Bokurano (manga) review

While I was watching Madoka, I heard it compared to Bokurano, which I have enjoyed immensely. So when I saw Bokurano volume 1+2 at the library, I instantly grabbed it up. Upon completeling the two volumes, I then looked for the scanlations online, as I really wanted to know what would happen there.  Bokurano, while comparable, is nothing like Madoka, and a manga series that I’d say is almost if not completely original. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it. It also turns out that while there is an anime, the story of Bokurano takes a different turn halfway through, so the manga of Bokurano is a different experience then the anime.

Summery: 14 boys and girls, meeting at Nature School, sign up to play what the merely think is a game. That game turns out to be all to be real, however, whenever they discovered they’ve signed a contract in which they are given the chance to pilot a giant robot and protect the earth from an invading alien. The catch is the robot gets it’s energy from it’s pilots, and kills them after they finish piloting. However, they don’t have much choice. If they lose the battle or don’t fight, their planet will be destroyed. In this manga, it’s pretty obvious from volume 1 that every main character will die.

Volumes: 8

The main difference between Bokurano and Madoka is this. Madoka is a story-driven work for of metaphors. Bokurano is more physical, straight-forward, and character-driven. It asks the questions “If you could save the world at the cost of your life, when you’re young with your whole life ahead of you, would you?” and “If you knew you were going to die, how would you spend your last days?” and let’s the characters answer it with a wide variety of answers. As the story changes from character driven to slightly more story driven, the questions the characters have to answer become harder ethical questions, while at the same time the world has to cope with the sudden appearance of a giant robot wrecking buildings and killing people.

Mihiro knows how to do drama, when to go heavy, and then tone it down to mild. Don’t be fooled, if something can go wrong for maximum tragic impact, it probably will, but that aside, the drama is extremely well done. The characters are absolutely fascinating due to the wide range of backgrounds, and them being strangers to each other (unless they went to the same school before Nature School) and slowly revealing there true selves to each other. While one character may have a dark or tragic backstory, another can be a perfectly normal kid saddled with a huge task. Through the manga we jump from character to character as the main focus (as they keep dying). No matter what, each individual story is different and extremely memorable. This manga doesn’t bother with positive ideal that humans are always nice or care about human life as a whole, and the end result from this is a group of children that feel real.

While the story portion of Bokurano takes a little bit to get going, once it get going, it’s very engrossing. One thing that improves as the series goes on is the battles. While they start out as simple battles, later on the battles are incredibly complex, or even sometimes omitted

The only problem I had is sometimes it felt as if things weren’t explained very well. I feel like Kitoh is a writer who’s intelligence is on another level, and she had a hard time dumbing down some of the mechanics for the average reader, i.e. me. There was one time, when Dungbeetle was explaining how his teleportation worked, that I have to be frank, I could not comprehend at all what was going on. It makes Kyubei’s entropy look like weak stuff.

The end result is a memorable piece of work that left me reflecting under some hard questions that I don’t think I would have thought of otherwise. Be warned, while amazing and thoughtful, this work is intense, and the manga is far more then the anime. Kids die–and death, while common, is not treated lightly. It’s treated as such a subject matter should be…as a  heavy thing. Even though it’s been a few days since I finished the series, I still feel grief over the death of the fictional characters.

Art: B+

Nothing special, but it’s a very distinct style, consistent through the manga, and does the job. The detail on the battle scenes is, however, noteworthy and especially well done.

Characters: A

Almost all the characters are given a portion of the story dedicated to them to expand of their character, and all of them feel eerily human. Everyone was fleshed out to the point that even the characters I didn’t like had a sympathetic side to them.

Overall Storyline: A

The world as a whole struggles to respond to the fact that the future of the world is in the hand of the children. The public responds with mixed feelings as their loved ones are injured in the attacks, the media skews thing, and countries work to do what is in their best interest. However, circumstances are always changing and these emotions shift as the very future of the earth is in danger. It’s not the most original idea to have the world in danger from alien attack, but it’s a original and mature take on the idea.

Setting: A

A future or alternate earth. The setting is actually very important, as it plays into why the battles need to happen. At the same time, the settings tend to be fleshed out if they happen to have sentimental value to the characters. The world of Bokurano is a dark, but intriguing one.

Overall Grade: A

Read Bokurano here

By the first volume here. (Yes, I am aware that there is censorship. For those curious, it is that of young woman vagina being censored. But I’m not sure I blame them, with child porn and nudity of teenage girls being a bit of a hot topic, to go that safer route, rather then have anyone upset over the “child porn”. It looks a little weird, but it doesn’t detract.)

3 Comments

Filed under A, Bokurano, Mecha, Middle/High School, Science Fiction

3 responses to “Bokurano (manga) review

  1. Another series for me to add to my collection? *thinks about it*

    Hmm, sounds quite gritty. Then again, it is in Ikki magazine…so that means it might be right up in my alley. Good summary of it!

  2. Blue

    I feel any mention of Bokurano is lacking without noting the anime’s opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05p646nlYS0

  3. AndrewFoose

    Sounds too depressing for me. In fact, raing this review may have made me sad enough that I need to counteract it with some Gurren Lagann or Azumanga Daioh.

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