Are many of us afraid to become a NEET or a hikikomori nowadays? You know, where you basically don’t go to college or have a job, not contributing to society as most people calls it and instead you’re living off your parents for money, becoming closed off to the world, anti-social to everyone you know (or at least that’s what most people think of being anti-social, but mostly to the people you don’t give a shit about) and basically you’re referred to as a freak? Yeah, I’m not going to sugarcoat this but this does exist in the world and it can discourage you at most times during the time of your adult life. It can happen to anyone through anything.
Tatsuhiro Satou, a 22 year old young man, is a NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) and a hikikomori (meaning acute social withdrawal). He believes everything around him is a conspiracy, including the reason why many people, himself included, become hikikomori. Due to this, Satou (mostly influenced in his high school days by Hitomi Kashiwa, or as he calls her Senpai, yes, someone actually uses that word. Make all the “I hope somebody-Senpai notices me” jokes you want) creates a strange conspiracy theory which includes the Nihon Hikikomori Kyōkai (NHK), a secret organization with the intention of producing a hikikomori filled world. Satou intends to break free from the NHK's clutches, but cannot, since he finds it too frightening to go outdoors by him; that is, until he meets Misaki Nakahara, who selects Satou for her "project" that she claims will cure him of his hikikomori ways and yet he wants to prove to her that he’s not one by telling her he’s a stay-at-home game designer working on his next project with the help of his irritable next-door neighbor Kaoru Yamazaki, who seems like a NEET but actually goes to a school and a bit more stable than Satou but still messed up in the head.
Now, the premise of the series does seem a bit odd like why did somebody think of this in the first place, leading them to thinking that this would not work at all but in actuality, it fits perfectly fine as the series goes along with the tone of dark humor involving tropes and references of anime, online gaming, manga, and conspiracy theories among those. Somebody going outside of their world, feeling strange to surroundings that they are not familiar with and trying not to fail connecting or crossing in that world seems new to the world of anime since I’m not sure if anyone uses that concept before, maybe in a few movies or TV series but not in an anime before.
Character-wise, the show mainly has the focus on four main characters and that’s what I’m going to do. Sato is an idiot, but I can’t say he wasn’t relatable or unlikable to anyone out there and not the stereotype of what most people think of NEETs. He may be a hikikomori but his problems are like what every day normal people goes through. It’s another story with Yamazaki, I wanted to feel for this character but sometimes they are reasons why he should get his ass kicked and also close to the stereotype of the reason why geeks and nerds can’t get laid……that and that damn song he played at the beginning of the series got stuck in my head. I do like Misaki as a character since she does have good intentions on helping Satou with the counseling but it is obvious that she has a crush on him, I even spotted that from the beginning of the show. Hitomi may be a part of the past life of Satou but most of the time she’s never relevant in the main plot except for a few episodes in the halfway mark. The dub voices of them by ADV Films were done well by Chris Patton, Luci Christian, Stephanie Wittels & Greg Ayres but I will say for Ayres if you can’t tolerate his voice, then you will hate his character overall.
The animation of the show is done by Gonzo. Okay, even though Gonzo is known for doing good animation in the earlier stages of an anime and then they’ll fuck it up when they ran out of the animation budget but I don’t hate Gonzo considering the past work I liked from them was Afro Samurai, Afro Samurai: Resurrection & Romeo X Juliet. What I said about Samurai 7 and their animation, the same can be said for this one but it felt like a better effort put into this since this falls under slice-of-life and they often get bigger budgets. The music is fairly okay with the main score sounds like something out of a Sundance Film Festival entry and the opening of the series is a standard light J-Pop sound but the ending music…….oh, the ending music, I really love the ending song to this because it feels like one acid trip after another but unfortunately, that song only lasts for 12 episodes, the other song……I won’t speak of.
FINAL VERDICT: Welcome to the N.H.K. is a daring series that doesn’t bullshit on the details and it has all the elements of what you expect from an indie comedy-drama movie. I can see some people ranking this as high on their list but I’ll say I consider this a must-see but not something you put in your hall of fame chest. The characters are relatable to an extent where it gets confusedly weird to get to, the animation is good at some times but can be bad and overall, while it can get depressing at some parts, it’s still something that most anime (even non-anime fans that might get into anime) should check out.
So, what would I give this anime? (look both ways in case of the NHK watching me)……. 9/10 Planet Tyro Rating: FIRST CLASS