Music is a significant anime subject, pretty much its own genre, with shows about playing classical, concert band, jazz, traditional Japanese, rock, pop, and future music, as well as music in the past and future. Then there are all the Idol series, including Oshi no Ko.
Shows with high-school characters are especially popular, with the intersection of music and school drama or comedy. K-On! has been the flagship for that subgenre. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s hardly realistic. Four girls revive the Light Music Club at school. Yui, the lead guitarist just picks up a guitar, only having played castanets before, and starts rocking out. They spend almost all of their practice time having tea and eating snacks instead of practicing. When they can’t decide on a name for their group, their teacher ironically suggests “Supplementary Basket Tea Time”, and the name sticks. K-ON! was a huge hit for Kyoto Animation, for good reason.
Bocchi the Rock! is the new entry in the girl’s rock band category. It’s more of comedy to K-On!’s relaxing iyashekei. Bocchi’s more succinct, with 12 episodes to K-On’s 41 + Movie. The real difference is that we see a lot more musical realism with Bocchi, which gives them challenges to work on.
Some guitarists think it’s a stretch for Bocchi to be so good after only playing three years. But she’s been practicing 6 hours (!!!) a day, and I think if she looked up videos or articles on how to practice effectively and used those techniques from the beginning she could make it. She also starts out on her dad’s Les Paul Custom guitar, so she’s not dealing with a cheap piece of junk that will defeat her at every turn.
Another challenge for Bocchi (and Ikuyo, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist) is that they don’t have any small-ensemble experience. It’s different from playing in an orchestra or concert band, where you’ve got a conductor whose whole job is to signal what you should do. In a rock band, string quartet, jazz combo, or anything else, the group has to wordlessly communicate in some way during the performance. It might be prearranged signals, or it might be some spooky mojo thing. However you do it, that can make a difference between an electrifying performance and a so-so one.
If you’re up for a fun comedy with a hyper-introverted girl learning to play lead guitar and get along, I recommend it highly.
Extra: Bobduh from the Wrong Every Time blog has been doing a fantastically-detailed episode-by-episode look at the series, and it’s a great read, going into more depth about starting out in the music business, playing in a club, and Bocchi’s challenges. If you’re starting out on Bocchi, check out the associated entry for each episode. If you’ve already watched it the series, read it.
Wrong Every Time: Bocchi the Rock! Episode One