Hello vice users, it’s M again, one late evening bringing you another review, this time of an older title that completely missed me, something that was brought to my attention by friend of mine, same friend that brought me Steins Gate. With that in mind I decided to give the somewhat acclaimed, Welcome to the NHK, a shot.
Welcome to the NHK, based off a 2006 manga released in America under the once very relevant Tokyo pop, brings to anime introspective drama surrounding the story of Tatsuhiro Satõ. A hikikomori; an, as put by Animevice “agoraphobic shut-in nearly incapable of being in public without having an extreme panic attack.” This same man, by accident, is brought into contact with a young girl, Misaki Nakahara, who promises to help him rid himself of his social anxiety and paranoia if he signs a contract with her. The contract promising her to meet each other each night at the park under pain of being fined one million yen. The story itself revolves around Sato slowly trying to work out of his social anxiety and deals heavily in the social and psychological status of himself and the people he meets.
I can sum up my feeling with Welcome to the NHK in one word, Complex. Its tone is to try to recreate the world in a very realistic way (within the confines of the characters perspective) which I suppose the fact that I feel everything from joy to irritation about NHK itself shows that it achieves some success in that. I’ve always felt like saying “It gave me a full range of emotions” is a lazy way to described mixed feelings, but actually I feel in this it’s a perfect description. NHK did illicit every negative and positive feeling I can be tricked into feeling by a work of fiction simply by being a fairly real story.
The plus about being so real of a story I feel more from less. NHK touch of realism lets scenes that aren’t all that dramatic or all that wonderful give a much more profound sense of both sadness and happiness when not much really has happened at all. This is especially true with painting the exact feeling of being completely alone in the world, that heavy sadness that doesn’t have you teary eyed but constantly depressed, this difficult to get down emotion is communicated by the characters so perfectly that I am almost certain the writer had gone through some similar sense of, well, soul crushing loneliness.
That being said, NHK is riddled with issues that make it difficult to call a fantastic story. My main criticism being a side effect of being so “real” a story, it’s about as monotonous as life is as well. Whether intended or accidental, the anime as a whole seems to drag its feet when it comes to pacing and progression. Almost every scene seems to just go on a little too long and a little too slowly, this is especially true with Sato’s delusions that are often so obnoxious it breaks the immersion that the serious scenes so wonderfully build. Even the story itself seems to draw on a bit, even if it is all nicely tied together and almost nothing is a pointless part it all could use some shaving down or tighter focus.
Another hole in the presentation is the humor of NHK. Factually, NHK had me laughing about twice as much as, say, Yuru Yuri did. I felt NHK did, however almost always seem to try three times harder and failed three times more at being funny. Try hard humor just ends up obnoxious and taking away from the best part of NHK, the calmer moments when it takes itself more seriously, that’s when NHK begins to shine. These moments make for a excellently human cast whom all both grow on you, make you care, and manage to have at least one scene where you want to smack them around for being an idiot.
Coming to the close I don’t feel like I’ve really done NHK justice or punished it enough for its success and failures, but to be honest I lack the aptitude to explain exactly what makes NHK so worth my time. While failing to be entertaining I think NHK manages to be a truly interesting and unique experience in a format that could use more originality. While I may have a difficult time giving NHK a blanket recommendation it I very much enjoyed my time with it and have not one regret of it. I’ll finish this off saying if you’ve ever gone through a substantial period of your life feeling incredibly alone in this world or the sensation of being lost without a way out you’re going to probably find something powerful and meaningful here, if you’re one of the lucky ones that have yet to go through that it’s probably not going to be that interesting.
Truly NHK befuddles me, I actually contemplating not writing a review purely because I have a hard time scoring NHK, but I’ll leave it as is and say if anything I’ve said seems like something that you might be interested in, then Take my score of 4 anime body pillows out of 5 as a sign that this is VERY much worth your time, if not then see the door on this one because I don’t see it worth the 12 hours. That’s all for me tonight folks if you got any recommendations leave them in the comments or recommend my review. Later vice.