BOCCHI THE ROCK! – Ep. 3

A few days pass in-universe and between episodes and Bocchi has finally recovered from the cold she got at the end of Episode 2. Even though she has now missed some days of work and she technically got what she originally wanted, Bocchi is anxious that her time away is coming across as her being noncommittal to Kessoku Band. She has therefore decided to take on the task of finding a guitarist/vocalist for the band. Obviously, there’s no way Nijika and Ryo would get upset for Bocchi catching a cold, even if they did learn of her original intent. Bocchi is overthinking things but that’s par for the course for her. What is surprising is the fact that she decides to go recruiting for the band, well aware that it’ll mostly involve talking to someone she barely knows. I guess that goes to show how serious she is about the band.

Fortunately for Bocchi, the search doesn’t take too long as she runs into Ikuyo Kita (Ikumi Hasegawa), a fellow student at her school who happens to be both a guitarist and a vocalist. And yes, this is the mystery girl BOCCHI THE ROCK! has been teasing for the past two episodes. As it turns out however, Kita isn’t the fourth and final member to join Kessoku Band. She is actually the “runaway guitarist” of lore, the one who bailed out on Nijika and Ryo and effectively set Bocchi’s recruitment into motion. What a small world these characters live in.

Apparently, Kita dropped out of Kessoku Band because she actually can’t play guitar. In fact, and in possibly one of the funniest punchlines this show has so far delivered, we later find out that she doesn’t even have a guitar in the first place. She is that clueless when it comes to music. Realizing her secret will eventually be out, she reluctantly ran away from the band. As for why she joined the band in the first place, she’s apparently a fan of Ryo and simply wants to be closer to her upperclassman. I’m doubtful the show will explore this relationship beyond baiting the audience but it does explain the irrationality behind Kita’s first recruitment. Love can be blinding after all. This also explains how none of Ryo’s oddities seem to phase Kita in the slightest (seriously, you’d think Ryo assuming Kita had died after she vanished would at least make Kita think differently of her).

The reunion between Kita, Ryo, and Nijika does begin as awkwardly as you’d think but the rift Kita thinks she caused isn’t quite as large as she expected. While Kita did create a big setback for the band, Nijika and Ryo are evidently just glad to learn that she’s fine. They even feel bad for not realizing Kita’s mistake and discomfort. Also, were it not for Kita bailing, the band wouldn’t have recruited Bocchi so there is a positive spin to the whole thing. Even so, they initially don’t ask Kita to rejoin. Presumably, that’s less the two not wanting Kita back but rather they don’t want to push Kita. They’d hate for her to feel uncomfortable again.

Ultimately, the one who convinces Kita to rejoin is Bocchi. Bocchi is the one who invites her in the first place so it’s only fitting for her to see it through. However, I’d argue it goes beyond that. Despite Kita’s apparent simping for Ryo, I think her most meaningful connection right now is actually with Bocchi. The two do contrast with each other in a couple of ways. Bocchi is an introvert struggling to make friends. Kita is evidently an extrovert who has no trouble socializing with others. Bocchi is great at playing the guitar. Kita is lousy with it. At the same time however, the two are also alike. Both girls want to be part of the band. Even Kita with her selfish reason for joining still tried her darndest at getting the hang of her “guitar”. She genuinely wanted to contribute to the band. Bocchi is afraid of holding everyone back. Kita feels she already let them down and she’s afraid of it happening again if she rejoins. Fundamentally, the two share the same aspiration and insecurity. It’s those similarities that allow Bocchi to convince Kita to rejoin the band. Bocchi is working hard for the band’s sake and if she’s allowed to that, Kita deserves to do so as well.

At the very least, the two girls bounce off of each other quite well. There’s this amusing back and forth where Bocchi feels she relates with Kita and can hold a conversation with her, only to then be reminded how much more sociable her friend is, causing her to feel the two of them are worlds apart. Even though she’s the one to recruit Kita back, Bocchi grows comically paranoid over having her in the band. Between Kita’s social skills and her role as the second guitarist and vocalist, you can’t blame the anxious Bocchi for feeling less unique and for thinking she’s being rendered obsolete. One prospect that’s teased at the end of the episode is Bocchi teaching Kita the guitar. It makes sense given Bocchi’s expertise but I’m curious how mentoring Kita may affect her. I can see that giving her a bit of a confidence boost.

BOCCHI has been delivering very good art direction so far but it’s especially on point in this episode. One recurring gag that I hope stays in the show is Bocchi devolving into a bit of a blob whenever she receives praise. That perfectly illustrates how, even though she’s an anxious mess, Bocchi wants to be showered with compliments as much as the next guy. Another gag that I want to see more of is the show’s apparent use of live-action footage. The show actually started doing this in the last episode but I forgot to mention it. This is first shown when Bocchi imagines how her classmates are talking over her, depicted in her mind as a puppet show. It’s possible this is still hand drawn but I prefer to think it’s live-action because the idea of someone going the extra mile of printing paper cut outs of two extras for a bit is hilarious. The second use is when Bocchi plays a sad song on her guitar while some random B-roll plays in the background. The footage is undoubtedly live-action. It’s definitely surreal but in a weird way, it both makes Bocchi’s overreacting more humorous and her pain more relatable. Somehow, Bocchi lamenting about herself while an unrelated, live-action eagle flies in the background makes me feel things.


Watch BOCCHI THE ROCK! on Crunchyroll.

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