Social anxiety is a real issue in today’s society so leave it to Japan to give it the anime treatment with our new show Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu (Hitori Bocchi’s **** Life). Knowing how anime like this end up being, did the first episode do anything to make itself stand out from other shows which overdramatize the condition? Even if they do, was it enjoyable enough to keep watching?
Hitori Bocchi is a girl who only had a single friend in elementary school named Kai. Kai decided that in order to help Hitori make new friends in middle school, since they were going to different schools, she was going to stop being friends with her. Kai promised to become her friend again if she were able to make everyone in her class her friend. Hitori has social anxiety pretty bad and ends up throwing up during her introduction.
Despite this, she finds the courage to awkwardly start talking to the girl sitting in front of her, Nako Sunao. Slowly but surely, Nako warms up to Hitori and ends up becoming her friend but Hitori doesn’t know that because Nako never flat out said that they were. Hitori had to ask for confirmation which kind of took Nako by surprise because she thought that Hitori knew that they were already friends. In the end, Hitori was overjoyed to learn that they had become friends.
Doesn’t sound like much of a first episode on paper but it’s the personality that Hitori has that makes the show. Nako is pretty laid back, monotone in inflection, and a little sarcastic but she’s genuinely happy that Hitori came to her and wanted to be friends. Hitori, on the other hand, does the predictable and takes social anxiety to the anime level. Tripping over things, barfing, getting leg cramps, overblown situations, etc. If you’ve seen the overdramatization of this condition in anime once, you’re not missing anything new here. Still, despite her falling into a tropish archetype, Hitori’s character is still rather enjoyable. You find yourself rooting for her as she puts forth the effort to make a friend and it pays off.
My only complaint about the show is that Hitori made her first friend with very little resistance… almost as if it was too easy. That leaves me to suspect things about Nako but, then again, maybe I’m the one overthinking things here.
YES – For a show with a basic premise such as this, I never thought I would end up enjoying it as much as I did. Of course, this is all based on the first episode, which tends to be really good for most anime only to slack off the following week. Time will tell whether this follows that same pattern or if it can maintain its quality. If it can maintain, then this will end up being a great comedy and one of the sleeper hits of the Spring season. That’s the kind of vibe I got from the first episode. Just something really enjoyable that’s better than your average slice-of-life show yet not was extreme like Watamote was.