Bocchi the Rock! Review: K-On Can’t Communicate

Directed by Keiichirou Saitou

Produced by Cloverworks

Streaming on Crunchyroll

I was in a bit of a pickle. I got ahead of myself and slated six reviews for the autumn season, and didn’t actually have six anime to watch. Alright, I said to myself, I’ll just watch the first episode of everything until something sticks out.

Easier said than done. There are reviewers who manage to watch everything, but I would be the first to tell you that I don’t possess that resilience. Getting through a whole episode of something as boring as Reincarnated as a Sword is a chore that I simply can’t do that many times.

But I just needed something, anything, to say something about. It didn’t have to be good, it could be disastrously bad; it just had to not be boring.

I thought I might get a review out of Raven of the Inner Palace, but for a fantasy political thriller, I was unimpressed.. I thought about the remake of Urusei Yatsura or Akiba Maid War, both of which I’ve heard great things about, but it’s such an absolute pain watching anything exclusive to Hidive that I wasn’t ready to commit for a whole season after summer’s Danmachi and Call of the Night.

And as a side note, Hidive, please just put an app on Playstation. I don’t watch anime on my Roku. You broke up with VRV and as if losing that chunk of your catalog wasn’t good enough, you just have one of the worst app experiences since Funimation called it quits.

With that off my chest, I can say I was delighted to pick up Bocchi the Rock. I’m not much for moe, but there’s something special about Bocchi…namely, it might be the funniest show in a year with Spy x Family and Kaguya.

Bocchi the Rock begins by explaining that its protagonist, Hitori, is the kid who was always left out when the teacher asked everyone to pair up. Okay, show, at least tell me before you’re going to bring up traumatic memories.

Her life was changed when a guitarist on TV declared that bands are a place where even introverts can be themselves, and she dedicates the next three years of her life to learning guitar. Not for nothing, either; she’s managed to amass 30,000 subscribers on Youtube just by uploading covers, though that falls short of her true goal.

Hitori wants to join a band to make friends, to be a star at the school culture festival, and also eventually sell out Budokan. Okay, she’s a bit of a dreamer. The problem with her strategy is that she expects the band and friends to happen as soon as she picks up the guitar.

Instead, she spends all of middle school playing to herself in a closet, but high school won’t be the same, she vows, and she’s actually right. Her life is changed for a second time when Hitori is adopted by an extrovert in desperate need of a guitar player for their show. It’s finally time for Hitori to show the skills she spent years honing, and…she flops because she’s never played with anyone else, much less in front of a crowd.

Okay, it’s not going to be as easy as just finding a band and getting up on stage, but with new friends and a new nickname, taken from the phrase “hitori bocchi” or “lonely”, Bocchi might just get her chance at the culture festival.

Producing studio Cloverworks is responsible for many of my favorite anime: Wonder Egg Priority and The Promised Neverland before they both imploded, Horimiya, Tokyo 24th Ward, My Dress-Up Darling, and Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai.

With the oversight of Keiichirou Saitou, a veteran animator on his full-length anime directorial debut, Bocchi the Rock is a fantastic looking show. Color-coding your characters is nothing new, but the character designs hit that perfect balance of moe cute and striking as individuals.

The animation is incredibly fluid. Usually, you could just hope that the music anime reserves its budget for, you know, the music scenes, but even the walk cycles are supremely well done. I wouldn’t say that CG compositing is Cloverworks’ strong suit, but you can barely notice its presence, and that’s when they use it at all.

The music that they play is full of bangers as well, though the story usually focuses on the character comedy at the expense of full musical sequences. Eh, that’s just the price you pay for a show that looks this good even when it doesn’t have to.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have not heard much of composer Tomoki Kikuya’s work until now, because every riff and track in Bocchi is a banger. My personal favorite at the moment is the sad little ditty that Bocchi composes in her room, lamenting the state of her social life.

I’m an internet anime critic, so obviously I have social anxiety, and there’s a special place in my heart for anime that address the subject with the care it deserves. I gave Komi Can’t Communicate a glowing review because while it finds humor in the condition, it never mocks Komi for suffering from it. Horimiya is my favorite manga because while Miyamura suffers from anxiety and depression, it informs his character, it isn’t his whole character.

However, Komi is a little more focused on all of its different zany characters that its titular heroine must befriend, while Horimiya treats Miyamura’s condition completely seriously. Those methods work for both of them; they might be rom coms, but Komi leans further into the comedy, while Horimiya is more of a romance.

Bocchi the Rock, on the other hand, mocks its protagonist’s anxiety relentlessly, and it’s downright hilarious. That could come across as insensitive and even cruel, but you have to consider two things: the first is that Bocchi is the one bemoaning her shortcomings, and the second is that I have to assume the writer is speaking from personal experience.

Bocchi is always engaging in the kind of daydreaming that will have you saying, she just like me fr. She picks up guitar because she thinks people will magically want to be friends with her, wearing band merch in the hopes that someone asks about it, and even brings her guitar to school as a conversation piece.

The simple truth is that if she just went out of her way to start conversations about bands or music, she’d likely find what she’s looking for, but it’s not that easy. Bocchi regularly gets discouraged and retreats back into her shell, or a box of mangoes, but then she has to deal with the anxiety surrounding telling people no when they offer to help her in demanding social situations.

If you like your jokes with a heaping side of remembering the exact time you did the same thing and start bashing your head against the wall, just like our protagonist does, then Bocchi the Rock is an anime quite unlike any other.

As someone who doesn’t traditionally enjoy moe, I have to admit I’ve been spoiled after Bocchi the Rock and last season’s Lycoris Recoil. Plus, I’ve finally gotten around to watching Little Witch Academia, so I’m in the midst of a moe renaissance.

So, even if moe isn’t your thing, Bocchi the Rock is still worth your time. Whether you’re a music lover or have been looking for the greatest comedy of this season, look no further.

I was just trying to find a show that would give me something worth writing about, and I may have come across my anime of the season. That may be blasphemous considering I’ve already crowned Blue Lock in my head, and it’s competing with Chainsaw Man, but Bocchi’s just that good.

Normally, moe shows would earn my boring rating just for their slow pace, not necessarily because they’re boring, but Bocchi snags Neutral Fantastic for some killer jokes.

So, there’s the fall season, come and gone. I’ve been looking forward to everything coming out this season so much that I honestly have no idea what’s coming out this winter. Guess I’ve got some research to do. In the meantime, why not follow the Otaku Exhibition for updates on the next round of seasonal anime, and check me out on Twitter @ExhibitionOtaku, where all the extra spicy takes go? Until next time, thanks for reading.

EgregiousReincarnated as a SwordThe Eminence in Shadow
FineMore than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers
FantasticBocchi the Rock!Blue Lock

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