BOCCHI THE ROCK! is now in its final stretch. Kessoku Band’s next and presumably last endeavor for the anime is performing for the culture festival at Bocchi and Kita’s school, Shuka High. Funnily enough, Bocchi starts off indecisive over the matter. She does fill out an application form and this opportunity is exactly what she’s always dreamed of but now that’s it’s actually approaching, her anxiety kicks in once again. This can be seen as a regression from Bocchi’s recent spurts of confidence though to be fair, it’s not like those were a permanent thing. And as Bocchi point out, this gig is going to happen at her school. She hasn’t “conquered” that setting like she has with Starry or the internet and while her only friend at school is Kita, there are plenty of students who know her. Should she blow it, she definitely couldn’t handle the potential humiliation for the rest of her high school career or a good chunk of it.

At some point, Bocchi throws her application form in the trash. She consults with some of the other characters, including Nijika and Ryo, about the culture festival. Needless to say, they encourage Bocchi to apply for the event but they support whatever decision she ultimately makes. Ultimately, Bocchi doesn’t have to worry about her decision as Kita ends up doing it for her. Kita finds the application form, assumes it got into the trash by accident, and submits it in Bocchi’s stead. Though Kita soon learns of her crime (her words, not mine), it is unlikely she can get the form rescinded due to school policy so Kessoku Band is pretty much locked into performing at the culture festival.

As Kessoku Band holds a funeral for Bocchi (no really, that’s what they do), Kikuri stops by and learns of the situation. Kikuri then invites Kessoku to see her band, SICK HACK, perform live at FOLT, a club in Shinjuku. At FOLT, we are introduced to some new characters. The first is the club’s manager, Ginjiro Yoshida (Katsuyuki Miura), who, despite his intimidating look, is a soft-spoken and hospitable guy. Next are Kikuri’s bandmates: drummer Shima Iwashita (Maki Kawase) and guitarist Eliza Schmitz (Sally Amaki). Shima appears to be the straight man in the band while Eliza is a weeb from England. Despite their brief appearance in this episode, it’s already made apparent that SICK HACK is a very colorful group. These characters have appeared before in one shot in BOCCHI‘s OP. Curiously, there’s one other character teased in the same shot in the OP: a twin-tailed brunette girl. This character does make an appearance in the FOLT scene, albeit in an extremely brief cameo with no dialogue. Given her presence in the OP, I’m guessing this girl will be more prevalent later in the story. Whether or not BOCCHI the anime will get around to that is a whole other matter.

For SICK HACK’s performance scene, we are treated with a new insert song, “Watashi dake Yuurei”. This song is more psychedelic compared to Kessoku Band’s work and it even has Kikuri’s voice actor, Sayaka Senbongi, doing the vocals. I was under the impression that all of BOCCHI‘s insert songs would be for Kessoku Band so this number came to me as a pleasant surprise. I’m guessing this is another abridged edit though there actually isn’t a version of this song available anywhere so your guess is currently as good as mine. From what I can gather from Crunchyroll’s translation, the song is about the speaker being beckoned by a “lost child” to enter into a “land of dreams” where they’re free to dance and party to their heart’s content. At the end of the song, the speaker refers to themselves as the only “ghost” in the vicinity. I don’t know if these lyrics necessarily have anything to do with the plot. Maybe the song is indirect advice from Kikuri to Bocchi, encouraging the latter to take the jump with the culture festival and enjoy it as best as she can, but that feels like a stretch. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the “ghost” part at the end. Is the speaker actually dead and the land of dreams is actually the afterlife or are these terms more figurative in nature? I’m honestly not sure.

If not the song’s lyrics, there are some visuals for me to wrap my head around. In line with the psychedelic genre of the song, the show provides a dazzling mish-mash of colors, be it literally with the stage lights enveloping SICK HACK or figuratively with Bocchi’s imagination. In one particular scene, Bocchi imagines herself face to face with Kikuri, who proceeds to take her hand and invite her into her “world”. While it’s more important that the quality of the insert song ought to sell this, these visuals do a good job in conveying the star power SICK HACK has on the stage. That’s important for Bocchi to see. Given her predicament, she should be reminded of why she wants to be in a band in the first place. That way, she becomes motivated to persevere.

After the concert, Kikuri shares some of her backstory with Bocchi. Like Bocchi is now, Kikuri was also a recluse throughout school and she took up music as a means to turn her life around. The reason she started drinking was to calm herself down during her first live performance. Knowing her backstory, it’s no wonder why Kikuri has taken a liking to Bocchi and why she’s been an effective mentor for her. She’s gone through similar hurdles and she sees her past self in the younger girl. More importantly, by sharing her past with Bocchi, Kikuri leaves her with a very important takeaway. If Kikuri managed to overcome her insecurities than Bocchi can as well (and hopefully without alcohol!). After their heart-to-heart moment, Bocchi invites Kikuri to see Kessoku Band perform at the culture festival. Kikuri naturally accepts and I’m very curious to see how this will go. There’s no way she’ll be accepted into a school without being sober.

On their way home, Kita reveals to Bocchi that she lied about handing in the application form by accident. She actually knew that Bocchi threw it out and deliberately chose to submit it anyway. To be honest, I had my doubts before getting to this scene. There’s just no way Kita would first think that Bocchi’s form got into the garbage by accident. She had to assume that Bocchi’s anxiety would compel the latter to discard the form. Her knowing this whole time makes more sense and, more importantly, it makes things more interesting. I doubt Kita intended to be selfish here. If anything, Kita probably saw her submitting the form as an act of selflessness. She knows how good Bocchi is as a musician and she probably wants the whole school to recognize that as well so she might’ve justified her decision as her doing Bocchi a favor. By deciding for Bocchi however, Kita is really doing what she wants and not necessarily what Bocchi wants and that causes her act to become selfish in nature. Kita seems to have realized this now but obviously, it’s too late for Kessoku Band to back out of the culture festival.

Rather than get mad at Kita, Bocchi thanks her for submitting the form and tells her that she’s now looking forward to the culture festival, presumably thanks to Kikuri’s tutelage. While the form appears to be water under the bridge, it does seem like Kita still feels guilty about it. She promises Bocchi that she’ll work hard to make the upcoming concert a success and she follows through on that by asking Ryo to secretly teach her guitar lessons while Bocchi is still teaching her. Perhaps after what she’s done, Kita feels she owes Bocchi a successful show at the culture festival. Either that or she doesn’t want to hold Bocchi back so that her friend can shine as brightly as she can at the event. It could be both. Not going to lie, I’m starting to see why Bocchi and Kita are a popular ship. Like conceptually, it’s a cute pairing as it’s the introvert meets the extrovert. The appeal speaks for itself. That said, it would not surprise me if this episode is where the ship started to gain a lot of traction. The subtext gets really strong here.

Watch BOCCHI THE ROCK! on Crunchyroll and VRV (via Crunchyroll)

Read my BOCCHI THE ROCK! reviews

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