Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu is approaching the end of its run. The norm with traditional single-season anime is to use an episode (sometimes more than one!) near the end to reinforce the show’s core, whatever that may be. Hitoribocchi does this, too. A few episodes ago we had the brief, tearful meeting of Bocchi and her friend Kai. Episode 8 saw the introduction of Kurai. A character who in many ways is Bocchi’s opposite. Her stated desire to make no friends and become “strong” is the fundamental inverse of Bocchi’s quest to befriend her whole classroom. It’s this past episode though, the 9th, that has the simplest re-stating of Hitoribocchi‘s thematic and emotional core. That’s a lot to put on a show this simple. It’s worth keeping in mind then that such a thing, in Hitoribocchi‘s case, involves an awful lot of pancakes.
Home Ec. Horror
Yes, pancakes. Cooking class, or Home Economy as it’s generally known in the states, is the bane of awkward middle and high schoolers everywhere. Practices vary from place to place, but the general idea is that you and 2-4 of your classmates group up and cook something. The case offered for consideration in Hitoribocchi is pancakes. My school had to make chicken salad. Frankly, I think Bocchi’s class got off easy.
It’s another near-universal experience among the awkward and anxious that the series manages to capture incredibly well. The episode opens with Bocchi herself fretting near her locker about the assignment. She’s comforted by Nako, and taking a cue from the prior episode, steels herself with some Kurai-style “strength”.
Bocchi finds herself grouped with three girls she doesn’t know. Anyone who’s watched the show up to this point can guess that she stumbles over her words and generally fails to engage them in any particular conversation. Worse still, she accidentally pours too much flour into a mixing bowl, causing it to disperse in a puff of (amusingly CGI) flour smoke.
Things may seem grim, but with some help from Aru she’s able to get things back on track. She makes some whipped cream, adding it to the pancakes and making them “fancy”. Which her groupmates praise her for.
This entire first skit is the show in a nutshell. Bocchi overthinking things and bumbling her way into a problem. Her friends helping her back out, and everything turning out alright in the end.
The second half of the episode centers around Kako Kurai. Kurai is an unusual character. Her primary trait initially appears to be a sort of stoic seriousness–she is part of the disciplinary committee after all. She has no friends and explains to Bocchi in her introductory episode that it’s her “policy” to not make any. Because it will make her “strong”.
This of course is the person Bocchi latches on to as her next future friend. For someone who’s as shy as she is, she sure has a way of picking tough targets.
We come to find out that Kurai is, in many ways, an even more absurd character than Bocchi herself. Bocchi invites her to join her friends for “outdoor class day” (the specifics are not elaborated upon but it seems like a school-sponsored camping trip). Kurai initially objects, but with some convincing Bocchi is able to convince her to come.
Kurai’s stoic-ness, as it turns out, is kind of a front. Her real personality is more akin to the old tsundere cliche. Though, the inclinations here are platonic rather than romantic. This is never spelled out per se, but becomes obvious over the course of the final act of the episode. Especially when she tries to vehemently deny that she’s looking forward to the field trip.
During said trip, the girls do in fact make curry. We get some hilarious moments like Bocchi thinking to blindfold herself so she doesn’t cry while chopping onions.
More importantly, the experience sees Bocchi and friends bonding with Kurai. Who is by the end of it so moved that she vows to become Bocchi’s….rival. Close enough?
The show’s low-stakes charm has remained intact throughout the entirety of its run. Which is more than can be said for many similar series. Despite the final miscommunication of sorts that ends the episode, anything that ends with a meal and a laugh ends well, which is something Hitoribocchi seems to grasp well.