Comic Picks By The Glick

Bokurano vol. 5

January 14, 2012

A bit of self-indulgence first:  Sometimes, going back and reading old reviews surprises me.  For instance, I was surprised at how positive my thoughts were regarding the last volume of this series.  Having had several months to let its events fester in my mind, as well as consideration for my “Best of 2011” list, I kept coming back to how I felt that there was no justice in the resolution of Chizuru’s story.  Not killing the teacher who took advantage of her, passed her around to his friends, and got her pregnant may have been the “right” thing to do but leaving his fate up to the reader’s imagination felt like a cop-out.  While one’s imagination is a powerful tool, for me it couldn’t compete with the fact that we’d never see the teacher’s suffering on the printed page.

(Before this volume came out, I was of the opinion that while the teacher killed Chizuru’s sister to keep her quiet, he was eventually tracked down, arrested and “spirited away” by the older military man from the earlier volumes who decided that he couldn’t live with what had been done to one of the kids under his watch.  But I digress...)

Gears were then shifted down for Kunihiko’s arc as we find out that he’s involved in a junior-high love triangle of sorts which he plans to resolve through the magic of posthumous organ donation.  His story is wrapped up with a minimum of fuss here as his last-ditch-strategy winds up needing a little nudge in order to work.  Then the focus shifts to Maki, the tomboyish girl with the short hair, as we find out that she’s adopted and that her foster parents are expecting their first biological child.  Though the girl’s story is effectively grounded in her concerns over her heritage and relationship with her parents, longtime readers will probably find the revelations about the nature of the conflicts the kids have faced up to this point to be of greatest interest here.  Unless you’re like me and have already seen the anime and the revelation comes off as largely redundant.  That said, I did find the “ordinariness” of Maki’s otaku father to be quite refreshing in the way that his hobbies aren’t glorified or held up for derision.

Then we get to the final chapter which kicks off Yosuke’s arc.  Yosuke has a face that indicates his lot in life is to be bullied by pretty much everyone.  He also has a sister whose life has been in an agonizing limbo since a failed double suicide attempt in high school.  The reason this chapter doesn’t come off as a pointless exercise in miserablism is because Yosuke’s inner monologue about what to do in his upcoming battle plays very well off the big revelation in this volume.  Then there’s the two-page cliffhanger that leads into the next one.

God damn it was good.

I’ve read a lot of series that have ended their volumes with cliffhangers, and this was one of the best.  That’s because there’s a genuine sense of uncertainty to the events teased at the end.  Mangaka Mohiro Kitoh achieves this by putting the “shock” on the next to the last page, leaving a quiet bit of contemplation for the final one.  Reading it the first time actually made me flip back and forth between those pages going, “What did I just read!?”  Did that event already happen?  Is it only occurring in the character’s mind?  Could it be a “flash forward?”  Will it be the biggest failure in Yosuke’s life or his greatest triumph?  The fact that I can’t even hazard a guess as to the exact nature of what’s going to happen, but that I know how it’ll involve an incident I have a vested interest in, have me EAGERLY ANTICIPATING the release of the next volume.  After this, June can’t come soon enough.

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