What’s it about? All through elementary school, Hitori’s only friend was Kai. When it turns out they’re going to different middle school, Kai gives Hitori a challenge: she won’t be Hitori’s friend again until Hitori has made friends with every person in her homeroom class.
Wow, it is refreshing to start the season off with something nice. The relatable vibes are strong in this series about a socially anxious girl tackling the world-shaking scariness of entering a new school. The adaptational flow of the four-panel source material smartly recalls Azumanga Daioh, weaving its standalone jokes together around a theme rather than keeping them as contained shorts.
More so than many “cute girls doing cute things” slice-of-life series, it feels like this show was actually made with a middle school audience in mind. Adults can certainly find things to love here—especially if you’ve ever struggled with social issues—but the way the characters talk and the style of comedy definitely feel geared to first embrace a teenage audience.
A fair amount of that may come down to series composer Jukki Hanada, whose work steering both A Place Further Than the Universe and Bloom Into You particularly excelled at grounded, lifelike portrayals of teenage girls.
Hitoribocchi is a much more slapstick-focused series, frequently breaking the tension with a pratfall or a dramatic spotlighted collapse of despair. The goofiness of the main character literally being named “alone” might tell you something about the show’s sense of humor.
That said, it also has a sharp eye for social anxiety and how insurmountable it makes even routine daily interactions. Little moments like Hitori talking herself out of approaching both a shy student (she’s also shy, so I shouldn’t approach!) and an outgoing one (she’s really bold, I shouldn’t!) definitely smack of self-defeating familiarity.
Hitori may also resonate with autistic viewers, as she is much more comfortable communicating through text messages and needs her new friend Nako to explicitly confirm that she has indeed accepted being friends (even after they’ve been texting and hanging out all day).
Nako is pretty great too, by the way—a straightforward, slightly gruff sort with a soft heart for her awkward new classmate and friend. If this premiere had a downside, it’s that I dreaded moving away from this sweet, burgeoning friendship to continue on with Hitori’s mission.
However, while the class has twenty-nine students in total (a completely disastrous number if the show actually intended to spend time with each and every one of them), the opening credits seem like they’ll mainly be focusing on four other girls besides Hitori and Nako, making it slightly more expansive than the typical genre formula but perfectly manageable.
And finally, just to firmly wedge this bar into the floor for the season, Hitori’s many faceplants and other tripping-related shenanigans feature not a trace of panty shots. I think the porn game adaptation down the hall took the heat off a little.
Beyond that, it’s appealingly cute and bright but not garishly colored. While you might have a hard time staying engaged if gentle school comedies aren’t your thing, anyone with an interest in the genre is definitely encouraged to give this one a look.