REVIEW: Bocchi the Rock Hit Surprise of Fall 2022

Season aired: Fall 2022

Number of episodes: 12

Watched on: Crunchyroll

Translated by: ?

Genres: Slice-of-Life, Comedy, Music

Thoughts: In a season filled with anime adaptations of some of the biggest Shonen Jump manga, Bocchi the Rock flew out of nowhere to popularity. It follows the journey of Hitori, a high school student and YouTube-famous guitarist suffering from extreme social anxiety. Hitori desperately wants to make friends but never has the courage to make the first move. However, her wish is soon granted by Nijika, a drummer in a small band desperate for a guitarist, and Hitori suddenly finds herself in situations that push the boundaries of her sanity. With her social anxiety always rearing its ugly head, how will Hitori survive a life filled with people outside her family?

Despite the simplicity of its story, the anime succeeds in its creative narration through its animation medium. 2D animation aside, the series employs a variety of other creative visual storytelling methods I never saw coming, such as claymation and live-action camerawork where the characters find a crocheted blob of Hitori under real-life bushes. It also includes references to art, film, and other anime through its different styles, scenic shots, and animation.

Even with its 2D animation, Bocchi the Rock goes above and beyond. There is one brief scene where the anime suddenly focuses on two adult men discussing how miserable work makes life. Without warning, the color palette turns neutral with shades of brown, gray, and black. Emphasis on the men’s unhappy expressions, spitting mouths, and distinct stress lines resemble the character designs of seinen anime rather than the gag comedy of Bocchi the Rock. The music playing in the background is a morose piano while the voices and dialogue are quiet and serious.

This scene is from Bocchi the Rock

Then the scene cuts back to Hitori, looking frightened with her baby pink jumpsuit, enormous anime eyes, and chibi face, accidentally overhearing the depressing conversation. This is just one example of the many creative avenues the anime takes to portray the happenings around Hitori and how they contribute to her social anxiety in hilarious and devastating ways, all within the distinct anime animation style.

However, the true shining gem of Bocchi the Rock’s animation is its concerts. Concerts are notoriously hard to animate due to the constant movement of performance, especially when instruments are involved. Most of the concerts I’ve seen in anime are animated using CGI, which has often resulted in laughable outcomes.

Bocchi the Rock features not one, not two, but three full concerts. Each character gets featured for their contribution, each character shows off their ability to play their respective instruments with accurate movements, and each character is focused on in different ways. Hitori keeps her head down due to her anxiety, but she displays her skills through her fingers flying against her guitar. Kita sings and likes to jump around, often winking and smiling at the audience as an in-character moment to her dazzling charisma. Ryo’s face remains steady and blank, but her eyes look determined as she pours her passion into her bass. Nijika remains in the back but is always on beat to set the tempo of the song and the performance, leading them through the same way she leads the band through practice and business decisions. This is the only anime that I wished would have an entire episode of nothing but concerts because of how genuine and electrifying they are.

Some of the best concerts I’ve seen in anime

The anime also fulfills what I thought was missing in Do It Yourself!!: character development. Hitori’s social anxiety never disappears, but she actively works to improve. She starts the anime so terrified of going onstage that she literally performs inside a cardboard box and ends the series as a more daring version of herself. After an instrument malfunction happens in the middle of a performance, Hitori boldly improvises onstage despite her internal panic. She spends most of the anime crawling at a snail’s pace to better interact with others, but whatever small improvements she pushes herself to make add up in the end to a satisfying conclusion. She still has a lot of room to grow, but the anime awards her for her effort, no matter how small.

Hitori isn’t alone in her character development. Kita also changes and serves as a foil and parallel to the anxiety-ridden protagonist. Despite her charismatic extroversion, Kita harbors self-doubt and fear just like Hitori does. She begins the series as a liar and a coward, albeit in a similar comedic way to Hitori’s anxiety, and she ends the series self-assured in what she wants from the band and what she plans to do.

Kessoku band and escalators

The cherry on top of this character development and incredible visual storytelling package is the music. I love every song Kessoku Band performs. The lyrics of Hitori’s first song fit with her melancholy view on life, but as her own view on life begins to change, so do the lyrics of her new songs. Best of all, each song sounds distinct despite retaining similar instrumental styles, just like real-life bands.

Finding flaws in this anime is hard, since even the predictable nature of the plot gets portrayed in unpredictable ways. I think this is why Bocchi the Rock works, and why the anime is so successful despite releasing with almost no fanfare. It’s a story of a relatable character portrayed in the wackiest yet most unique ways possible. It’s a story of a band with incredible music and beautifully animated concerts. It’s a story of the people behind its production and the sheer creative force they manifested in bringing this anime to life.

Rating

Plot: 7 (Multiplier 3.5)

Characters: 8 (Multiplier 3.5)

Voice acting: 8

Art/Animation: 9.5

Soundtrack: 9

FINAL SCORE: 79

Leave a Comment!

2 COMMENTS

Leave a Reply