Shy, lonely girl seeks friendship.
When something is based on a 4-koma manga my expectations are not exactly high which is probably why I found the first episode of Hitoribocchi actually kind of pleasant. Unlike Watamote which seemed to have a similar kind of set up, this one lacks the negativity and general mean spiritedness I found in the first episodes of that series which ultimately made me walk away. Mostly, I just didn’t find it particularly amusing and found the main character fairly obnoxious. Hitoribocchi gives us the socially anxious girl who is still at heart kind of sweet and earnestly tries, which makes her infinitely more sympathetic and also makes the comedy actually more amusing when she tries and botches her attempts at avoiding making friends and then her attempts at making a friend.
That said, there is little chance of this one becoming a must watch for me given the sickly sweet subject matter and the apparent general lack of substance. Sure, social anxiety is a great issue, but generally speaking you don’t overcome it just by wanting to and usually the girl who gives you the nickname ‘barf’ after you’ve thrown up during self-introductions doesn’t end up being a sweetie who will look beyond your short-comings and play nice anyway. It’s all too sweet and simple to have much messaging behind it other than keeping a promise is apparently enough of an incentive to move mountains in anime.
But it doesn’t really need it. What’s presented in episode one is light and fluffy but works. While we could look for more, it isn’t necessary, and with the set up firmly established and 27 more classmates to befriend we’ve certainly got enough content ahead of us for the remainder of the season. All that matters now is whether they can keep this feeling fresh week after week.
Visuals and music work well enough but aren’t exactly doing much more than they need to. Colour scheme and character designs as well are all workable but pretty average for the subject matter. If you want a safe bet for an average anime, Hitoribocchi would be mine after episode one. It isn’t exactly going out on a limb but seems content to deliver what it is with reasonable competence and that should make for an enjoyable season.
At the rate of one new friend an episode, Bocchi has her work cut out for her if she’s ever going to fulfil her promise. Episode 2 of Hitoribocchi throws Bocchi a problem with Nako, her first friend in the class, that is mediated and ultimately resolved with the assistance of the class vice-president who turns out to be a girl with issues of her own.
Once again we get a cute enough episode, told largely through flash back as Bocchi tries to figure out why Nako is mad at her. During the sequence, I couldn’t help but feel the two main characters are fairly inexpressive during most of their exchanges. Sure we get particular shots where they have great facial expressions or their eyes are quite emotive, but the stretches in-between have them looking decidedly blank even when it feels like there should be some kind of expression.
It is a fairly mild complaint and given the anime isn’t exactly trying to sell itself on its visuals it isn’t really all that note-worthy, but it does make it harder to empathise with the characters when they don’t seem to be taking their own dialogue seriously.
The subject matter still works though like with episode one, it doesn’t feel like this anime is going to dig-deep into the issues of social anxiety but is merely using Bocchi’s general shyness as a plot device for the set ups in each sequence. It works but isn’t offering much that hasn’t been seen before and nor is it exactly profound.
However, for a fairly light-hearted affair with the promise of some entertaining character interactions, Hitoribocchi is doing enough and episode 2 has pretty much established that the tone in episode one wasn’t a one off but is the standard we should expect for the series. I’m not expecting much other than some pleasant and easy viewing from this one but it would be nice if at some point it did dig a bit more into these characters.
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100 Word Anime:
- Hitoribocchi Episodes 1 + 2
- Hitoribocchi Episodes 3 + 4
- Hitoribocchi Episodes 5 + 6
- Images from: Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu. Dir. T Anzai. C2C. 2019.