Welcome to the NHK! Anime Review
Some spoilers ahead!
Aired from Jul 10, 2006 to Dec 18, 2006
Rated R (According to MyAnimeList)
Welcome to the NHK! has gotten quite a lot of attention since its airing date: 2006. This anime well deserves that attention too. I came into the anime not really knowing what to expect. From the synopsis I read, it sounded like a unique and sort of twisted anime. Would it be presented well? Or would it just be some sort of train wreck? A character that thinks everything is an conspiracy? What’s that going to be like? I have heard positive things about this anime before, so I wasn’t totally shooting in the dark. Let me tell you, I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Great characters, a pretty well-crafted plot, and a pleasing soundtrack to go along with it all. Throughout the anime, you also get to see some dark humor, which is pretty rare for an anime. A fairly unique anime that was done well. The issues and lives of NEETs (Not in education, employment, or in any sort of training) is presented well, along with the lives of a Hikikomori (Japanese for a person who cuts themselves off from society and people. A social phobia of sorts.) The characters and their troubles felt heartfelt and realistic. On a side note, I have heard that there are differences between the anime and manga. For example, in the anime, Satou (the male lead) goes a little crazy simply by being cooped up in his apartment for a long time. In the manga, he is shown doing drugs and that is the reason for his craziness. I don’t really get bothered by this too much, as I never read the manga, but I could see a loyal manga reader getting annoyed. I love this anime a lot, but I do realize it has a few flaws. Let’s get started on the craziness that is Welcome to the NHK!
Story of Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK! is quite an enjoyable one, but looking at it critically, it does have some flaws. At times, the story can feel a bit mashed together and can take a few unrealistic turns. Other then that, I really loved the story. The interesting topics that were covered like depression, Otaku, NEETs, and Hikikomori really made this anime unique. I felt like this anime showed the audience the darker side of life. Perhaps in a way, a more realistic one too. I really wish that more anime would attempt this type of story, as it was quite an interesting one. I loved seeing how everything would resolve and what the characters would do to face their problems, if they even did at all. For the review, I’m not going to go into major spoiler territory, but there might be some minor ones along the way. Now, let’s look at the story more in depth.
The story starts off with introducing Satou, the Hikikomori and NEET. He is lying on his bed in his small apartment. Right off the bat, you can tell that he is a depressed and somber guy. There is an annoying anime theme song playing next door and he wants the noise to stop. The problem is he hasn’t gone out of his house and talked to somebody in years; other than going to the convenience store to get some food or cigarettes. He lays there pathetically and starts to hallucinate these weird pastry things with eyes. After they disappear, he begins to think that he is part of a giant conspiracy by the NHK. Their plan is to create addicting anime, and the addicting anime will create more and more Otaku, which will earn them lots of money. Satou confirms this conspiracy by talking with his fridge… so you can see it’s all in his head. Still, all this conspiracy stuff lingers and infects his mind. The reason he would even being to think this in the first place was because of this girl in college. She was his “Senpai” and they always hung our after school together. She constantly talked about conspiracies, which planted some paranoid ideas deep in the dark corners of his mind.
Also, sometime in the first episode, the anime shows how he got to be a Hikikomori and a NEET. It began when he was walking down the street to another day of college. He felt relaxed and at ease at first, but then he slowly felt like everybody was watching him; judging him with an evil grin. Satou thought everybody was whispering about him and how disgraceful he was. He trembled and simply couldn’t take it anymore. Satou dashed back home, wanting to get away from it all. Since that day, he has barely has come out of his house.
Now, a young girl and her grandmother come to the house and knock on the door. He is sent into a little bit of a panic, wondering how he’ll possibly be able to communicate with another human being. After all, he hasn’t done so in a long, long, time. He rushes to the door and attempts to communicate with them normally. Needless to say, that doesn’t go that well. The girl who takes to him is very beautiful in Satou’s eyes, so that doesn’t help either. They talk about the rising population NEETs, which makes Satou even more nervous. He shakily takes their documents, but of course denies that he would possibly be a NEET, even when they never accused him. He closes the door without saying goodbye. After a few seconds, he peeks through the door and sees the girl again. She’s stunning. They lock eyes for a second, but then she is called by her grandmother to get going. Satou closes the door again, and looks over the papers, eventually deciding to try to get a job at the manga cafe. He wants to turn his life around.
Satou shaves himself, gets dressed up, and has his resumé in hand. As he walks to the manga place, he repeats over and over under his breath, “I’ve heard you guys are hiring” When he actually makes it to the café, he fails horribly, as the same girl he saw yesterday was there. As soon as he sees her, his plans fall into tiny pieces. He mumbles something to her and then quickly runs out of the door. He hadn’t noticed that he had dropped his résumé on the ground. Later, the girl drops his resumé through an opening on his door. There is also a note on the back of it. The note talks about how he should meet up with her and she will try to help him out of his Hikikomori condition. He would have to sign a contract. She wants him to meet her at the park in the evening and discuss the contract and his therapy.
Satou, at first, is convinced he won’t come to the meeting. He eventually decides to do come anyhow, as he would have probably went to the park around this time, even without Misaki (the girl), asking him to. They meet up and she tells Satou he need help. He starts to deny everything, wanting to impress this lady. He tells her that he does have a job as a video game developer. She wants proof of this, thus beginning the crazy ride with Misaki and Satou.
When he gets back to his apartment, he decides to man up and talk to his neighbor next door, whom is playing an annoying anime theme song everyday. He busts down the door and discovers that the person who is playing the annoying music is his high school friend; Yamazaki. Coincidentally, he has been going to a video game school for a while now and is learning how to make games. Since Satou has no experience whatsoever in the video game making department, they eventually pair up and begin to make a hentai game. Yes, a hentai game. They decided it would be an easy game to make without that much experience. I think this is a good time to let you know that this anime can be quite perverted at times, but only to really add effect to the story. I didn’t feel as if it was fanservice at all. After all, what is a 22 year old man going to do alone in his apartment this whole time?
Anyhow, more chaos, dark humor, and difficulty arises. After a while, Satou finally gives into Misaki and admits he is a Hikikomori. He signs the contract; agreeing to meet up with her in the evening every once in a while for their therapy session. Many interesting things happen to the characters. From suicide pacts to MMORPG addictions, this anime always keeps you entertained. Now, you may ask, if the story is so great and amusing, why only a 7 out of 10? Well, I don’t want to spoil too much for you, but there are a few unrealistic twist and everything seems to piece together a little too nicely. At times, the way Satou acts in certain situations makes me a tad bit frustrated. But, other than those things, the story was a great story.
Finally, the ending sort of annoyed me. Sure, it was a nice ending, but the way it all unfolded just seemed ridiculous. At least the ending was sort of satisfying. I only wish it had something more to it and unfolded a bit better. Oh well, a 7 out of 10 gives this anime justice.
Characters of Welcome to the NHK!
This was one of the show’s major strong points. I think that this anime was meant to be a more character driven than a plot driven anime. The characters all acted very life-like and never ceased to amaze me. I feel connected to Satou in a way (don’t get the wrong idea), as that was how realistic he felt to me. You could always find a way to relate to a few of the characters in Welcome to the NHK. Even the side characters were magnificently crafted. You would see how each individual character would deal or not deal with their struggles. Character development happened a lot in the story; you would Satou progress and digress throughout the plot. The other characters progress right along with Satou. Satou is definitely not the only person with problems. It shows the darker side of humanity nature and the harsh reality people have to deal with. Some people want to simply find somebody lower than them to make themselves feel better. I think every human always wants somebody below them; even if that lower person is somebody they know hardly anything about or even if they have some feelings for them. The anime also shows that people may have problems you may never even know about. Many themes about human nature are introduced in Welcome to the NHK. These characters are so realistic and I simply love every one of them for their each flaws and personality. Great presentation of the characters. Definitely amazing and well-crafted characters.
Satou is one of my favorite main characters of all time. In anime you don’t usually see depressed and hopeless people, but Satou is an exception. He’s a pretty sad sack. Misaki is the girl who decides to help Satou out of his Hikikomori state, even if she isn’t the best person ever. In the anime, Satou goes through many phases. From extreme video game addiction to actually walking around a town, Satou’s Hikikomori state varies a lot. It’s quite interesting to see how he develops through the show. Will Satou ever get a life? I also enjoyed his broody and melancholy demeanor. He is also paranoid and on the conspiracy train. Satou thinks everything is to be blamed on the NHK. Pretty interesting ideas, huh? How often do you see a character like that? Satou’s quirks and fears from his Hikikomori state was unique and fun to see how it would play out. His personality brought a lot to this show. I felt like Satou definitely stood out from most main characters, as they are usually the major hero of the story, while Satou is basically a sad loser. Even depressed as he his, he has happy moments and joyful moments in the show. I felt like his personality had depth to it and wasn’t just your usual male main character personality. Satou’s life brings a bunch of dark humor to the show and shines life on the people who are not heroes.
Misaki is an absorbing character. The way she acts, talks, and does things is all sort of intriguing. At the beginning of the anime, you might think her of as a well-put together individual, but throughout the story you slowly find there is more to her than what meets the eyes. Her character shows that there might be a lot more to a person that you may never know about. People are not just simply good or bad, there is much more behind them. There are reasons the way they act the way they do. Misaki acts rudely at times, but she is simply a flawed person like everybody else is. That doesn’t mean that’s all she is. She does want to help people, even when she may look down on those people, she still wants to make their lives better. I don’t want to reveal to much more about her, but she is a complex person and you find out many things about her along the way. I liked her at time, but at other times she seemed extremely mean-spirited. Overall, she’s a compelling and fascinating character.
Yamazaki is Satou’s next door neighbor and high school friend. He got bullied in school for being a geek and having glasses. That’s when Satou offered a helping hand. Their relationship grew a little more after that, but they never became best of buddies, so they never stayed in touch after high school. Coincidentally, Satou and Yamazaki moved next door to each other unknowingly. Yamazaki always played annoying songs from anime until Satou finally decided to knock on his door and talk to him. They then teamed up and became greater friends than ever before. Yamazaki is an otaku who loves anime. He goes to a video game school where he is still made fun of. He also has some girl trouble along the way. Yamazaki never knows if he can really trust her or not. I think Yamazaki was probably my least favorite character in the show, as he was annoying at times and sort of slow to catch on. Still, he was a well thought out character and had an entertaining personality. Quite a geeky person. He was a good character to have in the show.
Sound of Welcome to the NHK!
The sounds of Welcome to the NHK were pleasing to the ears. I enjoyed the first opening to this show a great deal, but I didn’t enjoy the ending songs as quite as much. Also, the second opening song for Welcome to the NHK was simply a remixed version of the first one. I thought the original version was a whole lot better than the remixed version. The first ending song was a very quirky one. I haven’t heard any other ending song even slightly close to it. For me, it seemed that the first ending song represented all of Satou’s craziness in his mind, which he sure does have a lot of. The background music to this anime was usually quite melancholy, which definitely fits the mood of the show. There were some happy songs spread throughout the show to lighten the mood a little. I enjoyed most of the songs and I sometime listen to the OST from time to time.
The voice acting in the Japanese and English dubs were both amazing. If you have been following my reviews, you’ll know I usually prefer the Japanese voices, but for this one, either one will do fine. For once, an anime show that has a good dub that doesn’t make me want to pound my head against a wall. You could really hear the weariness in Satou’s voice in the Japanese version, but that could just be my opinion. In all their voices, you could hear their emotions and soul radiate from it. Some moments made my heart break a little because of how well the voices were. Great voice acting.
The environment noise in Welcome to the NHK was fairly standard; nothing special. It got the job done. There was some good details in the major events in the anime, but other than that, nothing spectacular. The sound didn’t fully immerse you in the anime, but it was still fine.
Art of Welcome to the NHK!
Well, the art was sadly pretty crappy at times. One scene would be animated very nicely; with details of the characters and pleasant shading. Then, the next scene would have the character be blobs of color. It was horrible to transition from a nice piece of art to a kindergarten’s drawing. My guess would be that the animator’s may have gotten lazy or ran out of money so they had to cut some corners. I wish everything was better animated overall; even the scenes that were animated good. It was honestly distracting and sort of frustrating when the art goes to crap.
Nothing much else to say about the art. There wasn’t really any noteworthy scenes or beautiful things that I noticed. Well, I guess it sort of fits the general mood of Welcome to the NHK.
Enjoyment of Welcome to the NHK!
Man, I enjoyed the hell out of this show. Despite its few minor flaws here and there, along with the artwork taking a dive occasionally, it was still a really fun show to marathon through. I enjoyed almost every episode that was thrown at me. The character interaction and the interesting problems that arose, made you want to watch one episode after another. At first, I was a tad bit reluctant, but once the show got going, I couldn’t stop myself. Whenever the show felt too dark, the creators added some dark humor to make you chuckle. I especially enjoyed this show because of my love for Satou. With his crazy and quirky personality, I couldn’t drop the show for a second. I wanted to see what he would do next. This anime seemed compelling in every way: with the characters, plot twists, and the craziness of it all. I definitely didn’t regret starting this show.
Overall Rating and Final Notes of Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK was a crazy ride that I won’t forget anytime soon. I don’t think any anime will replace the special spot Welcome to the NHK has in my heart. The troubled characters, the dark and pretty realistic story, and the morbid humor makes this anime quite an enjoyable one. I really wish that more anime would attempt the kinds of things that this show did. Not everything in life is full of butterflies, rainbows, and kittens. This anime shows how life can be really tough to some people and sometimes you will hit rock bottom. Hopefully not very often. Conspiracies in this show is a good reminder for people to not get too wrapped up in them, or you may find yourselves talking to a fridge. This show does the themes of depression and the harsh reality of life well. That’s the main reason why I enjoyed this show so much. It serves as a wake up call for some; that you need to get off your butts and do something once in a while. Anime isn’t everything in life.
I think this one of the few times where my overall rating is going to be lower than my enjoyment rating, as my personal enjoyment usually adds up to how good the anime is overall. But, alas, this is an exception. I did enjoy this show a great deal, but this show can’t be rated a 9 out of 10 when put all together. The few flaws that the story had and the dips that the artwork took, lowered the score a little bit. 8 out of 10 is still a really good score, don’t forget, but Welcome to the NHK isn’t a masterpiece. I recommend this show to anybody who would enjoy a realistic show and wants something different. Who knows, this show might end up being your Misaki in life.