• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
Bocchi Crew Rock Out at Anime Expo Panel

by Kalai Chik,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2024 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!

Photography by Kalai Chik

Anime Goliath, Bocchi the Rock!, stole the hearts of many introverts (and extroverts) in late 2022. No surprise that a late-night group of die-hard fans were willing to wait in hour-long lines to see Bocchi's voice actress Yoshino Aoyama and Director Keiichirō Saitō. Cosplayers and incognito fans, who donned Kessoku Band t-shirts, filled the front to the back, armed with light sticks ready to cheer on the two guests.

Even before they arrived, the crowd burst into thunderous roars of “Bocchi!” before being reminded that the panel wouldn't make it to the end if the cheers continued. Director Saito was noticeably taken aback by the chants and channeled his inner Bocchi for his introduction. “I'm nervous. I want to be in a box of mangoes, but I will do my best. Thank you.” Meanwhile, voice actress Aoyama embraced the shouting, even though she was just as nervous to greet the audience. Once she told the crowd to call her by her nickname, Yoppi, the chants quickly changed from Bocchi to Yoppi instead.

Wasting no time getting to the Q&A, both guests admit that they only started reading Bocchi the Rock! after they were hired for the project. In other anime series, authors can be detached from the creative process. However, according to Aoyama and Saito, Aki Hamaji was actively involved. “Anytime I was writing the script or scenario, I would get advice here and there from her. It was almost like talking with a friend,” shared Director Saito. Even during the voice recording sessions, Hamaji would dial in and listen. “I think there's this image of manga authors as terrifying. Lo and behold she was quite kind and humorous,” reflected Aoyama. “In episode one, after we recorded all of Bocchi's lines, Hamaji-sensei told me that she was glad I was cast!”

The two Bocchi guests expressed how Aniplex was deeply invested in the anime's music, given that is the company's strength. After Aoyama was cast as Bocchi, Aniplex asked if she could learn how to play guitar. At the time, as much as she jokingly gloated about her status as a “guitar hero,” the reality was much harsher. “When I picked up the guitar, it was 5 million times harder than I expected. Goto Hitori is really crushing it on the guitar, and that made me respect her in a different way.” Director Saito fully gave Aniplex the reins to drive the musicality of the Kessoku Band. “I didn't do anything,” he disclosed. “In terms of the dialogue, I tried to put the dialogue more front and center, while being mindful about how time flows and how the band grows.”

Livening the mood, the moderators played a couple of fan-favorite clips from the series and Director Saito shared his storyboards from key moments. The first segment shown on the panel is arguably the most famous one: Bocchi's full breakdown after the group's selfie, featuring her legendary electric vocals. “Everyone who was in the recording session was speechless. I, too, thought, 'We've got something here.' This is the real deal,” said Saito. Aoyama credits sound director Akiko Fujita for the idea, as Fujita asked her to make “a kind of electronic sound” and she manifested it into existence. As a fun group activity, Aoyama encouraged fans to try out the sound with her by hitting the highest note they could and then imitating Bocchi. Impressively, she did the voice first as an example. Afterward, she and the room did a collective Bocchi screech. “Now you're all Goto Hitori!”

In the next clip, Director Saito became more open as he explained the storyboarding process for Bocchi's "fear of the future" sequence in an izakaya. “Looking at the dialogue and the screenplay, if I had done it traditionally and didn't go over the top, the visuals would lose what she was saying,” explained Saito. “Like wordplay, I would start boarding the different scenes while having fun myself.” Bocchi's internal monologue contains several different animation mediums, which in my opinion, is likened to the rudimentary but comedic, animation of Robot Chicken. Saito described his enjoyment for “primitive visuals and expressions,” which led to the usage of dolls and low-quality CG. “This sort of imperfectness attracts me.” All the while, these spectacular visuals can be hard to realize in sound and vocals. Aoyama thanked him for having faith in her performances, as Goto Hitori is an “unidentified mysterious creature.”

Last but not least, they closed off with the show-stopping sake glass guitar move in the last episode. That scene was storyboarded by Saito; he tried to explain the entire process concisely from start to finish. “We create the scenario or script based on the original work and choose the drama we want to show.” Once they decide on where the tension will be, the Aniplex music team came in to provide scenarios where “drama can happen on stage.” After they've determined the moment of an “almost broken recording,” they would have musical artists perform that. “I'll take that audio sample home, imagine how it would look with that happening on stage, and start storyboarding based on what I saw.” Once the scene was boarded, Saito had actual performers play the real, envisioned version. “We also did a mo-cap of the performances at that stage, worked on 3D CG animation, and then camera angles.” The heavily involved process even included filming the musician's hands.

Both panelists shared how deeply they were moved by fan support as they also enjoyed giving it their all to the series too. Unfortunately, there were no hints of an upcoming season or new work. Until more news is announced, fans can enjoy the Bocchi the Rock! recap movies in North American theaters soon.

discuss this in the forum (4 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

back to All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
Convention homepage / archives