Bokurano anime review: anime review – the stories of true heroes

Review: Bokurano is a sci-fi/fantasy in the extreme but it surprisingly retains very solid and realistic atmosphere because the anime never gets carried away by its own fantasy elements. It always stays on the ground where we all are and it never chooses explosive action over detailed characterization. It dives deeper into life and emotion instead of leaping forward and abandoning the stories of human. Thus, watching Bokurano is such a unique and incredible experience.

Bokurano begins with fifteen high school children currently on a summer camp. While exploring a cave together, they run into a mysterious man who invites them to join in the game of piloting giant robot. Thinking that the game is just for fun, they agree to participate and since then, they are forced to walk the path of doom. The children takes turn on piloting the giant mecha and the fate of the world will be decided by the results of each battle.

The anime uses quite common plot device; a group of people getting trapped in difficult situation. With this kind of plot, the anime has plenty of opportunity to explore each character in depth and Bokurano does exactly that. There are fifteen pilots and fifteen battles. On each pilot, the anime spends at least one full episode on exploring that character. As a result, the viewers never gets bored since every few episodes, new subplot emerges. What separates Bokurano from other mecha anime is that each subplot deals mostly with the characters’ lives, not their battles. Surprisingly, the battles, however brief they are, turn out to be extremely powerful because I care about the characters. I know them so well. I know how they feel, what they have been through and what they are fighting for. Every death breaks my heart and shakes me to the core.

Besides several minor themes hidden in each subplot, I believe the show has two main themes that are worth mentioning. The first theme is about the insignificance of human lives. The whole thing about parallel universe and how the game is used to eliminate excessive universes makes me realize how small we all are. No one would care whether we live or disappear.

The other theme is sacrifice. As the post title suggested, Bokurano is the story of true heroes. Each character’s life is far from perfect. They face many common obstacles and sufferings we all face in reality; family problems, feeling of guilt, unrequited love etc. Plus, they know they are doomed after each battle. Considering all these factors, these people should not have any heart to fight even if it’s for the sake of the world because the most assuring drive for any living thing like survival has already been taken from them. They cannot fight for their own survival and I can’t help admiring these children who, instead, fight for other people. They are true heroes.

Due to the greater part of the show taking place in normal urban setting, the great animation never really stands out. The sluggish movement of the mecha is deliberately done to emphasize on its enormous size. The soundtracks including the opening and ending themes do nothing but to make the viewers more depressed. This doesn’t sound like a complement but it is, actually. Conclusion: Bokurano exhibits ideal mixture of sci-fi/fantasy and drama genre. If this is not one of the best shows ever made, I don’t know what is.

Rating: A


Title: Bokurano
Genre: sci-fi, mecha, fantasy, horror
Release date: April 8, 2007 – September 25, 2007
Episode: 24
Director: Hiroyuki Morita
Animated by: Gonzo

25 responses to “Bokurano anime review: anime review – the stories of true heroes

  1. The manga is even better! Gonzo actually toned down some of the kids’ backstories because they involved underaged sex. Mohiro Kitoh certainly has a knack for making children suffer (see Narutaru for another example).
    The ending is anime-original since the manga is still ongoing. Kitoh only asked them to avoid resurrecting the children.

    • I hardly read any manga nowadays. I guess I got used to both sight and sound of anime. Resurrection? I am personally glad those children are not resurrected. That might have ruin the ending :)

  2. Yes, I love the intense realism of this show. I can’t really connect to the whole hype of others.

  3. This series does manage to stand out through that tragic premise it’s carrying along, especially when you get to see the days leading up to each kid’s final moment. It’s just so easy to sympathize with their plight and you hope to see this vicious cycle come to an end.

    That said, I do think they dropped the ball around the middle since the characters really started to act in ways that either were boring or weren’t being rational in their approach to handling the situation. Thankfully, the ending is riveting and so, closes out with solid execution.

    • Yeah, I remembered few of the kids did annoyed me but that didn’t affect the show as a whole that much because each story arc expanded only a few episodes. So it kind of went by unnoticed for me.

  4. I saw this one about six months ago. Awesome show. I’d even go so far as to say it was perfect about 2/3 of the way through. Then it hit a few plot holes and slowed down toward the end.

  5. Very very good. Ive seen this twice, i catually got mt girldfriend into anime with this one. Great review!

  6. Glad to see you writing a review of this show! I agree with all of what you said here. I watched it earlier this year and totally love it. It is hands down my favourite Gonzo show, beating out Gankutsuou and Last Exile. It’s a shame that it really seems to fly under the radar probably due to its mecha theme and depressing tone. I mean, only one blogger (Star Crossed Anime. I know of this anime from reading the review on there) voted it in their top anime of the decade. It deserves more recognition than that! It’s also one of those stories that the less known the better. I remember being in total shock at the end of the second episode and did not believe it really happened. I also like the seemingly random selection of the pilots. A few people that are portrayed as the main protagonists did not turn out to be so which really kept me guessing quite a bit and hoping that some characters I like could cheat the system and survive.

    I also got my brother to watch it and he also totally falls in love with it. It’s just great to discuss with him about each storyline and what are our favourites. Credits to the director to manage to flesh out all of the characters in only one episode each. Some anime can’t even do it in one season. My personal favourites are Daichi’s and Mochi’s stories, especially the former. It gives me chill just thinking about it. This is also one of those pretty interesting philosophical question (just like with Battle Royale). What would we really do in that situation? I can’t even imagine how scared I would be…

    I love the music. OP and ED are all amazing. It got me to listen to the singer Isikawa Rika. The second ending tune is just so haunting. Watching through it just reminds me of the tragic yet somehow uplifting theme running through the series. I also like how each of the chairs, helped by the ways they sit on, is a great summary of their owner’s character (Daiichi’s cushion, Kodama’s big corporate chair, etc).

    PS. Can you believe the director, Morita Hiroyuki, also directed the Cat Returns?

    • Oops, I mean Ishikawa Chiaki when I wrote the above. Must be subconciously thinking about the ex-Morning Musume girl when writing that!

    • Bokurano, Last Exile, Gankutsuou…Gonzo was so great back in the last decade. It’s great that you mentioned about the suspense in this show. The way it kept us on the edge of our seats every time the chairs rotated. That’s one of reason the anime was so addictive.

      ‘Some anime can’t even do it (character development) in one season.’
      That tends to happen when one primarily focuses on fan service :P

      ps. I never knew he directed Cats Return…what a shock.

  7. Well, this was a bit of a surprise! (A good one, though.)

    Bokurano is one of my absolute favourites. I fell in love with the premise when I first read about it in NewtypeUSA years ago, and when I got to watch it I just kept right on loving it. Plus ‘Uninstall’ has been one of my most-beloved anime themes since I heard it.

    I’ve actually been debating reviewing it on my own very-new anime blog, but I think you about covered everything here, so maybe I won’t.

    Arianna S. :)

    • Welcome!
      I see you have just started your new blog. I don’t think you should avoid reviewing this anime because it seems like I did cover everything already.
      I believe each person has different aspects to share about anything. So if you feel like talking about this show, please do and remind me to read it as well :)

  8. Hmm, I haven’t seen this one yet but it seems interesting.
    It sounds like this is a depressing series. Is it the characters and their backgrounds that make it depressing or is it something else?

  9. This looks like a cool show. And if you say it’s a top tier show, all then all the more reason to check it out! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  10. This is an anime too?! I had no idea, I’m currently reading the manga. No idea if I’ll try the anime, I manga because I like looking forward to each volume release. If I watch the anime I probably won’t be as excited since I’ll know what’s going to happen.

    • According to others, they altered the ending to wrap things up within 24 episode. Nevertheless, you’ll miss the extremely beautiful songs if you do not watch the anime. :)

      • Sounds like I’ll watch it after I get past the anime ending in the manga. I do sort of enjoy watching the anime to a series that I’m currently reading even if it’s plot I’ve already seen. Makes me nostalgic.

  11. Gah, you’re feelings about the anime are practically the same as mine. I cried over half of the character deaths… Specially ‘Kiddo’.
    Though, when you put highschool, didn’t you mean middle school? I thought they had just started middle school when they went to the beach.

  12. Absolutely adored this series. I would also recommend the manga, even though the anime may have a more original ending and realistic story line, I think the manga focuses and developts the characters in much more originality and detail. I would totally recommend you to read the manga as well, however, I do warn you the story and characters are quite different from the anime so you should treat it as a different story.
    Keep reviewing:)

    • I have not read any manga for a long while. It is quite hard to find them online these days and I no longer buy real manga because I have no place to store them. :(

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