During a summer camp, 15 children, 8 males and 7 females, find a grotto by the sea. Deep within they discover working computers and some electronic equipment, and later the owner, a man called Kokopelli. Kokopelli claimed to be a programmer working on a brand new game, in which a large robot has to defend the Earth against fifteen alien invasions. He persuades the children to test the game and sign a contract. All but one of them signs, barely a moment later they mysteriously awaken on the shore believing what happened was just a dream.
An extra story called Bokurano ~Mō Hitotsu no Bokurano~ (Yet Another Bokurano) will run in Ikki the issue after the end of the main story.
Bokurano is probably the most nihilistic thing ever written. In essence, it's a series of 15 short stories about these 15 kids who are trapped in a competition where they gotta pilot a 500m tall robot. If they lose, the world is screwed. Gradually, through a series of well written and shocking twists, everything about their mission ends up being bad for them and pretty much everyone around them. It's a brutally realistic depiction of what you'd get if you actually did put a bunch of middle schoolers in charge of this sort of thing. Some are wannabe heroes,
others have mental breakdowns, at least one goes on a murdering rampage, and a few just don't care. It also turns out that people don't like it when you fight in the middle of a city and cause 10,000 casualties.
How tragic is this series? Well, sometimes you can actually hear the author chuckling in the background as one of these kids gets their lives or minds completely destroyed. On occasion a few of these tales end on a heartwarming or content note, but I suspect that's only because Kitoh had stomach worms at the time or something.
But the thing is, even though this story is soul crushing, it's continuously gripping. I read the whole thing over the course of a weekend in a feverish marathon, something I never do for anything. Each child's story is unique and interesting, and every time one ended and another one came up, my reaction would be "I don't care about this kid, that last one was so good how can this one compare?" and every time without fail, I would be blown away.That kid's unique struggle and subsequent battle would set them totally apart from everyone else, and be good enough to stand as its own story. Kitoh is that good of an author, and even though he's royally screwed up in the head(as shown by this, Narutaru, His Murder Plan, and everything else he's ever written) he knows how to put a method into his madness. The guy is a genius, but I don't think I'd ever want to meet him.
In terms of art, all the human characters are wirey and lacking in detail. Backgrounds are elaborate, but sharp and have a sort of blank feeling to them. Objects like vehicles are interesting and futuristic without being outlandish. The art style is perfect for Kitoh's style of writing, honestly. The main attraction is the "mecha" designs though. These things are not Gundams. They absolutely enormous, with styles varying between vaguely insectoid and completely abstract. Kitoh's mind is not limited to his eccentric writing, it caries over into his artwork. You generally do not see anything as weird as this guy's stuff in any comic.
Now let's talk about the anime for a sec. The anime version of Bokurano sucks. The director hated the manga's story because it was too bleak, and tried to rewrite it himself. It turns out that that guy did not have the ability to outdo our mildly psychotic author here. The result was a pretty show with an amazing OP, but a sucky story and a lame ending. Speaking of endings, the manga ending is incredible. It's not awe inspiring or anything like that, it's just a beautiful ending that completely fit the story.
In terms of being a realistic deconstruction of the mecha genre, this series completely stomps Evangelion through and through. And most other giant robot series for that matter. You actually might not be able to enjoy robot stories after this, since Bokurano turns them completely inside-out. It's almost the polar opposite of Gurren Lagann, but somehow just as awesome.
Viz is publishing this in the US starting in February 2010. I'm totally picking it up.
Bokurano is something that probably initially misled a lot of people. Nowadays it has a pretty infamous reputation, but if you were to see or read it when it first came out, or nowadays if you somehow go into it knowing nothing about it, it might seem like a pretty innocent and generic premise: a bunch of kids get signed into a contract where they have to pilot a giant robot and save the earth from aliens. It seems like something that has been done a thousand times before, but if you are perceptive you might notice that there is something...off about it all.
you keep reading and realize just what it is that you've stumbled into.
The twist comes with the knowledge that the robot will kill the pilot after a battle is over to fuel itself. Meaning that all of the children who entered the contract effectively exchanged their lives for the sake of saving the world. And there is nothing anyone anywhere can do to change that fact, these children are dead no matter what they do.
Before each battle, we get a bit of insight into every single child and find out who they are, what they're struggling with, and what motivates them.
It is in these stories that Bokurano shows just how bleak and dark it is. The stories vary in their exact tone, but they all carry an inherent despair and sentimentality because the child is eventually going to die. Some of the stories are REALLY dark, with one in particular that I think most people will definitely remember. What's most interesting is that some of these stories seem to have points of their own, usually to espouse some very unusual and cynical messages that you really don't see that often, such as a discussion about the whole "one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic" concept that ends nothing like you'd expect it to.
Even though this manga is so oppressive, and seems to border on being dark for darkness' own sake at times, it is incredibly gripping and powerful. All of the children's stories are heartbreaking in their own way and none of them are bad. The side characters like the army guys and Koyemshi are also pretty memorable in their own right. The ending to this series is also brilliantly done.
Kitoh's art is actually kind of strange. Normally I dislike the kind of stylistic decisions Kitoh makes; his characters have pretty generic, simplified facial features common to a lot of manga, and his characters are mostly pretty skinny and have very subdued facial expressions. But he obviously knows a thing or two about drawing, his scene composition, perspective, grasp of form, etc, are all clearly displayed in the manga and help elevate the storytelling of the manga. His design sense is also quite unique; his robots look nothing like what you'd see in most mech shows, many of them are very bizarre and abstract and don't really resemble anything in particular. The end result meaning that even though Kitoh is not necessarily one of my favorite artists in the industry, I do like his style all the same and I feel that it is more than adequate to telling this story.
At the end of the day, Bokurano is probably a manga that many will find is just trying way too hard to be edgy. But if you are like me you will probably find that the execution of the heavy content is more than satisfactory and makes the story more powerful most of the time. If you want something that will give you intense feels and is unlike anything you have seen in the robot genre, this is for you. It is a pretty different work altogether from Evangelion despite some superficial similarities, so you wouldn't necessarily dislike it if you're not an Evangelion fan.
well I can try to sum up my week long encounter with Bokurano(Ours). Well i just want to warn all who read this that this is a very depressing manga, it's hard to explain...
Well the story is truly amazing, do not let the giant robot fool you this is by no means a traditional Mecha Manga. It is it's own story and not just another dime a dozen gundam clone. well the story itself revolves around 15 midde school kids at a summer camp, they get bored of collecting sea-shells and go explore the nearby cave. in the cave they meet a
strange man named Kokopelli, who asks the kids if they want to try a new game he made where you pilot a giant robot against 15 alien invaders...
they all except one agree to play and sign a "contract" by touching a strange rock-like object, after they sign they all wake up on the beach and see a giant robot that they get teleportrd into and kokopelli teaches them how to control it, this is no game...
The most depressing part about this manga is that in the begining chapters they are all told that they will inevitably die after piloting the robot(Which they named Zearth)
The Characters are another key aspect in this story, there are no 2 dimensional characters here they are all unique and all have interesting backstories and battles.
The Art is great in it's own way...
and it's just a great manga.
just be warned as i said before this is a very depressing manga and the ending almost left me in tears! but that's the sign of good storytelling if a story can touch you that much...
The story's main focus is a large cast of kids who are thrown into an almost inescapable death-trap, forcing them to rethink how they wish to spend their last moments alive. It is a concept that fascinates me to no end. Each character is unique and memorable in this anthology of death and misery.
The problem lies in its execution. Some of the twists and turns that happen in the story are truly impactful, but the characters experiencing these events simply feel alien. It is one of those titles where characters act deadpan most of the time. When the story
is told through people that fail to represent basic human behavior, most of its messages fall flat. Add some clunky monologues about death and issues in society, and it all makes the story feel pretentious toward the later parts.
Without spoiling too much here are two examples. Out of all the kids, only one of them actually panics and thinks of how much he has yet to experience in life. Yet everyone around him acts as though he's abnormal. I can't help but think this character had more potential. Later on we also learn one of the girls was abused in the worst way possible, and yet everyone acts as if she's the villain in the drama. Heck, her parents seem to condemn her actions more than they condemn the men who put her in that situation.
Did I still enjoy it? I would say yes, the art was fitting, some of the children's stories do stand out and it captures a dire atmosphere. It makes the reader think and that makes it memorable and worth picking up if you want something that isn't just brainless entertainment.