Twenty-two-year-old college dropout Tatsuhiro Satou has been a hikikomori for almost four years now. In his isolation, he has come to believe in many obscure conspiracy theories, but there is one in particular which he holds unshakable faith in: the theory that the evil conspirator behind his shut-in NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) status is the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai (NHK)—an evil and secret organization dedicated to fostering the spread of hikikomori culture.
NHK ni Youkoso! is a psychological dramedy that follows Tatsuhiro as he strives to escape from the NHK's wicked machinations and the disease of self-wrought isolation, while struggling to even just leave his apartment and find a job. His unexpected encounter with the mysterious Misaki Nakahara might signal a reversal of fortune for Tatsuhiro, but with this meeting comes the inevitable cost of having to face his greatest fear—society.
Outstanding thing. Some times it was amusing to watch, sometimes it was painfully.
"Welcome to the NHK" is a kind of collection. Collection of troubles and problems we can meet in our life. It doesn't perceive as anime. It doesn't perceive as something fictitious. It is life. Hateful everyday life gets emotional colors and draws a wide reaction with slowly walking real life on the our side of screen.
In "NHK" everyday events are not shown grotesque and mockingly as in parodies and not weightly depressed as in psychological thrillers but somehow chaotically and
tragicomicly — you want to weep, smile, think ironically and philosophize simultaneously. Every joke provokes not a roar of laughter but the sad smile as you recognize yourself and your troubles in "fictional" heroes.
Even if you have a job, relatives, interests, it doesn't change anything. You aren't able to get rid of solitude if you feel your purposelessness and pettiness. If you laugh, you laughter is insincere. If you cry, you wail. Problem of self-concept and fear of the life is urgent for many people, but the feeling of hopelessness and despair appears only when there is nobody to support you. You've got tired from struggle along on your's own not at once but gradually. It happens little by little but it does. There are no N.H.K., there is no god, there are only nonchalance, loneliness and despair. You think that people around get everything easier and live merrily and sociable but you simply can not see the same as you as they also are dissociated from the world. It is impossible to meet for such humans but only they can understand each other. It is very hard and cruel. In "NHK" it is shown somehow exaggeratedly but the inner life is described entirely faithful. Psychology is described as much as possible faithfully, all the reasons are named correctly, emphases are placed where they needed.
Art and sound do for this work and don't have any serious shortcomings. All the aspects of this anime are high qualitative.
Such masterpiece anime must be a conspiracy... Conspiracy against what?
Welcome to the N.H.K. is the story of a 22-year-old hikikomori/NEET named Satou Tatsuhiro.
More than half of you are probably wondering what a hikikomori is; So that explanation should probably come now before getting into the review of the series. The dictionary definition of hikikomori is "a state or condition of acute social withdrawal". The number of people living the hikikomori or NEET (Not pursuing Employment, Education or Training) lifestyle are increasing everyday worldwide but they are predominantly concentrated in Japan among the adolescent male population. The hikikomori are basically shut-ins. They feel uncomfortable in presence of other people. They don’t leave their rooms/houses unless
they absolutely have to and make just enough money through various means (parents, relatives, jobs that can be done from home, and rarely part-time jobs outside the house) to survive and continue their hikikomori lifestyles.
The main character of the story, Satou Tatsuhiro, is a college dropout. He is a complete conspiracy nut who believes a giant organization encompassing the whole planet called the N.H.K. (Nihon Hikikomori Kyoukai / Japan Hikikomori Association/Society) is working around the clock to ruin his life and make sure he stays a shut-in forever through any means necessary. The origin of his obsession with conspiracies seems to be an upperclassman named Kashiwa Hitomi with whom he spent a lot of time with in high school. Satou realizes that he can’t continue living as a NEET forever and wants to escape the lifestyle and overcome the conspiracies of the NHK but he is too afraid and doesn’t know how to go about it. However, everything changes when one day he meets a girl named Nakahara Misaki who claims that she will save him from his hikikomori lifestyle if he agrees to sign a contract with her and become the subject of her “project”.
The story is about a very serious subject matter but it is still full of humorous moments. The creators of the anime realize that the best way to convert such a serious subject matter into an enjoyable anime that will not only entertain the viewers but also educate them is through humor. That being said, the anime is also full serious and sometimes very sad occurrences. If you happen to be an emotional person, be prepared to shed a few tears or at least feel downright horrible watching some of the episodes of this series. The story progresses at a fair pace with a good mixture of serious episodes and some not too serious ones.
The characters are well designed and although I have never actually met a hikikomori, I would guess that the personalities and lifestyle are fairly depicted. For me, the most notable character in the series is the female lead Nakahara Misaki. She remains a mystery for almost the entire series and refuses to reveal any personal details about herself to Satou. Even when asked directly, she makes up obvious lies in order to avoid divulging anything personal. Her actions leave the viewer wondering and guessing and although that becomes somewhat annoying at times it contributes to the story coming together quite well in the end.
As for the other characters –
Satou is your “typical” conspiracy nut shut-in (or what you would imagine one would act and feel like). While his hikikomori lifestyle doesn’t seem to be as severe as some other people’s, it is bad enough to keep him from functioning as a part of society and most of his ventures to the outside world seem to end with him becoming completely scared and freaked out.
Satou’s only male friend Yamazaki Kaoru is your typical anime/hentai/game otaku. He is obsessed with all sorts of things the most notable of which happens to be echii games. He is very passionate about his obsessions and becomes easily enraged by the smallest things especially if they have any relevance to his obsessions. Needless to say, he is an amusing character to watch.
Satou’s upperclassman (senpai) Kashiwa Hitomi is a complete conspiracy nut like Satou. She seems depressed most of the time and even sees being happy as a sign that she is playing into the conspiracies. She is a supporting character in the series, but plays an important role in the development of the story.
The voice acting is nothing spectacular but the voices fit the characters well. The same can be said about the music. There is no ground-breaking piece of music in the series. There is however a somewhat catchy anime song that is played throughout pretty much the entire series. Do be careful not to get it stuck in your head.
The art and animations are at best average. You won’t find any great-looking characters and the animation can be sort of clumsy at times. I can best compare the art to ‘Great Teacher Onizuka’. However, it looks slightly better and animations are done at a higher quality. That being said, the art style does fit the series quite well. I can’t imagine the story represented with any different kind of art style.
ATTENTION: The next paragraph talks about the ending. While I will not include any specifics about what happens at the end of the series, I will talk about the style and quality of the ending. If you feel this might spoil things for you, skip over the next paragraph.
The story ends. That sounds like a weird statement, but most of you know that in many Anime series that doesn’t happen and it’s always a letdown when this occurs. So rejoice; this one actually concludes. It is the ending you will likely suspect part of the way through watching the series with a few twists and turns before it gets there.
In conclusion, Welcome to the NHK is a well-written and well-told story about a serious subject matter. It has a good pace and just enough of both humor and sadness. I enjoyed the series very much and if it is a type of anime you normally enjoy, I am sure you will love this series as well.
Are you new to anime? Or are you a veteran? Well, with "NHK ni Youkoso!" it doesn't matter! This is one of those anime that you can easily get through, want more, think about it's message and wonder how such a masterpiece isn't more popular. Not only does this anime entertain it's audience with a wonderful story, a variety of characters, great sound affects and great music, but it also teaches the viewer about the difficulties of social anxiety and psychological disorders. There are only a handful of anime out there that handle such delicate subjects and shower them in
brilliant dark comedy. Anyway, before getting too worked up in my intro, let me start my review.
Unique, complex, entertaining, slow paced and utterly brilliant. The story of this anime is so beautifully constructed, executed and structured that it took me a while before realizing how amazing it really was. The synopsis is already provided so I won't be summarizing anything here. In fact, I'd recommend reading the synopsis before continuing to read the rest of this review. The story telling in this anime is such a roller coaster of emotions that it's honestly pretty exhausting sometimes. Most scenes had me in the brink of tears from either laughing too hard or watching something painfully realistic and relatable. It starts off with a lot more comedy in the beginning, but the further you go, the more bittersweet moments you find. The romance is also pretty realistic in the sense that you'll NEVER see the main couple be LOVEY DOVEY. I think some people might dislike this anime a lot because it doesn't necessarily rely on the suspension of disbelief like other anime. True, there are a lot of weird/funny hallucinations the main character sees and hears, but almost all of the situations throughout the anime are believable. Anyway, this isn't the only anime to tackle on the whole "society is a bitch" idea, but it's one of the few to actually do it in such an efficient, painful, smart, and entertaining way. Honestly, I could go on and on about the story, but I think you guys get my point by now.
Before judging the artwork of this anime, keep in mind that it was released in 2006, almost a whole decade ago. Although it's not the prettiest artwork or the most innovative, but I do think the artwork fits the genre and story perfectly well. With that being said, there'll definitely be moments when you'll be thinking "wow this anime is a lot more beautiful than I thought". Just like the themes, the artwork has this extremely grungy, old school, somber feel to it. It also reminds me a lot of Cowboy Bebop for some reason. Which obviously makes this anime that much more awesome. All kidding aside though, there is also a good variety of artwork throughout the anime. You'll notice a difference of quality in scenes depending on the setting. Scenes where Tatsuhiro is at the beach, the park, or in the city are a lot more visually pleasing than when he's at home. Facial expressions on every character are also unique and interesting. Overall, the artwork perfectly suits the anime.
The opening and ending songs of this anime are really good. Not my personal favorites, but easily in my top 20. That aside, the quality of the voice acting in this anime is ridiculously high. Each voice actor feels like they're perfectly suited for their role. The sound effects during hallucinations are great and most of the time extremely hilarious. My personal favorite by far is our main character, but that's only because he gets the most screen time(duh). Music during scenes are perfectly intertwined with the situations in the anime. With music you sometimes forget it's there. However, if you've watched anime for a while you can't help, but notice what a big role it plays in most scenes. There's a wide range of music that vary from playful to extremely sad and depressing. It's pretty stunning.
This is probably the strongest aspect of this anime. Each character has a purpose. Every character grows, fails, learns, and maximizes their potential as a solid character. There is no such thing as a "weak character" in this anime. It's actually unbelievable how well written, well developed and well exposed every character is and how that justifies their existence. Not a single character feels extraneous or even annoying. It almost feels like every character has tragic hero qualities.
I LOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEEEE THIS ANIME!!!! It's definitely on the same level as Toradora, Lovely Complex, Kimi ni Todoke, Clannad/Clannad: After story, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, etc. It's worth watching, re-watching, purchasing, and remembering. It was painful to watch, it was hilarious, it was bittersweet and underrated.
Notes: I did write this review a few weeks after watching it, but my feelings and perspectives towards it have not changed. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone looking for something unique and highly interesting. I'm not going to lie, you have to be a little mature to get some references and relate to it fully.
Welcome to the world of mental disorders, in which everything looks colorful yet mundane. It is a world that lets affected people transcend the borders of the ordinary by allowing them to impose their very own interpretation of the world upon the circumstances that surround them. This way, people learn to cope with their sometimes unpromising situations by making use of their powerful minds alone.
Those who have a profound knowledge on the functioning of the human psyche including the process of dissonance reduction probably understand the importance of the NHK to exist. Ultimately, that what constitutes the NHK and other conspiracies (in the case of
Satou and Kashiwa) as well as god (in the case of Misaki) is nothing else than the need to externalize the guilt people feel when confronted with their misery, and to consequently appease their minds in order to keep going.
Basically this is one possible interpretation of the message that NHK ni Youkoso! tries to convey. Despite its comedic appearance, this show deals with one of the most significant topics on social behavior in Japan that even consistently gains in popularity among western societies, and delivers nothing else than mind-blowingly deep engagement with the psyche of four very different characters and the extent of their mutual influence on an emotional and cognitive level.
NHK ni Youkoso! is the only anime I know that manages to get a good grasp of how it is really like to suffer solitude and the inability to escape this mental condition by the means of one's own actions. However dramatic this subject may be, it is the more fascinating how entertaining and easy the method is that NHK ni Youkoso! uses to not let the viewer fall into despair himself, but to rather encourage him to reflect on his own lifestyle by simultaneously enjoying the sometimes hilarious happenings in the lives of the main characters. This series tries to demonstrate that there is always a way out of social isolation and self-pity, and that it is not rocket science to develop one's very own coping strategies.
But, as many other great series, NHK ni Youkoso! is not perfect, not even in storytelling, which shows especially in rough transitions between various minor arcs trying to thematize very different issues socially inept people have to deal with. This leads to a somewhat staccato-styled storytelling, with its story broken up into several pieces and being not fluent enough to be considered a realistic tale. A very inconsistent implementation of romantic elements adds to this and makes me question the characters' attitudes. As a result, the story feels very different before and after episode 9. A sudden change in atmosphere is something that, in fact, often works for anime like these, given the sheer unpredictability in the behavior of mentally unstable characters. In NHK ni Youkoso!, however, this led to my disappointment.
The reason why I couldn't rate this show as high as the story would have deserved it lies within the technical dimension. Although the soundtrack is distinct and fits very well to the not-so-much-desperate, but rather ironically enjoyable atmosphere that underlies the show, the visual arts, especially the key animations, were done really sloppily. If you have watched Ping Pong The Animation, you know that there are obvious ways of selling sloppy arts as a kind of new style. This doesn't work out for NHK ni Youkoso! however, since the drawings are inconsistent in general. Characters are drawn very sharp and detailed at one time only to be dissolving in the background at another. This is something I regard as bad quality, unfortunately.
Overall, NHK ni Youkoso! is a fascinating work that is not only interesting to those who suffer the same fate as any character in this show, but also to people who are just interested in the functioning of the human psyche. This series depicts the strangely easy way people cope with their mental and personality disorders in an immensely entertaining, sometimes absolutely hilarious, but also emotionally involving manner. It makes you reflect on your lifestyle and potentially delivers answers to questions you didn't know you've had before.
(A quantified evaluation can be found on my page.)
The term otaku is often used in the West to refer to anyone interested in anime. But is that what otaku really means? Learn about the history behind the otaku phenomenon and how different anime have reacted to it, as well as anime fandom in general.
What better way to show how the anime industry works than through anime? Shows about the anime and video game industries are gaining popularity, and feature everything from voice acting to hentai game creation. Hold onto your hats, things are about to get meta over here.