Bokurano Ours Vol. #01 - Mania.com



Manga Review

Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translation Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1421533612
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Bokura no Unsei

Bokurano Ours Vol. #01

Bokurano Ours Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Matthew Warner     February 03, 2010
Release Date: February 16, 2010


Bokurano Ours Vol. #01
© Viz Media

A twisted yet intriguing tale of 15 children and one giant robot

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Mohiro Kitoh
Translation: Camellia Nieh
Adaptation: Camellia Nieh

What They Say
Saving the world is hard. Saving yourself is even harder. One summer, 15 kids innocently wander into a nearby seaside cave. There they meet a strange man who invites them to play an exciting new video game. Sounds like fun, right? This game, he explains, pits a lone giant robot against a horde of alien invaders. All they have to do is sign a simple little contract. The game stops being fun when the kids find out the true purpose of their deadly pact.

The Review!

Technical:

As with all books in the Viz Signature series, Bokurano: Ours gets an increase in size over your average volume and is given a cover that is made out of a nice, smooth material.  As for the actual cover itself, it’s one that wraps around the book, showing three of the children in the foreground of a beach which the robot, only half contained on the front, while the back primarily shows a fighter jet and the rest of the robot.  While this creates a simple yet effective cover, the artist also adds a small section that is “torn” revealing what appears to be a sketched image of one of the aliens.  This little detail really helps to add a lot of personality to the cover.  The reverse sides of both covers contain a variety of interesting little sketches.  
 
The art is fairly generic looking but nonetheless competently drawn.   However, that complaint luckily does not extend to the robot and the aliens, which look unique, fantastic, and just a little bit eerie.  The sound effects are treated in the general Viz manner, replacing the originals completely with stylized translations.    Honorifics are maintained and the dialogue reads smoothly.
 
Content:
15 children, most of whom are just starting junior high, are sent to the beach as part of a program to observe nature.  They quickly decide to go exploring and enter a cave inhabited by a strange man and a number of computers.  The man, Kokopelli, explains that he has been making a game and convinces the children to play.  In the game, they will pilot a giant robot in order to defeat 15 aliens and save the Earth.  The children agree and all but the youngest one, Kana, enter a contract in order to play the game.  
 
After returning from the cave, the robot soon appears before the children, as well as an alien and a strange, small, talking creature known as Koyemshi (that’s not a typo, and I don’t know how to pronounce it either.)  The children soon find themselves in the robot’s “cockpit,” which appears in the form of an empty room with a different floating seat for each child.  Kokopelli takes control for this first battle and defeats the enemy, but he takes down a fighter jet in the process.  When the children ask him why, he explains that he isn’t of their planet, but he’s still a person like them.  He then disappears, leaving the children, under the guidance of Koyemshi, to defeat the rest of the invaders.  
 
We then begin to follow one child in particular, Takashi Waku.  We soon learn that he used to play soccer, before he is called to be the first of the children to pilot the robot.  Everyone enters the cockpit, but only Takashi is allowed to control it.  After the children decide to name the robot Zearth, a new alien appears and they spring into action.  
 
However, before the battle can start, we are treated to a little bit of back-story on Takashi, showing how his dad also used to play soccer before becoming a salary man and passionate baseball fan, which prompted Takashi to quit soccer and take some time to think through his life.  As this ends, we’re instantly thrown into the fight, which even manages to tie a little into the characters story and makes for a fantastic little scene.
 
The children exit to the outer shell of the robot to celebrate their first victory, but things take a disturbing turn as one of the boys, Jun Ushiro, accidently pushes Takashi off the robot and to his death while trying to get him to quiet down.  
 
The school trip is cancelled and the children are shaken and forced to tell the authorities that Takashi had drowned while swimming in the ocean, keeping the truth to themselves.  We also learn that Jun, despite his passive appearance, has a tendency to take his anger out on Kana, his younger sister.  
 
From then on, the story is shown from the perspective of Masaru Kodaka, who happens to have a rather twisted view of life, seeing the world as only being made up of “losers” and the “chosen few.”   We learn how this view stems from his admiration of his rude, calculating businessman father.  Masaru is the next to gain control of the robot, and during the fight he shows his cruelty by ignoring the casualties he’s causing while fighting the alien in the middle of a city, saying that those who die are fated to do so.  However, the book ends with yet another dark twist as Masaru accidently ends up killing his own father in the battle, and the authorities discover that Takashi’s death occurred well before he had a chance to die.
 
In Conclusion:
Bokurano: Ours is a great little take on the mecha genre with a lot of potential to become something amazing by the time it reaches its end.  Already, we can already see the story drifting towards a darker tone, but the question remains of just how dark the story is willing to go.  However, more importantly the set-up we’re given has a lot of potential, allowing each of the characters a chance in the spotlight to be truly developed, and even helps to give the robot a different fighting style during each battle to help keep things fresh.  It will be incredibly interesting to see how the story develops and what secrets each of these characters may be hiding.  Either way, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.

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