A note before we begin: this post is part of a month-long event called The Animanga Festival, started by the wonderful Auri of Manga Toritsukareru Koto! I’ll admit that I decided to join in super last minute (…cause I forgot about it, sorry lol) but you’ll be seeing a couple posts on the blog throughout the month regarding this event, so please stay tuned!
Also I don’t believe it is too late to join in on all the fun so if you’re in any way interested in participating (or just want to know what all this is about in general), please refer to Auri’s post! 😀
Social anxiety is something I’ve suffered for a loooong time. Ever since I was little, I was too scared to talk to my relatives, classmates, and people I didn’t know in general. As I’ve gotten older, I can definitely communicate with others much better than before but even then, I still have trouble starting and maintaining conversations with people, as well as being worried about saying the wrong things. Trying to continue a conversation with someone… how do people do it so easily?!
And I know I’m not alone when it comes to having social anxiety; hundreds of thousands of people have some level of struggle when it comes to talking to, or even trusting other people. It’s completely normal but… what if you really wanted to break out of your personal bubble and finally find friends you can talk to and enjoy being around?
Well, there are definitely many anime and manga series that convey the narratives of extremely shy people trying to overcome their social anxiety and make friends but today, I’ll only be talking about three particular anime/manga. And naturally as a slice-of-life/comedy fan, these are more on the side of showing the easygoing, entertaining daily shenanigans of these characters.
Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu / Hitori Bocchi’s ○○ Lifestyle
First off, why don’t we start off on a more lighthearted note and talk about Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu.
Started as a manga in 2013 and later adapted into an anime by studio C2C, we follow a girl named Hitori Bocchi (lit. “all alone”) who suffers from extreme social anxiety. She isn’t great at talking to others, creates intricate strategies to avoid people at all costs, her legs cramp whenever she’s nervous, and if it gets really bad, she… vomits due to high tensions. How much worse can it get for Bocchi?
Well, it unfortunately does get worse. As Bocchi enters middle school, she realizes that she won’t see her best and only friend, Yawara Kai, as often. Not only that but Kai-chan makes Bocchi promise to befriend everyone in her new class or else the unthinkable will happen… she’ll never talk to Bocchi ever again.
Now with a do-or-die situation at hand, Bocchi starts her middle school life while also trying to get over her social anxiety.
Hitoribocchi is a heart-warming series. Seeing the innocent and clumsy Bocchi try her absolute best to befriend others can be super enjoyable and entertaining to read/watch, especially if you’re a shy individual yourself. The timing on the jokes are excellent, the characters are lovable, and it’s just an adorable-looking series all in all. I would, however, recommend reading the manga rather than watching the anime but both are great experiences.
Kimi ni Todoke / From Me to You
How about we switch it up a little and discuss a series that includes a little bit of romance? Kimi ni Todoke, originally created by mangaka Shiina Karuho and later adapted by Production I.G., is one of the more popular shoujo romance series out there and I can absolutely tell why.
Kuronuma Sawako tends to get a bad rep around her school. This is mostly due to her having an intimidating and creepy appearance, to the point where many of her classmates thinks she looks like the ghost girl from the famous horror film, The Ring, going as far as to refer to her as “Sadako”. She’s usually seen to have a frightening glare and if she tries to speak to people, they usually run away in fear.
But in reality, Sawako is a very shy, polite, sweet individual who hasn’t had much success in creating friendships with others. Now that she’s entering high school, Sawako strives to break out of her shell and meet new people… which she finds her first opportunity to do so when encountering the most popular guy in her class, Kazehaya Shouta. With his bright personality and great ability in easily speaking to others, Sawako becomes inspired to improve her social skills while the possibility of their relationship going towards a more intimate direction looms over.
I loved this show. I have never seen or read a shoujo narrative prior to experiencing this show but I really did enjoy getting into that popular genre. The relationship building, the hints of romance, and especially the drama; they all mixed together really to show sweetness and suspense, like how shoujo series should do. But Sawako getting over her social anxiety was a journey on its own, and seeing her do so in a slower pace than other stories was absolutely enjoyable. Plus, add in a touch of comedy, great characters, a unique art style… this one is a must watch (I haven’t watched second season, though).
Komi-san wa Komyushou desu. / Komi Can’t Communicate
And lastly, allow me to talk about a manga that if it ever gets an anime adaptation, I’d be immensely happy: Komi-san wa Komyushou desu.
Created in 2016 by mangaka Oda Tomohito, pretty much we follow one Komi Shouko who quickly gains a “goddess”-like status among her schoolmates due to her incredibly beautiful appearance and elegant aura. People in absolute awe when she passes by, the air being filled with positive chatter about Komi-san herself, and even brave men (and women) openly confessing their love towards the school icon; she is certainly a popular lady at the prestigious Itan Private High. However despite Komi being a well-known figure at school, she has an extreme case of communication disorder and has trouble actually speaking to other people. The only person who knows of Komi’s social anxiety is an average dude named Tadano Hitohito who decides to help Komi with her condition and her goal of making a hundred friends.
The characters and their interactions is what really makes this manga fun and enjoyable to read. Sure, they’re all seen as obvious tropes, but they’re all displayed in a way that definitely works in a comedic sense since they’re essentially parodies of said tropes. Also seeing Komi and Tadano meet and befriend so many unique people like an intimidating-looking yet friendly guy like Katai-kun or a reliable big sister type character like Onemine-san; it’s just pure fun to see all these characters in a narrative like the one in this manga.
And come on, seeing Komi-san be hella cute just makes you want to go:
Not only do these anime/manga share the theme of overcoming social anxiety, but there are also some small and fun similarities. For example, the names of the characters in both Hitoribocchi and Komi-san are wordplay/puns based off their respective personalities, such as a foreigner in Hitoribocchi named Sotoka Rakita (lit. “comes from the outside”) or Komi-san’s Hitohito Tadano (lit. “an average guy”). Oh, and how can you not love the goofy looking reaction faces on all these characters!
All in all, these three anime/manga series are excellent at displaying social anxiety in a more light-hearted and comedic way. They’re funny, have pretty enjoyable narratives, and the main protagonists are characters who you just really want to root for. In my opinion, I don’t think us shy people should be too hard on ourselves about our troubles talking to others. And I feel like these kinds of fun stories help us see social anxiety as more of a positive thing, and maybe even inspire us to improve in our own social lives.
That’s all I really gotta say today! If you found a new anime or manga to check out, I’m glad I could show you some of my favorites I’ve encountered over the years. While I am very bias toward the slice-of-life comedy genre, I feel like many people would still find some enjoyment in these three series. 😀
I’ll probably be writing one or two more posts regarding the Animanga Festival so please do look forward to those (as well as reading posts from everyone else!).
Thanks for reading!! 😀