Bocchi the Rock! captures social anxiety and musical perfectionism in ways rarely shown on screen, making it a hilarious, relatable anime.
Bocchi the Rock! has proven itself an unexpected hit in the current anime season. The show, based on a four-panel manga series, gives attention to character development and how these characters navigate awkward situations. Its realistic portrayal of antisocial behavior has made it a fan favorite with anime enthusiasts. The story may not seem like much on paper, but the small, intimate moments are the essence of the series. It captures both the idea of being too shy to perform but also being a perfectionist with one’s work, creating an interesting duality of form for its protagonist.
The show revolves around a high schooler named Hitori Goto (Yoshino Aoyama), nicknamed “Bocchi”, which roughly translates into “shrinking violet”. Bocchi learns guitar as a means to overcome her crippling social anxiety and accrues a small internet fandom under her handle “guitarhero”. In spite of this, she still has trouble with face-to-face interaction and cripples under pressure when she has to talk to people.
Things start to improve, though, as Bocchi meets her first real friend Nijika Ijichi (Sayumi Suzushiro). Nijika is extroverted and chipper, a perfect foil to Bocchi and her link to the outside world. She gives Bocchi their first job at the STARRY club, which grants Bocchi her first chance to perform live. Together with two other girls, they form a band called Kessoku Band (which translates to “Zip Tie”). Because of Bocchi’s stage fright, their first show is a bomb, but Kessoku is able to work with her and encourage her to do better next time.
Bocchi the Rock! has twelve episodes but uses all of them to its advantage. The story feels neither rushed nor overextended. Bocchi invests careful time and energy into her music while also battling her introversion. Both conflicts are given as much time as needed and have a sense of progression to them. Bocchi is shown being more outgoing, placing herself in stressful situations like school festivals and even a maid cafe, but she perseveres no matter what. Her music gets better too, with much dedication and focus given to her guitar skills.
Bocchi’s social anxiety is relatable and portrayed in a realistic manner. Her behavior is not exaggerated, rather she hides her face and tries to avoid human contact. While her stressful moments may be exaggerated for the sake of comedy, the show never takes focus off her stress, and at the end it often turns out alright for her anyway. Her friends are supportive and encouraging, but never condescending. They give Bocchi her space when she is in a panic, but also gently guide her to engage with peers and still allow her to perform with the band.
The changes in art style are one way this show expresses its signature style of humor. Whenever Bocchi has a panic attack, her fantasies are shown in an art style different from the main anime. Sometimes it will be a clay model of Bocchi spinning on a wheel, other times it could be a poorly rendered CGI model falling over with dramatic flair. These moments are the focus of Bocchi the Rock!’s comedy. It does take these panic attacks seriously, but it shows how Bocchi’s reaction is often exaggerated, and the payoff is not too serious. Bocchi is able to get on with her life and continue to face the public in spite of her stress, though with these moments in her head providing a humorous break from continuity. If anyone has been in a similar awkward situation, they may report similar feelings and thoughts in their heads.
Those with social anxiety will connect with this show right away. Bocchi is a great character because she shows persistence in the face of social anxiety and serves as a strong role model for anyone in those situations. With the right kind of support and a little patience, anyone can overcome their social anxiety, and this show delivers on that. Since there are only twelve episodes, it should be a quick and easy watch. With a combination of heart and humor, Bocchi the Rock! has a little something for everyone.
Bocchi the Rock! is now available to watch on Crunchyroll, on digital and on demand.