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.