Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Anime Review

Not For Me But Not All That Bad

You know that feeling you get when you watch something and you know it is fine there’s nothing technically wrong with what it is delivering, but you just aren’t in to it? That’s the feeling I had for the majority of Hitoribocchi’s run. While I was initially intrigued by the set up because I was also an incredibly shy person going to school and Bocchi’s obvious social anxiety was something I related to I quickly found any connection I had with her dissipating and none of the rest of the cast really grabbed my interest.

I think part of the problem for me at least was that the anime played each of these characters and their various social issues for laughs and while I found their quirks interesting, I didn’t find them funny. Even exaggerated to such a degree I mostly found these characters in need of support rather than chuckles and largely couldn’t get into what was being played out.

Bocchi’s social anxiety is actually pretty well presented with her legs shaking and cramping, her voice freezing or stuttering, and when push comes to shove her stomach giving out and causing her to throw up in social settings. However what is less well presented is her manner of dealing with these things. Her list making of ideas that go from idiotic to useless is supposed to be charming I assume but mostly it just made me want to shake her.

Also, so many characters either not acknowledging her severe anxiety or responding to her antics just seemed weird. While I get that she isn’t friends with every one in the class by the end of the season, Bocchi’s behaviour is erratic at best and you would think there would be more of a reaction to it. Then again, when you see the crowd shots of the rest of the class there are clearly a whole bunch of oddballs in one room (I really wanted to know more about the girl who wears the eye mask every lesson) so maybe Bocchi’s behaviour isn’t that out there compared to theirs.

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When you throw in a couple of characters I genuinely despised, such as the useless excuse of a teacher who is terrified of a student who has never done anything outwardly hostile, then any desire I had to try to connect with the anime as it continued quickly faded away. By around the mid-season mark I was more or less over this one but continued with it to see how they concluded Bocchi’s friend quest.

Now, despite the negativity of those previous paragraphs, it should be noted that lots of people found Hitoribocchi a truly charming watch and really loved the support cast, particularly Aru. Which really means overall enjoyment hinges on whether or not you find these characters cute and charming and like to laugh along with their antics or whether you find the entire thing really tragic and find the comedy elements intrusive.

Even for me, I found Nako, the first friend Bocchi makes, to be the most stable element in Hitoribocchi. While she isn’t as exuberant or interesting as some of the other cast members, she routinely gets the best moments as she interacts with Bocchi, consoles her, supports her, and occasionally messes with her just to see the reaction. Between Bocchi and Nako there did seem to be a genuine friendship building over the course of the series and when the anime focused on that relationship I found it to be at its strongest.

However, the self-declared world’s greatest vice-president Aru is another story. I literally found every scene that focused on her and her poor luck to be the least interesting moments and they were only slightly less frustrating than the stammering teacher. The exchange student who wants to be a ninja ended up somewhere between Aru and Nako as some moments with her were pretty adorable and others were just silly (though whether you find that charming or eye-roll worthy is a personal opinion).

Realistically the character designs are cute and appealing as many of these cute girl shows are with each character having a distinct enough design. The colour scheme was also pretty nice with some bright backgrounds and accessories.

There’s nothing wrong with this anime. Those who like cute girl slice of life stories will probably eat it up. For me though, this one was more of a mis-fire and I kind of regretted picking it up by the end of the season.

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Karandi James
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Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Review Episode 12

The End of the Year But Not The Challenge

Hitoribocchi Episode 12

The school year ends and Bocchi has a total of 6 friends, plus a new smart phone. You would call that progress only it is one step forward two steps back as she still can’t befriend Kurai, Kai is still not speaking to her, and when it comes to a second year self-introduction, despite her best efforts and pep-talk, the end result is still throwing up from nerves.

Not that I don’t sympathise with someone whose stomach rebels at the idea of having to speak in front of others. It is one of the more relatable facets of Bocchi’s personality and one that I wish they had spent more time on dealing with. Just making friends doesn’t make that type of social anxiety disappear and seeing her work through her actually issues would have been nice.

As usual we get some classroom silliness, this episode mostly revolving around using their smart phones to photograph and record one another before Kurai takes centre stage and passes out from a fever. I do like how they tie things together in this series as we see the ninja girl dive into crane making in an instant but otherwise this is a pretty standard course for the series.

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It was however a fantastic episode for reaction shots with a lot of great expressions from Bocchi and from the other cast members.

Clearly this story can continue on given we’ve got another two years of middle school for Bocchi but I’ll honestly say that even if it was to get another anime series I wouldn’t watch it. I’m very much done with this set up and these characters and ready to move on. That said, I can appreciate why this one has charmed others this season.

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Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu Review Episode 11

Money Can’t Solve This Problem

Hitoribocchi Episode 11

It seems weird in the penultimate episode to introduce a new character that within one episode grabs Bocchi’s attention and is befriended but at the same time this episode had a lot of heart so despite the weird timing I can’t really fault it. Hitoribocchi does like its socially awkward characters and the rich girl air-head who is lonely that they introduce certainly fits the mould they’ve been following so far.

The running joke of the episode is that neight Bocchi, nor the rich girl, have anything resembling an understanding of how the world works. We’ve known this from the beginning about Bocchi in terms of her plans to tell people the class was cancelled or similar rather than facing reality. To see another student join her as a partner in crime and misunderstandings is possibly pushing it a bit.

Anyway, in order to avoid changing classes the rich girl decides Bocchi should just buy the school and so gets her a job folding paper cranes. Understandably, the job doesn’t pay much and then the two realise that buying the school is more or less impossible given it isn’t for sale. But, friendship forms through the misadventure and ultimately they all decide to use Bocchi’s limited wages to take a photo together.

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There’s a real sweetness to the overall story here and the photo of friends and the courage the girl gains to message her parents and to tell them how she’s feeling are a solid way to end the episode. As much as Hitoribocchi hasn’t really been for me this season I can really appreciate what this episode aimed to achieve.

Now the question is, what does the final episode do to end the story. I’m assuming they will finish the school year but what will the characters have gained in the process?

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Kono Oto Tomare Review Episode 10

The Anime Training Camp Edition

Kono Oto Tomare Anime Episode 10 - Takezou

Kono Oto Tomare Episode 10

And off we go to a training camp in this episode of Kono Oto Tomare. Still reeling from hearing a school koto club that is aiming for the nationals the characters determine they need to practice more and so decide a training camp is the way to go. Throw in the club member whose relative owns an inn (and apparently has no guests as is often the case in anime) and they are off to the hot springs.

Fortunately, the focus is very tightly on the practice the characters are undertaking and their mental states as they roll back and forth between enthusiasm and drive and panic and fear that they’ll never get where they are going. While there is a focus on one of the characters, all of them get a moment for their internal thoughts to come out and you realise how much of themselves they are putting into the club.

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I can’t praise Takezou’s character growth enough in this episode. He is still the shy and awkward character we started with who often hesitates or doesn’t know what to say, but he steps up when it counts now. After the camp suggestion was made, as the leader he had to speak with their club advisor and when the advisor (candidate for worst anime teacher ever if only there weren’t so many terrible teachers in anime) turned the idea down flat Takezou told him to quit and be replaced by someone who would actually support them. It was a cheer worthy moment for Takezou and I hope we see more of them.

Hozuki and Chika continue to also have an adorable chemistry this episode and any scene featuring the two of them is quite enjoyable.

They are so cute together.

For the first time in a while the anime didn’t feel the need to shove in any kind of artificial drama into the story. Kono Oto Tomare focused on what it has done well and that is these characters coming together, over coming their own short comings, and working hard. The end result is one of the best episodes so far for the series.

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Senryuu Shoujo Review Episode 9

Eiji’s Day Out

Senryuu Shoujo Episode 9

Instead of following Nanako, this week we follow Eiji as he goes about a typical day while on Summer vacation in Senryuu Shoujo. Admittedly, I don’t think most of us start a typical day by dropping our phone in ramen and then run into literally everyone we know while wasting time in town before being invited back to our ‘not’ girlfriend’s place, but really this seems pretty typical for these characters.

This is actually Nanako’s father’s thoughts and not Eiji’s.

Honestly, there isn’t a lot to say about this episode as we simply encounter Eiji’s ‘big-sis’ character, the fortune teller, the club president and then the art girl in succession. Each encounter is cute enough but not particularly note-worthy as it simply reinforces their standard characteristics. Then Eiji runs into Nanako.

The highlight of this anime continues to be the adorable nature of any sequence between Eiji and Nanako and even if this encounter ended up being emotionally overblown when Nanako’s father met Eiji, it couldn’t take away from how cute the two are. The conversation between Eiji and Nanako’s mother was also cute, but now we know Nanako has just always communicated through poem and we still don’t know why.

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This was very much easy viewing but didn’t really bring anything new to the table for Senryuu Shoujo.

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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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Kono Oto Tomare Review Episode 8

Odd Choices All Round

Kono Oto Tomare Episode 8

So Chika wasn’t going to play his grandfather’s koto for reasons, Takezou apparently is going to have to face his dark and scary past, and Hozuki is still the target of weirdos who for whatever reason feel that insulting the club she’s with is a good way to endear her to them. Kono Oto Tomare continues to have no clue how to build narrative tension without creating contrived and fairly childish premises and while each one might work by itself or even all together if handled with more deft, the end result here is an anime that looks pretty great but in reality is pretty average.

However, as with most episodes of this high school melodrama there are a few things it gets just right and this week I’ll hand it to the interactions between Chika and Hozuki. Whether it was early in the episode when he refused an invitation to eat lunch together before pushing her into the path of another student, a convenient way to get her to speak to someone else, or the end of the episode where they were bickering in the classroom, these two continue to have a great back-and-forth and their personalities are actually quite complementary.

While I’m throwing some praise in I may as well mention Hozuki’s performance this week, or at least the visualisation of her performance. The atmosphere of that moment came through loud and clear and that is something this series consistently gets right.

Where it goes a little side-ways is in the introduction of characters just to cause drama. The girl from the rival school who shows up is a caricature and not a character which makes it impossible to take any of her lines seriously. Even her motive is just really weird. Having heard Hozuki for years and now she decides to stride right in and stir things up. Honestly we already know Hozuki isn’t going anywhere.

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As to Takezou’s storyline, it didn’t get a lot of attention this episode but they seemed to be setting up some groundwork for him to finally get his emotional moment as Chika and Hozuki already have. Maybe it will pay off and maybe it won’t but I guess we’ll find out in future episodes.

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