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.