Hitori Bocchi suffers from extreme social anxiety, she's not good at talking to people, takes pretty extreme actions, is surprisingly adept at avoiding people, her legs cramp when she overexerts herself, gets full of herself when alone, will vomit when exposed to extreme tension and often comes up with plans. Now she is entering middle school and her only friend, Yawara Kai, is attending a different school. This leaves Bocchi alone, surrounded by new classmates with whom she must make friends before Kai will talk to her again.
￼The Spring 19 anime season is now finally over and I can definitely say that the spring season wasn't too kind to anime.
We saw the fall of Shield Hero with its lacklustre second cour, as well the disastrous debut of Fairy Gone, we saw the over-saturation of anime seasonal showelware, and we saw the Isekai genre shit itself with the release of Wise Man's Grandchild as it showcased that stakes and tension don't matter when you can have sick self insert pandering to cover up your half-ass plot and characters. That's not to say that were not good anime to come out from the season
as it's certainly not true.
Bungou Stray Dogs Season 3, Fruits Basket 2019, Sarazanmai were all great shows from the Spring 19 season.
Then there's Hitoribocchi my most anticipated of the season thanks to its premise about social anxiety. Despite it being a CGDCT Slice of Life I gave it a chance and ultimately didn't regret it because Hitoribocchi is a great anime that I liked from start to finish.
The plot centers around a young girl named Bocchi Hitori who suffers from social anxiety, making it hard for her to talk to others. Upon entering middle school, her only friend Kai Yawara not only moves to a different school who is attending a different school, tells Bocchi she is breaking off their friendship until she can make friends with her entire class. Thus, Bocchi is left with the task of befriending everyone in her class before graduation.
If, I had two words to describe Hitoribocchi's story it would relatable and charming. The plot may be simplistic but it makes up by execution. Hitroiboochi is at heart a light-hearted slice of life as the presents the lives of our main cast doing adorable things on screen.
This is only enchanted by the show's beautiful mini character arcs that were well-explored they also have a satisfyingly payoff. For, example Bocchi as a painfully timid girl but as the progresses not only we see Boochi slowly overcome her social anxiety my being more social she also makes a couple of friends in the progress.
Speaking of social anxiety the series goes a great job at exploring the theme of social anxiety in the most light hearted and relatable way possible. It never feels underdeveloped or ham-fisted to the viewer.
Coupled by the strong character chemistry and interactions and you got yourself a fun series that has heart and passion.
If, I had any problems with Hitoribocchi it would be the repetitive comedy. The comedy itself is not a problem in fact I found the comedy to pretty comedy thanks to the good comedic timing and once again great character interactions. However, I feel like this is one on those slice of life comedy series that reuses it's comedy/gags to a point where it's comedy/gags loses its charm
The best example of this is whole gag of Aru headbutting Nako after being called "unfortunate". It was funny the first couple of time by the 7th episode the gag started to lose its charm to a point where it's annoying. It's such a shame because I really like Aru and especially Nako as charterers and at times I wasn't of how the series used them just for that gag that got tiring overtime.
Character wise this is where the show shines the brightest. They are a colourful and unique bunch that managed to stand out from each other. All the characters develop nicely in the show thanks to the show great writing.
My favourite character in the show is Nako. I really enjoyed her interactions towards to the other characters as well her personality and character development.
It's not to say that Bocci is not weak lead because she's isn't. She a strong releatble character in her own right I just prefer Nako due to reliability.
Now Hitoribocchi won't be winning any awards in the production because let's face it the general production is at best passable.
The only good things about Hitoribocchi's production is the beautifully drawn characters and colorful background sincerely that uses a soft colour palette. Everything else ranged from competent to average.
The soundtrack while fits the show nicely is not memorable although both the opening and ending themes were pretty catchy to listen.
The voice acting is very good. The Seiyuus give great performances to the characters and are very lively in them.
Special mention goes to Minami Tanaka voiced Nako with masterful expertise and really fit the role.
There's currently no dub for this show so if you a dub fan such as myself well you're out of luck.
Hitoribocchi is a definition of a fun and relatable time. Yes, the show had it's flaws but the flaws didn't put a dent to this cute series that has a lot of charm thanks to its charming character interactions, strong thematic exploration and likeable characters.
Like a cute friend from your class that wants to be part of your group but at times has a hard time fitting in due to their timid personality.
Hitoribocchi is timid and it knows it but it has determination and passion and I think for those reasons alone Hitoribocchi is a nice addition to the already great slice of life genre and I won't have it any other way.
When I first saw Hitoribocchi in the seasonal list I was excited. Being a big fan of CGDCT, and very much enjoying those CGDCT that focus on real, relatable problems, I was excited to see what Hitoribocchi had to offer. While the issue of low self-esteem and social anxiety is not new to CGDCT, I personally like to see what each take on it is, and to gleem whatever there can be from the situations that the characters get into. There is a lot of potential in the idea, as the wholesome friendly tone of CGDCT allow for these more serious topics to be covered
without going too far down into the negativity spiral, and rather give hope, and show how one can be helped. Sadly, Hitoribocchi did not live up to this, and rather than use those factors to it's benefit, it ended up using them to its determent.
Most CGDCT shows are to an extent a comedy. While iyashikei CGDCT aren't so much, the general bread and butter CGDCT usually will have some level of comedy in them. And while some will pare down the comedy to focus on other aspects, others decide to go full into the comedy and let it be the main focus along with the cute girls themselves. For Hitoribocchi most of the focus is placed on the comedy. Most of the scenes are comedic scenes in nature and are designed to make the audience laugh. However this did not work as well for me due to the issues that lay in Hitoribocchi's premise, and their game plan.
While I was hoping to be able to relate to Hitori and feel for her situation, the show's focus on comedy nipped that hope in the bud. Rather than get a character who felt down to earth, even if moeified, Hitori feels like a personification of r9k or r/meirl. She acts like a meme in the idea that she can't do literally anything without tripping over herself. And while to an extent that is understandable, the things that she does to avoid these situations that she doesn't want to be in are so comedically stupid that it's very hard to take her seriously. Her whole character is so overdone that it ends up being frustrating rather than enderaing. It feels not only played up for laughs, but existing purely for laughs. And while shows like Comic Girls can also play up the main character's issues for laughs, they make sure to put lots of care into her issues and don't have them exist just for jokes. This happens with more than just the main character too. While the show does try for more heartfelt moments with some of them, many of them are very gimmicky, and feel out of range when they try to hit more emotional moments despite most of their character being designed for comedy. Overall it feels like its trying to hit both the more emotional elements while also being a complete comedy but ultimately the two work against each other rather than with each other.
Furthermore the background of the show also messes with the general wholesomeness that I usually find in CGDCT. Even in the most comedic CGDCT there is a fiorm friendship that exists between the cast, one that hammers home the friendliness and fun that exists all throughout. And while Hitoribocchi has its moments that show this, it also has other moments where that feels completely absent. The biggest issue leading to this is the set up. Hitori starts making friends in order to live up to a promise she had with an old firend of hers to make friends with everyone in the class. In many cases there is less care put into the friend that Hitori is making and only into having a friend in name. And while I do believe the friendships do grow with time, there are certainly moments that just aren't enjoyable when it feels like the friendship that is there is a shallow vechine for Hitori to live up to her promise. Add to this the constant tired jokes that cylce throughout the show, and the friendship ends up feeling like an afterthought.
All things said I do think Hitoribocchi has it's moments. And there are characters in it that are cute and likeable. But frankly I don't like the comedy style at all, and the show is so heavily focused on comedy despite its premise. And while there are moments where it tries to live up to its premise, ultimately the show's focus on comedy hinders those moments and the overall fun feeling of the show. If you like the style of comedy bertter than I do then it's likely that you'll enjoy it more than I did. But I feel like if you're coming in here after reading the premise and hoping for a nice blend between social anxiety and cute fun, then you're likely in the wrong place. Personally even for comedy I feel like there are better comedic CGDCT that have more fun premise and that use it better. Ultimately I don't think the show is very good, and fails at the different types of CGDCT it tries to be.
SoL school-comedy anime are nothing new. BUT...what if making friends is PART of that problem? I'm sure we've been through moments like this, being awkward, then slowly opening up ourselves to more friends, and wash, rinse and repeat. This idea is too simplistic, it almost never works. But hang on for a sec.
From the same author who brought us last year's Mitsuboshi Colors (damn, that was a great kids show), Katsuwo's 2nd manga adaptation outing, is based on a group of middle-school girls, starting with the one that has social anxiety: Hitori Bocchi (her literal name meaning 'all alone'). Being concerned over the fear that
Bocchi has in making new friends, Bocchi's only elementary school friend Kai Yawara ((her literal name meaning 'soft'), abandons her in the prospect that she could develop the courage to make new friends and start all over again (which when we think of it, isn't a bad thing, but then again who knows). This is also the voice of an entirely new seiyuu, Chisaki Morishita, whose debut with Bocchi was a perfect fit. Looking forward to more roles from her.
The first friend that she is able to befriend with, is the fearsome, tough-looking appearance of Sunao Nako (her literal name meaning 'honest child'). Amidst the beginning filled with troubles from Bocchi in all 4 directions, Nako doesn't hesitate to criticize Bocchi, but also instead helps mother her and nurture her progress for the future friends in the series. She's one tough kid by appearance, but a kind and sincere heart on the inside.
The second friend, is my pick for the best girl in the series, the loser-faced, unfortunate-written class vice-president Honshou Aru (her literal name meaning 'having a hidden nature'). Despite her leadership, she often puts on facades to hide her other-self: a life that is unfortunate and heavy curses as she goes. AND despite all that, Bocchi is willing to put up with Aru, and Nako and Bocchi gain another friend, though after that point she becomes the "unfortunate" running gag of comical hilarity, always headbutting Nako.
The third friend, is the Naruto-girlish foreigner Sotoko Rakita (her literal name meaning 'came from outside'). Apparently, Sotoka (which is what Bocchi would mention her after they become friends) came to Japan on the affluence that ninja exists (and yes, she isn't technically wrong, just on a different timeline), and after her encounter with Bocchi, resolves her imaginations, on the hope with Bocchi would one day show her true colours. And yes, Bocchi is not (a ninja), taking this chance to clear things up with her and become from Master-Apprentice to full-on friends.
The fourth classmate, the no-friend-policy, scary-looking Kako Kurai (her literal name meaning 'dark past'). She is the stuck-up character, the person whom doesn't want to be affliated with anyone, the outcast. Her personality as a disciplined public morals officer/prefect already gives off the impression of friends avoiding her; a challenge to her policy of individualism. And with a spark, sets of the relationship of Bocchi and Kurai as rivals.
The fifth classmate (probably the last to showcase), Mayo Ojosa (her literal name meaning 'I'm a rich girl'), she has having problems with the shift in classes (something that Bocchi has to constantly worry about EVERY year), leading to her loneliness, with her butler the only "family member" due to the heavy absentia of her parents. And as always, Bocchi aims to do something that would make her feel belonged, and the friendship games never stop.
Phew, I'm about almost done, as more characters actually show up in the manga source material, but for the sake of the anime adaptation, what's added is added into this review. Throughout the course of friendship, Bocchi has been gaining some and losing less, and that is a good thing. In the midst of these challenges, some nudges are needed to create a catalyst for things to happen, and Bocchi took all advice from her new-found friends.
(And we all secretly wished we needed more of "Zan'nen" Aru, she's so fun and great as a support character!)
Over on the graphics department, Studio C2C's bright colourful colour palette with plain but calming visuals give the series a look that probably can only exist within the settings of the said environment itself. Bringing the 4-koma manga adaptation into colour all around, I must say this is quite the experience. Simple-looking but vibrant to the sights. Sound-wise, it's OK really, nothing that really stands out quite per se, good set of OP and ED plus the entertaining background musics of serious and comedic moments.
Overall, Katsuwo's efforts of a resurgence with this anime adaptation isn't gonna turn many heads (like how Mitsuboshi Colors does), but at least it's a good time to spend upon the times of friendship. Making new friends and hanging out together, this serves as the crux of the series, and nothing more. Definitely felt the sleeper-hit charm that it has, and it will always stick that way, at least for this season.
Me: Now I really want to make friends...here on MAL? There's TOO MANY, I too shy already :(
Living with social anxiety is like having a voice in your head constantly saying that you’re not good enough, and no one else will ever think you’re good enough. It orders you to panic in the middle of a totally normal conversation, it flushes your face bright red when someone asks you a question, and it makes you constantly question everything that makes you, you. But perhaps the hardest part of having social anxiety is making friends. Studio C2C adapts Katsuwo’s manga of the same, “Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu” which is about a young girl named Bocchi Hitori, who suffers from social anxiety and is
on a mission to make more friends in middle school.
This mission was birthed on a promised she made with her childhood friend Kai Yawara. Now I am not a fan of this type of “promise” but it is part of the setting of this series and gives her a goal. You see, Kai ended up going to a different middle school, and she said, that unless Bocchi is able to make new friends (everyone in her class), she won’t talk to her let alone visit. I guess this is Kai’s way of helping Bocchi overcome her SAD (which is on the extreme side to add). Now, personally I really didn’t like the first episode for the fact that it really felt like the show was taking actual issues, such as social anxiety, and turning them into quirky features, framing it in such a way to make Bocchi cute which feels very exploitive. I had this feeling minutes into the second episode and began to worry that our heroine would be yet another bland and painfully awkward young girl, with the kind of shyness that is meant to lure moe-connoisseurs in announcing that she is their reasoning for existing.
Thank god that feeling didn’t prolong. Bocchi demonstrates an admirable resolve in her attempts to make friends with her fellow classmates. And while this is at the center of many jokes, her earnest effort shows that she is someone you can cheer for. She is actively trying to overcome her weaknesses and anxiety, oppose to the helpless damsel in distress to be fawned over. Now, this is more than just CGDCT, but if that stuff annoys you then I got to say that you probably won’t like Hitoribocchi. I do give the show credit for achieving what it set out to do—that is to successfully depict how one with SAD can overcome it and eventually make friends. And while it is very wholesome and rather funny, there are some problems that make it's quality inconsistent. And to highlight two of these issues, first the comedy grows thin at times, and secondly, the characters are limited by their character-defining trait or their one shtick that they are forced to repeat.
Over the course of 12 episodes, it starts to take its toll. There are times where the series is dragging its own tail between its legs, drifting away from the focus of the main group of girls, and into individual characters that simply can’t carry with their own unique gag. Certain jokes begin to feel too repetitive or lingering longer than welcomed. Also, Bocchi herself can be seen as a weak titular character. Shy girls can and do work as leads for comedy and slice of life, but she doesn’t manage to execute that role. While she grows stronger, in the sense of being proactive in overcoming her SAD and accompolishing her goal, her main gag is how random she can be, which stems from the trope “comically missing the point”. But random humor has its limits—if a series overall comedy comes from that way too often, then things start to crumble. Since Bocchi can’t provide enough of the series hilarity on her own, it falls on the other characters to pick up the slack. On a more positive note, when the series is rapidly alternating between the main cast, it works wonders. Even if they’re all mostly one-note gags—crafting something that isn’t amazing but is entertaining all the same.
Furthermore, this is where Hitoribocchi is at its best. When it eventually introduces more members of its cast, this is where you get most of your entertainment value. Especially in moments where the spotlight is shared evenly. You get a back and forth rhythm that works well for this series, keeping things from feeling too boring. And while some jokes get repetitive, there are some good ones, as well as running gags. While some start to grow old, the show finds new ways to keep a few gags fresh, an example—Aru Honshou’s unfortunateness. It plays out like the butt-monkey of jokes, and I personally quite liked it. Bocchi’s made some nice friends who have her back and really care for her, which makes them endearing. Nako Sunao plays the big sis role, Aru Honshou is the clutz, and Sotca Luckythar is the disciple. Good chemistry between these four and again, the series is at its best and worthwhile when all are given ample screen time.
About the art and animation—it is pretty standard for a slice-of-life and school comedy type of series. I really don’t know much about studio C2C, but looking at their catalog, doesn’t seem to be any impressive titles in their resume. To be honest, I wasn’t wowed by anything. It makes it kind of hard to talk about this section. Were the visuals consistent? I’d say so. In a few episodes, I could spot some character faces go off model, but apart from that, it is fine. Ryuichi Takada’s presence is felt with his music—CGDCT series seems to be his specialty. It is very easy on the eyes while being very colourful. Character designs are very moe-esque. Again, as repetitive as some of the jokes were, there are some good ones, some with fantastic timing, and the visual gags really helped in making these moments or the more hilarious. I did enjoy the casting but, I have to say, Akari Kito’s performance as Aru was superb and, in my opinion, stole the show.
When you break Hitoribocchi down, you start to see a few more holes then what you initially thought. But got to give this series some credit. As mentioned previously, it really tackled SAD well and really gave off a solid blueprint for those that can relate to Bocchi on how to make friends. She spent time working on her weaknesses and turning them into strengths, looked for potential friends, sought after contact information from people, learned to accept invitations, making plans with others, and stayed in contact with them. Through her experience, you can learn something not to do throughout this blueprint—don’t expect instant results, don’t take friends for granted, don’t judge, and never compromise your beliefs, values, and morals. The series achieves what it set out to do and for that, I had to give Hitoribocchi an extra point.