Front cover of the first volume of the manga
|Genre||Mecha, Drama, Psychological, Horror, Tragedy, Sci-Fi|
|Written by||Mohiro Kitoh|
|Original run||November 25, 2003 – June 25, 2009|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hiroyuki Morita|
|Music by||Yuji Nomi|
|Network||SUN-TV, Tokyo MX TV, TV Aichi, TV Kanagawa|
|Original run||April 8, 2007 – September 25, 2007|
|Bokura no: Alternative|
|Written by||Renji Ōki|
|Illustrated by||Mohiro Kitoh|
|Original run||May 24, 2007 – June 18, 2008|
Bokurano: Ours (ぼくらの Bokura no?, lit. "Our") is a Japanese science fiction manga by Mohiro Kitoh that was serialized in the monthly manga magazine Ikki from 2003 to 2009; 11 tankōbon have been published by Shogakukan. It is about a group of middle-school students who unwillingly assume the task of piloting a giant mecha named Zearth in a series of battles against mechas from parallel worlds, where the survival of Earth is dependent on their continuing to win at the cost of the life of the pilot of each battle.
The series has been adapted as an anime television series directed by Hiroyuki Morita and produced by Gonzo that aired in 2007, and a light novel series called Bokura no: Alternative with an alternative story by Renji Ōki and character designs by Kitoh himself. The manga is licensed in English by Viz Media, which began serializing it in the online English version of Ikki on July 23, 2009; the first print volume was published in February 2010.
Each story of Bokurano: Ours tends to focus exclusively on one character – the next pilot. It starts with some background information on the character and their underlying motivations while building up to their battle. The episodes themselves are named after the character currently being focused on.
During a summer camp, 15 children; 8 boys and 7 girls, find a grotto by the sea. Deep within they discover working computers and some electronic equipment, and later the owner, a man who introduces himself as "Kokopelli". Kokopelli claims to be a programmer working on a brand new game, in which a large robot has to defend the Earth against fifteen alien invasions. He persuades the children to test the game and enter into a contract. Fourteen of them agree, but one of them is kept from entering the contract by her older brother, and a moment later they all mysteriously awaken on the shore, believing what happened was just a dream.
That night, two giant robots appear by the beach. A small creature calling himself "Dung Beetle (Koyemushi)" also appears and claims to be the children's guide. He then teleports them into the black robot, with Kokopelli already inside and controlling the black robot in order to defeat the white enemy robot. During battle, he gives the children a brief tutorial on how to pilot the robot as he destroys the enemy. Once he has finished, he tells the children that they are on their own now and sends them back to the beach. As the children are teleported out, one child observes Kokopelli whispering "I'm sorry".
Takashi Waku is the first pilot of the robot, which is named "Zearth" by Maki Ano. Upon winning the fight, Waku is accidentally 'knocked' into the sea from a ledge on Zearth's chest by Jun. The second pilot, Masaru "Kodama" Kodaka, dies unceremoniously after defeating his opponent. Dung Beetle explains to the children that Zearth runs on life force, and the cost of every victory would be the life of its pilot. It is also revealed that the reason Waku was 'knocked' into the sea was because Zearth had drained his life force; he was already dead.
The next two pilots, Daiichi "Daichi" Yamura and Mako "Nakama" Nakarai, lose their lives similarly. Daichi protects an amusement park so his siblings can go there and Nakama uses Zearth's abilities to help save a classmate of hers. Before her victory death, Nakama manages to give the others some pilot costumes that she sewed herself. Through Takami "Komo" Komoda, the military finds out about the children's connection with Zearth, and they are brought together for their own protection.
The next pilot, Isao Kako, becomes too scared to fight. When he becomes too unstable, Chizuru "Chizu" Honda kills him, and becomes the next pilot for the fight. Before fighting the enemy robot, she seeks her revenge on the teacher and his friends who had abused her sexually. After killing his friends and while attempting to kill him, she is stopped by her sister, who is revealed to love him. Both her life and her unborn baby's life are taken as Zearth's payment, revealing that there is another person besides Kana Ushiro, who is exempt from the contract.
During Kunihiko Moji's fight, it is revealed that Zearth's cockpit looks just like their enemies' weak points. Maki, the next pilot, realizes that they are in an alternate universe for her fight when an unknown fighter jet attacks them. She pries open the enemy's weak point and reveals the human pilots inside, confirming the revelation. Dung Beetle then explains that these battles are meant to weed out parallel universes; In order to bring more diversity to the multiverse as a whole, countless parallel universes that have few differences from each other are forced to fight for the right to exist in a battle of survival of the fittest against other universes through these battles, with the loser's universe being completely erased from existence.
Kirie is the next to pilot Zearth, though he is reluctant to fight against other humans for the survival of their world due to his views on the importance of life. He later attacks the teacher who abused Chizu. After receiving some words of wisdom from military officer Misumi Tanaka, during his fight, he reveals himself to the opponent to show that they are themselves human. The opposing pilot, a girl, does likewise, showing him the many cuts and slits along her arm. After this moment, Kirie finally finds his resolve to fight and defeat the enemy.
Takami is the next pilot, but the enemy gains the upper hand during her fight. However, when the enemy pilot discovers Takami is the same age as his recently killed daughter, he abandons his robot and runs away. The Japanese government sets up a plan to lure him up to a piano recital held by Takami after revealing to the world some bits of information regarding Zearth and Takami as its pilot. In the end, the enemy pilot attends the recital and is so moved by Takami's performance that he allows himself to be killed by her father a few minutes before the time limit.
During Anko's fight, Anko's father, a newscaster, and the military attempted to fabricate a story about Zearth and the children to soothe the public opinion, despite being preempted by Karita, a boy who appeared on TV falsely claiming he was a Zearth pilot and whose comments raised the public opinion's hate for Zearth, resulting in his assassination. Afterward, Anko's father received an authorization to broadcast his daughter's battle from inside the cockpit to the whole world. Even when seeing Anko in grave danger as the acid flowing from enemy's piercing needles managed to breach the cockpit, almost killing her and Machi, her father did not stop the transmission despite objections from the others. However, after sending these images to the world, messages supporting his daughter came to the station and he used them to encourage her to fight back. She managed to turn the tide of the battle by using the same needles the enemy robot pierced at Zearth's body to knock it down, allowing her to remove the enemy cockpit. After sending a message to the world apologizing for the casualties occurred during Zearth's battles, Anko sealed her victory by destroying the enemy cockpit, and died in her father's arms. Thanks to Anko's declaration, the army managed to create its official version of the story, claiming that Zearth's only pilots are Komo, Anko and the deceased Karita, in spite of all three now being dead.
Before Kanji's fight, he discovers Jun, the older brother of Kana, is the one who is exempt from the contract. His own opponent is by far one of the strangest encountered, as it first launches needles onto Zearth and the battlefield before flying to Hawaii, then starts firing shots across the Pacific Ocean at Zearth, using the needles it launched at the start of the battle as markers. After Japan attempts to defeat the enemy with a nuclear bomb and fails, Jun suggests to Kanji to use the lasers to target the enemy. Although Kanji could not directly target the enemy, a human soul could be used as a target, and military officer Masamitsu Seki immediately volunteers. Dung Beetle teleports Seki and 22 soldiers to where the enemy is, and Seki valiantly reaches the enemy in time for Kanji to fire, thus defeating it. After the victory, Kanji requests Dung Beetle to teleport him to the top of the Chūtenrō tower where he contemplates who the next pilot will be in his final moments.
It is later revealed that Kana is the next pilot, as she actually entered into the contract after Kokopelli's battle, before the children discovered the consequences of it. Despite being considered too kind to harm others even at the cost of herself, she stood a chance in the battle as younger the pilot, stronger is the vital energy provided to the robot, thus increasing its capabilities. To aid Kana in her battle, and foreseeing a battle outside their home world, Misumi convinces Dung Beetle to allow an advanced fighter jet to be teleported into the cockpit, and uses it to shoot down the unmanned fighters deployed by the enemy world's army to help their robot. She ends up being shot down and, after ejecting, is captured by the enemy robot. Fearing Kana would stop fighting to not harm her, she ends up killing herself with her own gun, just after Ushiro is told that she is his real mother, who left him with Kana's father (an old teacher of hers) thirteen years ago, as she didn't feel she had the right to raise him herself. Soon after, Kana defeats the enemy
During the time between Kana's battle and the next, Machi is revealed to be Dung Beetle's younger sister, a human girl from a parallel Earth. It turns out that because Kokopelli and her home world's battle for existence was still taking place, Machi did not become a part of the contract since an individual cannot be part of 2 contracts at once, but Machi signs the contract with Jun after Kana's victory, agreeing to fight for her adopted Earth. She is shot in the head shortly afterward by a mysterious man and ends up in a coma; Dung Beetle decided to end her life himself since he thought it would have been the best choice, leaving Jun to take her place for the next battle, and returned a version of Machi that already existed on this Earth, who was replaced by the Machi from the parallel Earth during the summer camp before she and the others went into the grotto and signed the contract, from the stasis she was in and with no memory of the previous events, to her family.
In Jun's fight, the battle takes place on the opposing enemy's world. After a short battle, he defeats the enemy robot, but the pilot tricks him into opening the enemy cockpit which allows the pilots inside to teleport away and hide among the population of the city. Jun then has no choice but to kill everyone on the planet, and ultimately succeeds.
Finally, rather than find a replacement pilot, and as an atonement to Machi, Dung Beetle returns to his human form and enters into his supporting Earth's contract in order to participate in the 15th and final battle for its existence, which also serves as the tutorial battle for the next set of pilots of the next world: in effect, becoming the next "Kokopelli".
Rules of the battle
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Here is a list of the rules revealed over the course of the story:
- Each group of pilots must use their robot to fight and defeat several enemy robots without a single loss. The number of pilots necessary can vary from world to world. Each battle must be concluded in 48 hours at most. If they lose a battle, or the time expires, their world will be destroyed and all life on it will be extinguished.
- Once an individual signs the contract, they must participate in a battle, no matter what.
- One robot must be teleported to another world to fight the defending robot of that world for each battle; either robot can go to either world for the battle, but not at the same time.
- When a battle takes place, both robots, attacking and defending, must fight in the area where the next pilot of the robot of the defending world is. The group of pilots for each robot will also be teleported into their respective robot no matter where any one of them is on their respective world.
- The pilot can cause as much collateral damage and/or non-combatant casualties as they want, or none at all, during the battle.
- Any of the pilots can reveal themselves and/or any of the other pilots to their world and/or their world's governments as the pilots of their robot, or they can keep this secret entirely to themselves. They can do this to attain help from their world to fight enemy robots.
- The battle is won by killing the current pilot of the enemy robot. This can be done by finding the enemy robot's cockpit, located somewhere inside its body, and destroying it, or by completely destroying the enemy robot in any way that the pilot sees fit.
- As long as the enemy pilot is killed by someone from the opposing world the victory is valid, a pilot is not the only one who can do it.
- The robot consumes the life force of whoever pilots it, thus even if the pilot survives the battle, his/her life ends soon afterwards.
- The pilot must be one of the people who signed the contract, and just after an enemy is defeated, the pilot for the following battle is selected among them.
- The pilot exercises total control of the robot just by his/her own will, and all knowledge about its capabilities can simply be implanted within his/her memory if desired.
- While a pilot can control the robot from the outside, rules prohibit the pilot to be anywhere but the cockpit when fighting an enemy.
- No change of control is allowed unless the chosen pilot dies before his/her battle is finished. In this case the robot's control is automatically switched to the pilot for the next battle and he/she must continue the bout.
- When the pilot dies after winning a battle, normally the body is delivered to his or her family. However, the pilot has the right to decide previously how it will be handled. It can be made to disappear, or stored within one of the many crevices inside the robot, for example.
- People from one world can sign another contract to fight for another world, but they must leave their original contract to do this, as they cannot be part of more than one contract at once.
- If at any moment the group is short of pilots to complete the remaining battles, other individuals must sign the contract to fill the quota.
- The team's guide must appear whenever a contractee calls for him and must obey the current pilot's wishes, even if it includes being teleported out of the robot in the middle of a fight to run away.
- The team's guide may not teleport the robot during a fight, although he is capable of hiding it in any suitable hiding place on the planet that he wants and he can summon it outside of a fight whenever he chooses to.
- The last remaining pilot is sent to another world, with the task of assembling a group of pilots to represent it, and have the final battle there to make a demonstration to them.
Manga only rules
- If there is no pilot for the robot, the battle starts regardless. All attacks to the robot are nullified. If no pilot is contracted within 24 hours of the battle's start, then the other side wins, but the pilot will still die. If a pilot is contracted, then the battle takes place in the remaining amount of time.
- If the last pilot loses the demonstration battle on the next Earth, the contractees from that world will be revived and the world will not be destroyed.
Anime only rules
- The group's guide (Koyemshi in Zearth team's case) has authority to determine the order of the pilots.
- The current pilot carries a tattoo-like mark on his/her body which resembles a trait of the enemy robot he/she must engage. When the battle is won, the mark disappears before the pilot dies.
- If the enemy robot is destroyed without the pilot taking any action (for example, if the enemy commits suicide) he/she does not die, but will remain the pilot for the next battle, as Zearth only takes life energy to move. The fight still counts towards the total number of wins.
- The pilot for the final match still has the task of assembling the pilots for another universe, but if this pilot survives the battle, his/her life will be spared.
- After all battles are won, the winning pilot can choose to dismantle the robot before death, relieving the last pilot of the duty of succession and sparing the world from destruction.
The robots featured in Bokurano: Ours come in many different shapes, but all share similar traits. Each is roughly 500 m (1,640 ft) tall, layered with armor that can easily withstand all assaults from human weapons, including nuclear ones, without a scratch, and each has a panel with illuminated slits that represent the number of pilots, which go out as they die. Inside the robot, the pilots all sit inside a ball-shaped cockpit during each battle. This cockpit can be removed from the robot, allows the pilot operating the robot to view the battleground and/or anything on the planet that the pilot wants to see and it has custom-made furniture for each pilot to sit on, being created in the shape of a piece of furniture that the pilot's mind finds significant. Before a battle takes place, one of the pilots is chosen to operate the robot for the battle, and does so during the battle by simply thinking about what they want the robot to do, using their will to make the robot do it, as long as the robot's design allows it to be done. The robot's power source is the life force of the pilot who operates it during the battle; thus, the winning pilot dies after the battle.
The main characters give the robot they are assigned the name Zearth. It is a large black humanoid-type with incredibly long arms and legs, and its hands can pry open the armor of other robots or impale them like spears. It has extremely thick armor compared to other robots, and it has the ability to jettison any part of its body in any way at will. It can not only locate any of its jettisoned body parts anywhere on Earth, but it can also sense the location of any human on the Earth as well, and that ability can be used to direct any number of its many lasers at any size population and/or any person that the pilot is familiar with, no matter where they are on the planet.
The first enemy robot is faced by Kokopelli as a demonstration, and it is later named "Arachne" by the government. It resembles a spider with four limbs and can discharge electricity. The first enemy faced by the children is named "Bayonet", and it resembles a long sword with three edges at the bottom and a short claw-like appendage at the bottom of each edge. They also face "Cancer"; a large and round robot with three legs and multiple retractable whips, "Drum", a robot shaped like a giant layered cylinder that can rotate to roll against any surface and grind down armor, even in midair, "Enigma"; the first humanoid-type opponent that they face, "Fig"; a large bulb-shaped robot, with an elongated end that is connected to three limbs capable of launching it into the air and allowing it to hit Zearth like a wrecking ball, and "Gonta"; a robot shaped like a platform with two wide limb-like structures underneath it that tries to lure Zearth close by exposing its cockpit and then crushes the robot between them.
They face the robot "Arachne II" on an enemy earth. Though it looks like Arachne, it can stand on its rear and spin rapidly to use its limbs as a buzz saw. They also face "Enigma II", another humanoid opponent, on another Earth. They face "Humbug" on their original earth. It is a humanoid robot with segmented arms that allows Zearth to remove its armor to allow a number of sharp wires to surround Zearth and pierce the cockpit. They also face "Idol"; a long and narrow-shaped flying robot with two wings and is capable of generating nails that secrete a dangerous solvent, and "Javelin"; a robot with two short arms and a large mouth that can fly and can shape-shift into a gigantic artillery cannon that is capable of firing at targets thousands of kilometers away by shooting markers. They face a two legged robot whose main body resembles Cancer both in shape and weaponry on an enemy Earth, and lastly, on yet another Earth, a humanoid opponent whose deranged pilot tricks them into opening their cockpit and allowing them to escape and hide among their Earth's population, forcing them to manually kill everyone on the planet.
Vehicles, Technology, and Weapons
Bokurano is set in what appears to be either an alternate world, or one that resembles ours in the near future. There are some major differences from the real world--for example, Japan and the United States, rather than being allies, have a hostile, Cold War-like relationship. A treaty called the Treaty of Tianjin is mentioned that forbids the development of drones and other unmanned weapons. Bonus material contained in the collected volumes of the manga gives details on the vehicles and weapons that appear. The most significant ones include the "Type 88 Light Fighter", a canard-winged jet fighter that appears multiple times through the story as the main air defense fighter of the JASDF, the "Type 80 Support Fighter", a delta-winged ground-attack aircraft, the "Type 76 General Purpose Aircraft", a tandem-wing transport airplane, and the "Type 91 Guided Anti-Aircraft Missile". Other technologies briefly seen but not named include an American laser weapon mounted in the bomb bay of a B-52, and a Japanese aircraft carrier called the Akagi.
Regarding differences between the stories in the manga and in the anime, Hiroyuki Morita, who directed the anime, wrote in his blog that he dislikes the original story and has, in some ways, been making changes to the plot for that reason. He also wrote that, at one point early in the development of the show, he asked manga author Mohiro Kitoh if he could find some way to save the main characters — the kids who must pilot Zearth. He wrote that Kitoh responded that his choice was fine as long as the changes did not involve "magical solutions" to the story. Morita closed out the blog entry with the statement "The director of the animated version of Bokurano dislikes the original manga. From here on out, you can't expect the animated version to expand on what you might find appealing in the original. So, fans of the original, please do not watch the animated version from now on".
Bokurano: Ours was written and illustrated by Mohiro Kitoh. The first chapter was published in the January 2004 issue of the monthly seinen (aimed at younger adult men) manga magazine Ikki, where it was serialized until its conclusion in the August 2009 issue. Serialized chapters were collected in eleven tankōbon volumes published by Shogakukan.
The manga is licensed for an English-language release by Viz Media, which began serializing it in the online English version of Ikki on July 23, 2009; the first print volume was published in February 2010, and the final volume was released in September 2014.[needs update] It is also licensed in French by Asuka, in Italian by Kappa Edizioni, in South Korea by Daiwon C.I., and in Taiwan by Ever Glory Publishing.
An anime television series adaptation called Bokurano was directed by Hiroyuki Morita and produced by Gonzo. It was broadcast in Japan from April 8 to September 25, 2007 SUN-TV and TOKYO-MX, as well as other stations. Episodes were released in Japan on eight DVDs between July 25, 2007 and March 26, 2008. On September 4, 2014, North American anime licensor, Discotek Media announced their license to the anime with an English subtitled DVD release in 2015.
The original soundtrack is by Yūji Nomi. The opening theme was "Uninstall" (アンインストール An'insutōru?), and the ending themes were "Little Bird" (episodes 1–12) and "Vermillion" (episodes 13–24), all performed by Chiaki Ishikawa.
Bokurano was also adapted as a light novel series entitled Bokura no: Alternative (ぼくらの〜alternative〜 Bokura no Orutanatibu?). Five volumes written by Renji Ōki with illustrations by Mohiro Kitoh were published by Shogakukan between May 2007 and June 2008. This series has an alternate storyline, depicting most of the original characters from the manga accompanied by a handful of new ones, with the same task of piloting Zearth to protect the world at the expense of their own lives.
|1||May 24, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-451008-9|
|2||July 18, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-451020-1|
|3||September 19, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-451026-3|
|4||December 18, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-451041-6|
|5||June 18, 2008||ISBN 978-4-09-451075-1|
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