decision to fight against evil is liberating, but it is also terrifying, because they know that they will lose everything they have worked so hard for. Even the evil force is in many ways ordinary. Because no one knows who the “Friend” is and because his followers are made up of every