Hitori Gotoh Is a Delight in the Bocchi the Rock Manga
Image via Yen Press

Hitori Gotoh Is a Delight in the Bocchi the Rock Manga

We’ve seen how manga about bands go before. Typically, the first volume will focus on the group’s foundation. It might be more of an ensemble situation, where everyone gets their moment, or one where a specific character stands out. While volume 1 of Yen PressBocchi the Rock manga does include introductions to fellow members like Nijika Ichiji, Ryo Yamada, and Ikuyo Kita, Hitori “Bocchi” Gotoh is the star, and you never forget it as you go through the yonkoma collection. 

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Of course, there are many reasons why it feels like the first volume is all about understanding and growing to appreciate Hitori. We’re introduced to her when she’s a middle schooler and sees music as a way to get close to people and connect, even if they are introverted and dealing with anxiety. We watch as she practices with her father’s guitar and gradually becomes an actually admirable guitarist. So much so that she posts covers under the name Guitar Hero online and has a sizable fanbase. 

However, she has issues connecting. Early panels show her loading herself up with merchandise and carrying her guitar, hoping it will inspire other people to approach her since she’s too shy to do so herself. Except in some cases, it inspires an opposite situation and puts people off. So much so that when the situation she wanted to happen — someone approaching her because she was carrying a guitar and asking her to be in their band — she’s speechless. Her own anxiety gets to her, even though Nijika Ichiji is perfectly friendly. Fortunately, because Nijika is the kind of person she is, she basically takes Hitori’s silence as a “yes,” which in turn gives her the chance to make her dream come true. 

Once Hitori Gotoh meets Nijika and Ryo, things essentially cascade. However, even when Nijika and Ryo Yamada are in the picture and leading things along, “Bocchi” essentially captures all the attention in the Bocchi the Rock manga. Even though she’s getting a chance to play for the first time with them, for example, her hiding in the “burnables” trash and calling it her home makes you focus on her reactions, her identifiable anxieties, and responses. When she performs with Kessoku Band for the first time, it is from inside a Ripe, Juicy Mangoes box, which is distracting. 

It also helps that, even in the first volume of the Bocchi the Rock manga, we see Hitori Gotoh make progress when it comes to dealing with people and being in public. It’s because of her that Ikuyo Kita is brought into the band. Ikuyo ends up approaching her in sort of the same way Nijika did and for the reasons Bocchi always wanted in the introduction. She saw her playing and approached her. She ends up being drafted into helping Ikuyo learn guitar, even, and brings her back into Kessoku after Ikuyo lied and ran away. By the end, we’re even seeing her busking, managing to sell tickets, and performing, something that might have seemed unlikely for her at the beginning of the volume.

Throughout the initial installment of Bocchi the Rock, we’re being encouraged to root for Hitori Gotoh. We see her dream. We watch her work toward it. We see her get the chance she dreamed of, then gradually grow closer to people who can help her become part of a band and connect in the way she always wanted. Each 4-koma panel shows her growth and getting outside of her comfort zone, sometimes with humorous results, and it almost made me feel like I was supporting her as I read along.

Volume 1 of Bocchi the Rock is available via Yen Press, and volume 2 comes out on January 23, 2024. The anime is streaming on Crunchyroll. 

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.