I don’t usually directly compare two anime, largely because each anime needs to be viewed on its own merit. Whether the story is similar or a character follows a comparable arc, if an anime is enjoyable in its own right, let it be enjoyable. And yet there just seems to be a reason to discuss Senryuu Shoujo and Hitoribocchi as the two share some remarkable similarities.
From that point of view, I’m not going to argue that Senryuu Shoujo is the better of the two anime I’m discussing today, simply that I’m enjoying it more. However, I’m certain there are other viewers out there who feel differently and I’d love to hear your take on either show in the comments below.
For those who haven’t followed either show this season here’s a brief break down.
Senryuu Shoujo is listed on MAL as a Slice of Life/Comedy about a girl who doesn’t speak but communicates through poems and hangs out with another poetry lover, ex-delinquent Eiji as part of a club at school. It currently has a score of 7.34 and is a short anime format with each episode only lasting 12 minutes.
Hitoribocchi is also listed on MAL as a Slice of Life/Comedy and this time we’re following a very shy girl who has gone to a different school to her friend from middle school and now, for reasons, has to make friends with everyone in her new class. It currently has a score of 7.53 on MAL and each episode is a standard 23 minute length.
From the description you can tell that neither anime sits in my comfort zone of happiness. They aren’t the kind of thing that by nature I find entertaining. Yet each season I try a handful of comedy or slice of life anime and add a few to my watch list, because every now and then you end up with something like My Roommate is a Cat that just utterly charms me and I’d miss out entirely if I didn’t watch a lot of shows that are just fine for those who like the genre, but don’t do much for me.
Keep in mind that ‘March Comes in Like a Lion‘, an anime I regularly rave about, is in fact a Slice of Life. So while I don’t click with the genre as a whole, when it grabs my attention it really draws me right in.
That said, it should be fairly clear if you’ve been reading my episode reviews of either Senryuu Shoujo or Hitoribocchi that I’m not exactly loving either one. To be honest, both will be forgotten almost the minute the last episode airs with just enough lag time for me to write my whole season review. But, in the rank on MAL, number of viewers, and just the amount of blog coverage, it seems Hitoribocchi is the preferred show out of these two.
Why do I prefer Senryuu Shoujo?
There are two main reasons why I prefer Senryuu Shoujo.
The first comes down to the run time. With both anime being limited in scope and content and being reasonably formulaic in their approach of setting up the scenario or gag for the episode and then running with it, I find that Hitoribocchi stretches each moment that little bit too far. I’ve mentioned it before in an episode review and on Twitter, but if the episodes were half the length and more tightly paced, I’d enjoy the content a great deal more.
Particularly as I find my tolerance for Bocchi waning the longer an episode runs, if it ended at the 12 minute mark I’d probably find her sympathetic and adorable whereas by the 23 minute mark I’m more annoyed at her.
Senryuu Shoujo with its 12 minute run time perfectly hits the mark. The episodes are bite sized. Not much happens but nothing overstays its welcome either. As a result, the episode always ends when I’m pleasantly in the groove of an episode and so leaves me wanting the next one. They say timing is everything in comedy and to be honest a lot of my preference on the two anime comes down to this factor.
Then we have our two female leads, Bocchi and Nanako.
In a recent review of one of the Hitoribocchi episodes, I was pretty scathing of Bocchi’s character. She whines and whimpers her way through almost every encounter. While her shyness and awkwardness began as relatable and a sympathetic character trait, as the series has progressed there’s just no other aspect to Bocchi. She has no hobbies or likes or dislikes. She has friends now, who she is grateful for, but has no trouble abandoning them in pursuit of making another friend.
She’s also incredibly self-centred and rarely thinks about the feelings of others because she’s so wrapped up in her own anxious worrying about how people see her.
Now, if her character wasn’t being played for laughs in a school comedy, possibly I would be more sympathetic toward her. Given I was that incredibly shy person who struggled to speak in the company of strangers, who felt sick at the thought of having to speak in front of people, and most definitely avoided encounters that I was not comfortable with, I might have really connected with Bocchi’s character had they made the tone somewhat more serious. Instead though, I mostly see her start to tear up and feel she’s just a little bit pathetic rather than sympathetic and I’m finding it hard to really connect with Bocchi or any member of the cast.
That said, for viewers that do find Bocchi sympathetic, or just like her or the supporting cast, the viewing experience of Hitoribocchi will be considerably more entertaining.
Nanako from Senryuu Shoujo is a little less relatable but a lot more interesting as a lead. She doesn’t speak at all but expresses herself through facial expressions, body language, and through her poetry. While the gimmick is definitely gimmicky, and you do have to wonder sometimes where she pulls the board out from to write a poem, and how she wrote it that fast, she is by and large adorable. More than that, she’s positive about things and it pursuing a ‘romance’ with Eiji while enjoying her high school life.
I did like that when we met her parents and got a bit of backstory, it was pointed out that Nanako was in fact bullied for not speaking when she was younger. While I would actually like the anime to delve into the drama a bit more and look at why she doesn’t speak and how this actually impacts on the day to day when she isn’t with those who accept her weird quirk, I get this one is a light comedy and wasn’t planning on being a deep dive into dealing with difference. Still, Nanako is an intriguing character but one who brings cuteness and light into most scenes and her interactions with Eiji are off the charts adorable.
While it might seem like splitting hairs, the shorter run time plus the more compelling, or at least less annoying, female lead makes Senryuu Shoujo my preferred slice of life/comedy anime from the Spring anime season.
However, I get this is an entirely subjective opinion based on my own preferences and interpretations of the characters and story (as is pretty much everything on my blog so business as usual). Which is why I would love to hear from my readers whether they are preferring Senryuu Shoujo or Hitoribocchi this season. Or is there another slice of life/comedy anime that got your attention this season? Let me know in the comments below.
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