Note: Nope, haven’t read the manga yet.
Almost nothing is better than watching a show that exceeds all of your expectations. I jumped into this series expecting a polished rehash of the same old theme that almost all ecchi shows have: namely, one (or more!) cute girls inexplicably falling for an insultingly spineless Keitarou-clone loser. However, this GONZO work is not, by any stretch of the imagination, your average nerd-meets-girl. On the contrary, Welcome to the NHK! is a remarkably strange series – one that happens to be among the best of the year.
What makes the series so excellent is that it manages to work well on not one, or two, but three levels.
The first level is the one most people will enjoy the show for: namely, a witty romantic comedy involving quirky characters in unusual situations. Most of the laughs in the show come from the protagonist, Satou, a loveably dysfunctional shut-in whose tendency to fall headfirst into social problems is tempered only by his relentless paranoia. Most of his personality is developed through internal monologues, which, as with Kyon from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, quickly flesh him out into a likeable, albeit bizarre, protagonist. Coupled with some equally strange but equally appealing supporting characters, Satou leaps from one anti-social obsession to another in rapid-fire succession. The bizarre situations Satou finds himself in, coupled with his strange personality, make for plenty of laughs and give the show a good deal of charm.
The second level is less immediately appealing, but is nonetheless fascinating. Alongside the comedy, NHK provides insightful commentary on Japans many societal problems. By unwittingly finding himself in the middle of some of Japan’s most dysfunctional circles, Satou acts almost as a medium through which the audience can see usually distant and abstracted problems up close in frightening detail. From the internet suicide chat-rooms to the NEET shut-ins, the anime gives faces, motives and reasons to these important and alarming statistics. In the end, in addressing real-life problems in Japan, this is probably the most honest and believable anime out there.
Finally, there is a third level that surfaces most near the end. Put simply, NHK is in part a desperate search for meaning in a vast and lonely world. One of Satou’s most telling lines is, "I am alone in the universe." His inability to relate with society almost forces him to be what he is – a lonely, emotionally neutered husk of a human being. This theme carries over to the supporting characters as well; each troubled soul searches endlessly for some hope, some iota of meaning, and always comes up short due to his or her own insecurities and idiosyncrasies.
While this anime could have been good with just the first two “levels” of entertainment, the third level is really what makes the show. There is an underlying sense of poignancy running through the entire work; even as I laughed at Satou’s numerous shortcomings, the sad truth is that I saw a lot of myself in his exaggerated character. As individuals who necessarily live at least somewhat on the fringe of society, I suspect other anime watchers will have similar thoughts.
I was a little apprehensive to see GONZO helming this series. However, unlike other anime by the studio, GONZO doesn’t allow over-p=roduced animation to interfere with the show. While at times the show is quite visually innovative (particularly when Satou is in the throes of some wild personal fantasy), for the most part the studio plays it straight. The result is a visual look that seldom wows, but provides a solid backbone for the story to rest on.
The sound, on the other hand, is great. An impressive array of seiyuu performances is led by Koizumi Yutaka, whose fevered and thoroughly erratic rendition of Satou borders on transcendent. For music, I particularly enjoyed “Purupuru Pururin,” a deliberately inane JPop song that pokes fun at the musical taste of anime-watchers. The rest of the soundtrack is suitably zany, with a solid OP by Round Table and a hilarious ED.
As mentioned in the story section, Satou really steals the show here as the loveable anti-hero. The other characters usually just act as foils to him, but are generally interesting in their own right as well.
As a whole, NHK ni Youkoso! is a landmark achievement for the year. Besides the fact that some people may find the transition from comedy to drama awkward, I’d recommend this to just about everyone. No other anime this year has appealed to me in so many different ways.
Welcome to the NHK is one of the most unexpected treats I've stumbled on in recent times. It follows a hikikomori (think a live at home WoW addict) named Sato. He lives alone in a tiny apartment, is unemployed, and a bit mad, under the impression there is a grand conspiracy against him. Shortly after his introduction he meets a young girl who promises to help him fix his reclusive ways.
What follows is a series which addresses some of Japans recent issues in a manner thick with dark humor. The earlier episodes err on the side of funny while the later are downright depressing.
The most impressive thing about this series is that when all is said and done you feel like you actually went on this journey- Which while not particularly epic has its roots in the real world and thus feels real. Even if you dont learn anything from the adventure it is strangely soothing to see things you notice in people around you pointed out in a visual medium.
Welcome to the NHK a story about a hikikimori trying to become a normal person, make a gal game and find love.
Welcome to the NHK follows the story of a recluse or hikikimori and his attempt to over come it. In the process with the help of a friend tries to make a gal game, find love and deal with several other comical situations and heart welming and cramping. The story is well put together and deserves a 8.5/10
Another anime by Gonzo not expecting anything less. They meet all my standards I have set for them. The scenery looks great, character well made, and the NHK deamon doll thingies look just as good. All elements are well put together and Gonzo pulls an easy 9/10 from me with Welcome to the NHK.
This series has great english dub cast.But what makes the sound get the 9/10 is how thye put all the other elements into it. Wether it be his cellphone ringtone, the first half outro song which is insainly awesome or all the other crazy sounds from his conseracy thoughts or the sounds put into the game they are all well put together and tought over.
The chracters for Welcome to the NHK had the ability to make you feel for them, wonder why the hell they did what they did, laugh at them, and just plain get annouyed of them. This story doesn't contain too many minor characters and the ones it does are developed well even if they only show up in a few episodes they did a very great job earning them the 8.5/10
Welcome to the NHK is a must to watch and add to the collection. Its plot is like no other and will keep you watching from episode 1-24. Its ability to have everything from the sad to the histerically funny makes this series great. Like several other animes I cannot say why I rated it only a 8.75/10 without spoiling something never the less I will be purchasing this and adding it to my collection.
(thanks for the suggestion alphabetglue from youtube)
It's easy to write off anime as a lightweight body of work that is commercially focused on appealing to a younger audience and heavily reliant on recycling well-worn tropes to pad out its content. To a certain extent, this criticism is warranted, but amongst all the fluff and cookie cutter productions, some shows rise above and prove that Japanese animation can make a real impact when it comes to telling stories that touch on our humanity. Welcome to the NHK is one such show that overcomes the rigid limitations of the animation industry and gives us a truly memorable story.
Released in 2006 and produced by Studio Gonzo, Welcome to the NHK is the story of Tatsuhiro Sato. Unemployed, and a college drop out, Sato is imprisoned within his own apartment, a recluse afraid to socialize and interact with the outside world. Within Japanese culture, he is known as a 'hikikomori', a label that Sato wears with shame and self-loathing. Living in isolation and confined within his modestly-sized flat, Sato has no direction or goals in life, his relentless self-reflection causing him to imagine that an elaborate conspiracy controlled by the mysterious NHK organization (NHK actually being the real life TV network) is actually the cause of his hikikomori condition.
When two people unexpectedly enter his life, Sato finds himself in a reluctant position to finally take steps towards breaking out of his self-imposed prison. Misaki Nakahara, a young woman comes into contact with Sato and after their initial awkward meeting, she binds him to a contract, requiring him to undergo counselling. The counselling will be delivered by Misaki with Sato serving as her personal 'project'. At the same time, Sato meets his recent new next door neighbour, Yamazaki Kaoru, who turns out to be a student from his former high school. Both Yamazkai and Misaki take it upon themselves to help Sato break out the hikikomori state, albeit it with very different strategies. As the story progresses, we learn that Sato is not alone in his struggle to to integrate with society, and his battle is one that is one that is fought by many, each person fighting alone and suffering alone.
Loneliness is a major theme of Welcome to the NHK, and the prevailing sense of depression caused by a life without meaning may be a difficult story for some viewers to embrace. But this is a direct and uncompromising look at the kind of pain and despair that is all too easily ignored by society because the victims suffering the most are almost never visible enough to be noticed by the general public. The loneliness and isolation may be focused on individuals towards the extreme end of the spectrum, but it's the kind of pain that everyone living in a modern society, has felt all too often. It's for this reason that Welcome to the NHK resonates with so many people. We can directly relate to and understand the despair these characters endure even without having to directly experience what it's truly like to be a hikikomori.
Sato's journey is told over 24 episodes, which gives sufficient time to cover several major story arcs. The primary events in the stories are somewhat predictable in their connections to people who are struggle with being social outcasts. At times, it feels as if Sato progresses from one obvious set-up to the next one, but the story never feels too contrived. In reality, many of the situations that Sato finds himself in are not at all uncommon for people in his condition.
It's upon this story framework that we meet the supporting cast, and it doesn't take long before we realize that Sato is not the only person fighting his own inner demons. Each supporting character never feels underdeveloped, even minor characters tertiary to the story. In a way, this contributes to that sense of depression that seems to be ever present throughout the series. At times it can be difficult not to share in the sorrow that weighs on seemingly every person that makes an appearance in the show. However, it is Welcome to the NHK's strength in giving us characters that have real depth, and characters that we find ourselves wishing happiness for.
The visual world of Welcome to the NHK is straightforward in its presentation. The designs of the characters seem fairly standard, but with the main cast being young adults and not the typical young teen characters, it's refreshing to see designs for mature characters. This contributes to the overall art direction of the show – it has a cinematic feel, reminiscent of anime movies like Tokyo Godfathers. At times, the animation may be simple, but with the focus on the characters and not on special effects, there is no lack of expression in this series.
Tying it all together is the remarkable soundtrack. It's not a cliché to describe the show's selection of music as eclectic. From heavy guitar-driven abrasive rock to sorrowful acoustic ballads and then back to airy pop, each song is unique but is tied together with the underlying theme of the show. Welcome to the NHK's soundtrack is one of the best you will hear. With several very high quality tracks, the show never resorts to relying on one signature piece as a repetitive musical accompaniment. And, of course,there is the stand out song, Fushigi Purupuru Pururin Rin! A purposefully contrived homage to anime pop, this infamous sugary track will burrow deep into your brain and rightfully so! In addition to the soundtrack, the Japanese cast for the show does an admirable job of bringing the characters' voices to life. The voices suit the characters, delivering the kinds of tones and inflection that would be expected of young adults.
Welcome to the NHK is a rare series to come out of the anime industry. The story is firmly focused on a struggle that is rooted in the real modern world, without the benefits of a fantasy setting or a cast of teen characters to pull it off. It's against these odds that Studio Gonzo was able to produce this masterpiece of a show, one that the typical anime audience demographic may find uncomfortable or easy to relate to. There are very few shows like Welcome to the NHK that sincerely touch on the human struggle of finding one's position in life and society. The depression and sorrow felt by the characters is all too real at times, but it is a testament to the show that we can feel such strong empathy for characters like Sato,
Regardless of your opinion to the series, Welcome to the NHK should be appreciated as a well-made anime solely for the fact that it encompasses so many different genres. You can find a little bit of everything in the series, which is what any great show should be looking for.
Story: 6 out of 10
Welcome to the NHK jumps back and forth between focuses. At times you think it is a series about a Hikikimori, then you think it's about his dream to be a video game designer, then you think it's about his relationship with Misaki. The fact of the matter is, the storyline is all and none of these if you will. Now, now, allow me to explain. All of those elements, and many more play out through arcs in the series, but the bottom line, is when all is said and done, the series doesn't have much of an actual storyline. It's difficult to explain without giving away spoilers, but NHK's final storyline is nearly nothing. Just a slice-of-life for a depressed, young adult.
Animation: 8 out of 10
Animation for NHK is beautiful, and fluid, but it can also be quite patchy. There are budget shots to be seen every now and then, and sometimes the characters anatomy can be really fudged up. Outside of that though, the animation is well above-average.
Sound: 7 out of 10
I don't usually do this, but I watched the series dubbed, and against my better judgment, I will admit that well freaking done guys. One of the better dubs out there. I don't believe anyones voice but Nanako's obviously fake accent through me off. Toss in some catchy opening and ending songs, and we have one hell of a sound department.
Characters: 10 out of 10
Easily the strongest point of the series, this is strictly a character piece series. Whether is be the innocent, and mysterious qualities of Misaki, the brave, and passionate qualities of Yamazaki, or even the at times calm, and then at times schizophrenic qualities of Sato. Even the minor characters are written wonderfully. Senpai is beautiful, but fractured, and the episodes with her on the island were some of my absolute favorites in the entire series. A second wonderful character is Megumi, who appears calm at first, but we quickly learn of all the weight she has on her shoulders.
The storyline spans several years, as as such, the characters not only age physically, but mentally they are constantly growing. It's a real treat watching them overcome all of their faults, and find some sort of happiness in that crazy thing we call life.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Overall, Welcome to the NHK was peculiar, and borderline schizophrenic at times, but the great moments are truly great, and make up for some of the slower moments in the series. It's confusing, NHK, because at first I had thought I was watching a comedy, and then I thought I was watching a show about 2 friends making a living together. Near the end, I thought I was watching a tragedy. However, like I mentioned earlier, it was all and none of these elements, and it made for a truly enjoyable watch.