So, at the time of writing this episode review, BOCCHI THE ROCK! has finished airing. Having joined the bandwagon really late, I wasn’t terribly confident I could catch up in time for the finale. Still, it would’ve been nice to have been all caught up. Getting these posts out might get a bit complicated with Winter 2023 fast approaching but I still intend on finishing them. Also, even though I haven’t finished the show, I was hoping to see a second season announced when the final episode aired. Alas, that did not happen. Considering the show’s popularity, I’m hopeful one will get greenlit but then again, I’ve felt that way for a lot of other shows that never got one (I’m still dreaming of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Season 2 for example).

Episode 5 of BOCCHI begins with Kessoku Band getting their first paycheck from working at Starry. Bocchi hopes to indulge in some shopping but unfortunately for her, the band is giving Laid-Back Camp‘s Outclub a run for their money in how tight they are with money (though at least these girls have money…for now). The band needs money for their next performance as well as other endeavors they’d like to pursue. On the flipside, Ryo created instrumentals to go along with the lyrics Bocchi wrote in the last episode so the gang has completed their first original song. Now, they just need to perform it…which brings us to the main plot of this episode.

As it turns out, Seika does not plan on letting Kessoku Band perform at her club again, partly under guise of their bad performance four episodes ago. After an angered Nijika storms off however, Seika tells Bocchi that she’ll include the band in Starry’s schedule for the next month if they pass an audition. The only catch is that the audition is within one week. Kessoku decides to get as much practice as they can, especially Kita and Bocchi as they’re both still working on their musical skills.

Aside from giving a decent performance, Nijika suggests that the girls show Seika their growth as a band during their audition. This ends up being theme of the episode as the characters, namely Bocchi, ponder on what exactly that entails. Kita and Nijika draw the same conclusion, that their growth will be made clear from all their hard work in advance and them giving the audition their all. Ryo provides the shallowest albeit funniest take, suggesting that they act like the big leagues, complete with mop-top hairstyles, smoking, drinking. and dalliances with other women (Ryo’s words, not mine). As for Bocchi, she finds herself at a loss. While she puts the effort in for the audition, she doesn’t see it as a sign of growth. At the same time however, she doesn’t know what else fits the bill. Her own growth as a socially anxious person? The fact that she succeeded in becoming a part of her own band? Bocchi isn’t sure if either of these count.

Right before the audition, there’s a great heart to heart conversation between Bocchi and Nijika. At first, I thought this would have Bocchi having doubts about her performance and Nijika would give her a pep talk. To my surprise, Nijika begins with an apology to Bocchi, on the chance that her friend feels forced into going along with her antics. Obviously, Bocchi doesn’t feel that way but the fact that Nijika has this concern says a lot about her. It goes to show how considerate she is of Bocchi’s feelings and how genuinely she wants to be her friend. At the end of the conversation, Nijika admits to Bocchi that a dream she had for the band was becoming famous but she also says that she a different goal in mind now. Nijika decides to keep the details a secret (in the most charming way possible, I might add) though based on the entire conversation, we can safely infer that it involves her feelings towards her friends.

The next day is Kessoku Band’s audition. At long last, we are treated with BOCCHI‘s first real insert song, “Guitar, Loneliness, and Blue Planet”. This episode does use an abridged edit of the full song and much of the music is overlayed with an inner monologue by Bocchi. Technically, you don’t really get to hear the song in its full glory. While it’s a shame to not hear the full song, I really like how the song is played alongside Bocchi’s monologue. Based on the translation provided by Crunchyroll, the first verse of “Guitar, Loneliness, and Blue Planet” has the speaker feeling disconnected and overwhelmed by the world around them. It mirrors the anxiety and loneliness Bocchi feels. As Kita sings these lyrics however, Bocchi internally reflects on how much she wants to be with the band and how badly she wants to pass the audition. The contrast created by these prose intermingling with each other paints the whole picture: as anxious as Bocchi feels, she’ll muster enough courage to succeed. This is then followed up with the next verse of the song where the speaker is determined to make their voice heard. Alongside the verse, Bocchi channels her guitarhero persona and steps up her guitar playing, demonstrating her resolve and the “growth” that she wants to express in her performance.

There’s some other great details in the performance. I love the brief look of surprise Nijika and Ryo have when they noticed Bocchi’s guitar playing skills, even acknowledging it together, and how much more enthusiastic and motivated they become thanks to it. Kita meanwhile appears unfazed but that makes sense considering she’s practiced with Bocchi a bunch of times. She ought to be familiar with Bocchi’s expertise. Also neat is how the feedback Seika gives after the audition does manifest in the performance. For example, Seika tells Bocchi and Kita that they look down too much and if you watch the performance closely, they very much do that. Overall, there’s a great attention to detail in BOCCHI‘s first performance scene.

While Seika is quick to point out flaws, she does ultimately decide Kessoku Band pass, recognizing the band’s growth as well as passion. Shortly after, Seika’s employee, PA-san (Kotori Koiwai), points out that she deliberately left a space in Starry’s schedule for the band this whole time. In private, Seika admits Kessoku passing is the result Seika wanted all along and she only denied them the first time to motivate them. It’s certainly a bit of tough love but it makes sense. It’s better for Kessoku to prove themselves and actually earna the right to perform, rather than simply have it handed over them. Plus, it’s pretty fitting given that Seika is Nijika’s older sister. Seika also makes particular note of Bocchi, recognizing that her guitar playing is the real deal and that they’re just held back by her social anxiety. I really like how Seika wants to acknowledge Bocchi’s talent and help her grow out of her shell. She sure had a funny way of expressing it, though.

Naturally, Kessoku Band feels victorious about passing the audition. The only thing that rains on their parade is Bocchi raining down vomit on the floor, presumably due to her overexerting herself during the performance. I must say, having a technical difficulties caption over live action footage of water dams is really stinking funny. Even better is that the show actually provides the name of each damn and which prefecture they’re from. Watch these dams be the next big anime pilgrimage sites or something.

Mishap aside, what Kessoku now has to contend with is an actual concert and with that, comes making ends meet. Nijika proposes that everyone each sell at least 5 tickets, causing Bocchi to panic at the thought of selling a ticket to a complete stranger. Bocchi realizing that even if she sells tickets to her family, she’s still one short of meeting her quota is funny enough but the show goes the extra mile of depicting her right hand in live-action against a CG rendering of Starry’s interior, trippy color patterns, and concept art of her family. The presentation is so ridiculous that it perfectly illustrates Bocchi’s fear. Also funny is the fact that Bocchi counts her pet dog, JimiHen (Kotori Koiwai), as a potential customer. I don’t know if they’ll count but for Bocchi’s sake, I hope they do. Regardless, Bocchi needs to sell one more ticket. If the entire next episode centers around that, I am all for it.

Watch BOCCHI THE ROCK! on Crunchyroll.

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