January 06, 2011

Welcome, Welcome to the N.H.K.

So the holidays are finally over. Although I didn't get that much time to myself to watch enough anime or read enough manga, spending time with family and going out with friends, I did however manage to finish off Welcome to the N.H.K.. After watching this series, I pushed off another series - Battle Programmer (Battle Programmer Shirase (BPS バトルプログラマーシラセ Bīpīesu Batoru Puroguramā Shirase) that I was going to watch and instead I just watched a good old Dragon Ball Z Movie - Android 13. Will explain later.

Welcome to the N.H.K. is one of the most unique and interesting anime that I have seen in recent years. It is a series that is not surreal but remains personal because it addresses some of the many social issues that have occurred in Japan and spreading around the World. The story follows the 22 years old anti-hero-ish protagonist, Tatsuhiro Sato who attempts to leave his hikikomori (an individual who scludes his/ herself in their room) and NEET (an individual that is Not in Education, Employment or Training) way of life.

As he approaches his fourth years as a hikikomori/ NEET, he encounters new friends such as Misaki and a few old friends, Yamazaki and Hitomi senpai.

Although the 24 episodes can be shorten to about 20, the plot of Welcome to the N.H.K is quite well done with a tad every genre in an unconventional way. It can also be confusing at times and may not be understood by everyone i.e. some of the crazy stuff that Sato imagines. Again, my favourite element is that it addresses social issues such as NEET, sucidal people, depressions, addictions, you also have romance and personal finance, which is quite rare and weird to appear in an anime. So this one is for audience who are in their teens or late teens and older.

I know there is also a novel and a manga series so I'm interested in reading them whenever I can get my hands on them. The series also pokes fun of a great deal of other existing animes, mangas, games and sub cultures including the biggest parody - the name NHK (Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai), which is also a big Japanese TV network - Nippon Hoso Kyokai.

Even though the characters are all what I would call anti-heroes, they are a diverse bunch who are very real and very likable. You have someone who is a NEET/ hikikomori (in which, I believe is not far from the reality right now with the current economic climate), an Otaku, a depressing individual, an addicted gamer, and someone who strives to overcome personal finance through other means but still hits rock bottom.

This series has a nice variety of music; about 7 songs in all. There are a bit of rock, melancholy, soothing and dramatic songs, which fits well in many of the scenes.

I believe the creator wanted to show with the convenience of technologies, it comes with many social issues. The fact is that you don't have to leave the comfort of your confined space yet still able to interact with the outside world (a movie tangent example: Buried starring Ryan Reynolds). Many negative thoughts/ crazy ideas can build up if one is off on their own for a long extended periods of time, so I understand a great deal of things that were in this anime.

With NEET and hikikomori/ otakus are being more common than before, which brings back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is the reason why I opt for a short DBZ movie instead of another anime series. So all in all without spoiling anything, this anime can be quite an-eye opener for anyone who is out of school, out of work, out of a relationship or just generally feeling a little down. BUT, you don't have to be any of those to watch and enjoy this story too as long as you enjoy your anime or games (or whatever your hobby is) responsibly.

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