When the director mentioned that he dislikes the manga and wanted to present it in his own liking. I cringed and expect that it will be those cop-out series that we usually see in Animes. But interestingly enough, it wasn’t the case.
Bokurano is a 24 episode anime produced by Gonzo (before the bad Animes, I guess) in the glorious years of 2007. Sadly HD isn’t common at the time so I only got the DVD of it. The story revolves around 15 kids that were involuntarily chosen as the representatives to defend the earth from monsters from an unknown origin. Each kid will have its chance to fight a behemoth robot standing 500 meters tall. But with the enormousness and the massive power it has, incomparable to any modern technology humans ever wielded. It consumes the life of the pilot once the battle ends. Leading to the kids reflect and settle their life as they a wait for their final march to their death.
This is clearly not your ordinary anime. This is a depressing and gloomy outlook of humanity under the eyes of kids in their last moments in life. The central formula in the anime is foretelling the story of one of the kids next to march in their death. Detailing their life stories, tragic moments and the moments of desperation or realization or acceptance to be something at the last moment of their life. I don’t think you won’t grew feeling with the characters, as they tell their moments and problems to the viewers. Which is also a realization that these kids also have problems that doesn’t involve petty and small things we usually see in ordinary anime. Although the Manga and Anime differs (not to mention the Anime aired while the manga is still ongoing) from telling their events. The sensitive and often taboo issues are taken to paint the kids a more than what we usually see them. Prositution, sex, murder. Things that we don’t see in front of society but often kids are sometimes entangled by these world that we often think impossible. I like how it’s unrestricted, even in the anime able to delve into. In fact, one scene in the Anime even has one of the kids having sex with her teacher. Something unthinkable in TV (or was this an extra scene in the DVD).
On the Aesthetic side. Gonzo painted the mangaka’s world equally well. I did mention in my manga review that I did not like the character designs, but eventually, seeing it in Anime form made sense. I may had been spoiled with cutesy feminine male leads, but the kids here do look like close to what they should be in their age. Since this is 2007, I would also commend on the right choice in fashion. Although it doesn’t really contribute in the Anime, since most of it were also seen in the Manga. The Mecha battles are absolutely stunning. They nailed it on how to take mind that these beasts are far to large and its enormous size makes battles appear slow. But it also paints well that each blow is massive, brining absolute destruction in its path. It kind of has some semblance of Shadow of the Colossus, and if you played it, you would understand what it feels like.
The sound also add tremendous factor in brining the atmosphere. I like that they often use silence in the right scenes. Particularly in some of the battles (if not completely silence, but minimal sound). But in critical moments, where characters are engaged in an inclined emotional state it let that emotion shine than be overwhelmed by the music. I kind of think that new animes tend to forget that Music is just a piece to condition the audience into a state of emotion. But emotion in the scene can play well enough without the music. Give too little, too much can be bad. Also, to add the enormousness of the mech battle. Sound used in the battles, on the effects, drives the epic delivery of. One particular, before the start of the battles, we often hear strong, loud clicking noise in the background put together the silence in the air. It’s like anticipating a gigantic battle. I wasn’t this particular in sound in a while, but surely my ears felt delivery and that’s something.
Since I discussed Manga in my review. The difference in the Anime is noticeable. But in a way that it manage to tell its own story in the same theme as the Mangaka wanted it to be. Depressing as it is. It manage to deliver its own tragic tale that’s equally well. The first few characters followed the manga route and slowly separate itself later. To cite and example, one of the characters killed the other pilot by slitting his throat for refusing to fight. In the Anime, he was pushed in the stairs and left unconscious to get crushed in a collapsed building. Another scene where one of the pilots engage in a sexual affair with one of the teacher, but in the manga the pilot was blackmailed and the teacher was stabbed by another pilot near the end. The final pilot in the Manga also has is own set of development, but the Anime also presented its development in the same formula but different take. Lastly, the government in the Manga was more supportive compared in the Anime, where they are driven by curiosity and greed with minimal participation. That, I think as a balance of toning some of the violent elements in the kids stories. In short, despite the changes, the Anime and the Manga has their share of different take. With each element faring on putting the depressing and tragic side of being humans.
Overall, both pieces has their own stories to tell. I enjoyed the Anime and Manga and it a treat that I get two distinct stories based on the same core story. This a good example that adapting a previous work, doesn’t have to be a verbatim to make it a good Anime. If you are competent and knows the limits of the work, you can pretty much mend the story to something original and achieve equal or better results.
Series Rating: 5/5
Read my Manga review here.