A severe introvert joins a band. Okay… that’s interesting. I had some expectations going into this show and since I almost slept on Ya Boy, Kongming, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t regret overlooking another musical anime. YBK set the stage but I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be the same. When I saw the comedy tag on Bocchi the Rock, I kind of groaned a bit because I don’t really like it when anxiety is turned into a comedy mechanism (which is why I never really got into Komi Can’t Communicate). But, can this show turn my opinions around?
Let’s Jam… in a second
Before I jump in… just a small note. Those who have read my reviews before know that I like adding images of the characters, some gifs, some scenery, and close out my reviews with a witty remark accompanied by an image. Unfortunately, due to us getting some DMCA notices slung at us, my reviews going forward will just be text.
We just can’t have nice things…
Anyway… NOW, Let’s Jam!
Hitori Gotoh has social anxiety. Her desire is to overcome it but she doesn’t know how. One day, when she was young, she saw an interview with the frontman of a band who talked about being a shut-in and how music changed all of that. Inspired by this interview, she takes her dad’s guitar and ends up becoming an internet legend. She posts her covers on her social media platform and gains a ton of followers. The anonymity of the internet is the perfect mask to hide behind all while giving her the ability to express herself as a musician.
One day, all of that changes when she brings her guitar to school, hoping that people would strike up a conversation. When it doesn’t happen, she heads home and sits alone in the park to clear her mind. That’s when an extroverted girl, Nijika, asks her to join a band… and then drags her away without letting her answer! There, Hitori meets their other bandmate, the soft-spoken and monotone Ryou. The only problem is they lost their singer/guitarist, but that’s okay because Kita meets Hitori at school and tags along to her band… which was her former band. After apologizing, she ends up joining and the four of them form Kessoku Band!
The rest of the show follows their journey of getting their name out there along with Hitori finding ways to overcome her anxiety. In fact, it’s Nijika who gives Hitori her nickname of “Bocchi,” which is a play off the word hitoribocchi which means “all alone” in Japanese. Hitori ends up in several normal situations but because of her anxiety, things like getting ready for a concert at Starry or at their cultural festival are massive problems for her. Even serving drinks at her part-time job seems like the biggest mountain to climb, all of which is accented through over-the-top comedy that oftentimes breaks the fourth wall.
What can I say about her other than what was said in the story section? She’s just an erratic ball of anxiety that tries her hardest to act normal but as soon as she does, something comes along and jolts the ever-living heck out of her. She’s usually depicted as melting into a puddle, turning to ash, having her soul escape, or even drifting off to an apocalyptic scenario in her own mind. Despite her crushing anxiety, she chips away at it little by little.
The first time she played on stage, she was concealed inside a massive box of oranges. Then, you see her on stage worrying about every little thing she’s doing until, suddenly, she realizes the band needs something to grab the audience’s attention. At that moment, she forgets all of her fears and rips off an incredible solo intro for a song that brings everyone into it. She seemed quite pleased with it but moments like that are fleeting and she reverts back to her old self rather quickly. I would like to think of these moments as the laying of the foundation for her transformation. The more of that foundation she lays, the quicker she can build upon it. Those small flashes give you hope that the character would develop a bit more aggressively throughout the season but, unfortunately, there really isn’t much there. I would be fine with it if there was confirmation of a second season but there isn’t as of the time of this writing so what we are given wasn’t really much in the way of progression… or in this case, it hadn’t progressed enough to my liking. Bocchi is a solid character but I was just begging for SOMETHING other than her over-the-top reactions but I never got much of anything beyond those and I think this is where the show suffered a bit.
She is the complete opposite of Hitori. She’s outgoing, fearless, overly excitable, and a little annoying, if I could be honest. She’s the first to really understand Hitori’s condition but she never gives up on her. While she can be a bit of an airhead, she does her best to not really force Hitori into any situation. In fact, she’s very forgiving whenever Hitori has one of her moments. The fact that she doesn’t make a big deal about her anxiety and accepts it so willingly makes her a cool friend but that’s the problem… she doesn’t really do much to truly push Hitori out of her comfort zone. Even when it came to designing the band’s shirt, it was done in the confines of Hitori’s home. When it came time to take their photo, they went to secluded areas out in the public.
One could say she was passively supporting Hitori but out of all of the band members that could have been in that role to really push her and get her to change, Nijika was it and I don’t think the character did enough of that. Because as such, this felt like the Hitori show and Nijika was only along for the ride. She played her role as leader of the band just fine but there were just a lot of chances she had where she could have done more. Outside of setting up some things for the band to do, she kind of felt as if she was in the background most of the time.
Ryou suffered from the same problem as Nijika but at least her personality gave her an excuse. Ryou lives a very… “poor”… life. She’s in constant need of money but even though she worries about it, she’s always too apathetic to truly care. At first glance, she gives off a dark and brooding aura but then you realize she’s quite playful… in her own way. Don’t expect her to pounce on your or do anything like that but a quick quip here and there can escape her mouth that reminds you that she’s one of those silent comedic characters.
She does help Hitori out from time to time, though… such as when she talked to her about writing the lyrics for their new song. She noted how Hitori was trying too hard to write something popular rather than something from the heart. With her encouragement, Hitori made it through. Outside of that, Ryou doesn’t really do much to help Hitori grow.
I’m Here! Let’s Go!
Another character that started off strong and then just flat. She was introduced as the band’s singer that just up and ditched them… then she accidentally reunites with them through Hitori and becomes their singer/guitarist again. Once that wraps up, she just fades away into the background like the other three characters, tagging along only when it suits to move the show forward. Aside from misunderstanding Bocchi’s quandary at the end of the show and signing them up to play at the cultural festival, I can’t really think of anything that Kita did to really stand out. She did visit her when she was sick at school, though so it does show that Kita cares about her. She seemed more like a friend to Bocchi than the other members of the band. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
Art, Animation, and Sound
This was one of those standard musical shows where everything seemed pretty average until they got up on stage… then that’s where you could tell the budget increased. Outside of that, Bocchi’s little panic attacks were most memorable and the mixture of real-life footage with some Bocchi-like figures threw me for a curveball in a good way. I loved the mixture here that really brought the comedy to the forefront. If it weren’t for those little scenes, plus Bocchi’s moments, this would have come off as just another slice-of-life comedy with higher-than-normal budget music scenes. Good job to Cloverworks for making this show stand out in that regard!
As for the character design, nothing to really write home about. Aside from her blue and yellow cube hair tie, Bocchi and the gang just look like the typical high school girls that you can find in almost any show in the genre. I will give them some points for keeping family members thematic. All of Bocchi’s family has pink hair (yes, even her father Naoki), Nijika’s sister Seika has blonde hair like her, etc. It’s not a very big detail, it’s a nice subtle one that I noticed.
As for the OST, the basic background noise is just that… basic. Where the show obviously shines is whenever Kessoku Band takes the stage. In fact, they are trying to follow in the footsteps of Angel Beats and Fukumenkei Noise by producing a real-life album under the same name as the band in the show. Will Kessoku Band be another In NO Hurry to Shout or Girls Dead Monster? Only time will tell as these anime bands strive to find the next LiSA. Good luck!
I will just come out and say that the show has its faults… especially in the character development area, but despite that, it was a decent ride. I know that some people who really loved this show might come at me with pitchforks for not going as nuts over it as they have but I can’t overlook some of the things that just rubbed me the wrong way.
Again… if this were getting a second season, then my problems with Hitori not taking enough steps forward in her development wouldn’t be as much of a big deal as they are but this season just left me wanting more in that department. I also wished the other band members were a little more prominent in her development. As band members and friends, they played their roles just fine but I just don’t think they did enough to really help Hitori take that next big step. That’s where my main issue with the show lies.
Another issue I had with it was the pacing. At first, the show hooked me but as the season wore on (and as I got busy and had to resort to marathoning the show on random weekends), the show seemed to stall. Some moments brought you in but then there were moments where I wondered if the episode was coming to an end soon only to see it had 5-10 minutes left. Some episodes just really dragged on and on and it made marathoning even three or four episodes in a row quite the chore.
The music was fantastic, though, and the comedy was great. Even though I dislike conditions like anxiety being used as a comedic device, this one really drew me in and got me to laugh. In retrospect, I enjoyed the show, but for me, it started off as an Anime of the Year contender but fell back to “just a good show” at the end.
There’s really not much to hate here with Bocchi the Rock but the issues that became ever-present as the season marched on really dampened how good it could have been. Still a very solid watch for those who want a nice mix of comedy and music.
Bocchi the Rock
Bocchi the Rock does a great job mixing comedy with music; however, while it does develop its characters, it has an issue with getting them across the finish line.
- Great music
- Comedy that’s not afraid to break the 4th wall
- FLCL, Evangelion, and Ashita no Joe references
- Great character personalities
- Bocchi’s development feels incomplete and the rest of the cast didn’t do enough to get her where she should have been