Category Archives: Bocchi the Rock!

Spite for Transformative Coercion Is the Fuel for Rock Music

Let’s talk about Bocchi the Rock. First of all, here’s a nice video on Youtube talking about its qualities as an anime adaptation.

I think the gist of the video is pretty much the explainer for “Anime no Chikara.” And on a basic level, when you sic 100s of animation creators to create something based on a comic that a handful of people put together (at best, as with most 4koma works), you’re going to likely get something that’s more amazing than what the original manga team can put together, on average. (The video says how some people who checked out the comic for Bocchi because of the cool anime were disappointed. Isn’t this exactly what happened to some people during K-ON era? And that adaptation is quite straight-laced.) Frankly, this should be the case every time, but isn’t, is a post for another day, but we are on Youtube on 2022 and people hamming on something as basic as this still gets some stuff wrong.

In this particular case I feel the youtuber is a bit overexaggerating or using language that could stand to be more precise. Unfortunately I think being a little bit over-gushing about it is kind of the selling point of this sort of videos, correctness be damned. Maybe the algorithm has its upsides, but I don’t think I can approve any implementation that further encourages the selling off of veracity for clicks, which basically makes Youtube’s the worst offender there is. And, I guess, that is also another post, but there’s something more egregious about that video’s comments that I want to highlight. (Want to hate society? Go read Youtube comments.)

The top rated comments (as of this writing) says that Bocchi is an extrovert who has crippling social anxiety. Well, the social anxiety part I think we all can agree on, but who can possibly say Bocchi is an extrovert? It boggles my mind, but the person lays out that it’s because Bocchi seems to chooses or wants to do social things but can’t due to her, uh, issues. I’m sorry to say but doesn’t this mean this person has never met an introverted person who wants to party? (Has this person never has talked to people like myself?)

All of which is just to say, even engaging with the anime and story about an introvert, and a huge part of the appeal of Bocchi is just how she thinks and feels like an introverted person, is upended when you engage the thing that I would charitably call as society. Youtube served me a video about something I like and it just irritated me. This is how an introverted mind works, this is how Bocchi’s mind works.

Wanting to burn down society makes a great villain character if you are an old-timer JRPG creator, but it is even better if that motivation becomes the burning soul of a rock band. This is the third-level meta I want to see in Bocchi. I get it that cute girls can’t be bad girls in a Kirara 4koma, but I think there’s space for it and Bocchi will only get better the more chaotic it gets, which I think we all agree.

PS. The most serious foul in that Bocchi video is putting it in on a pedestal in a season when Pop Team Epic is airing, and then praise Bocchi’s…non-anime parts as if it was rare or even the first time something like this happened?? In another time, maybe it won’t be as offensive, but talk about applying the same analysis without paying attention to the context, the context of this season in 2022, as well as the context of this introverted thinking that characterizes Bocchi. Like if it was science, maybe it’s okay, but literary analysis? I’d give you no better than a C.

Context the Rock

I’m not fully sure what the angle is to Bocchi the Rock! Evirus isn’t wrong* about the humor aspect, and the anime adaptation carries the cuts, however (slightly) blunted, and the laughs. Yoshino Aoyama does an admirable job with those reactions and fun noises that comes out of Bocchi. It’s a fun anime series that I look forward to enjoying every week.

But to me Bocchi the Rock occupies a particular set of contexts. Here is an anime based on a 4-koma comic from the same magazine that published K-ON, and it existed largely due to the post-K-ON boom of high school girl rock content. The animation takes direct cues from that, and the adaptation also directly pegs some key aspects on K-ON. My spine shivers hearing Ikumi Hasegawa do her version of Mio’s power vocals. When will she cover Don’t say “lazy”?

There is yet another layer to this context where many rock and roll creators are folks with far-from-perfect psyches, each dealing with their phobias, insecurities, and other maladjustments. Sometimes I think good musicians all struggle with some inner problems, darkness or whatever you want to call it. Well, nothing remarkable there I guess, that seems entirely human. Whatever that drives Bocchi to join a rock band is what it is, but these reasons and motivations do run the gamut and having a range of them in the same group is one way to create a remarkable sound or experience. It can make for good art.

At the same time, the way rock bands make art is through dealing with those issues while at it, and this is all assuming the band doesn’t break apart sooner rather than later, of course. Making music can be both creative and/or destructive. Just like any other art.

How do you create great music? What goes on in the minds of successful rock-and-rollers? Isn’t Bocchi the Rock a story that sort of plays on these stereotypes? Yeah. And if the opening to Chainsaw Man was inspirational, Bocchi is a whole TV show of it because that’s in its bones.

Bocchi the Rock is not glamorous, and maybe this is the one big thing that sets it back from its aspirational target, its idol. If anything the sheen of CloverWork’s excellent visuals cut against its faux glam. Regardless, in being the opposite of glamorous, Bocchi the Rock will hit those who gets hit that much harder.

This style or philosophical take on rock and roll is the kind in which art is the window into the mind of the unsettled, the disturbed, the distressed. It’s not glamorous at all. Bocchi’s little band is actually as rock as it gets.

*Turns out there is something shared between Bocchi The Rock and Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu so Evirus is still wrong.