Anime Vs Manga Review: Bokurano

Posted By EthaNox On April 4, 2011

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Our story

Bokurano tells the story of a group of kids (too old to be called children for the most part) who go on a field trip to the beach for the summer. There they find a strange man by the name of Kokopelli who tells the group of kids that he’s a videogame designer and needs new volunteers to try out his game. Kokopelli enthralls them with promises of trying out a unique game in which they will become heroes, and all they have to do is enter a mysterious contract by touching a metallic plate and they’ll be allowed to pilot a gigantic mech to fight against Earth’s enemies.
They later wake up in the beach thinking it was all a weird collective dream…which is not a good thing after being approached in a secluded cave by a creepy man. Their doubts are cleared after two giant robots appear motionless by the coast later that evening, giving the children a glimpse of their future.

After a lot of hype and amazement, they find themselves inside their own robot which they promptly nickname “Zearth.” The battle begins as Kokopelli takes the reins and teaches children how to pilot the robot only to disappear moments later and leave them in the care of Dung Beetle (the Japanese character is Koyemshi), who then proceeds to teleport the kids away and explain to them what will happen next. They are required to board the robot and fight against the “invaders” in order to save the Earth.

This of course paints the title as little nothing than a classic shonen; ‘bunch of kids meet mysterious stranger, get super powers, and save the world! That is until you learn the truth of Zearth’s nature, the one that Kokopelli kept from the children…It’s a robot that runs on life force. And as the first eager pilot finds out, each battle means one of them dies at the end whether they win or lose.

It’s not what it seems

The story is amazingly dark as it delves into the issues faced by these kids, each one knowing full well that one of them will die in order to preserve their planet until none of them are left. One of the best elements of this plot device shows itself greatly in the manga. Once a pilot dies, the next one hears a little ring and is given a few days to live the rest of his/her life on Earth. They can choose to keep it a secret or to let everyone know, but it comes to an end as soon as
Zearth shows up and the 24 hour counter for the battle begins.

The anime version is different. The pilots get a tattoo which represents their next enemy and the episodes are a bit rushed, so you never get the building tension between the cast of characters and the rest of their world. It’s an amazing story in the manga as they all know they will die no matter what, since not entering Zearth means their planet will be destroyed.

See, another catch of the game is that the pilots must win in order to save their planet as losing means that it will be destroyed, alongside every single living thing on it. The details behind the game are quickly explained in the anime, but the manga does a great work of delving deep into it and provides a series of twists as the true nature behind Zearth’s origin comes to light, which is something we don’t plan on spoiling for you. So go read or watch it, and for your sake avoid reading anything else on it as other reviews tend to jump straight into spoilers.

Anime or Manga?

The anime version is very fast paced when it comes down to the story, having a rather brief 24 episodes that do their best to convey the action, drama, and general plot. This comes with a problem for people who are making the jump from the manga into the anime, as some things just don’t fit quite as well as the characters’ reasons and past are very briefly glimpsed over in their respective episodes, creating a somewhat convulsed chain of events that seems to push everything in order to fit the most of the manga’s material into the anime. And you know what? It works. It really manages to make the best of the manga’s long story and misses out on the minor details, though these details become important when put together and that’s where the manga does it best.

When you go to read the manga you’ll find a rather bulky story that moves rather slow at points, but manages to convey all the dread that comes for the group of kids who know find themselves with the weight of their world resting on their shoulders. All of them being fully aware that they will fight to the dead not for themselves but for others, so you then indulge in their last moments with more depth and truly get to understand what they were all about, as their personalities were fleshed out better in the original incarnation.

Remember when we said there was something lost in translation? There certainly is, and it’s as simple as saying that the story is more of a parallel to the manga than a direct adaptation. Some elements that added grit and darkness to the general tone of the title were watered down; so many fans complain that the anime dropped some of the strongest parts of its predecessor. On top of that is the fact that the manga’s creator pretty much told his fans to avoid the Anime entirely.

It isn’t bad, just different to the point that at the end of its run it felt as if the characters were different people at parts, but you could still find much to enjoy and have some motivation to read the manga and fill in the blanks. It’s a good story that you’ll love in all of its presentations, but whether one is superior to the other is up to you.

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2 Responses to “Anime Vs Manga Review: Bokurano”

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