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February 29, 2012

Bento Bako Lite: Bokurano: Ours volume 5

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Bokurano: Ours
Author: Mohiro Kitoh
Publisher: Viz Media (Sig IKKI)
Volume: Volume 5 (of 11), $12.99
Vintage: 2006 by Shogakukan in Japan, January 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Science fiction, drama, action

[Volumes 3-4 review.]

Volume 4 rounded off with Kunihiko Moji’s turn as Zearth’s pilot. Volume 5 picks up right where those events left off, as the kids try to come up with an idea to beat their current opponent. Ever since deciding to give his heart to his best friend upon his death, Moji has been resolute in his purpose. He will die, but the world will continue, and his friend will continue to live in it. From Moji’s battle, the pilots learn that Zearth doesn’t have to deal with final blow when a government pilot crashes his plane into the cockpit and ends the battle. It’s a bittersweet lesson, since the pilot loses his life. And, of course, Moji is going to die regardless. The story shifts to tomboy Maki Ano, who is holding onto the hope that her baby brother will be born before the next battle and her turn in Zearth. Maki moves forward with getting her affairs in order, first stopping to pay stoic Jun Ushiro a visit. She talks with him about the value of family, and pleads with him to fight for Kana’s (his little sister) sake. She knows if Jun doesn’t find something worth saving, he’ll fail and her own sacrifice, and that of those before her, will be a waste. Maki also decides to spend some of her last moments exploring her feminine side, and goes out shopping with her friend Takami Komoda. While Maki is walking outside with her mother, the woman suddenly goes into labor, giving Maki hope that she’ll be able to see her baby brother. Unfortunately, she is called out to battle before she gets the chance. The new enemy proves to be a tough opponent, causing panic and confusion among the pilots. Somehow, Maki manages incapacitate the enemy, and she removes the cockpit. Curiosity getting the better of her, she tears it open to see just who or what they are fighting against, and discovers the unimaginable inside. Startled to see what appears to be normal humans, Maki demands Koyemshi to tell them what’s really going on. The truth is staggering – some higher power is pitting the Earth’s of every universe (or parallel dimension or multiverse, whatever you want to call it) against each other to determine which universe will ultimately survive. Faced with destroying billions of lives with her action, Maki must steel her resolve for the sake of her unborn brother, so that he will have a world in which to live the life that she will miss out on. As the others look down on Maki’s lifeless body, the next pilot, Yosuke Kirie, shakily announces that he isn’t sure he’ll be able to fight. Yosuke is bullied at school and feels that his life has no real purpose, but that’s only made him feel that the world would not miss him if he were to die. Up until now, he hasn’t minded the thought of sacrificing his life as a Zearth pilot, but now, faced with new information, he is unsure of his resolve. The person he most cares for, his cousin Kazuko, once a shining light in a dark world, now wastes away in her room with no desire to live. The world destroyed her and doesn’t care about her any more. Is such a world more important than any other?

The main dilemma floating around in this volume is whether or not the Earth is worth saving. Specifically, the Earth of Bokurano‘s main characters. Prior to this, our young pilots struggled to find a reason for the madness, a purpose to drive them to fight. They are doomed to die no matter what they do, so is the fight worth it to make sure those left behind are able to continue living? They all have to find their own reason for fighting, and to justify their sacrifice. Moji, of course, donated his heart so that his best friend could live and be with the girl they both loved. Maki wants there to be a world for her baby brother to be born into and grow up in. So much so that she’s willing to take this chance away from millions of other people. It’s a difficult decision, and it’s a selfish one, though it’s impossible to blame her. She wants her brother to live, but in her action may be denying someone else’s brother that same right. There’s nothing she can do; it’s her universe against another. She can either sit idly by and let her universe be wiped from existence, or destroy another universe so hers can continue. And so the children following her make the same decision and destroy entire universes themselves. It’s incredibly bleak, but at least she won’t have to live with those lives on her consciousness, since she’ll be dead. At least she’s given that little bit of mercy. Her desire to see the world continue for the one she cares for is in opposition to Yosuke’s desire to ease the suffering of his dear cousin. Yosuke is struggling with the fact that the world he lives in might not be worth saving. It can destroy someone so happy and beautiful like his cousin, Kazuko, so is it really worth sacrificing so many lives to save such a world? For the first time, there’s a real danger that one of the pilots may refuse to fight. Sure, Isao Kako freaked out and broke down, but Chizu was around to take over for him. Now that the children know who they’re really fighting and what it is they’re really fighting for, their resolve has been shaken. Without a solid reason to believe their existence more important than those of another Earth, they will not have the resolve needed to destroy the enemy. Whatever higher power is manipulating these kids this way is truly warped and sadistic. Koyemshi’s casual explanation of everything, and the fact that he previously left such important matters unsaid, is rather infuriating. Remarkably, the kids take it in stride. They’re upset, but they don’t have the reaction to the news, that all this time they’ve been killing billions of people without knowing, that you would expect. In fact, aside from Maki’s struggle during her fight, the only real reaction so far is that of Yosuke, who immediately announces that he might not be able to fight. This may be due to the format the series is presented in, with the chapters broken up to focus on each pilot individually, so we might see more reactions as each child’s turn to battle comes up. This all sounds way more interesting than it comes across in the manga. To be honest, it’s just…bland. My opinion hasn’t changed at all. Though I will admit that I think Maki’s story line was handled fairly well (at least in comparison to some others). I just wish it (and the other characters’ stories) had more impact, so I’d actually give a damn about anything in this story.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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