Welcome To The NHK

In mid-2006, Gonzo aired Welcome To The NHK, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Tatsuhiko Takimoto; it was also adapted into a manga. This anime goes into the heart of the hikkikomori, a person who rarely leaves their home and isolates themselves from society, otherwise defined as a NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training), and tells the story of how one young girl helps a man escape his fear of conspiracy and learn to embrace the world outside his home. Welcome To The NHK was highly praised by critics, well-received by most viewers, and certainly among my Top 10 Shows of all time.

Tatsuhiro Satō, a college drop-out in his early twenties is completely convinced the public broadcasting company, Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, NHK for short, is really is the Nihon Hikikomori Kyōkai, an evil corporation out to create hikkikomori and ruin lives, and Tatsuhiro blames them for what is about to be his fourth year of unemployment as a hikkikomori. As more unfortunate things happen to him, the more things he has to blame the NHK with. One day, a young high school girl by the name of Misaki Nakahara visits him and explains her charity group and her mission to cure Tatsuhiro of being a hikkikomori. From then on, Tatsuhiro finds himself taken on a ride full of new people, as well as people from his past, as he takes his journey to cure himself of his hikkikomori ways and defeat the NHK. Will Tatsuhiro be able to overcome his fear of conspiracies, or will the NHK win and make him a prisoner of his own apartment forever?

This slice-of-life comedy covers several aspects of the hikkikomori life, and even of regular life, as the characters are swept into several events that could only be explained as the doings of the NHK. Each character grows more and more, and their growths, for better or for worse, affect those around them and pushes the plot into different and, at times, funny directions. Relationships are built up and torn down, and different temptations from different directions threaten Tatsuhiro’s attempt at pulling as life together, and Tatsuhiro’s own paranoia threaten the attempts of others to help him out. Overall, the story and the characters are well-written and never fail to keep the audience entertained. What starts of as what Tatsuhiro thought would be his easy ticket to a better life ends up become his personal struggle to better himself, and would only benefit him for the future. As well as this, each of the other characters have their own personal struggle they are dealing with, and how they go about dealing with those problems in turn affect how everybody else deals with theirs; a truly knit-woven web of characters.

The animation and the music are also strong-points of this series. While it’s certainly not a jaw-dropping piece of visual art, the animation is up-to-date, possibly even ahead of the curb, and adds more emotion to the drama of this comedy. The music adds to the sense of comedy and the paranoia amongst the characters, as well as some awesome contributions from musical artist Kenji Ohtsuki in the end credits. The different themes created by both the animations and the music both work together to add to the realism of the hikkikomori, and to your enjoyment of watching them.

In short, this is just a great show. The characters are strong, dynamic, easy to relate with, and what makes the story so strong. Never, in all the 24 episodes, does it get bland or boring and the comedy never fails to serve. Altogether, this show deserves a strong 9/10 for great characters and a great story which work together to build a great comedy. I recommend this to anybody who feels they may be able to relate to the hikkikomori lifestyle, or just for those who are looking for a nice comedy about an extremely paranoid college drop-out; either way, you’re going to walk away satisfied.