Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Hitori Bocchi, a girl with extreme social anxiety, has had only one friend throughout elementary school. When Bocchi learns they’ll be split up after graduation, she makes a promise to her: “By the time of my middle school graduation, I’ll make friends with everyone in my class.” And if she can’t… they won’t be friends anymore?! But Bocchi has a hard time talking to people. When she gets nervous, her legs cramp. She can’t look other people in the eye. She doesn’t even know how to make friends! Every way she thinks of to make friends ends up failing. Will her friend-making plan pay off?! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Hitoribocchi is like Watamote if you replaced the second-hand cringe humor with a sweet and endearing look at a shy girl’s struggle to make friends upon entering middle school. Bocchi’s social anxiety is played for laughs, but cuts out the more angsty, awkward moments, allowing the story to have a much more innocent air that doesn’t devolve into second-hand cringe humor, or awkward teenage sexual angst. Things are fully innocent with Bocchi, giving the series an easy-going slice of life atmosphere with just enough comedy to keep things engaging.
Linny: This first episode does a good job of balancing the cute with the laughs. Going in I was worried that Bocchi would be yet another vapid, generic ‘precocious’ and ‘awkward’ young girl whose shyness was more meant to entice hardcore moe addicts into declaring her as their reason for living. Anime sometimes takes actual issues, such as social anxiety, and turns them into quirky features meant solely to make a protagonist ‘cute’ in an almost exploitative manner. Thankfully, Bocchi is cute but shows an admirable resolve in her attempts to make friends. While often played for laughs, this earnest effort makes her come off as someone you can root for, who is actively striving to overcome her anxiety and not just some helpless damsel in distress to be fawned over.
Tom: How well Hitoribocchi holds up will entirely depend on how it handles two elements. First its comedy needs to get a little tighter. The moments when the show is throwing gags at you work wonders, and if it can keep more of that in its run time then it’ll remain a strong Spring anime. Right now there’s moderately lengthy sequences where the show flounders, hanging too long on a nothing gag that lacks punch. The series also hands Bocchi an ongoing goal: Befriend everyone in class. This means we could be looking at a massive expansion in cast members and the show’s endurance will hinge on how well these other characters work. Right now Nako, Bocchi’s first and only friend in her new class, acts as a strong straight-man type, allowing Bocchi’s more bewildering efforts to befriend her to shine through. But the series will need to come up with other quirky individuals who react in a truly different manner to Bocchi’s bizarre efforts. If it can do that it may end up one of Spring’s strongest Slice of Life. It’s off to a good start anyway and hopefully it keeps at it.
Linny: It’s true that Hitoribocchi’s first episode is a little uneven, with certain jokes feeling too repetitive or lingering on way too long and outstaying their welcome. While the episode keeps highlighting Bocchi’s goal to befriend everyone in her class, the credits already seem to limit it down to only four girls (including Bocchi herself) featuring prominently throughout. This could mean that most of the comedy will revolve around these four, which could prove limiting. For now I am cautiously optimistic about the future of this series and would sincerely recommend it to anyone that finds the sound of an awkward shy lead in a cute comedy appealing.
Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.