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 males and 7 females, 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. All but one of them agree, and a moment later they mysteriously awaken on the shore, believing what happened was just a dream.
That night, two giant robots appear suddenly by the beach. They find 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".
The next night, a small creature calling himself "Koyemshi" appears and claims to be their guide. He then teleports the children into the black robot. 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 by Jun Ushiro. The second pilot, Masaru "Kodama" Kodaka, dies unceremoniously after defeating his opponent. Koyemshi explains to the children that Zearth runs on life force, and the cost of every victory would be the life of its pilot.
The next pilot, Isao Kako, becomes too cowardly to fight. Chizuru "Chizu" Honda accidentally kills him, and becomes the next pilot. Before fighting the enemy robot, she seeks her revenge on the teacher who had abused her sexually. While attempting to kill him, she is stopped by her sister. 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.
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.
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 when an unknown fighter jet attacks them. She pries open the enemy's weak point and reveals the human pilots inside. Then Koyemshi explains that these battles are meant to weed out parallel universes.
Rules of the battle
Here is a list of the rules revealed in the manga:
- Each group of pilots must use their robot to fight and defeat a number of enemy robots without a single loss. 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.
- The battle is won by finding the enemy robot's cockpit, located somewhere into its body, and killing its current pilot.
- 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 another eligible pilot 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 are able to sign the contract to fight for another world; however, they cannot be a 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.
- Koyemshi must appear whenever a contractee calls for him and must obey the pilot's wishes, even if it includes being teleported out of the robot in the middle of a fight to run away.
- Koyemshi may not teleport the robot during a fight, although he is capable of summoning it outside of a fight whenever he chooses to.
- The last remaining pilot is sent to another world, with the task of assembling another group of people to be the pilots representing it, and battle there to make a demonstration to them. The number of pilots needed does not necessarily have to be 14, if your world is lucky it can be another number like 11.
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. The last pilot's world will be destroyed instead.
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.
The robots featured in Bokurano: Ours 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 sit inside a bulb-shaped cockpit that can be removed from the robot.
Zearth is the robot assigned to the main characters. It is a large black humanoid-type with incredibly long arms and legs. It has extremely thick armor compared to other robots, and it has the ability to jettison any part of its body at will. It can sense the location of any human on the Earth, and that ability can be used to direct its lasers at any one person 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 six limbs that can discharge electricity. The first enemy faced by the children is named "Bayonet", and it resembles a long sword with three edges and a short claw-like appendage at the bottom of each edge. They also face "Cancer", a large and round robot with two drill-like legs along its back that would burrow into the ground and steady it, and a claw-like appendage in the front to balance it and keep it upright, "Drum", a robot shaped like a giant layered cylinder that can rotate against any surface, "Enigma", the first humanoid-type opponent that they face, "Fig", a large bulb-shaped robot, with three barbed limbs capable of launching it into the air and allowing it to hit Zearth like a wrecking ball, and "Gonta", a robot that lures Zearth close by exposing its cockpit and traps it between two wide limb-like structures underneath it.
They face the robot "Arachne II" on an enemy earth. Though it looks like Arachne, it spins rapidly and uses its limbs as a buzz saw. They also face the robot "Enigma II" on another Earth, the robot "Humbug", a humanoid robot with segmented limbs that allows Zearth to remove its armor to allow a number of sharp wires to surround Zearth and pierce the cockpit, "Idol", a flying robot capable of generating and shooting nails that secrete a dangerous solvent, and "Javelin", a cylinder shaped robot that can fire at targets thousands of kilometers away by placing markers.
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 anime version of Bokurano hates the original work. Viewers should not expect to see any aspects that they liked about the original manga appearing in the anime. So fans of the manga, please stop watching the anime".
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 is scheduled to be published in February 2010. 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.
The original soundtrack is by Yūji Nomi. The opening theme was "Uninstall" (アンインストール An'insutōru?) by Chiaki Ishikawa, and the ending themes were "Little Bird" by Chiaki Ishikawa (episodes 1–12) and "Vermillion" by Chiaki Ishikawa (episodes 13–24).
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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- "地球防衛少年．鬼頭莫宏" (in Chinese). Ever Glory Publishing. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
- "小学館：コミック 『ぼくらの BOKURANO OFFICIAL BOOK』" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
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- "ぼくらの：アニメ版公式サイト" (in Japanese). Gonzo. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
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- "小学館：コミック 『ぼくらの～alternative～ 1』" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
- "小学館：コミック 『ぼくらの～alternative～ 2』" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
- "小学館：コミック 『ぼくらの～alternative～ 3』" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
- "小学館：コミック 『ぼくらの～alternative～ 4』" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
- "小学館：コミック 『ぼくらの～alternative～ 5』" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
- Official Ikki-Para Bokurano: Ours manga website (Japanese)
- Official Gonzo Bokurano anime website (Japanese)
- Bokurano: Ours (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Bokurano: Ours (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Bokurano Ours Vol. 1 -(ActiveAnime review)
- About.com review
- Sigikki's website solicitation and preview of the manga