NHK ni Youkoso!

Title:NHK ni Youkoso!
Welcome to the N.H.K!
Welcome to the NHK!
Overall:Rent
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - GONZO
R1 License - ADV (Renamed)
I now understand! I understand why I dropped out of university and why I am unemployed. I now understand it all! It is because of the NHK! It is a conspiracy and they are at the center of it all, but I will keep on fighting until defeat them! Oh my!

But then I meet Misaki-chan, a neat and beautiful girl with a parasol. Is she an assassin from a religious group out to kill me? She is offering to help me, but tempts me with eroticism and more! Who is she? Oh my!

Japanese shut-ins, loli h-games and conspiracies, oh my!

Based on a novel by Takimoto Tatsuhiko, turned into a manga with illustration by Ooiwa Kenji. This is an ultimate (paranoid) non-stop Hikikomori Action Comic!

(summary loosely stolen from the ANIDB mind control organization)


24 TV Episodes (but they will never tell you!)
Animation conspired by GONZO
Episode Details 
01, 1893
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 7 7 8 0 8 0 KBanger1 [series:1397#1694]
I wanted to check this out for some time now. After going through it, you'd never know that this series was actually deeper than what the synopsis would reveal. I'm actually glad I watched it. It's all about this guy named Sato and him being a "hikikomori". It's an actual term which means to forcefully shut yourself out from the world. It relates to a couple of things like intense stress from bullies, school, or anything in society that would make a person literally lock themselves in their rooms and never leave. With Sato, that's what it boils down to. However, his life of a hermit takes a complete 180 when he meets this girl, Misaki. She has a plan to take Sato and "educate" him to no longer be a hikikomori. The rest I leave to you.

What I enjoyed about this was the fact that it's an actual condition played out in a slightly humorous way. I thought it would be something completely mental with the hints of conspiracy all around. Turns out it was just a front for Sato. He's nothing more than a modern day hermit whose afraid to go out in public. He survives on his parents' allowance and lives on his own. He used to go to college but one day he freaks out and then becomes a hikikomori from then on. This series was more surreal then it lead on to be. I guess that's why there were so many side stories going on which ties in to him being a hikikomori. The plot was pretty close to cut and dry but with Misaki's character finally being revealed towards the end it kept me curious. There's a decent amount of comedy so it wouldn't be completely serious. Most parts are absolutely hilarious and seems to be over the top. Nonetheless, it still remains constant (Ssto being a hikikomori) and still opens up other stories without losing focus on Sato.

Nothing else really caught my eye. The art/animation was ok along with the characters. Without spoiling it, you'll have to rent it. If you go by the trailers, you'll be fooled or maybe just a bit turned off. Believe me, it's worth watching.

Last updated Monday, August 31 2009. Created Monday, August 31 2009.
Watch 7 7 7 7 7 7 Dreamer [series:1397#2279]
The plot seemed interesting. However...

Art, Animation and Character Design
Art and animation is average. Nothing special. Character designs were okay and your typical run-of-mil flavors.

Music
The OP was a pop style of music of which I'm not too fond of. It was bearable nevertheless.

Series and Episode Story
I sorta felt "detached" from this anime. Normally, when I watch an anime, I do so and I end up enjoying some aspect of it and getting attached or I'd get attached to any given character.... especially of the female persuasion. However, this anime didn't do that for me. The characters were one dimensional, the plot was pretty much unbelievable and the overall feel of it left me yawning out of boredom. With all that said though, "some" aspects of it was interesting. For example, Misaki, the lead female role pretty kept this anime on it's feet. She introduced some "reason" behind the lackluster plot and added reason for Satou to exist.

Overall, I wasn't too thrilled with this one. It was okay to watch if you're bored and don't have anything else to watch. Otherwise, move one.

Last updated Sunday, February 22 2009. Created Sunday, February 22 2009.
Watch 7 9 5 6 9 7 Devil Doll [series:1397#752]
[Score: 68% = "Watch"; similar series: NieA_7]

This is a show about lies: People being desperate enough to build their whole existence on lies, people being stupid enough to take everything for granted regardless how blatant a lie it is, people being too weak to face the truth, people making money off lies, and even people toying around with truth. About two thirds of the events of this show are triggered by Tatsuhiko bringing himself into embarrassing situations by brainless, blatant lying. It's like: "There's no way this could possibly work, its absolutely certain that it will cause another embarrassing and painful situation for me and others, but let's do it anyway and bet my whole life on it." Blah.
Episode 8 had me leave the room several times to calm down and continue watching this show. During episodes 10+11 the characters begin to define themselves by their emotions instead of their idiocy; episode 13+14 (the "off-line meeting") made a sudden twist from embarrassing stuff to truly black humor (which I can apparently handle much better). Then again, the Multi Level Marketing arc returned to the idiocy being the source of the storyline (with stupidity being contagious this time).

The concept of the Story is excellent, dealing with interesting elements of (not only) Japanese society; it's just that you have to be able to like a hysterically silly presentation of depressing stuff. The lyrics of the first ED song are worth being read thoroughly.
The "magical turnaround from hikikomori to productive worker" may appear unrealistic but you actually don't know what you're capable of until you try - this might be the message of this series. Tatsuhiko hiding behind his hikikomori status and claiming to be unable to leave his room turned out to be fake early on in this show - it didn't take much to make him act and overcome his issue in order to help other people.

Technical attributes: Unimpressive Music and OP song, freaky first ED song (albeit suitable for anime theme and lyrics), too many jazzy tracks in the BGM for my taste; the music gets heavy on Blues during the final episodes, and for a reason.
Art is so-so, Animation is spectacular at times with its information overflow for the audience (it must have been hell to subtitle this series) but it's hard work to watch this show because of this.

The Characters were what cost this show a "Rent" rating. Most of them feel unreal: Tatsuhiko is obsessed with being a hikikomori (why else would he have signed that silly contract?), his a former club kouhai is obsessed with making eroge (galge) to commercially conquer the world (despite being a newbie without any achievements so far), Misaki-chan is obsessed with making Tatsuhiko her guinea pig for half-baked theories (insulting him while telling him she were about to raise his self-esteem?), and then there's the shy, paranoid pill-popper senpai pining for that boring Tatsuhiko for no apparent reason. In other words, a bunch of idiots. How can there be even one likable character?
Yes, the females look cute but that alone can't be sufficient, right? It's true that they all have their serious, even gloomy side but stupid behavior remains a significant characteristic of them nonetheless. That class rep, while being an interesting and surprising woman using cool techniques to achieve her goals, is not exactly "likable" either. Compare that to the characters of, say, Shin Seiki Evangelion (whose main theme isn't that different from this series by the way): Many of these are mentally deranged as well but they don't behave like idiots, they fight with all they have, and when they fail, you can feel for them. Where NGE was a character drama NHK ended up being a parody of itself, and that's a shame given this setting and story.
If Tatsuhiko had a tiny bit of brains (he obviously has read Freud's theories, his intellectual capacity shouldn't be zero) then the first thing to do should be questioning what agenda Misaki has early on... even more so when he actually believes in all that conspiracy stuff. Why would a cute and apparently capable girl like Misaki-chan attempt to spend lots of time (for whatever reason) with a hikikomori? (Other than this hikikomori being a handsome nice guy, making him anything but the prototypical hikikomori in the first place.) Why did she have so much spare time and no friends? But while being a tragic character of sorts, he permanently starts doing things without trying to think them through to the very end. As such he fails in his very role, thus damaging the whole scenario. And while Love Hina's Urashima Keitarou can overcome his horrible weakness of daydreaming weird fantasies with time, Tatsuhiko keeps that flaw until the very end.
His friend Yamazaki has major consistency issues: How can a guy who never got any allowance and had to rely on part-time jobs to earn money for his rent, living and school tuition have been able to purchase hundreds (if not thousands) of expensive otaku items without ever caring about money? And why would this guy attempt to complete his game at any cost while at the same time not believing in his chance and thus dumping his cute and understanding girlfriend ahead of time?

Misaki is the only consistent character in this show. She actually has an agenda and acts accordingly, with a fascinating consequence. Because of her, this show makes a significant turn to the better during the final couple of episodes, and in the end I don't regret having watched this show because of this.
But this strong ending is not sufficient for earning this show more than a "Watch" overall: It had five good episodes (all those dealing with death, strangely enough), a lot of comedy fillers and at least three that had me convulse with pain. So while this series was indeed an experience for me, it wasn't much fun.

I've watched a similar series earlier: NieA_7. This one shows a similar (albeit less intensive) view of Japanese society, and it makes use of similarly absurd comedy elements to lighten up the atmosphere that might be too gloomy otherwise.

Last updated Saturday, August 02 2008. Created Wednesday, July 30 2008.
Rent 8 7 8 9 8 8 Ggultra2764 [series:1397#1552]
Welcome to the NHK appears to be a character study of the hikikomori lifestyle being experienced through Tatsuhiro Satou. Here we have a guy who is afraid of the outside world and using the explanation of 'conspiracies' from his sempai in high school to try finding an excuse for his problems. Then, his encounter with the mysterious girl Misaki sets off a chain reaction of events where he encounters several folks he met from his high school days whom he thinks can save him from his troubles. But to Satou's dismay, these people have their own issues as well that are explored.

NHK also centers around the pains of reality and the escapism some of us could go through to escape reality. The painful thing about reality is that there are times where things don't always go your way or some opportunities one could go for are not as good as one would seem. While many of us just learn to cope with such hardships, there are some who find reality unbearable and will do what they can to escape it, whether by going into their own world or even suicide. NHK is effective in the fact that it explores the mental conditions of Satou, his past acquaintances, and Misaki as they feel their lives are tearing apart and thinking that they know what must be done to better their lives.

The series is both depressing and humorous, so much so that while the actions of the characters or Satou's hallucinations may seem hilarious at some points, you can get a feeling of guilt realizing that these characters are setting themselves up to living a tough life. This delicate balance was handled decently for NHK.

Despite how well the characters and plot are, NHK does have it's issues. There were points where I felt the otaku fandom of anime and video games seen through Satou and his otaku kohei, Yamizaki, were overdone and could have been better handled. Also, there were points in the series where the animation looked inconsistent. At some points, the character designs did not look as detailed and polished as they were in previous scenes or episodes. Then later on, the animation style would revert back to how it was from before.

Despite these flaws, Welcome to the NHK makes for an intriguing watch as it explores a side to Japanese society that has been overlooked by recent anime titles.

Last updated Saturday, April 19 2008. Created Saturday, April 19 2008.
Rent Stretch [series:1397#628]
(All episodes watched):

It took me a long time to watch any of Welcome To The NHK. On the one hand I'd heard a lot of favorable comments about this show, while on the other it seemed to have a disturbing premise. So, I compromised and saved it to watch later on if I so wished. The kind of dark humor reminds me of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei which also dares to address the parts of Japanese culture which the country isn't particularly proud of. I had thought this would involve lots of seperate sub-stories about different people with a wide variety of mental illnesses (which was why I wasn't eager to watch), but in fact this has one main plotline with a relatively small cast that you can get to like. It's not nearly as dark as I'd feared; despite his problems, Tatsuhiro seems a likeable guy, and his meeting a cute girl who has an interest in his situation was intriguing. He doesn't seem to be nearly as messed up as I'd expected at first (his belief in the supposed NHK conspiracy seems half-hearted and is seldom mentioned), which is a relief. In fact, at times this show reminds me a good deal of Genshiken, and is one of the most amusing series I'm currently viewing. This is a witty, sophisticated show, which is evident from the way the episodes seem to end much too soon. Who wouldn't love the eroge video game, online RPG, and other otaku-themed story arcs? The longterm plot, involving Tatsuhiro and Misaki's states of mind, was a little uneven and difficult to take seriously; the people who make anime seldom seem to have much idea what the actual symptoms of emotional disorders are (even though I hear the original manga was partially an autobiography). For instance, the suggestion that once Hikikomoris are cut off from financial hand outs they'll immediately come round and become productive members of society--if only it was that easy. Maybe this ignorance is for the best. But the series as a whole was fun, and a pleasant surprise. I may well be rewatching it someday.

Last updated Sunday, June 01 2008. Created Wednesday, April 02 2008.
Rent 8 8 9 9 8 9 chibi [series:1397#2380]
I wasn’t going to watch this series. Honest. The premise seemed too goofy and depressing. But there was a lot a buzz on the net about it, people who were excited about it without saying why, and I got curious.

And that’s pretty much what the show is like: Goofy and depressing, both at the same time. The lyrics of Elanor Rigby kept popping into my head when I thought of how to describe what it was about.

All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?


But that doesn’t quite say it right, either, because it’s also a hopeful show, and a humorous one. Not "funny," really, but it’s about living on the darker side of Japanese society, and the show takes good advantage of the fact that all kinds of life, even that kind, has its humorous aspects.

The "hero" of the series is Saito Tetsuhiro, a college dropout and hikikomori for three years. (See the BBC link below for background on the syndrome.) Secluded in his apartment, wallowing in his hopelessness and indulging in blaming his condition on conspiracies, he answers a knock on his door to find a matronly woman and young girl distributing flyers on the dangers of hikikomori in the neighborhood. He frightens them away, but later the girl, Misaki Nakahara, returns and announces that she is making Saito her "grand project" and proposes to cure him of his condition.

The process is less a cure than the start of a chain reaction, as Saito’s life spins out of its isolated orbit and collides with others’, primarily those of people from his past: His high school class president, the girl from the school literary club, the underclassman he rescued from bullies. Each time our worthless hero stumbles into their lives, he thinks they can help save him, only to find out that their lives didn’t turn out much better than his. But in the process he somehow manages to help them just by trying to help himself.

I’m not sure what the series all adds up to exactly. Maybe it’s about how the clean, efficient, productive Japanese life has left behind these shady sub-cultures that can trap people. Maybe it’s about how simple human contact can show you how to free yourself from those traps. Maybe it’s about facing your inner demons and, if not vanquishing them, at least learning how to keep them locked up in the closet long enough to get on with your life. In any case, it’s an offbeat, thought-provoking, and entertaining series that I enjoyed watching a great deal. Strong rent rating.

Last updated Wednesday, January 31 2007. Created Wednesday, January 31 2007.
Unevaluated Jan-Chan [series:1397#967]
The first fansub episode is available on this very strange, surreal and paranoid series under the title of Welcome to the NHK. It is a commentary (or perhaps a parody) on the lifestyle of a small group of Japanese society.

Here are a few important terms defined.....

Hikikomori or NEETs or Shut-ins – a term for those alienated and detached Japanese youth, but they are also associated with a potential for homicidal and violent behavior. (More info at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori

NHK – Japan's primary public TV broadcasting company (and rumored to be at the center of many conspiracies – NOT).

For more information as to the manga series - see the very interesting summary at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome_to_the_NHK!.

Last updated Tuesday, July 11 2006. Created Tuesday, July 11 2006.

Other Sites
NameURL
Rumored to be the Official Japanese Series Web Site http://www.kadokawa.co.jp/hikky/
BBC article series on hikikomori http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/2334893.stm

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