"I have no choice but to pretend that I am a warrior who knows no fear."
Bokurano (literally, Ours) is an 11-volume manga written by Mohiro Kitoh, the creator of the infamous MonsDeconstructionNarutaru (aka Shadow Star), and is essentially about a group of middle-school children who are contracted into a "game" where they pilot a Humongous Mecha in order to save their world from destruction. The anime adaptation began airing in the spring season of 2007 and ran for 24 episodes. There is also a five-volume light novel series called Bokurano: Alternative, which, as its title suggests, is an Alternate Universe take on the manga's storyline that places the characters in somewhat different circumstances.Viz Media is currently releasing an English translation of the manga as Bokurano: Ours on its IKKI website, with the first English-language volume having been released in February 2010.Some describe it as "like Evangelion, but even more depressing." Others would say that doesn't go far enough and that this makes Evangelion look like the Carebears.Be warned: there is a faked 'translation' of the novels (actually based off someone's fanfic) circulating the Internet. As a result, exercise extreme caution when adding novel-specific tropes. See the discussion page for details.
Provides Examples Of:
Adults Are Useless: Averted in both the anime and manga, and lampshaded as well; initially the kids don't want to tell the adults, police, or government about their involvement with Zearth because they would just ground them or keep them from piloting the mecha. Once people start dying, however, they change their minds ...
In both versions, the two Self-Defence Force officers working with the children agree to join the contract to pilot Zearth when it becomes necessary. They work with the children as liasons for the government and military. The manga takes it even farther, as both of them and over twenty other soldiers deliberately sacrifice themselves for Zearth's victory on two different occasions.
The anime has another aversion; Takami Komoda's father Kouichi is a member of the Diet (Japan's version of Parliament or Congress), and works with the two Self-Defence Force officers as well as Anko's Intrepid Reporter dad Akira to try and reveal to the world the truth behind Zearth and the children, and force the Japanese government to admit that they knew about Zearth. Congressman Komoda dies for it, though, shortly before Komo's battle.
Played straight in Kako's turn to pilot (manga only): Tanaka does nothing to prevent Kako's beating to Kirie, or his death at the hands of Chizuru. When Chizu starts killing the men who raped her, and many innocent people in the process, Tanaka's attempt to talk her down fails, and neither she nor Seki are armed, prompting Chizu to tell them that they can't threaten her.
Adult Fear: Your child is going to die and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Played for wonderful Dramatic Irony in the first ending, which is a sweet song about a mother protecting her child from the outside world since the kid is too young to run off on their own.
Alliterative Name: Zearth is frequently referred to as the Kuroi Kaiju/Black Behemoth by the media and bystanders early on in the series.
A Million Is a Statistic: Played straight, averted, discussed, deconstructed, and used as a major source of drama, particularly in the manga. Tens of thousands of people die as collateral damage from Zearth's battles and tens of billions as enemy casualties, and every character has their own take on it. Some pilots ignore civilian casualties and only pay attention to their own plight, some stall the battle and risk losing to give civilians time to evacuate, some get Heroic BSODs... it goes on. Especially heartbreaking in the last battle in the manga: Jun has to murder the population of an entire planet in order to win. He insists on killing each person individually, to make it as painless as possible, but that doesn't make it any easier for him.
Attack Its Weak Point: Each of the robots has a hidden core that must be found and destroyed. The cockpit.
Awful Truth: The prospect of defeating the enemy was a lot easier when you didn't know doing so would kill you. And when you thought the enemies were aliens instead of alternate dimensional humans. And that you killed 10 billion people every time one of you “won”.
Bad Boss: Kodama's father actually slaps one of his employees for going to consult him when a business partner asked to negotiate the terms of an agreement, saying that he should have closed the deal at the original terms.
Beam Spam: Zearth and the enemies can do this at will, In the last battle of the manga, Zearth BeamSpams an entire planet, as the enemy pilot fled the mech, and the only way to win is by killing him.
The last battle in the manga ends with the same quote that opens both the manga and the anime.
In the anime, near the beginning, Kodama tortures a crab with a firecracker and rationalizes his action by saying that people eat meat. Toward the end of the anime, one of Daiichi's younger brothers is seen doing the same and uses the same words to justify his actions.
Bittersweet Ending: In the manga, all the kids die. The Earth's out of the game. Zearth goes on to another alternate Earth to repeat the process, with a new Kokopelli (the former Koyemshi) and a new Koyemshi (Sasami). After all we're most likely saved, which probably makes this a "happy" ending by Kitoh's standards.
In the anime, it's a tiiiiiiny bit happier. Ushiro goes in a blaze of glory as the last pilot, the Earth's out of the game too, Zearth completely disappears, and nobody helps continue the Game. We get a small "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue where Kana leads a normal life and tells Daiichi's siblings what happened to him and the other kids.
Call Back: The final pilot in the anime thinks back to everyone else's battles, such as when he's looking for inspiration on tactics to use.
Cassandra Truth: After the fake Zearth pilot gives an interview on live TV, it ends up ruining the plan to go public about Zearth, especially since, while the former is lying, no one would believe the actual report, especially if the reporter's daughter was one of the people involved.
Caught with Your Pants Down: In the manga only, it's implied that Koyemshi catches Anko like this at one point. She's none too happy about it.
Possibly a subversion. Anko has much the same reaction when Koyemshi interrupts one of her idol cosplay fantasy sessions, so it's likely he was trying to be misunderstood when talking about that.
A less ambiguous example happens in the manga during Mako's battle. The girl who bullies Mako is having sex with a guy inside a hotel room within the fight area, and Mako asks Koyemshi to rescue the couple before any of them get a chance to get dressed (so they end up naked first in the cockpit, where all the pilot children are), then inside a van on which said girl's mother is leaving the battle area. Given that the fight had not even started, is pretty much given that Mako did it on purpose.
Coming of Age Story: The kids learn to carry out the responsibility they had unwittingly accepted with courage and dignity. And then they all die.
Conspicuous CG: The mechs. Makes them look creepy and ominous as hell, though.
Cool Big Sis: Captain Tanaka, although older than most examples, fills this role for the female pilots in the anime.
Maki possibly sees herself as this for Kana and even openly states that she wished she had a little sister just like her.
Cosmic Horror Story: It's a universe where something like 32767 or 32768 of all timelines are regularly destroyed. Possibly for a good reason, certainly by other humans, but who cares? This qualifies.
The opening theme blatantly makes statements. "It came from beyond the extreme reaches of our reality, (and) it came to laugh at our naive existences."
Crapsack World: To put in perspective Warhammer 40K is more optimistic and cheerful. At least in 40K, if worst comes to worst, only the Milky Way would be destroyed. In this over 30000 universes get destroyed.
Dead Person Impersonation: Machi impersonates Komo in the manga, to give everyone the idea that the impersonated person, one of the few publicly known to be piloting Zearth, is still alive as of the time of the broadcast.
Deconstruction: When the collateral damage and mass casualties caused by the robot battles are made so alarmingly clear, not to mention the trauma that the pilots go through, you can hardly call this a Super Robot series. It's practically the anti-Gurren Lagann!
In particular, this series deconstructs several themes of the Eldoran Trilogy, which started with Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh. Basically, the series states that the idea that cosmic entities granting super robots to schoolkids to protect the earth (as what happens in the Eldoran trilogy) wouldn't equal light-hearted fun ensuing. Or that not all of said schoolkids would use said robots for good ends.
Destructive Savior: Deconstructed. Zearth causes so much damage that it's commonly referred to as a Kaiju. Thousands of people die in some of the battles.
Detachment Combat: All of Zearth's combat abilities are related to this power, even the lasers it fires are actually particle beams, made from microscopic flakes of armor being launched away at relatavistic speeds (and also explaining how it can fire them from any part of its body). More blatantly it has been used to jettison an entire arm to be used as a (kicked) projectile, and in the manga to launch the head and spine upward in order to shoot at an enemy's exposed core. Several pilots have also shortened Zearth's lower arms this way, to make them less cumbersome in close quarters combat.
Developing Doomed Characters: The vast majority of the main cast will die, but all of them get some form of development and background before they do.
There's also Machi's death by random assassin before she can pilot Zearth for the final battle.
Dirty Coward: Kako, undoubtedly in the manga. In the anime Koyemshi is revealed as a particularly nasty one, the reason why he ended up in his robot body was because he was desperate to do anything to avoid dying, but ddin't see this as part of the deal.
Disappeared Dad: Daiichi's father. He eventually comes back. It turns out he was helping a friend.
Driven to Suicide: Some of the enemy pilots, such as Kirie's first opponent in the anime.
Eagleland: In both the anime and manga, the United States is a rival power rather than a close-knit ally of Japan. Bokurano's Japan lacks the same self-defense policies of Real Life, which limit Japan's military forces and provides for security arrangements with America. Japan also has nuclear weapons in the manga. Neither the anime nor manga portray America as being much like either flavor, however.
In the anime, American involvement is subtle and rarely mentioned. Several government characters express distrust for the United States, but the U.S. (and China) aids the Japanese government with its surveillance satellites and, though initially reluctant to vote for the usage of them in the United Nations, sends direct aid through its unmanned combat weapons (alongside other countries) towards the end of the anime.
In the manga, America is portrayed as a rival that's actually more threatening to Japan than China, to the point that the U.S. and Japan have a Cold War-esque relationship. Most characters regard the U.S. with suspicion and comment that America is "stuck in its superpower state of mind." Several times, there's worries that the United States might use Zearth's battles as an excuse to invade Japan—especially when a person claims in a news interview that he is a Zearth pilot, that Zearth is a Japanese superweapon, and that Japan plans to conquer the world. The Americans never actually do anything antagonistic, however.
Daiichi spends his remaining time with his siblings to its fullest, then stalls his battle until he can be sure they've evacuated, and forcibly carries his opponent to an evacuated area once he can't stall any longer. Finally, he manages to stop the enemy from harming the amusement park he promised to take his siblings to. Subverted later on when his siblings think he left them and become bitter, then there's a Double Subversion when Kana explains the truth and helps them get over said bitterness.
Ushiro, as the peak of his Character Development in the anime, refuses to recruit pilots in other worlds in exchange for keeping his life. Instead, he helps Youko to kill Koyemshi, saves Kana from entering the contract, fights for 30 hours straight and wins the last battle, and destroys Zearth as he dies. Kana and Earth survive, and the Masterminds are denied a pawn for furthering the battles.
Gory Discretion Shot: Anko's burned off legs, Machi's face when she's shot, the scene of Tanaka's suicide, well, dying in an other manner than due to the loss of life energy is rarely shown. Averted with Kako's death, where we see him get knifed by Chizu.
What about Kako's death in the anime? Instead of being killed by Chizu, he was crushed by the debris of the aquarium's wreckage caused by a missile, and when he's transported into Zearth, you only see a bloody arm sticking out of the wreckage that came with it. Also, you never actually see his body get crushed, though you see the wreckage fall on him..
Here We Go Again: The manga ending. Granted it's in another universe, but it's essentially the same.
Heroic BSOD: While the "heroic" part is questionable in his case, Kodama has one in both the manga and anime when he inadvertantly kills his own father in battle.
Anko has one in the anime when not only Youko is outed as The Mole, but Koyemshi picks her as the next pilot.
Ushiro has another in the manga, to the point of throwing up. He gets better, though.
Heroic Sacrifice: In the manga, Seki bravely sacrifices himself by allowing himself to be used as a target so Kanji can hit and destroy Javelin from a massive distance away.
Koyemshi sorta pulls this in the manga, when he becomes not only the new Kokopelli in another universe, but he voluntarily takes the place of first Zearth pilot in that round.
Not to mention that this trope is the basic premise of the entire story.
In the anime, Youko, after killing her brother/Koyemshi, sets herself up as the second to last pilot.
Hero Insurance: Heavily subverted, although the government takes steps to protect the pilots as part of the Masquerade. Machi, however, is fatally shot just before her turn to pilot in the manga, and the fake Zearth pilot is killed almost immediately after making his claim on live TV, since no one knows that he's not telling the truth.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each chapter of the manga is named after the current pilot and whatever number chapter they've been pilot for. It starts with Kokopelli and ends with Koyemshi. Probably one of the few series where the chapter titles themselves are spoilers.
In-Series Nickname: A good portion of the pilots go by one among their group of friends. They even make one up for the fake pilot, Junji "Katari" Karita
Jerk Ass: Kodaka, Kako (though he is more pathetic than anything else), and Jun, though he gets better. To make up, Koyemshi becomes a total dick in the anime, though he isn't exactly a saint in the manga (he gets a little better there, too). OTOH, Hatagai had to be toned down in the anime... and still remained a Jerk Ass.
Jerkass Gods: It certainly looks like it from the human perspective, but we'll never know their motivations.
Killed Off for Real: Once someone pilots, they die at the end of the battle, should they win or lose, and nothing can help them.
Kill 'em All: To the point where it feels like Kitoh is trying has managed to out-Tomino Tomino himself.
The death count is about 328 trillion.
Being that an entire Universe is destroyed each time, it's actually higher if you consider the possibility of life on other planets. Which puts the overall death count higher than that in Tomino's notorious Space Runaway Ideon. Yeah.
Mood Whiplash: At the start of Anko's arc in the manga, she angsts about her father's constant absences, and her inability to find a reason to fight. She then decides to indulge in Idol Singer cosplay fantasies, but then Kyubey comes in, providing a fairly comic interruption, until Anko then reflects on how she wanted to become an idol to see her father on television, and worries about whether she can win, as well as whether anyone will remember her once she's gone.
The Multiverse: The aliens are actually humans from alternate Earths fighting for their own Earth's existence, same as the main characters.
Never Speak Ill of the Dead: In the manga, when Ushiro and Machi visit the former pilots' families, everyone takes it easy on Kako, despite the fact that he was really screwed up, though to be fair, only the audience was truly aware of how much. Also happens when they visit the fake pilot's family, even telling lies to make his younger brother feel better.
Not Funny Anymore: In chapter 40, after the kids are told of the reactions to the fake Zearth announcement, Machi mentions she heard someone saying rival countries were talking about sending assassins to kill them. While the line itself isn't that funny, the kids' expressions are. Fast forward to chapter 58 with Machi getting shot in the head by a rival country's assassin. No more funny. At all.
Nuke 'em: During one of the battles in the manga, an enemy mecha sets up shop in Hawaii, causing massive casualties. The American military is powerless to stop it, just as the Japanese military was. Thus, the American government requests that the Japanese nuke Oahu Island. The irony is not lost on anyone.
In the anime, worldwide governments lift bans on nuclear weapons in response to the mecha, and every explosive the military has gets thrown at both combatants in a late battle. The surrounding landscape is set on fire. The pilots just feel a little warmer.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Kokopelli or "Gara-sensei", actually named Garaku and Koyemshi/"Dung Beetle" who is revealed to be human by the end, and while the anime gives him the name Shirou Machi, this contradicts something said in the Manga, where his name is left a mystery. In the latter's case his japanese name "Koemushi" can also probably be translated as "Voice Bug", which fits part of his job of explaining the rules of the "game" making this a case of Everyone Calls Him Barkeep.
Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Arguably inverted. All the main characters die (although Kana survives in the anime), but their world survives. Kirie discusses the concept with Tanaka, as well as his belief that any ending in which many nameless characters die but the hero gets a happy ending is an Esoteric Happy Ending in his opinion.
Otaku: Maki and her father are both big fans of manga and the military.
Overtook the Manga: It kinda had to, considering the manga didn't wrap up until two years later.
Plucky Girl: Considering that Dung Beetle thought she was going to have a horrible (and incredibly amusing) breakdown, Anko proves herself to be one of these, and won her fight relatively quickly, managing to die in peace as well. In the manga, she's able to continue fighting against one of the more difficult opponents even after her legs get burned off by acid.
Also Youko, Kana, Maki and Komo.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: To operate during a fight, Zearth needs the power from a human life each time. In fact, in the manga it is hinted that the younger the person, the more powerful Zearth becomes.
Really Dead Montage: This is nearly the entire series, usually only giving focus and backstory to each character when it's their turn to fight and die.
Episode 3 is the most obvious, in regards to...
Reporting Names: In the manga, the enemy robots are given codenames based on their order of appearance, in alphabetical order. For example, Kokopelli's opponent is called "Arachne," Waku's is called "Bayonet," Kodama's is called "Cancer", and so forth. The ones in away games don't seem to be counted.
Sacrificial Lamb: Waku, although he lasts until the second episode (fifth manga chapter). Also Kokopelli, although the kids don't know he's dead until later.
Reporting Names: In the manga, each of the enemy robots is given a name based on their appearance, in alphabetical order For example, the first is Arachne, the second is Bayonet, and the pattern goes on.
Sadistic Choice: The pilots eventually realize that defeating an enemy means that they have to condemn an entire parallel Earth to death — but they'll condemn their Earth if they fail.
Things get even more sadistic for a certain character in the final arc of the manga. Jun Ushiro, the last kid remaining, is fighting an 'away' battle and nearly wins ... but because he falls for a trap, the enemy pilot escapes. Since he can't easily track down the enemy now, his only hope of saving his own world is to personally destroy the alternate world until he kills the pilot. And He Does.Ouch.
Scary Shiny Glasses: Kokopelli has these in the opening. It doesn't hurt that he's levitating the Earth above his hand. When that scene comes up in the anime itself, it turns out to be a subversion: he has no power over the show's events at all. And the glasses are fake anyway.
Science Is Bad: In the anime, some scientists, including Kanji's mother, get the idea of researching Zearth and reverse-engineering its technology, ending up making some unconscionable decisions in the process. Though it's really just a trap set by the Masterminds.
Sibling Yin-Yang: Jun and Kana Ushiro. There's a great deal of contrast between a fairly rude and cold kid who bullies his younger sister and one of the nicest and most innocent cast members.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: A particularly intriguing case. The inmediate reaction of a lot of people (specially that only have read the premise/synopsis) would be: "Who loaded down the cynicism side with all these corpses?!". However, if you see beyond the darkest aspects of the story, a bright beam of optimism becomes apparent. After all, most characters face their ends bravely and cause positive changes in the lives of those left behind. Word of God himself clarifies that in spite of the tragedy and devastation, the core messages he wanted to convey were more on the hopeful end of things.
Smug Snake: Hatagai. Letting him go alive and wellhad to be intended purely to piss off the audience. In the anime Koyemshi also qualifies, which made watching the scene in which his sister Machi methodically shoots holes in his body more than delightful.
Snow Means Death: The last moments of Machi in the anime and Kanji in the manga.
Kanji's mother commited suicide long before the events of the manga, however she is alive and shown in the anime.
Starfish Robots: The mecha piloted by the main cast is humanoid, albeit with some arthropod-like features, but their opponents include such things as "Bayonet", a colossal flying spike; "Drum", a massive cylinder that can gain traction on anything; and "Gunter", a floating vice/metalgrinder.
Suicide by Cop: Komo's opponent in the manga lets himself be shot by her father after hearing her recital.
An extremelyunpleasant case, in fact, when you consider it all went down in the first semester of 7th year, meaning she was more a Tween than a Teen at the time.
Thematic Theme Tune: "Uninstall." (I have no choice but to pretend that I am a warrior who knows no fear.)
There Can Be Only One: Only one Earth out of 32767 can survive. And even on the surviving Earth, all but one pilot will die.
There Are No Therapists: Just because you're going to die if you fight, doesn't mean we'll give you somebody to whine about it to. The closest they get to caring about the pilots' well-being is Tanaka expressing a desire that the pilots not be locked up or forced to fight, so they don't break down like Kako did.
In the manga, Tanaka has a talk with Kirie after he wonders whether winning is worthwhile if it means the death of the entire opposing universe. Kirie ultimately summons the will to fight when his turn comes.
Title Drop: Dropped rather heavily at the end of chapter 55 of the manga.
In the anime, the title tends to work itself into important conversations.
Wham Episode: Several, but the end of Maki's arc is one of the biggest in both versions.
The end of Machi's arc. The reader has just become accustomed to the characters dying once they pilot the robot, when the author HAS SOMEONE SHOOT THE CHARACTER IN THE HEAD!
Who's Your Daddy?: Implied that Mako's "client" may be, although her mother quickly shoots it down.
Wise Beyond Their Years: Some of the kids are shown to be - especially Moji and Kirie - but God, the youngest of them, little Kana-chan, takes it up to the new levels. Accepting a constant abuse of her brother and preventing people around them from interfering, beacuse she knows he's angry at their dead mother for her absence, and taking it out to younger sister, he's in reality treating her as somewhat of the mother figure? Not even being Jun's blood-sister, but hiding it from him in order to make him feel secure, she devotes herself to finding his real mother. In the manga, while she's about to die while piloting Zearth, it remains her biggest concern - because Jun's gonna need support after she's gone. And she is ten.
Worst News Judgment Ever: A newscaster saying that, despite the fact that a behemoth appeared nearby and many of the aquarium animals were lost, the dolphins probably escaped to the ocean. Much to everyone's relief. The behemoth appearance was also responsible for the deaths of thousands but hey, dolphins are symbolic.
Xanatos Gambit: The Zearth Program in the anime. Reverse-engineering it is the only way anybody can come up with to Take a Third Option regarding the game, but the Masterminds thought of that and designed the program to drain the energy from any planet that tries to make use of it.
You Can't Fight Fate: There's ultimately no way out of the contract for the pilots, or any way to avoid their fate when their turn comes up.