Underrated Manga: Bokurano

Posted by Guest Author on Jan 10, 2008 in Comic Books |


With American anime sales on a downward trend, a lot of attention is being paid to its partner in crime manga, the Japanese comics that are often adapted into anime (if they’re not already adaptations themselves). In North America and Europe manga has exploded, but the sheer volume of manga published in Japan means that not every series makes it over here— and even the ones that do don’t always get the attention that they deserve! So here’s one of our Top Ten Underrated Manga that we recommend that you should get your hands on:

North American publishers seem wary of Mohiro Kitoh’s manga Bokurano— possibly due to the difficulty that Dark Horse had with Kitoh’s Narutaru, which began reasonably family-friendly before it took a serious turn for the dark side, preventing Dark Horse from even releasing later volumes. No one yet has licensed Bokurano.

But Bokurano has no such pretensions early on. The series sets up an admittedly unlikely scenario: 15 kids get suckered into playing a “game,” which turns out to be the least fun game ever. They have to take turns piloting a giant mech and defeating another mech. If they lose, the entire planet goes boom. But even if they win, the mech drains the child’s energy and he or she will die.

The dark twist on the “kids saving the world” trope leads to a relatively realistic depiction of the results such a situation would have on the kids, their families, and the rest of the world around them. Each child has his or her own home situation— sometimes good, sometimes bad —and reacts to their pending death accordingly. Some of them wax nostalgic and fight to save their loved ones; others literally have nervous breakdowns.

An anime adaptation— which remains unlicensed as well —was produced in 2007, but the manga has not yet reached its conclusion. Perhaps when it has and English-language manga publishers can know 100% of what they’re getting into, we’ll see this series stateside.

Gia Manry is a Portland, OR-based professional writer specializing in pop culture/entertainment writing. Read up on more of her work at giapet.net or hire her at GiaManry.com.

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