Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu – Anime Review
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)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Hitoribocchi initially impressed us early on. It wasn’t a rib-cracking comedy by any means, but offered promise. A girl struggling to make friends, who’s a little off herself, and the comedy that ensues seemed like something that could improve over a full twelve-episode run. Unfortunately, despite generally strong visuals all the way through, Hitoribocchi gets stale, with repetitive comedy, and an over-reliance on ‘cute girls doing cute things’ to sell its overly easy going, borderline dull, atmosphere.
Linny: Hitoribocchi easily falls into a somewhat popular type of anime, the ones where the story throws up a handful of aesthetically cute girls with quirky personalities or habits to make them all that more ‘precious’. These girls then get into all kinds of silly situations thanks to their extremely absurd personality quirks. These shows have a solid audience among the anime community and Hitoribocchi is sure to sweep away said audience thanks to its all female cast presenting themselves with voices, designs and mannerisms that each and all hearken back to popular cute anime stereotypes. For example, our painfully shy and awkward protagonist Bocchi. Or her delinquent looking but actually possessing a heart of gold classmate, Nako. Most of the jokes in Hitoribocchi require you to find the girls’ defining personality quirk extremely appealing as the comedy relies so heavily on your affection for the girls to actually land a chuckle. Yes, there are some pretty decent gags ever so often but they will be few and far between for someone who isn’t fawning over the girls already. On a minor note, one of the girls, Aru has the curse of being ‘unfortunate’ as the translation team was best able to come up with. However, her quirk means she does things like wear her clothes with the hanger still on, or wearing the wrong school uniform to class. By traditional and standard English definitions, these don’t sound like ‘unfortunate’ acts but something much more harsh such as absentminded or even idiotic and thus everytime someone responds to her strange actions as ‘unfortunate’, it produces an air of confusion. And since the show repeats this so often, it makes the unusual term stand out all that much more.
Tom: Hitoribocchi actually starts off fairly well as a comedy. The first few episodes find ways to weave in new jokes, gags, and quirky characters. But once the core cast is established, with a couple other girls to pop up now and again, the comedy begins to drop away. Jokes become repetitive, characters stagnant in their singularly defined personality traits, and there’s a hard shift over to focusing on Hitori’s struggle to make new friends, often allowing episodes to fully wallow in twenty-three minutes of sappy, moeness. While Moe has its place, and an easy going atmosphere isn’t necessarily bad entertainment, it’s not enough to carry a full episode by itself, unless that’s entirely your jam. In the end I think Hitoribocchi is best left to the moe/slice of life loving crowd, and audiences less enamored with that genre should probably give it a pass.
Linny: If you find yourself drawn to the show just from seeing the cute character designs and you have a penchant for moe slice of life anime, you are probably the right audience for Hitoribocchi. If watching adorable girls get into awkward situations thanks to their one big character quirk over and over again sounds like a delight, by all means go ahead. But if you’re looking for an innovative comedy, walk away. Also, Hitoribocchi’s premise sees Bocchi’s best friend, Kai cutting off ties completely until Bocchi befriends every single classmate. It works as a catalyst for a comedy but then the series tries to inject some serious emotion by actually reuniting the two girls and showing that apparently Kai misses Bocchi but is putting her through some form of tough love to help her flourish. Considering how ridiculous and over the top everything else about the show is, this emotional vein doesn’t fit in well and can even make Kai seem like an unusually cruel friend demanding an impossible task. And every time Bocchi sees Kai, she gets ridiculously excited and runs after her making it feel like her friendship with her current classmates is solely a means to reunite with Kai, undermining the sincerity of her friendship with the new girls. Once again, not a show ruining flaw but more of something that might irk a viewer less enamoured with the cast and comedy. So, basically, if you have always enjoyed moe slice of life shows, Hitoribocchi will likely woo you over completely. But if not, then there are enough flaws, such as repetitive comedy and an uneven tone, that will get in the way of your enjoyment.
Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.