Random Rant: Troubling Teens in Bokurano (Ours)

(Warning: Spoilers for Bokurano)

Have you heard of Bokurano (Ours)? It’s an obscure anime series. If you like dark, psychological shows with young kids as main characters, such as Madoka Magica or Neon Genesis Evangelion, this show might be for you. If you watch a lot of mecha anime, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Some might justifiably call Bokurano a needlessly dark and depressing show, but it’s still a favorite of mine. Today I’ll discuss how the battles and darkness in Bokurano symbolize how hard it is to be a kid in puberty, and in a tough and competitive society.

In the last episode, central character Jun Ushiro and his younger sister Kana have returned home to their father after running away, and staying away for most of the series. There is only one big robot fight left, and Jun will be the pilot. Victory will mean he saved the Earth, but it also means his life force will all go into powering the giant robot, Zearth, and he will die. Mr. Ushiro doesn’t want to lose his son, but he and most of the world have accepted the fact that someone has to use Zearth and save the world at the cost of their life. So he doesn’t argue with Jun. In fact, he says he can understand. This is what he says.

“I understand, because those sorts of battles exist in the places regular children live, too.
In our fiercely competitive society, there’s an increasing number of children
who can’t find harmony with themselves and their lives.
The reason I’m living out here is because I got sick of such a win-or-lose society.”
~Mr. Ushiro, Bokurano episode 24

The battles in Bokurano are huge deals for many reasons (which I won’t spoil here). Comparing them to the hardships that most normal children and teenagers go through is a bit of a stretch. Still, I think the analogy works and is a bit deeper than it might seem at first. Do you remember being 13-15 years old? I don’t know what it was like for you, but there’s the general opinion that those ages really, really suck. That’s how I remember things– though I was a late bloomer who didn’t get into my melodramatic, embarrassing stage until I was 15-17 years old.

Anyway, it’s easy to forget what your own thoughts and feelings were when you were a teen, because remembering all that stuff can be severely embarrassing or infuriating– or sad or painful for other reasons. But, try to remember those troubling teen yers. For me, every little negative thing felt like the end of the world. I didn’t have good social skills, so I obsessed over my first crush quietly. I had no idea what to do about sexual feelings and desires. The changes to my body were weird and in some ways annoying. Many of my emotions were amplified far beyond what was reasonable. There was so much I didn’t understand, which could be overwhelming. Yet, despite knowing nothing, I was terribly arrogant.

Why are we like that as kids? There are various reasons, like hormones, environment, and the development stages of our brains. The amygdala and lymbic systems in our midbrains are the parts that produce and process strong emotions and desires. The frontal cortex of the brain is responsible for reasonable regulation of those powerful emotions. When you are a teen, not only is your midbrain more active, but your frontal cortex is not fully developed yet. If you have ADD or ADHD, which I do, it’s ten times worse, with your brain being wired a bit differently in a way that makes you more impulsive and even less in control of emotions.

In Bokurano, the kids must battle to save their loved ones. The world would literally end if they didn’t fight. Strange, incomprehensible things were around them, like giant robots from other worlds, and talk of multiple dimensions. Each kid in the anime had to deal with a ton of their own melodrama. Well, when we were the age of the kids in Bokurano, it sometimes really did feel like the world was ending or we were in a battle for our lives. Our futures were uncertain. Things we didn’t understand were all around us. We were foolish and made a big deal out of everything. So, it’s possible to see Bokurano as a metaphor for the struggles of puberty.

That’s only half the equation, though. As if dealing with raging emotions, hormones, and brain chemicals isn’t enough, most of us in our teens have to interact and deal with others socially on a daily basis. There are nasty things to deal with when groups of kids are together. Ostracization. Cliques. Pressure to conform. Bullying. Physical fights. Sexual harassment or abuse. And fierce competitiveness from all around. Anyone, even family, might hurt you. There may even be cases of self-harm and suicide to deal with. The teens in Bokurano have to deal with all these things. Their battles in the giant robot can even seem simple compared to the strife in their social lives. That’s the other reason this analogy works.

No matter what you did or what you experienced in your middle- and highschool years, give yourself a little grace. Your brain and body were going through more than you can imagine. I hope this rant about Bokurano and troubled teen years was somewhat interesting. This is Anime Rants. Thank you ever so much for reading, and enjoy your day! Ja, ne!

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