The stinger consists of Bocchi filling up the tub with ice and slipping in, which I initially took to mean she had just gone through some intense physical exertion. Rewind a few days to the band’s first meeting, and Bocchi is too scared to go inside alone. Nijika and Ryou eventually arrive, and they use a giant thrown die to pick conversation topics.
If the goal is to learn more about Bocchi, then mission accomplished, as each question offers her bandmates new insights into the depths of her social anxiety, from the tragic story of her school life to this point to avoiding music with lyrics that refer to happier school lives.
When the discussion shifts to the business side of things, Nijika concisely explains ticket quotas, and how they’ll have to pay Starry if they can’t meet said quotas. That’ll require cash, which means jobs. And people, Bocchi is not into a job. Not beause she’s lazy, but because it would just be too much.
Unfortunately, her anxiety is such that she’s unable to refuse (we also learn she considers Ryou a loner who likes being lonely while she’s lonely, and doesn’t) which brings us to the ice bath. She’s not icing her worn muscles, but intentionally trying to catch a cold.
Alas, her good health prevails so she heads to Starry after school. Again she’s paralyzed by the prospect of entering alone, but that’s how she meets Seika, the manager, whom she quickly labels as someone “scary” that she can’t deal with. She also forgot that Seika is Nijika’s big sister.
Nijika gives her a tour and quick overview of the process of serving drinks, and Bocchi, who has never had a job before, is quickly overwhelmed and whips out her Gibson to play a song with lyrics to remember everything. Seika notes that Bocchi is playing is much better than when she was in a box on stage, and it reminds her of someone (probably guitarhero).
Before Bocchi knows it, the doors are open and the customers start to flow in. She initially does not fare well, hiding under the counter and slapping drinks on it for customers to take without looking at her. This is obviously not optimal customer service!
But they get through the initial drink run, and when the band that’s playing takes the stage and starts their patter, Ryou takes a break from the ticket desk and joins Bocchi and Nijika to watch the band play … and learn from the experience.
When Bocchi sees how much both the band and the concertgoers are enjoying themselves once the music starts, and compares it to her first show, she resolves to put on a better performance, to honor both the venue and the people who paid money to see her.
When a girl orders an orange juice, Bocchi decides to start now, giving the customer eye contact and smiling (after a fashion). It’s a creepy smile, and Bocchi nearly passes out, but it’s undoubtedly progress, and Nijika gives her the praise she deserves.
She takes another important step forward when she says “see you tomorrow” to Nijika and Ryou when heading home, which she does at full speed and with a big smile on her face. Starry, a place that she was too scared to even enter on her own a few hours earlier, is now a place she can’t wait to get back to so she can continue with her progress in both working and performing.
So it’s legit heartbreaking that it’s only then that she comes down with a bad fever and has to skip her second day of work. But hey, that’s what comes of soaking in icy water for too long then sitting in front of fans. She’ll get better and go back to work, so that’s one hurdle out of the band’s way. The next one is finding a fourth member and vocalist, and the one we cut to doing karaoke looks to be the one.
Bocchi the Rock!’s magic formula so far is Bocchi’s inner turmoil, outer face game, and her friends’ reactions to it. My middle school life wasn’t as tragic but it was close, while it took me a while to find my people in high school. The show strikes the perfect balance of mining comedy from this scenario while giving us room to sympathize and empathize with Bocchi. It helps that it’s a great-looking show, too! Forget the 3-episode rule—I’m in now!