Bokurano – Manga Analysis

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Every two seconds, somewhere in the world, a child dies of starvation. That means every two seconds there is a story where the main character dies. That’s a lot of horrible stories. So if my death looks like a sad story to someone else, I hope those people will use their imagination to think of all the children who don’t get special deaths.

Bokurano (means ‘ours’) by Kitoh Mohiro is one of those rare reads where you don’t know what the hell is going on. Sure, it starts off as a simple adventure, then gives a cliché vibe, seems like typical mecha; but then things start to change, raw emotions start to leak, and it makes you uncomfortable as hell.
It is a story where at a certain time, after fulfilling their role, the characters die.
But, isn’t that how life works?


At first glance, Bokurano is a summer camp adventure of 15 kids. As the group of them stroll through the seaside, they stumble upon a grotto, inside which they find an array of computers, and a strange man named Kokopelli. He is apparently working on a mecha game and needs volunteers to test it. As the simple fools, they sign a contract which will let them play as a giant robot defending the earth.
But only after the first real fight do they realize that they made a terrible mistake; as Kokopelli ‘conveniently’ forgot to tell them that the functioning of the robot depends upon their sacrifice.

Now, this manga is anything but linear. If you think it only consists of a series of fights and ends at the victory and glory, then you are mistaken. It is not another Gundam; actually, it is not your regular good-vs-bad story, as it deals with the human psyche faced with the concept of ‘sacrifice’. The world here is the world we all are acquainted with, and every character is driven by their own instincts, their own causes, as they drive the robot Zearth (Yes, you read it right: Z-Earth). Spoiler: No one wins.

It’s a cluster of stories inside a big story; stories about adolescent, love, trust, betrayal, and many other themes. As we get the insight of the life of each ‘hero’, the plot becomes darker and more vivid. It has a fair share of twists too; and some really disturbing scenes. All in all, a work for the twisted, of the twisted, by the twisted.

The manga certainly raises an important question in the guise of metaphor; what will you do if the humankind’s preservation depends upon your end? Would you think about saving yourself, or would you be a good puppet and do what you’re told?
Basically, what would you do if there is a war?


Characters are the strongest part of the manga. As usual/unusual (depends on how much mecha you’ve read/watched) its setting may be, it really shines where we know about the backstories of all the characters, and what drives them to do what they do. It could’ve easily been a manga like many others, where death is just another plot device and doesn’t affect us at all; but here, each loss punches us in the gut, and reminds us of our mortality.

Some of the characters make you find value in little things, and some of them make everything seem pointless. And if you keep reading, after some time they make you numb. Each of them has their own reason of doing things, and sometimes those can seem very narrow, and childish. Some of their thoughts, their decisions may be dangerously depressing to you, but my deranged mind managed to get a chuckle out of them.

Even with so many people in the mix, every character has their own importance, even the secondary ones. I’m not stating any notable characters because, in the case of this manga, it depends on yourself (although if I have to name one, Dung Beetle is my favorite, in my screwed-up way). They all contribute to the plot, their intricate mingling creating a mundane design.


The art of Kitoh Mohiro is unique, as maybe you haven’t read another manga where almost every character is tall and skinny (I haven’t). Its minimalist approach may sometimes feel ‘lacking’, but they work well when the plot is of the main concern (refer to Liar Game). The fight scenes of the robots are where the art really shines, and the choice of panels deserves special mention. Despite the initial expression, it is different in its own way, creating the nihilistic atmosphere this manga warranted.


As I had said in my Sundome review, this manga is not like other manga of this genre. They have another similarity; they both are depressing as hell (as you are probably aware of it by the opening). If you’re looking for something exciting and/or fun to read, sadly this manga isn’t that. It’s a bleak, grim ride. The only other work which comes in mind is the same mangaka’s Narutaru (Shadow Star), another great manga with similar themes.
The ending leaves something to be desired, but there was also no other way in sight. There is also an Anime of it, which deals with the story differently, attempting at closure; but in my opinion, it falls apart.
All that being said, it’s not all well and good. Sometimes Bokurano goes out of its way to scour positivity, maybe to balance things out, maybe as a red herring. But those moments of justification, along with any justifications of their sacrifices, in my opinion, are a weak point of this manga.

Ultimately, it is a story which addresses humankind’s worth, or apparent lack-of-worth. It shows different peoples, with different reactions to the same fate, fighting a battle they didn’t choose; but in the end, it’s all very humane, all very fragile. It may seem as a pessimistic view, but it’s a view nonetheless; in this manga, there is no ‘win’ after all. What we may perceive as ‘winning’, is just a form of deluding ourselves. You may think otherwise, but that’s just ‘wishful thinking’. How anything does matter, if the day you think you’ve won, is the day you fall?

…Wait, was there really nothing humorous in the entire article?!
*prepares noose*

Ayan Sarkar

Ayan is an exploratory author and fun person in real life (or so we like to think). He can write reviews and cover ups pretty fast, only if he gets the time to do so.