Every once in a while you read or see something that hits you in a way that's unexpected. When VIZ's latest release, Bokurano: Ours, was announced everything I read about the title suggested it was just another giant mech piloted by kid manga. To be quite fair the genre has been played to death, and anything remotely close to the genre feels stereotyped somehow. Now that the first volume of Bokurano: Ours has come out, I dare say that my preconception of this manga has been shattered.
Bokurano: Ours follows fifteen children over the course of a summer as they take part in a program called "Seaside Friendship and Nature School". The kids all attend the same junior high school and are in the seventh grade together (the exception being one girl who is in the fourth grade). When the book opens the kids are all on a beach doing some natural research for a project. After a while they discover a cave entrance and head inside to see what they can find. The cave is dark, but just a little ways ahead of them is a source of light so they decide to keep going. What they find is more than they bargained for.
A strange man named Kokopelli has apparently been working out of this area, as evident by a lot of computer hardware and such. He tells the children that he's working on a game and asks if they would like to participate. He convinces them to sign up by touching an object, and the next thing they know they all wake up on the beach thinking it was a dream or something. When a giant beast is summoned into existence before their very eyes the reality of their "game" hits home.
As it turns out Kokopelli is an alien of unknown origin who invites them to each take a shot at piloting the massive mech. In turn, the kids will all have to defeat other massive monsters in an effort to save the world. Naturally, some of the children are fearful of that prospect, and others jump at the chance to sit in the pilot's chair. What happens next once they start playing is something that simply has to be seen to be appreciated, in all fairness. There are some heavy duty spoilers that would be dropped if I continued going on about the plot, so I'll refrain from that direction.