Bocchi the Rock! – 07 – Meet the Gotous

Summer has hit its stride as Nijika and Ikuyo make their way to Bocchi’s with the ostensible mission of designing a band t-shirt. Ryou isn’t with them; she said her gran took a turn for the worse, but Nijika knows that’s a lie, and we see that Ryou is just vibeing on her own.

I like how the show acknowledges that the four bandmates don’t do everything together, and that’s okay. It’s also that much less stressful for Bocchi to have her first two guests instead of her first three. She may know and interact with Nijika and Ikuyo all the time, but not in her home. Every new scenario comes with a new set of anxieties.

Bocchi is terrified and excited at the same time to be hosting her bandmates, and her inexperience with the practice clearly shows, from the giant banner outside the house and the elaborate welcoming getup and ceremony, to her maximalist disco bedroom decor.

Nijika and Ikuyo are exceedingly nice people who are excited to see Bocchi in a new setting, but find she’s the same ol’ Bocchi at home. From the giant stack of copies of their ProPho, to the seals and talismans put up by their parents from when she was “possessed”, it’s quite a trip.

It’s even more whiplash-inducing to meet Bocchi’s extremely well-adjusted little sister Futari, who introduces herself and the family dog. By the time Bocchi returns to the room with barley tea (worrying it’s not trendy enough while en route), she sees everyone having so much fun she worries there’s no place for her.

After shooing Futari away with an ice pop bribe, the three bandmates get to work on t-shirt designs. Ikuyo’s first attempt looks like the kind of shirts worn at sports festivals, but hearing those two words sends Bocchi careening headlong into “Bocchi Time”, complete with frikkin’ stop motion.

To Bocchi, sports festivals are accurséd rituals designed to condemn ostracize the uncoordinated and introverted. She imagines being hunted down and burned at the stake for the crime of nonconformity by a post-apocalyptic horde of sports festival participants.

Her reverie is interrupted when her parents peek their heads in to confirm that Bocchi’s friends are indeed real and not imaginary (or rentals). While I don’t doubt they adore their daughter, there are times in this episode when I feel like they’re being a bit harsh on her. Call it overcompensation for the shock of her actually bringing people over, I suppose.

Everyone gathers in the living room to partake of the feast Bocchi’s parents prepared. Bocchi heads to the bathroom, probably both because she had to go and because she needed a breather. While she’s gone, her folks describe how she put up and took down the decorations multiple times, and even practices Twister just in case.

When Bocchi comes back, there’s a repeat of the sinking feeling she got when she saw her bandmates interacting with Futari and Jimihen. They then watch the seishun movie Ikuyo brought, play a little Twister and Tycoon, and finally get back to designing T-shirts.

Ryou sending texts of t-shirts with different photos of food because she wanted them to decide for her is extremely Ryou. Bocchi’s valiant attempt at a edgy design, festooned as it is with indecipherable grundgy fonts and ample zippers, sparks conversation regarding Bocchi’s wardrobe,

She was doomed the minute she mentioned her mom buys her clothes she never wears. Nijika and Ikuyo insist she try some of them on, and they discover, as they had suspected, that Bocchi is indeed a certified cutie. Ikuyo makes sure to take some pics, and considering the running gag of the ProPho, I imagine they’ll turn up again someday!

Nijika then gets a little too into glowing up Bocchi, and when she attempts to pull back Bocchi’s bangs, she inadvertently causes her to turn to ash and blow away. This marks at least the third time Bocchi has died in just seven episodes, and this time it’s accompanied by Nausicaa-style singing child music. Bocchi-dust motes dispersed throughout the room, and Nijika and Ikuyo eventually breathe them in and collapse.

Nijika only barely able to text Ryou that she’ll have to play the concert on her own, because everyone else is dead. This heightened reality knocks on the fourth wall, though considering it was busted through when Nijika mentioned a commercial break, I’m fine with such occasional liberties.

In the end, Nijika designs a simple but fun design for their t-shirts, and Bocchi is over the moon when she slips one on, constantly looking down at it and smiling. All they need now is for the weather to cooperate for their concert. Reports indicate a typhoon will miss the Kanto region, but Bocchi, ever prepared for the worst, insists they make a bunch of teru teru bouzu … just in case.

They don’t work, and Bocchi exits her house on the day of the concert to find herself in the middle of a frikking typhoon. The once bright and cheerful summer sky is now as dark and brooding as the inside of her closet. But the closet is where Bocchi learned how to play a kickass guitar, and where she’s done some of her best work and earned her thousands of subscribers. If anyone can make lemonade out of this, it’s her.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Bocchi the Rock! – 06 – No Enemies Here

Bocchi is always starting over from zero. Just when she had a wee epiphany on that audition state, took a step towards her bandmates, and showed a little bit of what she’s got, the ticket quota thing comes down on her like a ton of bricks. Being presented with more tickets than people you know is bad enough; to then have to be reminded that neither dogs nor your five-year old sister who is always roasting your won’t be allowed in a club is another.

Just like that, the number of tickets she has left to sell triples, and her anxiety intensifies accordingly. After Bocchi’s ghost escaping from her sigh knocks a recapping Mr. Guitar into the drink, she sits there not knowing what to do. She lied to her family about having friends to sell to. And then all of a sudden she catches a break, though it doesn’t seem like one at first: an extremely hungover woman with mauve taupe hair, a side braid, and glossy black nails.

Bocchi isn’t sure what to make of this person, but buys her some water, meds, and revitalizing clam-flavored miso. The woman—let’s call her Kikuri, since that’s her name according to MAL—then gets rightback to drinking, lining up boxed sake like dominoes and taking a generous swig from a bottle. When Bocchi tries to slip away from this weirdo, she trips and almost falls, but Kikuri catches her by the guitar.

When Kikuri says she plays bass, Bocchi gets worried she’ll be angry with a kid like her who knows nothing about rock. With the speed and precision of an auctioneer she crafts a lie about buying it a day ago but not really feeling it so he’s going to pawn it. That’s when Kikuri takes Bocchi by the wrist gently but firmly and says, in her most normal voice yet, that one day isn’t enough for that kind of thing.

Bocchi is separate from the rest of the band this week, and Nijika continues to prove she has the highest emotional intelligence of the four, as she’s concerned about overwhelming Bocchi for the second straight episode. But Bocchi is fine, having met someone who can relate to her struggles, and serves as a possible model for a “dark future” Bocchi who drowns her sorrows in Suntory Strong Zero from her closet.

Booze fuels a “Happiness Spiral” that allows Kikuri to keep living day in, day out. Bocchi thinks this sounds like a sad kind of happiness. but just as BtR! doesn’t judge its central pink ball of nerves, it doesn’t condemn Kikuri either. She’s a bit of a mess, but she also feels like a human being, and as we learn throughout the episode, a damn fine one at that.

But if booze is the Kikuri’s yang, the bass is her yin. So she decides that the two of them are going to put on a little street performance for the Kanazawa-Hakkei festival goers. She puts in a call to a friend, tells her she’s still alive, and asks them to bring some amps. They both plug in, and she tells Bocchi she’s “not in combat” with the people gathering in front of her—“Don’t get it twisted who your enemies are.”

That said, her recommendation that Bocchi simply close her eyes while she plays also comes in handy. Kikuri lays down a smooth and inviting base line that Bocchi can simply dive into and have fun with. All the anxieties and concerns of the outside world can melt away as she and Kikuri simply jam. One of the girls listening offers words of encouragement, sensing not incorrectly that “the guitar girl seemed nervous”

The vibes simply keep improving for Bocchi until she opens her eyes, sees the people listening to her, and it dawns on her that there are no enemies among them. That’s when she really starts to put some licks down, and Kikuri is astonished by how quickly her playmate is able to overcome her nervousness. The performance is another opportunity for BtR! to flex its animation and direction muscles, with lots of cool camera angles and such.

When they bring their jam to a close, Bocchi and Kikuri are met with enthusiastic applause. It’s only when it’s all over that Bocchi reveals she only opened one eye, and going back it’s true we never saw both of her eyes open at once! She manages to sell two of her three tickets to the yukata girls, and Kikuri buys the third, no doubt as eager as Nijika to see this girl unlock her considerable potential to rock.

I love how Kikuri has to borrow the cash she just gave to Bocchi to catch the train home. I love Kikuri, period, and hope we get more of her soon. I love how Bocchi LINEs her concerned bandmates to report she’s sold all her tickets. I love that they don’t believe her, and all agree to be extra-nice to her at the next practice. And I love the tiny fireworks in the distance at the end, celebrating another Bocchi win.

This was yet another beautiful episode of BtR!, brimming with comedy, empathy, and creativity. To borrow and slightly alter a well-known phrase, the tens will continue until quality declines.

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