Last week I went on a week long trip, or rather a vacation trip, with my mom. The big realization that led to me finally beginning to properly write this draft (which has been stuck with just the name for nearly 2 weeks) happened near the end of the journey. The trip aside from the horribly long bus ride to and from, 15 goddamn hours, was nice and I even managed to complete two whole seasons of Haikyuu!! (the hype is real, but I’ll save it for another day).
Back to the point, I was listening to music until the silence of a song still playing, for the few seconds left without any music, filled my ears. As if in a daze, I looked right from the window, either to look at something I thought I saw or tell my mom something, and in that moment it hit me:
This is a bus full of people and my mom is sitting right there next to me, but somehow I feel like I can’t reach or reach out to anyone.
Of course, it didn’t last long, but it was clear.
In 2013 we all had the honor to witness the “thing” that was WataMote (Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! or It’s Not My Fault That I’m Not Popular!, if you want to break your tongue a little bit less).
When I say “thing” I mean it literally. It’s like a phenomenon all on its own. I have no strong opinion on WataMote, but a lot of people certainly do. While one group loves it, the other screams about the cringe.
Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu is quite similar, even if (adapted from a 4-panel manga) it first aired Apr 6, 2019. As bad as it sounds, I have only seen one episode of it. It has been stuck in my on-hold list since then, while in no way being bad. What’s the real key is how relatable Hitori Bocchi (her name seriously means “alone”) actually is as a protagonist.
Social anxiety is more common than one might think. Whether it comes from fear to mess something up or look weird in front of others, depends, but the problem exists nevertheless. It’s the problem that the main heroine, Hitori, faces.
The episode opens with a pretty regular sight of students going to school and Hitori’s monologue about beginning middle school.
Unlike WataMote, Hitori’s anxiety over social interactions and introductions wasn’t overplayed and portrayed as a weird extreme, it felt real. Who hasn’t been nervous about starting a new school or making friends, not to mention dreading to go to school?
Having made a promise with the only friend she had, Hitori vowed to make friends with all of her classmates in middle school, in order to be friends again with said friend.
What followed was Hitori going as far as to make an entire plan to avoid fulfilling the promise; for example, getting rid of middle schools or to get into a class with less (or no other, somehow?) students.
When all else failed and after an introduction gone obviously wrong, she resorted to trying to talk to the person in front of her, Nako Sunao (literally means, an honest, direct child). Surprisingly enough, Hitori in a way succeeds…?
Yet another relatable moment shows its nose when Hitori gets anxious over picking up Nako’s eraser, which she had dropped, but doesn’t want to bother her any further. It’s a weird and unexpected rawness of a character that took me by surprise: Hitori clearly expresses her anxiety and want to make friends, even the lack of knowledge on how to do it. Hitori’s constant overthinking hits a little close to home too. We even get a few laughs at the two girls trying to get to know one another and chat over messages (please keep your surroundings in mind if you decide to walk and type).
In the end, she musters up her courage and asks Nako to be her friend, to which she, though bewildered, replies with: “Are you telling me you thought we weren’t friends already?”
It’s a simple and stupid realization, but, even if someone is alone, no one wants to be lonely. As an introverted person, I won’t go denying how important alone time really is, but it’s never a good thing to overindulge (in anything, to be honest).
If you’re scared of messing up or saying something weird, there’s a pretty good chance that the other person feels the same. If someone mocks you or it all goes awkwardly, that is okay as well; the world is a big place and so is the internet. Never before has it been so easy to meet and talk to various different people, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to get stuck trying to talk with just that one person, not like they’re the only one in the world?
A lot of the times it feels as if a wall has been placed between you and the person/people you want to talk to, like it would be wrong to reach out to them. However, Hitori, as awkward and overthinking as she is, shows us that it’s always okay to try. You never know how one conversation can play out, yet alone to what kind of new encounters, things to like or friendships it can lead.
All we have to do is take that first step and…