Everything Anime and Beyond

Hitoribocchi: The AniTAY Review

The Summer 2019 anime season is moving full speed ahead, but let us take a moment of your time to look back on one of the Spring season’s best shows. Hitoribocchi resonated with many members of the AniTAY community through its relatable and endearing cast of characters and its charm. Join me, TheMamaLuigi, alongside Edmundton, Koda, Reikaze, and Tenshigami as we offer our thoughts on the series!


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Edmundton

When I first saw Hitoribocchi, I assumed it would be just another CGDCT(cute girls doing cute things) slice-of-life show where girls just have fun with each other and everything always works out in the end. The actual plot of Hitoribocchi did stay within my expectations, but what I didn’t expect was how it portrayed the social anxiety of our main character, Bocchi. Bocchi is in some ways one of the most relatable anime characters I have ever encountered, and while the show often takes her anxiety to comedic lengths it never comes off as meanspirited or degrading. The show pulls off the careful balancing act of making you feel like you’re not laughing at but with Bocchi as she tries her best to make friends.

Bocchi’s goal is to make friends with every single person in her class as she struggles to navigate social norms that may seem obvious to us but are very alien to her. Luckily, she quickly finds understanding friends that help her with even the most basic of social interactions. Another show may have taken a more pessimistic view on her situation but in the rare instance of me being thankful that this is a CGDCT show, the tone is instead much more optimistic as Bocchi’s new friends show her that there is nothing to be afraid of.

When it comes to actual comedy the show can often be hit or miss as a lot of CGDCT shows tend to be, and more often than not what kept me going was Bocchi’s journey. Nevertheless, the side characters are enjoyable and the way that they help Bocchi is often heartwarming even as they struggle with their own quirks and problems. Aru in particular is a clear stand-out with her bad luck and even her own hilarious personal song about not giving up.

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You could also argue that the show’s theme is hurt by the fact that things usually turn out for the better in Bocchi’s quest to make friends. It is indeed not very realistic that someone with Bocchi’s level of social anxiety is able to even lead a normal life but I would argue that this show is perfectly fine with being optimistic fluff. I am personally glad that the emotional drama is usually kept at a minimum and that Bocchi is able to enjoy a normal life with her friends.

TL;DR: Hitoribocchi offers a heartwarming and relatable take on the struggles of someone with social anxiety. This show may not be a masterpiece, but for those who can relate to Bocchi, it will hit very close to home in a good way.

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Koda

One of the main reasons I tend to love slice-of-life shows is because more times than not they feature some high quality character writing. Since the majority of the genre tends to have very little in the way of a deep narrative driving the series’ events, they have to compensate for this by focusing on the characters. My favorite aspect of anime, or really any form of entertainment media, is strong writing, so this has endeared the genre to me. Hitoribocchi is the latest example of the strengths the genre is capable of on full display.

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Though the series primarily centers around Hitori Bocchi and her struggles to make friends, we also get some great moments involving the girls who make up the show’s supporting cast. Every girl in the show has at least one weird quirk that not only helps set the foundation for their character but also as the source of much of the humor involving them. This ends up letting the show spread around the target of its comedy, which is often something comedies involving a lead character with introversion and social anxiety issues struggle with, as seen in Watamote, for example.

On that note, it is really refreshing to see how relatable Hitori Bocchi is. The show does sometimes lean a little over the top with some of her interactions but never goes too far to the point where it becomes distracting. I also struggle with talking to people, and often hold back sharing my true personality to people unless I see that we have a common interest that allows me to break the ice and get a conversation going. So I absolutely understand how Hitori can feel in many of the episodes. The show isn’t a perfect masterpiece, but the sum of its parts makes Hitoribocchi a more than worthwhile watch, especially for those who enjoy the slice-of-life genre.

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TL;DR: Hitoribocchi is an often times funny, yet equally heartfelt series about how difficult it can be to form friendships with others that manages to avoid many of the pitfalls this kind of show often falls into.


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Reikaze

Every season, I find myself keeping up with slice-of-life shows the most. I realize this is pretty bizarre because they’re not the big shows that everyone fixates on, but what they lack in stuff like sakuga and plot twists they make up in by being an entertaining watch at every moment.

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Hitoribocchi definitely hits that quality, but even more so than other slice-of-life comedy shows, Hitoribocchi is all about it’s cast. Each character has specific quirks that they’re named after and the humor of the show revolves around said quirks. Primarily about Hitori Bocchi, a lonely girl with crippling social anxiety, this show might seem absolutely horrible on first impression, but Hitoribocchi never plays out in a meanspirited manner. If you’re like me and watched for “anime_irl” moments, those are definitely here, but while those moments are funny, they’re also always uplifting, trying to help and encourage Hitori.

The rest of the cast complements this behavior of the show because, while having their own issues and quirks, they usually all pull the show up. Everything works well together in Hitoribocchi: with great comedy, an endearing cast, witty banter, and scenes that put a smile on your face. Like everyone’s favorite vice rep, Hitoribocchi really shines; It’s one of my favorites of the season, and one I’d recommend to anyone.

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TL;DR: Hitoribocchi is an uplifting and entertaining show about a girl with crippling social anxiety. This might not seem like a recipe for success, but all the parts blend together to make a work that’s an absolute pleasure to watch.


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Tenshigami

Hitoribocchi is a show that very easily could have fallen off my radar. Slice of life generally isn’t my cup of tea, but when I read that it was going to be about Hitori Bocchi’s struggles with social anxiety and making friends, I knew I had to at least give the first episode a watch. I’m glad I did, because I was instantly hooked.

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As someone who has struggled daily with social anxiety through my whole life, Bocchi’s quest to make friends and find her place within the social circle of her class was one I could easily relate to, and the show’s lighthearted take on it had me excitedly returning to it every week for another heartwarming helping. While Bocchi’s social anxiety is used a lot for comedic effect, we are not invited to laugh at her, but with her. What’s more, every person in her circle of friends — and even characters outside of it — has a behavioral trait that gets played up for comedy. The essence of a slice of life is often in its characters, and this is where Hitoribocchi shines.

This helps make Hitoribocchi relatable to a much wider audience. Not everybody has struggled with social anxiety, but just about everyone has dealt with the awkwardness of youth and adapting to social situations. Just like the characters in this show, each and every one of us has these little things that make us different, and may even be the very things we struggle against in order to fit in. But Hitoribocchi demonstrates an important fact: sometimes, we do not need to struggle to change ourselves to make some friends, and it’s those friends who accept you for who you are that matter the most. Bocchi’s group of friends accept each other in spite of their flaws, while still occasionally jabbing playfully at each other about them. It is never mean spirited, but instead affectionate. All of it is in the spirit of friendship, and that’s what makes Hitoribocchi so heartwarming.

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TL;DR: Hitoribocchi is a lighthearted and hopeful take on social anxiety that can be very relatable even if you do not struggle with social anxiety yourself. The awkwardness of growing up is something we all encounter at some point in our lives, but as Hitoribocchi demonstrates, it’s also something that can bring friends together.


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TheMamaLuigi

What most struck me about Hitoribocchi is how I found myself relating strongly to Bocchi’s circumstances and yet strangely isolated from empathizing with her. Maybe I’m actually a heartless man, but I found that the show had a semi-rare tendency to lean too hard into Bocchi’s social anxiety as both a punchline and a way to draw emotion out of the viewer. But, then again, maybe that’s the point.

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I, like most Gen Z’ers, found myself struggling with awkwardness and fitting in in my high school years. Now, with five years of university under my belt, I know how to handle myself better in social situations, even if I have to go through the motions while slowly melting on the inside. Hitoribocchi appeals to that kind of crowd and does it very, very well. Bocchi and the rest of the cast of loveable dummies are incredibly entertaining and endearing, with each member of the main cast getting their moments to shine both as individuals and as a collective. Like Comic Girls and Slow Start in seasons past, Hitoribocchi masters the art of the cast dynamic and understands that creating a believable and recognizable group involves dialogue and interactions that not only service the plot but the characters who propel it forward. Recurring character moments like Aru and Nako’s rivalry, Sotca and Bocchi’s master-student relationship, and Kurai’s tsundere tendencies, just to name a few, all work to strengthen and deepen the bonds that are central to Hitoribocchi’s impact.

So, I return to my initial qualm with the series. Though I wouldn’t say I outright loved Hitoribocchi, I certainly highly enjoyed it. Like Bocchi’s relationship to her classmates, I found myself wanting dearly to connect with the series and, though I came just short, it nonetheless made an impact on me. Using Bocchi’s social anxiety as a frequent punchline often elicited as many groans as it did laughs. Though the larger cast works to counteract this through their own quirks, the fact remains that Hitoribocchi feels slightly at odds with itself, unable to reconcile its wish to see Bocchi overcome her struggles while also making those struggles the butt of too many of its jokes, leaving me feeling slightly disconnected from its central premise.

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But, maybe, that’s the point: we aren’t perfect, and neither is Bocchi, but we do not have to pretend to be. We’ll show up to middle school in our elementary school uniforms, we’ll think we can buy the school at the “School Store,” and we’ll mess up a simple “good morning.” But we’ll do it together, laughing along the way. Wa ha ha.

TL;DR: Like Bocchi herself, Hitoribocchi is perfectly imperfect, anchored around a cast of endearing and loveable characters, their heartwarming relationships, and, most importantly, the message that it is okay to be nervous, awkward, or anxious. After all, we all are.

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You’re reading AniTAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku’s community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. AniTAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. Click here to check us out.

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