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As I talked about in my review of the series last month, Bocchi the Rock does not have a typical sense of character development. Given its origins as a four panel gag manga, much of its story revolves around set-up punchline scenarios that leave a lot less room for traditional storytelling. While I cannot speak for the source material itself, the adaptation manages to circumvent this and give all of the girls meaningful focus, including Ryou.
Ryou Yamada serves as the chaotic neutral of the group, doing whatever and whenever she pleases while barely hiding her excitement and lack of concern about the rest of the group. She might not seem high energy in the first few episodes, but given the right topic of discussion she opens up fairly easily. Ryou is also known for admitting to her weirdness without a second thought.
One of the things that made Bocchi the Rock! such an interesting experience from a character perspective is the way it incorporated their development into a lot of the comedic bits. Now, the center of these bits is usually centered in one way or another on Bocchi herself, but the ones that do end up focusing on Ryou are also pretty interesting.
There are, of course, the various quirky moments where she chooses to simply do the dumb. However, many also highlight the weird contradiction between her coming from a rich family while simultaneously begging the others for money and food, usually to the detriment Bocchi and Nijika.
On top of that, while usually not presenting herself as such, Ryou is very much a music nerd’s music nerds. She feels like if every music influencer on social media were put together into one person. Basically, she is there for the vibes and not much else. Which, honestly, who can blame her most of time?
Though it is not much explored in the first season, there is so implied backstory that has to do with Ryou complicated connection to music. Primarily, this comes in the form of her previous band, as one scene near the beginning of the show has her staring at a battle of the bands poster rather closely.
Despite not being the most stable herself, financially or otherwise, Ryou does end up becoming part of Bocchi’s mental support system. In particular, the scene with her and Bocchi at the café conveys a lot of the two’s personality. While not having any idea what to do about the bands lyrics, Bocchi confides in her and vice-versa. Ryou ultimately ends up giving her one of the most important pieces of advice, and one that helps get her out of her shell. Basically, even if the lyrics feel niche, they can still convey a lot of emotion, and that is what matters the most.
This is something I can speak to personally as a creative writing major, specifically someone who spent a lot of time in poetry classes, and it is often referred to as the paradox of specificity. In poetics, it refers to the idea that the more specific a personal experience, the more compelling and relatable that experience becomes. Adversely, the more generalized a piece of writing is, the more abstract and uninteresting it is. Thus, Ryou’s advice is genuinely very good, on top of being good for Bocchi.
Assuming there is a season two at some point, it is likely that Ryou’s character will only get better. She’s witty and quick to make bad decisions, but simultaneously introspective and wise beyond her years in a way that does not feel like a stretch. Overall, despite not being the most deep character, she is still a really well-written character for a well-written gag-comedy show.
How do you feel about Ryou as a character? Let me know in the comments.
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