Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu – Mid Season 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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Hitoribocchi wavers in quality. The first episode starts well enough, offering up a smattering of jokes peppered between otherwise moe-quality adorable scenes of Hitori struggling to break out of her shell and befriend her first new friend. Over the next five episodes Hitoribocchi expands its cast by adding in another three characters, two more friends for Hitori and a panicked homeroom teacher. When the series utilizes the entire cast evenly, you get a back and forth rhythm that works well, keeping things from feeling boring or slow. It’s these moments when Hitoribocchi feels most worthwhile. Yet there are other times where the series flounders, drifting too much focus away from the group of girls, and to individual characters that simply can’t carry the series, at least not with their one note, singular gags.
Linny: One note jokes and humour can work in small doses but since Hitoribocchi is a full length series, the comedy wears thin very fast. Some of the girls are extremely limited, forced to repeat their one shtick and when that one shtick is particularly ‘loud’, like in the cast of Aru Honshu, it becomes all that more noticeable and weary. Aru’s whole premise is that she is very ‘unfortunate’ as the anime translates it, meaning she often ends up making very silly and humiliating mistakes. So whenever Nako, another of Hitori’s new friends, teases her as ‘unfortunate girl’, Aru’s signature move is to slam herself into Nako headfirst yelling ‘I have a name’. This happens so often that it soon loses all hilarity. In one episode, Aru’s unfortunate ways means she manages to not once, but twice, and back to back, go to school wearing her elementary school items; first just the signature red Randoseru backpack and then the entire uniform complete with the yellow kiddie hat. While the episode does manage to spin something a bit different as it goes on, the first few minutes of the gag only highlight the ‘rinse and repeat’ nature of the show. And it’s not just Aru that contributes to this problem. Nako, the delinquent looking but actually nice classmate has this ‘gag’ where one of their teachers is terrified of her simply because Nako has blonde hair and therefore, MUST be a delinquent. This gag is weak to start with and only gets weaker and even less appealing as the series flounders, unable to grow this gag in new and interesting ways.
Tom: Part of the problem might be that Hitori herself is a weak lead. Shy girls can and do work as leads for comedy slice of life, but Hitori doesn’t manage to nail that role. Her particularly gag is how random she can be, often finding weird new ways to express herself. But random humor is only so powerful, and if the series overall comedy is drawn from that well too often things start to fall apart. Since Hitori can’t provide enough of the comedy on her own it falls on the rest of the cast to pick up the slack. But as Linny talked about so many have a singular gag that offers little variety. When the series is rapidly alternating between these characters it works even if they’re all mostly one note gags, crafting something that isn’t amazing but is entertaining all the same. Unfortunately when Hitoribocchi doesn’t manage that, things really screech to a halt and all you’re left with is the sappy moe content that doesn’t feel nearly strong enough to carry the series all on its own.
Linny: All complaints aside, Hitoribocchi does have some solid jokes ever so often, such as this one episode where Aru challenges Nako to a tennis match that leads to some very ‘unique’ gameplay. If you are someone who is easily and happily wooed by adorable moe anime girls, that might be enough to make the entire show a fun watch. But for anyone else seeking a show with a lot more to offer than just cute girls doing cute, repetitive comedy, Hitoribocchi will quickly wear out its welcome.
Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.