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Bokurano Holds Up as One of the Best ‘Post-Evangelion’ Anime

The influence of Neon Genesis Evangelion is inarguable, as it affected not only other mecha anime but the medium of anime in general. In the case of the former, numerous mecha shows have tried and mostly failed to emulate what made Hideaki Anno’s iconic series so great. At the same time, a few roses grew out of the imitative concrete, one of these being Bokurano.

Based on the manga Bokurano: Ours, this series features characters and hits similar heights as Eva without being a full-blown ripoff. It also provides a story that’s seemingly nihilistic while actually showcasing how far people will go to protect the ones they love. Here’s how Bokurano “uninstalled” the recipe for failure that so many other NGE wannabes have followed. Bokurano Is the Darkest “Super Robot” Series Ever

The main cast of Bokurano is made up of a group of children whose lives change irrevocably during summer camp. Discovering an underground cave full of computers, they’re greeted by a man named Kokopelli, who interests them in a “game” involving piloting a giant robot to defend against alien invaders. The robot is called Zearth, and the seemingly awesome potential for adventure immediately grabs the kids. Given that the series involves a group of children and a less than militaristic giant robot, it’s most definitely made in the “super robot” vein of old-school classics like Mazinger.

Unfortunately for them, things are a lot darker than they seem. These invasions are far more real than the kids believed, and Zearth’s power source is the children themselves, killing each one of them after being piloted. The fate of the world is revealed to rest in their hands, which only further compounds the already tumultuous lives of many of the group.

The series is directed by Hiroyuki Morita, who also directed the Studio Ghibli movie The Cat Returns as well as worked on the fellow Evangelion-influenced Texhnolyze. Controversially, Morita made it known that he was seemingly not a huge fan of the original Bokurano manga, leading to notable differences between the anime and the source material. Despite these changes, the show turned out to be great, especially considering its most obvious source of influence.

Bokurano Succeeds Where More Shallow Evangelion Wannabes Failed One reason why Bokurano succeeded in the wake of several preceding Eva wannabes is that it doesn’t repeat Evangelion’s biggest mistakes. The most notable of these is that it doesn’t try to puff itself up with religious iconography or apocrypha in the way that its influencer does. Other shows imitate this to a fault, with Genesis of Aquarion doing even less with its New Age symbolism than Evangelion does with its Christian symbolism. The show, despite featuring a giant robot, has a much less “fluid” and more realistic take on mecha battles. This makes it less about the giant robot action, but not in the same way that Evangelion does toward its end due to its well-known lack of budget.

Bokurano has a pretty huge cast — something that it admittedly sometimes struggles to juggle. At the same time, many of the characters are well-developed, meaning that the cast is a collection of Shinjis, Asukas and Reis instead of those three plus some side characters. This sees them receive some rather dark and depressing backstories, especially the character of Chizuru. Still, things never come off quite as “try-hard” as other post-modern mecha shows, keeping it from becoming an exercise in torture. The cast also becomes developed in a quick yet satisfying manner — a far cry from the ongoing, dragging ambivalence of Shinji Ikari.

Then there’s the music, which is another highlight. Though it’s not quite “Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” the Bokurano theme song “Uninstall” performed by Chiaki Ishikawa is a hauntingly eerie and somber song that more than sets the tone for the series. The track was a huge hit in Japan, constantly showing up in the Kumikyoku Nico Nico Douga medley songs. Together, these elements culminate in an enticing mecha series that evokes Evangelion without wholesale ripping it off.

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