I’m just going to come right out and say it. My Fridays are going to be a lot more depressing now that Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu (ひとりぼっちの○○生活) has finished airing. It was always one of the highlights for Friday anime, especially after a particularly sad episode of Fruits Basket (2019) (and you better believe I always saved Hitoribocchi for last just in case). It’s a simple show with a simple premise: a shy girl at a new school needs to make friends. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about WataMote. This show is a lot less depressing than that one. Spoilers ahead.
Hitori Bocchi has just started middle school, separating her from Yawara Kai, the girl she calls best friend. Bocchi also suffers from extreme social anxiety; even the thought of interacting with anyone she doesn’t know sends her into a tizzy. Knowing this, Kai issues a challenge to Bocchi: if you want to remain friends with me, you need to become friends with everyone in your new class. Tough love.
As you can imagine, for someone with Bocchi’s personality, this is going to feel like a nearly impossible task; but her desire to remain friends with Kai is stronger than her fear of other people, and she begins to
boldly barely make friends. Luckily for Bocchi, there are plenty of girls in the class who are bold enough to take the first step for her once they see her sincere personality.
Whether it ever becomes clear to Bocchi or not, one major theme of the show is that nobody is perfect. The friends that Bocchi puts up on a pedestal for their bravery and kindness towards her each have their own insecurities and flaws. Just as Bocchi depends on them for their help in social situations, they depend on her for her acceptance of them as well.
People with more Japanese experience than I have (because I have 0%) have pointed out that the names of the characters in this show are actually indicative of their personalities. For example, Hitori Bocchi’s name comes from the word hitoribocchi (ひとりぼっち) which means “all alone”.
The Unfortunate One
Honshou Aru is a girl who is constantly putting up a facade to hide her true nature. As the vice class representative, her desire is to be seen as someone friendly, smart, and dependable in a time of need. Unfortunately, she’s actually rather clumsy in nature, often forgetting important things and overlooking important details (she has a bad habit of wearing the wrong outfits).
Her name comes from the Japanese phrase “honshō aru” (本性ある) which means “having a hidden nature.”
The Lonely One
Luckythar Sotca is a foreigner living in Japan by herself. Her beautiful blonde hair and off-kilter personality scare Bocchi at first. Eventually, Sotca reveals that she’s secretly trying to become a ninja, and she wishes to study under Master Bocchi. And so their friendship begins in a way that only awkward middle-schoolers can: with random sneaking around exercises and origami ninja stars.
Her name comes from the Japanese phrase “soto kara kita” (外から来た) which means “came from outside.”
Kako Kurai is the class disciplinarian. Her life purpose is to become stronger, and the only way to do that is alone. Friends slow you down and make you weak, so she can only become her perfect self when she is alone. Bocchi is determined to bridge the gap between them, but never quite makes it to a full friendship. However, Kurai eventually acknowledges Bocchi as a rival, someone who is necessary to help her become stronger.
Her name comes from the Japanese phrase “kurai kako” (暗い過去) which means “dark past.”
The Blunt One
Sunao Nako is the very first person that Bocchi makes friends with at the new school. She eventually becomes Bocchi’s best friend. Nako is someone who is characterized by her extremely blunt nature; her inability to delicately handle a situation even scares the class teacher, who often reverts to an almost subordinate mindset anytime she has to deal with Nako. But it is exactly this blunt mindset, dry sense of humor and sympathy that helps Bocchi learn and grow as she sets out to befriend the entire classroom. In return, Nako learns to be just a little more sensitive to the feelings of those around her with her words and actions.
Her name comes from the Japanese phrase “sunao na ko” (素直な子) which means “honest child”.
If you’d like to read more characters names and their meanings, I’ll link the Wikipedia I was using right here. Remember, I have 0% Japanese experience, so any inaccuracies above can be blamed directly on the fact that I ignored all of my old teacher’s advice and used Wikipedia as a source.
The innocent nature and fun characters make this show a lot of fun to watch. Turns out, there’s a lot more humor that you can get out of a girl with social anxiety than I originally thought. The evolving backstories of each of Bocchi’s friends was a good way to keep the formula from becoming stale.
With the end of the first season comes the end of Bocchi’s first year of middle school. When Nako points out that their next year isn’t guaranteed to be the same classmates, Bocchi almost has a heart attack realizing she’ll have to start over again. Honestly, I’d love to see more and would be very excited for a second season.