Welcome to the N.H.K. Review

Welcome to the N.H.K. Review

Welcome to the N.H.K. anime series cover art
Welcome to the N.H.K.

Japanese Hikikomori Association

Welcome to the N.H.K. (NHK ni Youkoso! / N・H・Kにようこそ!) is a psychological drama (and comedy) anime series from 2006. It follows Tatsuhiro Satou, a hikikomori, as he attempts to reintegrate into society.

In case you don’t know what hikikomori (引きこもり) means, allow me to explain. It’s a more severe version of being a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). You may be familiar with that term from KonoSuba, as it’s often used to refer to Kazuya. Anyway, hikikomori goes beyond that to also mean a person is a shut-in.

A NEET still may go outside and interact with society. Going back to KonoSuba as an example, Kazuya died on his way back from a convenience store. But, someone who’s a hikikomori tends not to leave their home or apartment at all. Or, at least, not to go somewhere other people are.

Tatsuhiro Satou sitting in his apartment from the anime series Welcome to the N.H.K.
Tatsuhiro Satou sitting in his apartment

So, now that we know what a hikikomori is, what’s the Japanese Hikikomori Association (N.H.K.)? The N.H.K. (Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai), is Satou’s personal conspiracy. He believes it’s the organization responsible for him becoming a hikikomori. It’s his way of denying his own responsibility. But, in reality, he has no one to blame but himself.

Well, Satou also appears to suffer from some kind of mental illness. He sometimes has hallucinations, though, I’m told that the anime leaves out his drug use. So, I’m going to chalk up the hallucinations to that. The real sign of his mental illness is his extreme social anxiety.

You see, Satou is capable of going out in public and interacting with people. But, sometimes things happen in these public settings that trigger him. And when he gets triggered, he quickly spirals into a manic episode. However, most of his problems are his own fault, not caused by his mental illness.

Everyone Is the Worst

My biggest issue with Welcome to the N.H.K. is that all the characters are terrible people. Some of them have mental illnesses of varying severity. But, even if we ignore that, none of them are people I would want to hang out with.

As I’ve mentioned, Satou is a hikikomori with some kind of social anxiety disorder. But, he’s also just not a good guy. He doesn’t actually care about other people, including his friends. And he does harmful things to them. For example, he threatened to hit Misaki as she was cowering in fear of him.

Speaking of Misaki Nakahara, she’s not that much better than Satou. She’s about four years younger than him. She grew up with an abusive stepfather. And, her mother committed suicide in front of her. So, yes, Misaki is messed up. But, that doesn’t excuse how she views and treats Satou as someone beneath her.

Hitomi Kashiwa from the anime series Welcome to the N.H.K.
Hitomi Kashiwa

Kaoru Yamazaki is the most normal of all the characters. He’s Satou’s former kouhai and current neighbor. Yamazaki is also an extreme otaku, not that that’s a problem. However, toward the end of the series, we see Yamazaki verbally abuse a girl who likes him. He has some proto-incel energy, at times.

Hitomi Kashiwa is my favorite character, though she’s arguably the worst of the bunch. She’s the one who got Satou into conspiracies. And, she also has depression, suicidal tendencies, and a prescription drug addiction. Hitomi uses Satou for sex and to escape from her life.

Finally, there’s Megumi Kobayashi, Satou’s class representative from his high school days. She’s a completely normal person. But, that doesn’t make her a good person. She got sucked into a multi-level marketing scheme and now recruits others to try to claw her way back out of debt.

Not Much Changed for Satou

By the end of the series, which is 24 episodes, not much has changed for Satou. He’s not a hikikomori anymore, which is good. Since his parents cut him off financially, he had to get a construction job to continue paying for food and rent.

But, other than that, his life hasn’t changed much. He’s still going to his “counseling” sessions with Misaki. Though, they’re now “counseling” each other. And, he signed a pact with her that states if one of them dies, the other will too. So, yeah.

Basically, we now have two mentally unstable people taking care of each other. And by taking care of each other, of course, I mean that they’re sharing in each others’ delusions. What could go wrong?

This series is overflowing with unhealthy relationships. And the problem is, a lot of people identify with it.

Misaki Nakahara knocking on Satou's door from the anime series Welcome to the N.H.K.
Misaki Nakahara knocking on Satou’s door

I’ve seen people who identify with Satou, which should not be what you want. If you’re identifying with Satou, you need to change something. He’s incapable of taking responsibility for his own self-destructive behaviors. All he does is bring those around him down with him.

And then, there are all the people who I’ve seen call this series a realistic depiction of life. Again, that’s not good. If you say it’s a realistic depiction of depression or mental illness, fine. At least then, you’re acknowledging that what’s shown in the series isn’t healthy.

Now, going back to how not much changed for Satou, let’s look at his relationship with Misaki. Are they in a romantic relationship by the end of the anime? No. Not even that has changed for Satou. If we saw him and Misaki living together at the end, at least we could point to that as a positive change.

Welcome to the N.H.K.: 7/10

Despite all my complaints, Welcome to the N.H.K. is a good anime. I gave it a 7/10. Even though the characters are all terrible people, that doesn’t make the series bad. In fact, that’s a positive thing. It shows that the author was able to write characters I felt strongly about.

From my understanding, though, the novel the anime is based on is even better. As you’d expect, the characters get more depth and development in that medium. So, if the anime was more like that, I may have rated it even higher.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about becoming a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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