「坊ちゃんと一緒に……」 (Botchan to Issho ni……)
“Together with the Duke…”
We finally get to see Mother up close and personal and peer more into the depths of Bocchan’s family mess. We also visit where Bocchan’s curse happened-a grave (not all too surprising, given that it is a death-touch curse).
This whole time I was expecting the curse to be the result of something that Bocchan’s family did to anger a witch, but here it turns out to be the innocent act of a child picking clovers for his sweetheart. My speculation is that the witch responsible for the curse was actually the ghost of the witch who may be buried in that grave. I can’t help but wonder if Sharon’s death, Father’s serious illness, and Bocchan’s curse are all connected. While correlation does not imply causation (or in this case, direct relation), it does seem a bit too much of a coincidence.
A shocker for me was that Mother was described as cheerful. From what we’ve seen of her, the first words that would come time mind are “cold” or “distant”-but definitely not cheerful. Another shocker- Mother, who is so insistent on isolation of classes, was good friends with Alice’s mother. Then again, friendship may be acceptable to her-just so long as it is not marriage. This friendship was obviously something special, with the hopeful tone of voice she adopted upon mistaking Alice for Sharon-giving us a glimpse into the old Mother.
Whatever the circumstances behind Sharon’s death, it was enough to sour Mother’s outlook on life-much to the detriment of her children. It was becoming clear before that living at the villa gave Bocchan a greater degree of freedom and this is even more clear now. I wouldn’t even call Bocchan and Mother’s meeting a reunion-there was nothing uniting about it with her coldness towards him and 12 foot distance. Talk about an awkward dinner.
I feel for Bocchan, for whom this whole visit was one disappointment compounded on top of another. He had been dreaming of having a victory reunion with Mother after breaking the curse-only to be summoned by her before resolving the curse, throwing it in his face how little progress has been made. When he arrived, it was not to the warm-hearted family hearth he imagined- but the cold ashes of his mother’s own bitter pain. She makes it painfully obvious that she only has him here for business-dismissing him immediately in the evening without so much as a “how are you?”.
While her treatment is harsh, I hesitate to paint her entirely a villain, because she has her own stuff she needs to work through. Father, who was never mentioned before, is seriously ill in the hospital-certainly a stressor for Mother. On top of the unprocessed grief of losing her best friend. Just the same, it doesn’t excuse the harsh treatment of her children. It is impossible to expect eccentric characters like Bocchan, Viola, and Walter to conform with the rigid cookie cutter standards. It points to their strength of character and sense of self that Walter and Viola, while not able to talk back to Mother, can still retain their crazy identities in the face of Mother’s iron insistence.
One of the defining moments of learning to think for oneself is standing your own against one’s parents in a matter of differing opinions-something which the quiet Bocchan does excellently here. The timid Bocchan is quiet no more, finally letting his voice be heard and even Mother takes notice!
After having abandoned him at the villa for 10 years, it is ridiculous for Mother to insist on speeding up the process of breaking a difficult curse and then to tell Bocchan what to do with his life (i.e. kick Alice out of it). As infuriating as this scene was, it does give some hope to Bocchan’s condition. If it wasn’t unbreakable, I doubt Mother would have waited for 10 years to make a final decision on the heir. That being said, the least she could do is help him in searching for the cure rather than criticizing him for not doing more.
I am glad to see that Bocchan is not going to let Alice go, that in spite of his desire to be with family again, Alice takes greater precedence. Which she rightly should, given how much she has helped him out of his dark pit of despair and taught him to love. After Alice and Bocchan have been through together and how they have grown together, they deserve a chance at happiness.
I am very excited that Shinigami Bocchan has been announced for a second season! With how slowly the progress on the curse was going, I knew this finale wouldn’t answer any questions, but I also wasn’t sure if there would be a sequel.
One of my favorite things about Shinigami Bocchan was the character development. It was heartwarming to see Bocchan go from being very shy and freaked out around Alice, to still being freaked out around her, but open to his budding feelings and able to speak for himself. I loved all the wonderful adorableness of Bocchan and Alice getting in tune with their feelings for each other and the ensuing cute moments. There were certainly plenty this episode, where moments of silence and gazing, blushingly at each other needed no words to convey their depth of feeling.
Cuff and Zain also made a cute couple and a nice foil to Alice and Bocchan’s relationship. They are a bit slower in their relationship progress, but hopefully they will mature more in the next season. Zain’s power of restoration is also quite interesting, with great potential in solving this curse-I expect to see more of it in the coming days.
Viola, unfortunately, was not a positive attribute. I found her character exceedingly annoying and with her growing role in Bocchan’s life, it’s not likely she will go away. Perhaps Bocchan’s courage will be an inspiration for her to advocate for her own choices. If she feels free to be her own person (as opposed to a mini-Mother) then perhaps she will act out less. As for Walter, I haven’t seen enough of him to decide one way or the other, but his “second child” quirkiness is hilarious.
Another glaring issue with the series was the CGI, which was an eyesore. The story made up for that through quirky characters, humorous moments, adorable romance, and interesting plot, all of which drew me into episode after episode so that I didn’t notice the terrible artwork. Which says a lot for the story, because I am someone who is easily turned away by bad CGI, no matter how much potential the story has (and is the reason I never finished Kingdom). All in all, this was an enjoyable series and I can’t wait for the continuation of the story!
Thank you so much for use the classic style post. I visit this website since 10 years ago and the changes going so fast ….
Thank you for your patience through all of the experimenting with different formats!
The CGI was jarring at first (and still is for the first 2-3 minutes), but it’s some of the better work I’ve seen for such a small budget so it’s passable versus not having the story animated at all.
It’s a really great work, but we obviously won’t get a 3rd cour, so I would highly recommend reading it if at all possible after the end of the 2nd cour. There’s a lot to unpack from a story perspective and the revelations still to come regarding key points are interesting.
I’ve read the 1st volume of the manga and I want to read further volumes-the only problem is finding the time to do so. One of these days I do plan on picking it back up again, especially when I have heard a lot of good things about it!
I don’t know Princess Usagi, even if your speculation is right that the Witch in question was buried where the flowers grew. Then decided to curse Bocchan who disturbed the Witch’s grave and damn the parents is kind of petty by Anime standards.
About the CGI, often times I forget that this is and Anime called Shinigami Bocchan to Kuro Maid and not a JRPG called Tales…
Hopefully it will turn out to be something deeper than that (which I’m certain that it will be)-it was just my stab in the dark. I truly do wonder in what direction the story will take-it leaves so many hazy mysteries. I want to know more about what happened with the curse, but I am also enjoying just basking in the day-to-day antics of the characters.
Nowadays with anime typically done via cell shading in computers, there is little distinction to full on CGI like Bocchan, except for the quirky way how characters move compared to ‘normally’ done animes.
Anime will continue to evolve, from hand drawn masterpieces like Macross, to current digital cell shading, and towards more full CGI series appearing. I do hope the technology eventually fixes that CGI quirkiness. But despite that, I didn’t mind it for Bocchan as much as I did with Kotobuki Hikotai, a testament that solid storytelling will triumph. Makes me wonder how much more enjoyable it might be if it went the ‘normal’ animation route.
For a low key series the news of a 2nd season is most welcomed and I hope to see more Bocchan slice of deathly life continue.
It is true that anime nowadays is typically done on computers. I am curious as to what causes the jerky movements in full CGI vs. not full CGI. I personally am a fan of the hand-drawn animation best, but you don’t really get that nowadays (even Studio Ghibli delved into the CGI scene).
Perhaps the quirky art styling and quirky characters out-quirk the quirky CGI movements, I find that when the scene is compelling I focused more on the story than on that weird mechanics.
I liked how the direction maximises the feels from the get go when its opener starts from the puppets, indicating Bocchan’s depression state, and switches to his solo piano with Alice indicating his turn towards optimism, and finally back to the puppets when his idyllic life crashes back to reality.