Mohiro Kitoh – Viz – 2011 – 11 volumes
So, Bokurano is still doing the same thing. We’re still fighting giant robots with a team of high school students that lose their lives individually after every fight. This volume finishes the fight with Kunihiko Moji. He has a lot of trouble defeating his opponent, but of course the main event is afterwards, when his dead body goes to a good cause. And then we learn about Maki Ano. Maki is adopted, but has never felt like her parents are anything less than the real thing. Now that they’re having a child that is really their own, Maki feels like she can die in peace when her turn comes up to fight. But during her fight, the ugly truth about who exactly they’re fighting against is revealed.
I still just… can’t get into this. I’m an absolute gullible sucker when it comes to series that set out to push emotional buttons, but not even I can work up much sympathy for these doomed fighters. That they die just strikes me as too outlandish, and I can see it hinted at in this volume that, of course, there’s one who absolutely refuses to fight when his turn comes up. Even the stories themselves… much like Kingyo Used Books, I just can’t get interested in the characters or their stories, even one like Maki’s in this volume.
Who they’re actually fighting and why the fights are occurring… well, that’s revealed in this volume. While it’s not exactly a shocking twist, I do admit that I enjoy the moral quandary. But if not even the biggest twist Bokurano has to offer can do more than raise my eyebrow… I know I shouldn’t be reading it. It breaks my heart to hate on Ikki titles, because I would dearly love to see more content from that magazine. House of Five Leaves is great, and Dorohedoro is a work of genius. But Bokurano just isn’t my flavor, unfortunately.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.
Mohiro Kitoh – Viz – 2010 – 11 volumes
I read the first chapter of this back when it launched on the Ikki website, and decided it wasn’t much my thing. I dislike giant robots in general, especially angsty stories about teenagers piloting them. It didn’t seem that this story was bringing much extra or interesting to the table, so I left it. But I keep hearing about how good it is, and that I might really enjoy it, so I thought I’d pick up volume two to see how the story developed.
One thing that strikes me is that the story is very, very stripped down. In this volume, two of the teens are spotlighted as they helm the robot and defeat the enemy that’s destroying the city. It reminds me a lot of Ikigami, since the teens are fated to die after they pilot the robot, and we’re seeing both what they’re doing with the remainder of their time and how they’ve lived their lives up to then. But Ikigami wrings more emotion out of the premise and makes things a little more manic and slightly more interesting (each volume of Ikigami also spotlights two characters, so each gets the same amount of story time, too). The lives of the teens in Bokurano are depressing, and the teens themselves don’t have much to add to this. In this volume, a boy regrets that he can’t spend more time with his younger siblings (he cares for them since their parents ran off), and a girl lives in the shadow of her mother, who is a prostitute. It’s depressing, and the teens just… live it, there’s no commentary along the lines of “fight back to change things” or “I wish this had been different.” There’s nothing they can do to change their lives at this late date, and both seem satisfied that they’ve done the best they can. The girl does take some strength from her mother, who is a good person who lives right despite being a prostitute, but other than regret, the boy’s siblings don’t add much to his story or the outcome of the fight.
The fights themselves are underwhelming. The boy figures out the mechanics of his robot foe rather quickly, and stops it from wrecking the amusement park that he was meant to go to with his siblings. The girl’s fight lasts… only a few pages, and other than knowing how hard to hit and some story-related events before it, it doesn’t have any bearing on much at all. There’s some bickering amongst the students in the “cockpit,” the ones who made the contract and are fated to sacrifice their lives to pilot the robot against a foe set to destroy their town. But the students don’t really know each other well, and other than establishing that some of them are jerks, it doesn’t go anywhere at present.
Maybe by not reading the first volume, I’m missing the point. But to me, all I’m seeing are stories that are character spotlights for characters that aren’t developed that well, and aren’t even really good stories. They end with an uninteresting robot fight.
The premise is good. I like that the teens are forced to fight these robots, who are invading for reasons unknown, and they have to die fighting or die with the rest of the planet at the hands of the robot they were supposed to fight. I like that it’s almost a game, especially to the one that “hosts” the fights. And I like the format, that each story section spotlights one of the students, and that the student will inevitably die at the end. So far, there’s no Battle Royale crap about being able to save their lives eventually, and I secretly hope that it stays that way. It’s possible I just got two dud students, ones that were resigned to their fate and didn’t see any point in fighting back. Admittedly, I am interested in the two jerk students and how they will take their turn, whether it will be with the good grace of the others.
I might pick up a volume further down the line. There are good things about it, but the execution is uninteresting, and the basic plot doesn’t appeal to me. I prefer Ikigami, which is admittedly a little over-the-top when it comes to the “last day” emotional stuff, but it just feels like more of a story than this.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.