|▪||RELEASED BY:||VIZ MEDIA|
|▪||AUTHOR / ART:||MOHIRO KITOH|
|▪||FORMAT:||JAPANESE / B&W|
|▪||REVIEWED BY:||HOLLY ELLINGWOOD|
Fifteen children about to enter junior high go on summer vacation feeling like the world is theirs to conquer. Eight boys and seven girls will find their lives forever changed and their fates sealed when they explore a cave by the seashore and sign a perilous contract with a strange man who promises them a game they will never forget. It is a game they will never escape.
Mohiro Kitoh delivers another hard hitting and dramatic sci-fi series with Bokurano. It starts in sunlight and laughter. The children act like any child would at the discovery of a cave and when a man tells them of a new game involving them piloting a giant robot, their youthful enthusiasm is understandable and realistic. The insistence on signing a contract to play the game is the first sense of unease. They all sign except the young girl Kana. The next day they wake up as if nothing had happened, that is until the fist boy is ‘called’ and the fifteen children find themselves in a strange white room with empty chairs. Step by step the strange man takes them through the process of what they must do to pilot the giant black robot and defeat the enemy. The enemy is real. The danger and destruction to their village is real. And they will soon learn the consequences of piloting are far too real.
Quickly the story progresses from dreams to reality, to the stuff of nightmares. The first boy Waku, a soccer fan, pilots the giant robot during the next mysterious attack and does so with gusto. Like any boy his age, the thought of piloting a giant robot is a dream come true. The children name their robot Zearth. They assist each other in the strange white room, giving advice to Waku as he fights the enemy. He triumphs. They celebrate and then Waku dies.
His death looks like either an accident or murder by one of the other children. Is either the truth? They promise to keep his death a secret, that it was an accident, but was it? Soon the next child is called, Masaru Kodaka must do battle. None of them know the true reason for Waku’s death so he climbs into his chair eager to pilot the robot. During his chapters, his background is shown along with his deplorable attitude towards others. He wants to be the chosen few, like his callous and opportunistic father. He wishes to emulate him. During the battle he carelessly, even excitedly, causes collateral damage including lives as the fight takes place in town. The other children are upset by his attitude and what he is doing but cannot stop him. Within a short span he is shown the consequences of his actions while at the same time the investigation into Waku’s death begins.
It is a riveting story with an increasingly tragic, even bleak look at humanity. At first the children appear as any children would on the outside, energetic, young and innocent. However as the story evolves, so too does the underbelly begin to show and it is one filled with harsh cruelty at the core of human frailty. Much like in Shadow Star Narutaru, there are increasingly upsetting subject matter revealed along with the lives of the children who are forced to pilot the robot. Their lives are tragic, ruthless and in some cases, the children are the evil that is explored. The faceless enemies so far are only a tool in the story; the real enemy may be the cruel nature within the souls of some of the children themselves. The harsh outer reality they must face seems to be a reflection of the inner turmoil and merciless nature of humanity itself. It is another psychological horror amid science fiction and human drama in the stylistic Bokurano.
Hs unique art again portrays fragile looking and diverse youth in a clean background that becomes increasingly gritty, even disturbing as time goes on. The giant robot looks not unlike something one might see in Neon Genesis Evangelion, yet it is so far merely a tool, a trap even for the children. A perfect example of the combination of innocence and disquieting images is the character of Koyemshi. It looks almost like a stuffed toy rabbit, but this robot has a wide mouth that can smile too widely, showing far too many teeth turning the cute little robot ‘mascot’ into an aggressive and frightening creature. Its foul talking ways only add to the dichotomy that the characters and the story contain.
Bokurano Ours is a challenging science fiction series that questions the nature of humanity with a harsh light.