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In Bokurano the rules are simple. You use your giant robot, Zearth, to fight other robots that materialize. If you win you die. If you lost the whole earth is destroyed. Oh and when you destroy the other robot that robot’s “earth” of billions of people is also destroyed. Pretty simple eh? This is the premise of Mohiro Kitoh’s manga Bokurano that has been running in Ikki since 2003. Mohiro Kitoh is also know for Narutaru, which I’ve heard is also pretty gruesome, though I’ve never read it and only seen a couple of pages from the infamous ” claw rape ” scene. Still, were here to talk about Bokurano, one of the cruelest and most fascinating manga I’ve ever read.

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The more in-depth story is that one summer at camp fifteen kids, all of them in the seventh grade except for Kana who is in fourth grade. She becomes important later on. Anyway’s these fifteen kids while exploring the beach find a cave and in it a bunch of computer’s and the man Kokopelli. Kokopelli asks them all if they want to test his new game, to pilot the robot Zearth and defeat enemies. They all say yes except for Kana, who is denied by her brother Jun who really seems to hate her and beats her a lot. It is then that the first enemy robot appears and Kokopelli fights it. This is also when the children meet Dung Beetle, a small flying robot thing that say’s a lot of mean things and seems to love deaths and guides the children. After Kokopelli’s fight he disappears and it isn’t until the third fight that they all realize that thier life force is used to move Zearth and they die after thier fight. It’s even later when they realize thier all fighting parallel worlds of earth and every time they defeat a robot it’s world is destroyed. So far they’ve killed over 60 billion people.

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Of course if that wasn’t drama enough each kid turns out to have a pretty shitty life. Like the kid who has to take care of his siblings after thier father left and has to go die fighting, or the boy who envies his father and ends up crushing his car and killing him during a robot fight. The most tragic story so far however is of the girl Chizuru Honda. She’s falls in love with her teacher who then blackmails her into being a sex slave for older men. Right when she’s about to kill him and kill herself with a knife she realizes she’s pregnant with his child. The plan changes to killing everybody that abused her with Zearth, but when she tries to kill him she finds out her older sister is dating him and is prepared to die for him. I won’t spoil what happens after that but it really is some deep shit all these kids are involved in. The art style is a kind of minimalist sparseness. This isn’t a cluttered world. My only complaint is too many of the characters look the same. When you have fifteen plus characters to keep a track of that’s a problem.

For any fan of mature manga that makes you think Bokurano is definately a read, though beware if your squeamish as things do get gruesome. Can get alll the chapters released so far at Ignition-One. And now my own request. Does anyone know any good non-licensed scanlated manga not made into an anime yet? I’m really trying to diversify away from shounen and read good unknown stuff. I’m open to all genres and styles as long as it’s a good story.

Now off to watch Muteki Kanban Musume 9…