A Musical Journey of Growth and Friendship
The Fall 2022 anime season has been packed with highly anticipated premiers and the return of many beloved series. For an adaptation to premiere without having generated any hype is going to have a hard time standing out. Despite the odds and intense competition, Bocchi the Rock! was able to win me over.
Bocchi the Rock! is one of those works that many could easily relate to. It’s the story of an introvert who develops a passion for music as a means to connect with people. While its story is all too familiar, how it’s presented is done so by tapping into all of one’s sense of artistic impressions. Thus, making it a masterpiece in its own right.
It should be noted that I’m anime only regarding the series. Hence this review will not be comparing Season 1 of Bocchi the Rock! with the manga. Instead, my critique will be based on the anime adaptations’ own merit.
Like a Rolling Bocchi
Hitori Gotoh is an introvert who struggles to make friends. One day in middle school, she decides to take up playing the guitar in the hopes of connecting with other people and playing at a school festival. Flash forward to her first year in high school as she has become better with the guitar while having a solid fanbase online thanks to her channel. However, she still struggles to connect with other people (oftentimes shutting down internally) and hasn’t made any friends.
Everything changes when she has an encounter with Nijika Ijichi, who needs a guitarist for a show. Together with Ryo Yamada, they put on their first concert at STARRY (owned by Ijichi older sister). While the performance was sub-par, they decide to commit to the band. At the sametime, Gotoh earns the nickname “Bocchi”.
During the season, they work to grow the band (both in members and in reputation). The first half of the season is focused on building that friendship and planning for their first show. This includes Ikuyo Kita re-joing the band (with some hilarious hiccups at the start). The second half is all about Boochi finally having the courage to perform at the school festival.
Strum Through the Lights
Bocchi the Rock! quickly won me over because it tapped into my nostalgia in two ways.
The first is on an interpersonal level. Chances are, many of us (including myself) have been in Bocchi’s shoes. If you had trouble connecting with others or you got into a hobby just to make friends, then you’re all too familiar with this story. I used video games and comedy as a means to connect with others and I know a few fellas who used music to break out of their shell. The point is that many of us will enjoy this show because we were Hitori Gotoh at one point. FYI – This is not to say we have all grown to become extroverts. I’m still Bocchi internally during large social gatherings (especially if I have nothing in common with most of the people attending).
While on the subject of living this life, I also have to commend the series for how relatable each of the characters. Yes; I have known people that are like Nijika Ijichi and Ikuyo Kita, enthusiastic while having an easy time connecting or opening up with other people. Ryo Yamada is practically based on every pretentious broke artist I’ve known in high school or college (I said that I knew them, I never said I liked them). In college; we have all encountered someone like Kikuri Hiroi, a talented but misunderstood person with a serious substance abuse problem.
The second is how much the show reminds me of FLCL. It was one of my favorite shows as I use to watch it on Adult Swim back in the day. I was captivated by its style of animation and how played around with it while its use of music complemented the overall moment. Bocchi the Rock! follows this setup while the story itself is more grounded in reality. Overall; it has the same style and substance along with obvious nods to FLCL.
Referring to Bocchi the Rock! as an anime would be a gross understatement. That is because it’s more like a work of art that encompasses and plays with every artistic canvas. Of course, this all comes back to its similarities with FLCL.
Its animation style is one that is perfect for such a series. It’s very colorful while also knowing how to use it when it comes to setting the right emotional environment. It also puts a lot of effort into the smallest of details, perfectly bringing this rocker world to life. However, it doesn’t mean it’s committed to that style for the duration of the season. When the moment calls for it, the artistic style changes to what will suit the scene. Thus, it really knows how to set the moment.
You can’t have an anime that is about music without having a solid soundtrack. Bocchi the Rock! truly excels in this with a solid opening and an unforgettable ending. In between, you also have a solid playlist. FYI – I’m not too familiar with J-Rock so I can’t say if the songs are original or covers. But, I did enjoy the music overall and if they are covers then it’s a gateway for me to expand my taste.
Don’t Turn into Ash
My only real issue with Season 1 was the entire premise of E9 “Enoshima Escar”. The band is on summer vacation but none of them bother to hang out with Bocchi until the last day (when scorned by Seika Ijichi). While this may be on par with Ryo Yamada, it feels out of character for Nijika Ijichi and Ikuyo Kita (who are always more concerned about Bocchi). While the episode was fun to watch, it also felt out of place for most of them to forget about Bocchi like that.
Morning Light Falls on You
Fall 2022 was a season dominated by so many highly anticipated titles that it would be a challenge for a series to stand out. Season 1 of Bocchi the Rock! was able to do this with its quality animation, killer soundtrack along with its relatable characters and premise. It truly is a masterpiece that stood out among so many titans during the season.
Bocchi the Rock! is a series you will get into because of how relatable its story and themes are. Chances are, you too were like Bocchi growing up and had to overcome many interpersonal struggles. It’s that relatable story along with it encompassing every artistic canvas that makes Season 1 memorable.
Disclaimer: I watched the entire season on Crunchyroll, which I pay for myself.
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Review | Bocchi the Rock! (Season 1)
- Bocchi-chan as a character and her story is relatable.
- Characters are relatable and based on ones you may have encountered.
- It's a work of art that encompasses every artistic canvas.
- Solid soundtrack and a gateway into J-Rock for new fans.
- The entire premies of E9 "Enoshima Escar".