At long last, BOCCHI THE ROCK! has finally reached the moment it’s been building up to: Kessoku Band’s “first” concert performance. Technically, they’ve performed before but that was before Kita joined (again) and before Bocchi developed enough confidence to perform outside of a box (though funnily enough, she does don a new box for one scene in this episode). For all intents and purposes, this is the band’s first gig. That alone is a strong enough hook for this episode though the one before it does throw in a curveball in which a typhoon hits Shimokitazawa and affects the attendance rate of the concert. As much of a downer as that is, it would be foolish to think that the concert was going to go 100% smoothly for Kessoku Band.
Of course, Kessoku Band decides that the show must go on. That’s in character of them to do though I also can’t deny that we’d have no plot if they call it quits here. Honestly, I’m kind of convinced that Kessoku is the only performers present at Starry. We don’t see anyone else either during the concert or the afterparty (though to be fair, Seika probably reserved the latter just for Kessoku). Granted, it doesn’t matter if we actually see them. The only performers that matter to us the viewers is Kessoku. Still, it’s hard not to think that Kessoku is the only one given the typhoon affecting people’s ability to attend. It would certainly add to the stakes in this episode.
There are a couple of noticeable attendees at the concert. The first is the drunkard bassist from Episode 6, now formally introduced as Kikuri Hiroi (Sayaka Senbongi). I actually knew her name ahead of time; I just felt like playing dumb about it in the Episode 6 review. Kikuri is actually friends with Seika and PA-san, being their underclassman back in college (and apparently a troublesome one at that, judging by Seika and PA-san’s dialogue). Ryo also recognizes her, noting and respecting the latter’s very unhinged demeanor during her band’s live performances. Also present are the two women who bought Bocchi’s tickets in Episode 6. I had a feeling they’d show up rain or shine. Their appearance in the OP led me to believe that they’d be reccuring characters. Nevertheless, bless their hearts for showing up and declaring themselves as Bocchi’s fans. The one glaring omission from the attendance is Bocchi’s parents. According to Bocchi, they had to stay behind to take care of Futari. That’s understandable but it is a bummer that they’re not here to see their daughter perform.
For the concert, Kessoku Band begins with “Guitar, Loneliness, and Blue Planet”. That’s a really good song and the characters in-universe performed it pretty well the first time around so it’s hard not to think that they might play it even better three episodes later. That doesn’t end up being the case, however. This is the band’s first real gig. They’re new to the scene and they have a lot to prove. To make matters worse, they have a small, unenthusiastic, and even rude crowd in attendance. I thought maybe having less people judging them could be a blessing in a disguise for Kessoku though the show makes it apparent that the smaller crowd makes the scrutiny more pronounced. With all this in mind, morale for the band is low and they begin to make mistakes in their performance. Bocchi notes these errors in her internal monologue. The show actually uses a deliberately worse recording of “Guitar, Loneliness, and Blue Planet”. By far the most heartbreaking cue is the reaction of Bocchi’s fans. They’re right in front of the stage trying to enjoy the music but even that fades away as the song goes on (though don’t worry, that changes by the next song).
Oddly enough, Kikuri is shown to be smiling throughout the first song. While it’s entirely possible that she’s drunk off of a bottle of booze she chugged ahead of time, we can safely interpret her smiling as her expressing confidence in Bocchi. Even if she doesn’t know everyone else in Kessoku Band, she knows Bocchi well enough to know what the younger girl is truly capable of. There’s also the fact that Kikuri gave Bocchi some exposure in regards to performing in front of an audience. Out of everyone in Kessoku Band, Bocchi seems the least uncomfortable during the gig, presumably thanks to the impromptu street performance she did with Kikuri and Kikuri’s advice about not seeing the audience as enemies. So if anyone can turn things around, it’s Bocchi.
Ultimately, Kikuri’s trust in Bocchi is validated when Bocchi refuses to give up and improvises a guitar solo before Kessoku Band’s second song, “That Band”. In doing so, she snaps her bandmates out of their funk and takes the audience completely by surprise, allowing for a smoother and more exciting transition in to the next song. It’s darn good solo in and of itself too. Bocchi’s guitar playing skills has always been abundantly clear to the viewer but the shredding she does here might be some of the fanciest stuff she’s pulled so far in the show. It perfectly conveys her determination and her tapping into her guitarhero persona. Even better is how smoothly it transitions in to the actual song. I honestly thought it was actually part of the song but after checking on YouTube, the solo appears to have been added in for the show. Why the production committee did not release an official version with the solo added in however is beyond me.
Like with “Guitar, Loneliness, and Blue Planet”, BOCCHI just plays an abridged edit of “That Band”. I’m only harping on this because I frankly do prefer it when music anime plays full songs. That said, these songs are proving to be quite good even in its abridged form. I’m again going off of Crunchyroll’s translation but from what I can tell, “That Band” revolves around the effects one particular band’s music has on the speaker. The band’s music resonates with the speaker and likewise, the speaker wants to undisturbed when they listen to it and be completely absorbed in it. Assuming I’m reading them correctly, these lyrics are awfully meta for this scene. By playing this song, Kessoku Band is essentially telling the audience that they hope their music will impact them in some way. Even the name of the song is a cheeky; “That Band” could very well refer to Kessoku. Something that I also notice about the song is that its instrumental are very similar to what Bocchi and Kikuri played on the street in Episode 6. I find that cute as Kikuri called the instrumental one of Kessoku’s songs and Bocchi’s fans asked her if she’d play the song. Maybe the street performance wasn’t as improvisational as I thought. Either that or it’s a fun coincidence the show fabricated.
Curiously, Kessoku Band has a third and final song to play for their concert. However, the girls end up playing it offscreen and the show then cuts to the afterparty. Chances are, we’ll hear the third song at some point in the next four episodes. That’s fine but I am dying to hear it.
Surprisingly, the concert only makes up a third of the episode. The remainder is instead dedicated to the afterparty. Save for the ending, the afterparty is pretty much just banter between Kessoku Band, Starry, and Kikuri. It’s all good, though. My favorite is the cast finally bringing up Kita’s first name, Ikuyo. I’ve been calling Kita by her last name simply because that’s how she’s commonly referred as by the other characters though I have been wondering why she goes by her last name when Nijika and Ryo go by their first name and Bocchi goes by Bocchi. Now that I realize the pun with her full name, I can’t say I blame Kita for preferring her last name. Things got especially funny when the show draws her panicked face in the same vein as Bocchi’s. I can’t think of a better way to convey her insecurity.
Another bit that I enjoy is when Bocchi overhear what I assume to be a salaryman discussing his life’s woes with his co-worker. The “camera” stays on these two long enough for you to briefly think that you stumbled upon a different anime. Hell, the men don’t even look like any of the male extras we’ve seen in the show. The conversation the two men causes Bocchi to ponder about her future and how likely she’ll suck at it. Boy do I relate with this. There’s a couple of deep cuts here. One is Bocchi imagining her future through “the board game of “The Game of Life” and the show actually reuses her model from the stop motion scene in Episode 7. A second one that comes to mind is the ending of this imagined scenario, where Bocchi spends the rest of her days as a drunk NEET. This is actually something Bocchi pictured in Episode 6, prompted when Kikuri recommends that she drink booze when she’s of age. Both of these are a really neat and amusing bit of continuity.
For the end of the episode, we have a heart-to-heart conversation between Bocchi and Nijika. Nijika informs Bocchi that she finally realizes that the latter is guitarhero. Bocchi apologizes for keeping her identity a secret and explains that she didn’t want to reveal it until she “fixes” the way she is and is deserving of her online name. I’m honestly surprised to hear Bocchi say this. Despite her personal growth and her close friendship with Nijika, she’s still afraid that her friend won’t completely accept her. Fortunately, this lingering bit of doubt is put to rest. Nijika explains to Bocchi that Seika raised her in their parents’ stead and that she inspired her older sister to play in a band and later create Starry. Her dream then is to form a band that’ll make Starry famous. However, it’s only until Bocchi entered her life that Nijika feels like her dream is feasible. Without Bocchi, Nijika thinks the band wouldn’t have made as much as progress as it has so far. In her eyes, Bocchi is irreplaceable and completely deserving of her guitarhero persona.
Nijika finishes her heart-to-heart with Bocchi by saying that she hopes to see more of her friend’s “rock” or she puts it, “Bocchi the Rock”. And yes, this is indeed a title drop. Title drops are some of the easiest dialogue to poke fun at. In the case of this particular one, the very wording of “Bocchi the Rock” is just odd. That said, I think this title drop does work. It sounds like a title Nijika would bestow upon Bocchi and in the context of this episode’s ending, it conveys the importance and interest Nijika has in her friend. I also feel inclined to say that the show has earned the right to title drop. Having been so darn good these past eight episodes, I think the show gets a pass for having Nijika say the thing.
Watch BOCCHI THE ROCK! on Crunchyroll and VRV (via Crunchyroll)