Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - GONZO
Original Concept - KITOH Mohiro
During summer break, 15 boys and girls attending summer school explore a cave. Inside, they meet a man named Kokopelli. He asks them to play a game he made. The goal of the game is to defeat 15 robots attacking the Earth by operating their own giant, invincible robots. They think it a mere video game, however...

The rules of the game are:
  • If the pilot is beaten or can't resolve the battle within 48 hours, the Earth will be destroyed, along with all life on it.
  • The pilot is chosen in advance. There can be only one pilot operating the robot...
(copied from

24 TV Episodes.

OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 8 8 9 9 10 Ggultra2764 [series:1582#1552]
Bokurano's pretty powerful stuff. Focused around fifteen children who are tricked into signing a contract where they sacrifice their very lives to pilot a mecha to save the world, Bokurano is greatly focused around valuing one's life and how dire circumstances affect the mentalities of the people who face them. What starts off as a typical mecha title quickly delves into a moral focus on preservation of one's life over another and how influential figures try to make use of a powerful weapon for their personal gains. Each child chosen to pilot the mecha next is given plenty of depth and background over their mentalities on living and appreciating others around them which affect their resolve and actions with piloting the mecha known as Zearth. The personalities and backgrounds of the children are quite diverse from being influential figures to those struggling on their own, having good or bad family relations. There's just enough you can connect with from any of the children piloting Zearth. In addition, more details on the mecha battles fought by the kids are slowly unveiled where they realize that there's a bigger influence and a more chilling reality to the battles than they realize. With these details, powerful figures in the political and economic world try to exploit fears and concerns over the battles for both good and bad reasons, showing concern for people around them or thinking of the sacrifices being a necessity for personal gain which, as Silence points out, adds some political commentary on the corruption of powerful corporations having influence over political issues.

On the visual side, scenery and backgrounds were vast with plenty of rich color and detail. The CG-mecha designs were decent, though they stuck out from the city landscapes they fought in yet movement from them in battle scenes were fluid enough. As for the soundtrack, Bokurano makes use of piano and stringed instruments for its insert music which do a good job at establishing the tense and dramatic mood of the scenes seen throughout the series. The OP sequence "Uninstall" was what had brought me into seeing the show with the music being somber and the lyrics painting enough of a tense focus on the significance of living.

Having a powerful soundtrack and focus on humanity's varying response to life-and-death situations, Bokurano's perhaps one of the best unlicensed titles I've had the opportunity of watching. If any American licensor manages to pick this series up for licensing, I'd be willing to buy it in a heartbeat.

Last updated Monday, June 14 2010. Created Monday, June 14 2010.
Buy 9 9 10 9 9 10 Silence [series:1582#2939]
Bokurano is distinctly different from standard mecha. It has very in depth social and political commentary, as well as deal seriously with the issue of human response in desperate situations. In other words, realism is central to the anime, and it does not seek to impress with flashy things. On the contrary, it digs up all the dirt of the world it can find, and what is scary is that I can really imagine the responses given by various parties to be real.

It starts off like a generic action show, where kids, 13 years of age, are put up to fight for the survival of humanity. However, this takes a very sudden twist, as they find out that being a hero is not that simple. They have to pay dearly for it. With this premise in mind, Bokurano proceeds to explore how each child responds and find the will to fight, based on their personal lives and experiences.

The large cast is daunting for me to get to know them at first, but as I get to know their stories, I cannot help but to sympathize with each of them, despite some having rather large character flaws. And it is really hard for me after I have become attached to them.

The political commentary is perhaps amongst the most mature and accurate in anime. It slaughters the illusion of 'free' press and democracy, showing how strongly corporations influence politics, and exactly how little human lives mean to them compared to profits, so long as they can get away with it. It is haunting picture because I can imagine them pushing to destroy a city just so that they can use public funds to rebuild and profit from this arrangement. Zearth gave them a perfect excuse to do so without repercussions.

In the end, everyone is a pawn in this cosmic game. They could do nothing to resolve the situation, other than to throw away their lives to fight on in this savage world. The only thing they can do to alleviate this situation is to not do the mastermind's dirty work for them by dragging others into this. But this is not a kind world. This is the real world, or at least very much close to it. But yet, quoting from another reviewer, "Bokurano is a celebration of life. It shows humanity at its worst, but more importantly, it shows the children: humanity at its best."

Last updated Thursday, April 15 2010. Created Wednesday, April 14 2010.
Buy 9 9 8 9 10 10 Dreamer [series:1582#2279]
Not since Haibane Renmei has an anime (including any live action movie), gripped me so hard and sent shivers down my spine, like this series.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork and Animation was amazingly good. Just top notch. Colors were rich and backgrounds were highly detailed. character designs weren't spectacular but stood on their own as well. Each child has a unique personality that you can't help but feel sympathy and a bit of sorrow for them.

The OP was interesting. No, let me take that back, it was "really" interesting. I actually liked it so much, I litereally skipped it back to the beginning just to hear it over 5 times! Not quite sure how to categorize it but if I could get close, I'd say it's more like a new age piece with a sense of deep sorrow. On a good pair of theatre speakers (my living room), it really sounded good and in full stereo. Wow! As for the rest of the soundtrack, we have pianos, violens and other string instruments. They portray feelings of sorrow and drama to the extreme.

Note: One thing that really caught my attention was how the OP's animation was amazingly choreographed. It synced perfectly with the song and the sequence of animations made it that much more impressive.

Series and Episode Story
As Stretch had said below, this series is intense! Let me first say, if you're expecting this to start off fast or expect to make a decision whether you like it or not within the first 2 or 3 episodes, this isn't it. However, if you sit patient and watch a bit way through, you'll soon come to realize that this is something far more. The whole concept of kids killing each other for their will to survive is both scary and sad. With that said, you can even toss in a handful of ethical and moral thoughts and arguments. At least, it was the case for me.

I'm typically not into mecha series but this was plainly different. It was more than just a story about giant robots and them battling it out over cities and bodies of water. Instead, we have a life and death struggle between groups of people who want nothing more than to protect their loved ones and defend what they believe is just and right.... even if they are kids who are doing the struggles.

What makes this series even better is how each character (child) almost gets a whole episode devoted to themselves. Each of their characters background is explored, which gives reason to them in the present..... why they do what they do.

Overall, this is a spectacular series that you should not miss. Beware though, if you get emotional quickly, have a box of tissues at hand because this is a serious tragedy.

Last updated Sunday, November 29 2009. Created Sunday, November 29 2009.
Rent Stretch [series:1582#628]
(All episodes watched):

Bokurano is a surprisingly intense and fascinating show which hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Perhaps that's because it takes a while to get going. I wasn't all that impressed by the first episode; a couple things which struck me were the slick visuals and CG animation, and the strange style of character designs which somehow reminded me of something you'd see in a Hiyao Miyazaki film. One potential problem I noticed was that as of the end of the episode, not a single character stood out as an interesting person, which might be all the more serious since there's a cast of 14 or 15 kids involved in the game. My hopes weren't all that high going into episode two, but I was surprised at how well it held my interest (and a very unexpected and mystifying twist at the end). My first impressions had been way off: Bokurano is in fact a fascinating show, with a remarkably clever and well thought-out plot which goes infinitely beyond what you'd expect from the typical mecha series. Once it gets going, the characters do behave in a quite plausible manner for kids caught in such a strange situation (which would be an easy thing to screw up and thereby seriously damage the watchability of the series as a whole). It's definitely the characters, not the mecha, which get center stage here. In fact, each one gets a sort of episode to his- or herself, allowing plenty of skillful character development. Some are jerks while others are admirable people you can sympathize with--in other words, a realistic mix. Actually, you feel sorry even for the a--holes. I especially liked the episode in which a boy who has no parents and is the guardian of his siblings learns it's his turn (I swear, that was Tomokazu Sugita's voice!). I was surprised when some adults learned what's going on, and extra contestants were allowed to join the game, but it has worked out well. I was even more surprised when one adult, who I was sure would take command and become the primary character, meets an untimely fate. Better yet was an episode which contained no mecha combat at all, but rather related this character's past in a moving way. Then there's the sarcastic "Dung Beetle" who acts as an intermediary between the contestants and the robot itself. Bokurano is really remarkably good; there are genuinely funny touches here and there, and as the "rules" of the game become apparent, the players find themselves in a gripping damned-if-they-do-and-damned-if-they-don't situation. There's a genuine sense of intrigue about this show, as you wonder if any of the contestants will find a way to escape from this trap they've fallen into. It's much like Gantz, but better. Then, at around the halfway point, what has become a clever and sophisticated show becomes exponentially more clever and sophisticated, as the contestants realize that there's more at stake than even the planet earth--it almost blows your mind. Whereas the basic premise and plot of most shows soon becomes pretty clear, and little is added afterwards, Bokurano seems like an onion with countless layers of fascinating complexity waiting to be peeled away--I love it. There are some problems, like people taking the incredible revelations they've been granted in stride when you'd think they'd more likely be driven insane; or the stereotypical big businessmen who are more interested in wealth and power than the fact that the earth as a whole is liable to be annihilated. But all around I'm continually surprised by the skill and flash with which this show was written and produced--as I said to myself after a typical episode, "Damn! This is the coolest show"! I especially appreciate the move that was used to get rid of a certain villain near the end--it's the classic "clever-move-which-you-didn't-expect-but-really-could-work" tactic (more shows ought to use it!). Episodes of many series get tiresome within 23 minutes and I'm more than happy to move on to something else, but I never want the episodes of this show to end. Whereas another series I was watching recently began splendidly but ultimately didn't live up to my expectations, Bokurano began slowly, but got steadily better--it's my 'sleeper' hit of the season. The only reason I took so long to watch this is that I have a mountain of anime waiting to be viewed, and I intentionally rationed out the episodes to myself in a parsimonious manner, because I simply didn't want Bokurano to ever end.

Unfortunately, I found the final episode to be disappointing. It wasn't a bad ending, just not a great one--and a great one was what I was expecting based on the series up 'til that point. That's the problem with shows which are exceptional early on; they raise your expectations to a point which is very difficult for them to meet. A show with such a potentially disturbing premise as Bokurano especially needs a rousing, heart-warming finale; just winning isn't enough, there's a certain point-spread that's got to be beaten as well. Previously all sorts of problems with the logic of the plot seemed insignificant since the drama was being handled in such a slick and professional manner. But with a so-so conclusion they are no longer quite so forgiveable and come back to haunt the show (side note: I read that the Bokurano manga was incomplete when work began on the anime, and the crew was authorized to come up with their own ending, which might explain a few things). Up until the next-to-last episode I was genuinely intrigued by this show and certain that I'd rewatch it once I was finished; now I'm not so sure. If the ending had been outstanding I'd have rated this as a Buy, but the best I can do now is a Rent. But like I said, my expectations for the conclusion were very high, and at the end I still remain in awe at the sheer professionalism with which the bulk of the series was handled--for the most part, these people really knew what they were doing.

My favorite line: "How screwed up does this have to be before they're satisfied?!"

Last updated Thursday, February 19 2015. Created Wednesday, April 18 2007.
Unevaluated Big Fire [series:1582#2441]
Finished the first episode...Will I watch episode 2? Yes...but it didn't get me jumping for joy over it...It is a nice twist in the ever popular robot comes down to earth to take out mankind genre, but i am not fully sold...This show makes Heroic Age much more pleasing to watch...

Last updated Monday, April 16 2007. Created Monday, April 16 2007.

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