Bokura no, is the second series to finish of what I’d like to call the “big three” of the spring-season, along with Toward the Terra and Kaze no Shoujo Emily. For me, these three series stood out like no other for the past two seasons, and they just kept delivering quality over and over again. While Toward the Terra had its character-development, fast pacing and production-values, Bokura no shines not only through its well-written storyline, memorable characters and a rock-solid concept.
As soon as I read the concept, I knew we had something very special here. Revealing it entirely would be too much of a spoiler for the early episodes, but basically, this comes from the same mangaka as Narutaru. This time, however, a bunch of children are given the control not over monsters, but over a huge mecha. Bokura no shows what really happens when children get such a heavy burden placed upon themselves.
But don’t expect this to be a continuous angst-fest like Narutaru. The beauty of Bokura no is that the children involved aren’t special in any way. They’re just random and could in fact be your neighbour if you live in Japan. Each of these children is so incredibly different, and one of the many delightful elements of this series: every two or three episodes, the entire mood of the series changes for something completely different, while remaining logical and realistic. Sure, some children freak out, but that’s only one or two of them. Each of the children has his or her own problems and wishes, and that’s what makes this anime so brilliant. I could go more into detail, but I refuse for the sake of spoilers.
Then there’s the plot. Manga-readers should be aware that halfway through the anime, the director decided to go into a totally different direction when compared to the manga. Whether it improved or not, I can’t say, since I haven’t read it. But I can say that it has some definite competition with the storyline the director came up with. The pacing is very fast yet nothing feels rushed, and yet there’s a different and shocking plot twist nearly every episode.
Perhaps one of the few lesser points is that some episodes decide to focus on politics, instead of what this anime is really about: the children. But even this contributes to an overall mood of believability of the series. A giant robot has just appeared. Of course the military is going to react, and yet I see so many anime where mechas can just walk over the street without anyone noticing it. Also, when buildings get destroyed, they really get destroyed, and don’t magically disappear from the screen without any traces left. This really shows the impact that those giant robots can have on the societies.
If I had to mention a bad point… well, some plot-twists are a bit too coincidental, but that describes nearly 90% of all other anime as well. According to the manga-readers, the first half of the series also left out a few parts of developments for the different characters, but that’s probably in order to make it to air on tv, since the manga has a reputation to be rather gruesome at times. Still, I prefer this down-to-earth style of storytelling.
The character-designs are also perfect. Well, that’s what I think at least. The beauty of them is their simplicity: this really shows that the characters are just normal people, dragged into the story, instead of busty schoolgirls with hair in every colour of the rainbow and overly large pupils. Gonzo has been animating them, and it shows: when the animation is at its best, the characters look beautiful, despite their simplistic designs. One of the few elements of this series that isn’t outstanding is the music. It’s just good, but there are enough series with a better soundtrack.
Overall, while it isn’t the most popular anime out there, I absolutely loved this series. It’s delightfully different and unique, and quite possibly one of the most thought-provoking series of the year. While a few of the characters could have used a bit more development here and there, the rest of the series totally made up for it.