Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Sikatsu Review Episode 9

Curry and Pancakes For Friendship?

Hitoribocchi Episode 9

We’re making pancakes and curry (not at the same time) in this episode of Hitoribocchi. Part of me wonders why anyone is actually staying friends with Bocchi given she seems to have absolutely nothing in her head and her first response to any kind of adversity is to cry (or at least tear up) but I guess that’s neither here nor there. I can get behind characters who are weak or socially awkward, but Bocchi lacks any kind of positive trait that I can latch onto. Unless sheer determination counts, but even then she needs a lot of encouragement to avoid running away.

There’s also the matter of how self-involved she is. I get they are trying to have her come across as cute and awkward but just watching her interact with the group while cooking pancakes not once does she think of learning anything about anyone in that group. Her every thought is of how they see her and how she wants them to see her. And while this might actually be relatively realistic it just kind of made me feel a little tired watching her.

I guess basically the premise of this anime never really worked for me, what few points about the lead I found charming got buried under repetition of all the points I don’t enjoy, and given the nature of the anime there’s almost no plot to hide behind. I just don’t find it enjoyable.

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As I was watching this particular episode someone came in and mentioned that the anime looked ‘wholesome’. They came in while the curry tasting section was on. I had to agree. It is wholesome and I can see why many would find it sweet, but at this point I am not clicking with it.

Hitoribocchi continues to be an anime I hear a lot of positive chatter about and objectively I can see all the reasons people would enjoy this anime with its eclectic group of cute girls, pastel visuals, and standard school silliness framed by a simple goal of shy girl makes more friends, and if I’d connected with the cast at all it would probably be lovely.

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Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Review Episode 8

Another friend quest begun.

Episode 8

Bocchi is back at school for the second semester in episode 8 of Hitoribocchi.

Most things haven’t changed. She’s still friends with Nako and Aru and the ninja girl is still her apprentice but wants to be friends but doesn’t want to ask. Yet, the contrived goal of this series is for Bocchi to befriend everyone in the class and so begins her latest quest to befriend Kurai, though I’ve yet to see any reason why you’d want to be friends with her given almost every word out of her mouth is a criticism.

So we get back to the problem of the central premise. As much as slice of life stories about shy girls making friends can work beautifully, the artificial instigation of this friend quest through Bocchi’s actual friend just cutting her off until she succeeded, looms over the entire story. In any class there are going to be people you just won’t get on with or don’t like and yet the condition insists she makes friends with everyone regardless.

Doesn’t that seem a little forced and more importantly, won’t that make a lot of those friendships fake or shallow?

That kind of makes it hard to get behind Bocchi, as does the lack of development and depth to her character. We get she’s shy and anxious but they’ve given us no reason for the extreme nature of her social anxiety and while I’m happy to concede some people are just socially awkward, the exaggerated nature of Bocchi’s social dysfunction (with no one apparently willing to call her out on it) genuinely makes it hard to get drawn into this story.

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While this isn’t the worst show I’ve continued with this season, it is the one I’m having the least fun watching and the twenty minutes this week was more of the same with the minor highlight of watching Bocchi run away while jumping over imaginary hurdles to psyche herself up. That was actually pretty cute and funny.

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Hitoribocchi Review Episode 7

Not quite the summer vacation she’s been dreaming of.

Episode 7

The summer cliché episode hits us full force as Hitoribocchi ‘dazzles’ us with its less than stellar take on the first summer vacation. Bocchi and her friends decide to hang out and we get a trip to the pool and karaoke with fairly predictable outcomes before they decide to attempt ot drop an emotional bombshell but mostly it just makes me wonder once again about Kai and the challenge she set Bocchi. As much as I appreciate that Kai wanted Bocchi to make some friends, this scene is just idiotic and even if Bocchi gets through the challenge realistically that’s a friendship that has now been left dead in the water.

On the brighter side, Hitoribocchi continues to give us some incredibly over the top facial expressions and reactions from Bocchi. They are perhaps my favourite part of this episode as she reels from one situation to the next.

I did also like that her ‘plans’ continue to fail. The final plan to have a conversation with someone before the vacation by removing her tie didn’t go at all according to her simulation and I do think that was fairly relatable. I certainly have tried to think my way through a conversation before having it and then realised about two exchanges in that the rehearsal was completely off-base.

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As a whole package though I’m still finding this one a little hard to take and while there are some amusing moments to be found here there’s a lot that leaves things to be desired and overall it would just be nice if it were a little bit stronger as a story or the characters were just a little more believable. The cute girls doing whatever scenario is workable but this one just isn’t solid enough.

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Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Review Episodes 5 + 6

Can a charming lead overcome annoying supporting characters?

Episode 5

Aru takes the full focus in episode 5 of Hitoribocchi and I’m going to be honest, that was a detriment to my enjoyment. Aru’s unfortunate gag has already run paper thin and this episode just finished it off entirely cementing her as my least favourite character within this story and largely just boring me in the process.

We start with her wearing a primary school backpack rather than carrying her middle-school bag. There’s more than a few questions raised by this. For instance, does she actually empty the entirety of her bag each night and then grab an empty bag to fill for school? That seems unlikely. Even more unlikely that she just has her whole primary backpack just lying around ready to be carried to school.

However, even if we toss logic off a cliff, the next steps in the gag are what utterly obliterate any goodwill I might have been willing to give it.

In an effort to show perfection to the class, Aru keeps volunteering to read and answer questions and things inevitably go wrong. You would think that she’d change tactic and just keep her head down, but she insists on drawing attention to herself.  That was annoying enough, but the following day she apparently manages to dress entirely in a primary school uniform. And not notice until she’s half-way to school.

Forget suspension of disbelief, here you would need to actually paralyse your thought processes to accept that as the groundwork for a joke.

Anyway, they tediously drag this out for a full twenty minutes with a tennis match thrown in for who knows what reason and then mercifully the episode ends. I just can’t find anything in this episode that was redeemable and on the back of the ninja episode Hitoribocchi is coming perilously close to getting dropped from my watch list.

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Episode 6

While certainly not as tedious as the previous episode, episode 6 of Hitoribocchi certainly isn’t making itself any more endearing by returning some of the focus to the inept class teacher who is still, for reasons utterly idiotic, afraid of Nako. So begins the set-up for the episode with Nako having failed a maths test and the teacher having to give her result back and the follow up concern that now she has to stay for extra lessons and can’t walk home with Bocchi.

The moments this episode focused on Bocchi and her growing group of friends trying to tutor and support Nako were okay. Not great or laugh out loud funny, but there’s a cute dynamic in the group of odd-balls and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that those parts were better. There were also some cute moments early in the episode where Bocchi was willing herself to get sick in order to avoid presenting a poem.

However, the moments that brought us back to the teacher were just kind of sad and to be honest I don’t get anything from her character other than a growing sense of annoyance.

For me, Hitoribocchi is becoming something of a chore to watch so I’m uncertain at this point whether I’ll finish it or not. It isn’t a broken anime that would appeal to no one, but it certainly isn’t appealing to me at this point and the few elements I find cute or amusing are being overwhelmed by elements that I find just kind of stupid, dull or lazy.

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Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Review Episodes 3 + 4

Everybody has their problems.

Episode 3

Yeah, three episodes in and I’m already struggling with this one. Bocchi isn’t exactly a character I can rally behind. In week one her rampant insecurity worked well enough but in episode three it is just this side of obnoxious as she fears her friends will ditch her after one day absent. The lack of trust she places in the others in actually her single biggest hurdle in terms of actually being friends and I have to wonder why either of them are putting up with it to be honest. That string of texts she sends them is just this side of psychotic.

Throw in the teacher who is just a complete failure of an educator who runs in fear from her own student, and one who has done nothing to warrant such a reaction, and all and all this episode delivers everything that could go wrong with the set up and little to off-set it that might be charming. I wouldn’t even waste the time screen-capping the teacher because she’s just such a useless character and one who adds nothing to what is fast becoming a fairly uninteresting viewing experience.

In terms of what the episode does, we don’t really learn anything new about anyone or introduce a new character this week. Rather we have Bocchi trying to strengthen ties with her two existing friends by wanting to walk home with them, and that segues to her inviting them over which leads into her being sick and away from school. It is simple set up situation and milk it for laughs, but the laughs are fairly short in supply and I’m just not sure what to make of the section where she dresses in a bear costume.

While this isn’t yet a deal breaker, at three episodes in I’d have to say this isn’t an anime I’m going to go out of my way to recommend. It just doesn’t have anything more than its premise and it is already becoming stale so early in the season. Stretching the episodes to full length was probably part of the issue and this one would probably remain more charming as a short.

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Episode 4

It’s hard to know, outside of the overly long run time of each episode, where Hitoribocchi goes wrong. Or rather, whether it is getting anything actually wrong or if the sum of its parts just can’t collectively be all that entertaining. Bocchi continues to be a problematic protagonist having melt downs just trying to cross the road because she can’t greet the crossing guard but she also continues to try to make friends. That basic premise isn’t overly wrong, but this is neither exaggerated enough to be over the top and amusing, nor dealt with seriously enough to be actually dramatic.

The end result is something that feels like a slice of life with occasional punch lines, but mostly just lacks weight both in narrative and character development.

Of course, the exchange student who came to Japan to meet ninjas doesn’t help us take this anymore seriously. Part of me wonders if the real punch line here is that everyone in the class is actually completely dysfunctional individually. It seems weird that no one had noticed that this blonde girl was so ninja obsessed prior to this episode given she isn’t exactly going out of her way to hide it.

The second half of this episode which consists of ‘ninja training’ falls pretty flat no matter how you want to look at it and I definitely found myself checking the clock to see how much more needed to be endured before the end.

Part of me is curious about whether Bocchi will complete the task of befriending everyone, though at the rate she’s going that seems almost impossible. Otherwise though there is little to keep someone watching this series. If you are after school comedy there are better offers. If you are after slice of life or friendship stories there’s definitely better. Hitoribocchi just hasn’t put anything on the table yet that makes it something that needs to be watched.

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Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Review Episodes 1 + 2

Shy, lonely girl seeks friendship.

Hitoribocchi Episode 1 - Bocchi

Episode 1

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.

Bocchi strategy planning - Episode 1 - HItoribocchi

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.

Hitoribocchi Episode 1

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.

Hitoribocchi summons the motivation of anime protagonist promise to a friend – it must not be broken.

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.

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Episode 2

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.

Nako from Hitoribocchi Episode 2

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.

Hitoribocchi Episode 2

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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