This show wasn’t on my list to watch this season because I’m not in the habit of watching shows I don’t think I’ll like, but there aren’t a lot of new shows out right now, and the subject matter is one I can relate to, so why not?
Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu is a show about Bocchi Hitori, a girl who suffers from social anxiety. Right before she enters middle school, her only friend breaks off their friendship and gives her an ultimatum: make friends with everyone in her new class or they’ll never become friends again. The first episode follows her efforts to make her first new friend, the girl who sits in front of her, Nako Sunao.
I was skeptical about this show when I clicked on it, and I am still skeptical. Why? Because it’s cute. From Bocchi’s design to her mannerisms to the way she smacks her face down on the floor—every second, every frame, it feels like I can hear someone shouting, “This is cute, right? Isn’t she the cutest thing? Isn’t her debilitating social anxiety adorable?”
There are moments like during Bocchi’s class introduction where I find her more heartbreaking than funny, and since a lot of the show’s humor revolves around her social awkwardness, it just becomes uncomfortable. Bocchi gets so nervous during her class introduction that she throws up—and the show plays it for comedy. Or at least, I think it did? The scene didn’t have any consequences beyond Nako calling Bocchi “barf” once or twice, so the point was probably to get a laugh from the audience.
Or it’s a relic from the show’s 4-koma source and somewhere there’s a comic called introduction that ends with Bocchi throwing up. But that’s just another guess. Regardless, it’s awkward.
I do like that her social anxiety is something the show portrays her as trying to cope with, even if it’s not from an internal motivation. Speaking of which, Kai’s methods to get Bocchi to socialize are a little drastic, but I also feel like they were necessary. Kai having to be Bocchi’s entire social life was probably a lot of stress, and Bocchi does need to be able to interact with people in her everyday life.
Where this episode really shines is in Bocchi and Nako’s budding friendship. The two of them getting really into texting each other was sweet and fun. Bocchi smashing her head into Nako while trying to greet her was the first time I really laughed during the show. I got a kinda romantic vibe from them at times which I’m certain the show is aware of given the first episode’s title is “My First Confession.” They even shared an umbrella at the end. I would be a little more into this if it was yuri. Alas, this show isn’t tagged as such.
Animation wise, it’s functional. The characters are cute and expressive. Watching it does make me wish I’d talked a little more about Fruits Basket (2019)’s animation, however. What’s done is done. I watched the subtitles this time. I can’t really comment on seiyuu performance beyond what sounds good to my ear since I don’t speak Japanese and don’t hear much of it outside anime. Bocchi’s voice sticks out to me the most. Hearing it for the first time, I immediately thought it’d get annoying, but as the episode went on, she just became another cute, determined anime girl.
If you like cute things or can laugh at Bocchi making cute faces and falling over, this one’s for you. But I think there are better meditations on social anxiety out there. I won’t be following this show this season.
Skipping this one.