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Bocchi the Rock!
Episode 7

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Bocchi the Rock! ?
Community score: 4.6

I've made at least a couple of comparisons in these reviews to WATAMOTE so far. I realize some readers might be young enough to not remember a nearly 10-year-old show that never got a follow-up, but that series – anime and manga – has long stuck in my mind as one of the most powerful examples of cringe comedy. Sure, media has long mined that route for humor, but Tomoko Kuroki's self-sabotaging adventures in adolescence were some of the most distilled, spine-wrenching cringe ever put to screen. And while Bocchi has dabbled a few times in that brand of second-hand embarrassment, it's this episode that really starts to dig into that vein and bring up a lot of incredibly painful sympathy.

Mostly that comes from Bocchi's increasingly flailing attempts at playing host, at once thrilled to have actual friends visiting and mortified that they'll see how she lives. This series has always been about the struggle between a desire for love vs the mortifying ordeal of being known, but it hits extra hard seeing Bocchi throw a million ideas at the wall; from practicing party games beforehand to putting a damn welcome banner across the front of her house for the momentous event of two friends hanging out in her room. It's all exaggerated for comedy, but I could nonetheless see a lot of my own teenage self in there, clueless and anxious about so many of the social norms that seemed to come easily to others, convinced that doing anything the “wrong” way would send everything crashing down. At the same time, there's also something really endearing about just how obviously excited she is to have friends visiting, and the incredibly inventive visuals once more keep things juuuuust light enough to be funny instead of depressing.

Though this is definitely going to be a rough sit for anyone in Bocchi's situation who's gotten the “well look who decided to join us” treatment from their family whenever they left their own room. While it's played for comedy like everything else, there's definitely an underlying sense of discomfort when Kita and Nijika are chatting with Bocchi's family – especially her parents. The casual way they'll mention embarrassing moments or tap on sore nerves without realizing it, often in a well-meaning and jovial way, hits very close to home. You get the sense that Papa and Mama Bocchi love their eldest daughter, but don't entirely understand what she's going through, or that the odd behavior they witness has more serious motivations besides their kid just being weird. It's pretty realistic, honestly, and it's nice of Nijika and Kita to stick by their friend through the family's microaggressions, but also an immensely tough watch if you can relate to Bocchi's position.

On the whole this is also just a more low-energy episode compared to the last few, but not in a bad way. There are a number of quiet, deadpan punchlines that hit all the harder from the less bombastic delivery, allowing the awkward silence of a moment to carry the humor from funny to pitiful and then back to funny. That laid-back feeling, along with some conspicuous shots of the characters composited over filtered photographs as backgrounds, actually reminded me of the obscure Someday's Dreamers II: Sora, the last full-length project by the late, great Osamu Kobayashi. And considering Kobayashi was my all-time favorite anime director, that can only be a compliment. There are still some wild, stylized bits – there's a reason I used that stop-motion section for the thumbnail – but in general this is just enough of a deviation from Bocchi's established energy to stand out in an intruiging way. Altogether it makes for probably the most uncomfortable watch of the show so far, but no less charming.

Rating:

Bocchi the Rock! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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