Girls Doing Stuff: Agency and Motivation in Girls’ Hobby Shows

I like to think I have a fairly varied palette when it comes to my anime tastes: a genre charcuterie board with some fantasy here, some meaningful coming-of-age stories there, and a peppering of rom-coms seasoned just right. There’s one category, though, that I always find myself savoring and looking forward to each season. If there’s a cast of funny teen girls trying out a new hobby, be it animation, camping, playing guitar, or building a treehouse, I’m there.

But why does this genre have such a gravitational pull? I could answer, simply and truthfully, that we live in stressful times and these shows are often very relaxing. But upon deeper consideration, there’s something else about these girls’ hobby shows that makes my heart happy, and it’s happening more on the level of character construction and development.  

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Premiere Review | BOCCHI THE ROCK!

What’s it about? Anxious Hitori learns the guitar so she can join a band and make friends… but never plucks up the courage to ask anyone to play music with her, or even play in front of other people. Now beginning high school, Hitori is determined that things will be different, but no one seems to want to be her friend and she still can’t make herself reach out to others. Until, that is, a girl sees her guitar case and asks for her help.

Depictions of shyness and social anxiety in anime—particularly “cute girls doing stuff” anime—can be hit or miss for many people. What one viewer finds to be cloying and artificially cutesy, others might find genuine, relatable, and even empowering. Whether BOCCHI THE ROCK! feels like constructed moeblob or authentic portrayal of anxiety may depend on personal taste and personal experience, is what I’m saying. For me, at least, I think the series makes a valiant effort to thread the needle and end up with a balance of the two.

Read the full review on AniFem!

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