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Ok, first, let’s draw a concept image. Young children are drawn by false pretenses into a situation of grave threat to the world by a suspicious man in glasses. Suddenly, they are shown a massive robot, and dragged into a battle to protect humanity from bizarre giant creatures. The robot is controlled by mental connection, but there seems to be something else underneath all the obviousness of the drama, so much left unanswered from the start about the nature of the attackers, and where that ominous feeling comes from.

Sound familiar? No, it isn’t Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s Bokurano, the new series by Gonzo.

At the risk of becoming unliked by the Evangelion fanbase, I am going to reiterate that I simply never cared for the Gainax series. It felt like it collapsed under its own overdramatic weight, a series that forgot what it was doing, and chose instead to show us damaged individuals break down. Not very interesting.

But because of this, I find myself drawn to Bokurano, which seems to show so much promise that Evangelion didn’t. OK, on to the first episode.
At the very beginning, we are treated to the haunting sound of Uninstall, the opening theme. Its sound sticks in my head as remarkable, and I cannot wait for the single of it to come out for download, but let’s skip that for now.

After a short interlude in which an unnamed character comments on the illusion of adulthood that “they” had at the start of middle school, we are jumped to a beach scene. Although most of the characters are only named briefly, and don’t get much screen time, we are introduced to a pack of students in seventh grade, 15 in total. Evenly split between boys and girls, and including one younger girl, there is a clear tone of normalcy in the characters.

It is nearly impossible to learn who all the characters are in terms of personality, since half of them have barely more than one line, but some are clear enough. The energetic tomboy with aggressively short hair, the guy with an obvious crush on a distant girl (Also in the class), and the boy who inexplicably seems to hate his younger sister, who is the only grade schooler in the group. Then one of them fries a crab with a bottle rocket. Fun stuff.

After this scene, which is mostly typical but with slight undercurrents of boredom and dissatisfaction, they decide to go as a group and explore a mysterious cave, obviously because none of them watch horror movies.

Deep in the cave, they find what looks like a canvas tent without full walls or roof, with several computers in it, leading to the obvious conclusion that an internet enabled hobo lives there. This is not to be, as the rambling, apparently out of it, blue haired owner shows up. He calls himself Kokopelli, a name associated with an…..endowed…. fertility idol, leading me to instantly proclaim him to be a “big dick.”

The children simply believe the suspicious man when he tells them about the neat video game he wants them to beta test. They immediatly do what he tells them to, placing their hands on a strange metal plate and giving their names. Conclusion: these kids have horribly negligent parents who didn’t bother to teach them about being cautious around strangers. Note. The 4th grader doesn’t enter the ‘game’, because her brother simply dismisses her from it.

As soon as they finish, they suddenly find themselves back outside, as if it was a dream. On the way back, one of them turns around, and they all wonder how the hell they missed seeing THIS for the last five minutes.

Commence wetting em

Seriously, the robots in this show are of incredible, ridiculous size, estimated at over 500 meters tall. In comparison, Godzilla’s height is usually marked at between 50 and 100 meters. This robot could keep Godzilla as a pet lizard.

And here’s where my sarcasm dries up. They are teleported into the robot, which turns into a transparent 360 degree view of the outside, with a series of normal looking, though all different, chairs in the middle, with our mysterious dick in one of them. He explains to them how he lied about the game, as a gigantic spider materializes in front of them.

The fight is massive and astounding, but somehow slow, because of the grandness of these machines. They throw bolts at each other that look like a thunderstorm ,before Kokopelli rips open the spider and breaks its ‘vital point’, a small ball on a wire deep inside the robot’s armor. (though that ball must be several meters across, too. The scale is still remarkable.

And at the end, as the robot begins to disappear, to who knows where, Kokopelli gives them a few last words….before apologizing to them just as they vanish from the cockpit.

And that’s episode one. I don’t know for sure what I feel on seeing this series, but it is intense. There is a sense of epic story here, but at the same time, something seems wrong. One of the children clearly states that something feels wrong when she registers her name. Add that to the mystery of the events, and that last, regretful attempt to apologize, and you have to wonder what is coming.

I haven’t read the manga of this, and will do my best to avoid any spoilers, because I want to see it as it happens. But so far, this sticks out as one of the most remarkable series this season

CLOSING THOUGHTS: Why did Kokopelli trick the children into helping? That mecha is horribly strange in its proportions, incredibly narrow and long limbed. Is it legal to be that much of an ass to your own sister? Where does the enemy come from?