The story takes place 2300 years ago in China. The town of Ryo has requested the help of a clan called Bokk to aide them as their town is facing attack. The Bokk clan's representative, Kakuri, responds to their call for help and attempts to save Ryo from an almost inevitable defeat, from not only outer forces, but also from those who doubt him within. Is he up to the challenge?
Bokku or Stratège is about the story of Kakuri a man of the Bokk clan who helps protect the village of Ryo. At first glance, knowing nothing about this manga when I started it, I thought this was going to be about martial arts but in reality it is about war strategy. The story takes place around 500 BC.
Story 7/10: It is fast paced without feeling rushed and lets Kakuri show off his prowess as a military strategist. After the first Arc the story begins to delve into the world of Bokk and the reasoning
behind their actions. The story has good progression however towards the end things started to get rushed like they knew they were going to be canceled and hurried to ending. While this did take away from it overall the story was one of the best aspects of the manga.
Art 6/10: The art is fair and it takes a little bit getting used to Kakuri especially after you see him in the first chapter but overall its well drawn. The fights are violent and are ok. Ive seen better but since this manga concentrated more on the strategy of war rather than the pure violence i thought it did I nice job.
Character 7/10: Character development is to a minimum which I don't think is a bad thing. You learn enough about the characters to enjoy them, but the manga I think did a nice job leaving a lot of it to the imagination. This manga isn't really about the characters sob stories. When your fighting a war who the hell cares about your back story (just kidding).
Enjoyment and Overall 7/10: This was quite an enjoyable manga to read. It starts off real strong and was a nice change of pace since the story was not as I imagined. If the ending didn't feel as rushed as it did it could of gotten a better score but overall this is still a good manga.
I only found Bokko thanks to Hidden Gems of Manga club so before getting to the review I'd like to shout them out. If you want to find some good but lesser known manga to read - check them out at https://myanimelist.net/clubs.php?cid=8776
While Bokko has some underlying messages about inevitability of war and human nature, all of it is rather just a nice supplement to the main course of action packed adventure. The story is set during the warring states period of China, perhaps the peak of military action and it's conveyed well in the manga through incessant action and mindset of side characters. Despite pretty
much everyone's goal at the time revolving to conquer their neighbors and rule the country, the ideals of our protagonists are diametrically opposed to that goal. All Kokuri wants is for as few people to die as possible and through that, convince them to give up on futile conflict and live in peace. An impossible goal but one you could sympathize with. To accomplish such a task he, as a man of Bokk clan that originally established Kokuri's ideals, is trained in variety of defensive techniques and military tactics.
That's the groundwork of the manga. The rest concerns the personal adventure of Kokuri, the people he meets on his journey and his relationship with the new leadership and ideals of Bokk clan that strayed from what he thought was righteous. There's not a lot to say about the story in manga like that without just going over the events which I would like to avoid. Instead I'll just say that it delivers completely on things it sets out to do and despite a somewhat rushed conclusions and minor deviations from the grounded and historically authentic setting, it's an excellent read and a real page turner, I would keep opening new volumes thinking I'll read just one chapters to complete some story thread and then end up reading more and more cause I wanted to see where it would go and what would happen. Tight pacing is not something I come across all that often in both anime and manga but Bokko really nails it. There's a very acute balance between rapid fire action where you'd get several pages just observing things unfold with no unnecessary text and more contemplative moments where manga is not afraid to slow down and tell you important information.
However all of this wouldn't mean much if writing wasn't up to par. Throughout the intense journey there isn't a point where Bokko would fall into routine of repetition despite the theme seemingly lending itself for it. There's always new complications in way of our main characters and there's always a need to outwit your opponent with new solutions while having to deal with countless restrictions and obstacles. I can't say I was the biggest fan of some of the more over the top stuff like the insect squad and some sort of mutants present in both bigger arcs but aside from a few moments I don't think they too heavily impact the manga.
When it comes to characters I can't say it's a strong suit of the manga,serviceable they are but I can't call them good. Most of them are just there to serve the plot and don't even have any depth to them or go through any kind of arc. Their personalities are fleshed out and that's about it, you know who's who and what they're about which is enough to grasp their role and see where it could lead. Surprisingly enough one of the few characters that stood out to me was actually Shirou who is Kokuri's childhood friend. He's also one of the very few multifaceted characters who had any sort of internal conflict. Throughout the manga he toes the line between loyalty to his friend and loyalty to the Bokk clan and his research and it concludes beautifully in the last chapters when his choice is made and he has to reap the consequences. While it's a bit rushed it was still one of the more impactful moments.
Art is worth mentioning too, while the paneling is pretty conventional (which is not a bad thing), the art on display is outright gorgeous. There's a really strong aesthetic quality to gore in Bokko, even when things get gruesome it's a captivating watch cause it captures the weird quality of violence that makes you want to look at it in all the grotesque detail. Aside from that there's a lot of sheer technical skill on display that's rather easy to tell. The artist behind Bokko has a good grasp of fundamentals and human anatomy which is really important in an action adventure manga than at times can live or day based on visual presentation. When this technical talent is coupled with an eye for aesthetic it creates a manga that's hard to look away from.
All in all even if Bokko is not quite a masterpiece it's still an immensely enjoyable read. I'd recommend it to anyone but especially to people who are into fights that are won through wit rather than strength alone and for people who like the stories about ancient china cause it delivers on both of those.