Hitori Bocchi is a girl with social anxiety so severe that it makes her vomit, makes her knees lock up, or causes her to run away every time she has to talk to anyone. Because of her situation, Hitori has ever only had one friend who she’s known since childhood; a girl named Kai. Now that they’re both going to different middle schools, Kai purposefully cuts all ties with Hitori as a way to force Hitori out of her shell. Kai tells Hitori that they won’t be friends again unless Hitori can make friends with all her new classmates. This, of course, is a daunting task for someone like Hitori.
On her first day at her new middle school, Hitori makes some massive blunders. Despite this, she manages to talk with the girl who sits in the desk in front of her; a girl named Nako Sunao. The two eventually exchange phone contact information, and Hitori finds it much easier to converse with Nako in this way. And thus, Hitori makes her very first friend at her new school.
This show is basically a cutesy and comedic show featuring a cast of mostly female, middle school-aged characters. It has decent enough animation, and pretty adorable character designs. The plot is rather basic (a girl just trying to make friends), but it has the potential to provide a good amount of both drama and heartwarming moments. If this sounds like your kind of anime, then you likely won’t be disappointed.
As for me, my feelings on this show are… complicated. This is not the show’s fault, but watching this first episode brought up a lot of bad memories for me. I have also struggled with social anxiety in the past, so in a way I related to Hitori’s situation. And I do appreciate that the show firmly says that it’s a Bad Thing for someone to be so socially isolated. But at the same time… I felt a bit uncomfortable seeing Hitori’s social anxiety played off for laughs. The gags based around social anxiety in the series My Roommate is a Cat were funny because it was so relatable to most people. In Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu, however; Hitori’s social anxiety is so exaggerated that it’s basically unrelatable and kind of feels like we’re supposed to be laughing AT her.
I have to wonder if the creator of Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu actually understands social anxiety, or if they’re just using it as a gimmick to have a cute anime girl act “weird” or “funny.” Because if it’s the latter, that feels kind of… cruel? Yes, I am probably taking a silly anime way too seriously. I know it’s typical for anime to have characters act in exaggerated ways that no actual human being would, because it’s a work of fiction. But when I can’t tell if we’re supposed to be laughing at a character or commiserating with them–when they have a condition that actually affects quite a bit of people in real life–then that’s a different story.
(And don’t even get me started on Kai… I understand she has good intentions and wants the best for Hitori, but completely breaking off contact with someone who she knows has social anxiety that severe is kind of… uh. Questionable? You’re not even gonna give her some sort of support or advice???)
As you can probably guess, I didn’t enjoy this anime very much.
Out of five: