Bokurano: Ours is kinda like Ender’s Game

March 19th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

It’s not hard to see that Mohiro Kitoh’s Bokurano: Ours is going to end horribly for everyone involved. The book opens with pictures of fifteen characters, eight boys and six girls. They are the main characters of the book, the ones who will be piloting the giant robot against whatever threats care to invade Earth. Save for one younger girl, they’re all in the seventh grade.

The cast feels distressingly large. Not helping matters any is the way that the characters fade into a vague blur shortly after they each deliver personal introductions. We know their names, we know their ages, we know their relationship to each other (friends, with a sidebar for family), and that’s it. We’re instantly faced with a cast that means nothing to us.

Generally, large casts can mean a couple of different things. In the case of Lord of the Rings, a large cast is an opportunity for an author to tell several stories at once by splitting the cast into smaller, more manageable pieces. In Uncanny X-Men or Legion of Superheroes, a sprawling cast allows for serial storytelling that has a fresh, but regular, cast. In Bokurano: Ours, the cast is so large because basically all of these children are going to die.

The story should sound familiar to fans of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Fifteen young kids sign a contract to play a game with a giant robot. They soon find out that the robot is real, the threats are deadly, and the robot is powered by their lives. After the threat is defeated, a person’s life force is sapped and they fall down dead. Later, when another threat appears, another pilot is chosen and the process is repeated.

Bokurano: Ours feels like a counter-shonen comic. A lot of shonen comics, like American adventure comics, revolve around wish fulfillment. The scrawny nerd gets powers, the village idiot finds out that he’s the most important person of all, a fighter becomes the best in the world, and a dumb kid no one likes ends up being the only person who can save the world.
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