“Looks like I have no choice but to act as a soldier who knows no fear.”
Browsing the net for more anime with Soichiro Hoshi voicing in it (known for When They Cry‘s Keiichi Maebara and Heaven’s Lost Property’s Sakurai Tomoki), I came across Bokurano: Ours. Its first impression to me wasn’t all that appealing- it simply gave that “mecha anime from 2007 with children piloting it to save the world” feel. But after learning that Chiaki Ishikawa performed both the OP and ED themes, I knew I had to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. This anime was sort of a different experience for me- worth it, although be it quite depressing and disheartening.
Disclaimer: “This is not a classic mecha series with epic space battles and the like. Instead, each child who comes to pilot the mecha known as Zearth faces not only the struggle to save the world, but also a struggle of their own. What do they fight for? Some fight for their loved ones. Others fight for themselves. A few see it as their duty. Some don’t know why and struggle to find a reason to look death in the face for the sake of complete strangers.” -Aeterna
Plot: Wasting no time at all, we are immediately presented with 15 characters: 8 boys and 7 girls currently on their summer camp where they pretty much all met. They went on a stroll at the beach because their sensei told them to so they could all get along better.
15 is definitely a handful, but worry not. Each of them will be given detailed focus in the series’ 24 episodes. And of course, there’s a reason why they’re so many: (episode 2 spoiler!) they’ll die one by one as the story progresses.
To summarize all the characters, they would be: the energetic Takashi Waku, sadistic Masaru Kodaka, self-centered Isao Kako, family-oriented Daiichi Yamura, honest and hard-working Mako Nakarai, beautiful Chizuru Honda, kind and insightful Kunihiko Moji, son of military otaku Maki Ano, always bullied Yosuke Kirie, reclusive Takami Komoda, newscaster’s daughter Aiko Tokosumi, researcher’s son Kanji Yoshikawa, short-fused Jun Ushiro, his younger sister Kana Ushiro whom he usually hurts, and the adventurous Yoko Machi.
Let’s start with the cliche part of the story happening in the first two episodes:
Yoko Machi then invited them to a cave she found near the beach shores, so they went to take a look before going back.
They found an array of computers and electronic equipment deep within the cave. To their surprise, they are greeted by a man who refers to himself as Kokopelli, and tells them that he took refuge there to finalize the ‘game’ he is making.
He invites the kids to be beta testers of this so-called game of his, explaining that in the game, fifteen beings will attack the Earth and a giant robot will fight them off. And they would be able to pilot that said robot- a colossal black mass clad in layers of armor, with insurmountable power. Being the kids they are, they decided to give it a try.
Before anything, he required the children to make a pact to the game- putting their hand on some computer pedestal while saying their names out loud, and then the computer registers their names in it.
Next thing they know, they’ve all woken up on the beach shores thinking everything was just a dream. But moments after, two immensely huge figures appeared before them. In a split second, they find themselves inside the robot, with Kokopelli in the cockpit. Piloting the robot for the first time, he demonstrates to the kids how to control and do combat with it as they would be the next pilots for the battles to come. Kokopelli defeats the enemy, but disappears soon after.
In the cockpit, each is given a chair that holds valuable memory to them, and it is where they would sit when the battles occur. The next pilot to battle the next enemy is randomly chosen via Russian roulette-style spinning of the chairs. The enemies also come randomly, and all are immediately teleported to the cockpit when they do.
Cliche and predictable, right?
This is where it gets somewhat interesting. The robot Zearth, as the kids named it, actually depends on life force to function- meaning, that whoever pilots the thing will die after defeating the enemy. The kids will now be forced to decide whether to win, save the Earth and die, or lose and take everyone else with them. This is where their inner demons come in: each character actually has teenage scars and traumas hiding here and there which make up their overall personality in the story, and are also the would-be catalysts that will either bring ruin or salvation to their fates.
All the kid pilots will become murderers- just moving Zearth in the city would cause buildings to fall, and the production house was kind enough to give us morbid visuals for those. Not to mention a 5-digit head count for the civilians that died. Their stand would be ‘all for one, one for all!’ that if killing a thousand would mean saving millions, then so be it. The other kids wrern’t so keen on this, though, and it kinda messed with their innocent perspective of life a whole lot.
These dire situations would amplify their personalities tenfold, and would bring all the good and bad out of them.
Take Chizuru Honda: replacing Isao Kako as the pilot after indirectly killing him, she decides to leave battle scene to try to kill her sensei first before facing the real enemy. This is because of her complicated past where her forbidden love with her sensei ended up with him posting pictures of them while having sex on the internet. After forgiving him, she finds out that he’s also dating her older sister at the same time. That’s pretty much why she thought that before dying as a pilot of Zearth, she’d kill her sensei first. Some serious twisted concept of morality going on here.
The kids aren’t alone: the Japanese government was able to confirm and believe their situation, but can really do nothing more than help the citizens to evacuation and relief when the enemy comes. They were given the chance to investigate Zearth, but to no avail. They also tried fighting the enemies when they appeared, but also to no avail.
Hope for the children: Zearth originally has 12 lights in its face, and they decrease as the number of pilots die after winning a battle. In episode 8, they noticed that the number of lights isn’t equal to the number of remaining pilots- there was an extra one. This gave them the idea that one could be possibly spared in the end of it all. Whether it is true or not, or how, I still don’t know. I’ve yet to finish the series myself ;p
Anyway, I hope this serves another interesting anime for you guys to watch in the future.
Time for my beauty sleep. Oyasumi!