Impressions of Bokurano – It’s alright, ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

I’ve seen seven episodes, but I’m yet to pass much comment on the Bokurano anime. Given its rather controversial themes and notably downbeat tone, I’m not sure if it’s right to say I’m enjoying it. I don’t have fun watching Bokurano, it doesn’t inspire me to wax lyrical about it’s quality, in fact, I find it depressing and frustrating, and yet, here I am, anyway.

It’s a brave series that deserves attention for tackling so called social taboos in an ultra-realistic setting. It’s a series about children with real problems surrounded by adults who, by and large, are so self obsessed that they couldn’t give a shit about anyone else. As of episode seven, the latest pilot of giant robot Zearth is Chizuru Honda. On the face of it, she’s the next kid to die saving the world – nothing new about that, every mecha anime has its martyrs, but at home things are a little different. Chizuru is a victim of paedophilia; she is photographed and abused by her school teacher. How is that for motivation?

Bokurano resonates because it delivers shocking drama viscerally depicted within contemporary Japan. It feels like original creator Mohiro Kitoh is wondering whether or not civilisation is worth saving – these children, their personalities coloured by their environments, have all been burnt by society, so why keep on fighting? It’s notable that in the heat of their mecha battles, it doesn’t feel like they are fighting to protect anyone, instead they are unleashing their pent up rage and anger on a selected and faceless target, it’s almost a co-incidence that in doing so, they buy humanity another couple of days worth of existence.

It’s true that the animation could be better; it’s also true that the translation from the Bokurano manga to anime hasn’t been completely faithful. I don’t care, because this still feels like an important series that needs to be seen.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

11 thoughts on “Impressions of Bokurano – It’s alright, ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown”

  1. I’ve been following Bokurano from the start (without reading any of the manga) but even though every episode has left me utterly mesmerised, I can’t call bring myself to call it ‘enjoyable’ in the conventional sense. This isn’t ‘fun’ or ‘entertaining’ – and yet, it’s still must-see television! The fact is, I can’t NOT care about the characters and their situations. That and the superb music are the clincher. The animation does its job rather than push the envelope, and I can’t criticise an adaptation when I haven’t seen the original yet.

    It reminds me of Battle Royale in some ways – some of the kids I feel sorry for, others I don’t. To varying degrees though they’re all innocent victims of the world they live in.

  2. This would be what I’d like to call "the ignorance of the adaptation" — those who haven’t seen the source material will love it, those who have will be disgusted, and rail on it endlessly. Cue drama. The two live action Death Note movies are good examples; I hated them for ripping out the guts of what made it good, but it worked for the masses.

  3. I don’t know about disgusted… I certainly prefer the manga, but that’s primarily because, in a series largely based on being uncompromisingly shocking, it can get away with being a whole lot more visceral than a TV series. (Either way, Chizuru’s story is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in quite some time.)

    Either way, it’s certainly an outstanding story. It’s not all one-sided in being down on human nature, though – the children really are just people, in the end. Some of them break; some are angry; some are brave; some despair; and some are staggeringly, beautifully noble. And still they die. All they can hope for is to be remembered – just like the rest of us.

    "We were here."

    (Wow, I think I just linked Bokurano and Simoun…)

  4. So far I’ve read up to chapter 21 of the manga, so I can confirm what Adam is saying in terms of how a lot of the content is being toned down.

    Of course it’s easy to sympathize with the director because a lot of it is perhaps too much for a TV series; for example, in the manga, Chizuru is completely dominated by the teacher. He locks her in a room with a bunch of other pedophiles (where she is raped) and since she shows early signs of becoming pregnant, he talks about filming the child birth for some perverted gain. He treats her like complete trash, and so of course, all this adds an extra resonance to Chizuru’s inevitable attempt at revenge and eventually, death too. The themes of Bokurano are the same in both the anime and manga, it’s just that the manga really pushes the shock and sense of desperation to another level.

  5. Hi Maria, do you recommend this then? Must admit I’d never heard of Dash!​ Kappei​ until you posted this, and it seems to be fairly old too (not that this is bad thing).

  6. I love this show. I love things that make me feel out of my comfort zone, and leave me at least slightly shaken afterwards. I really hope that Bokurano keeps up its quality despite the controversy going on behind the scenes, because I want it to become one of my favorites so badly.

    Thanks for adding the Frou Frou lyrics to the post! I’ve been trying to come up with a good Bokurano playlist and I’ve only come up with a few songs (including "Uninstall" and Radiohead’s "Idioteque").

  7. @suppletangerine: If it sticks to the manga, it’ll do well for itself. I have my concerns about the animation budget and I’m hoping the ending won’t be one of those 5-minute reset jobs.

    Also, I’m impressed you spotted the Frou Frou lyrics! I love Imogen Heap, and some how her lyrical style (ditzy and emotional) seemed so fitting for Bokurano.

    If you need another song to for your Bokurano playlist (I’d love to read what you’ve got so far, by the way) then I have to suggest "Jesus" by Brand New. A wonderfully melancholic tune.

  8. Thanks for the reccomendation! This show has such a strong effect on me that I end up listening to my Bokurano playlist for an hour after watching an episode.

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