It took me longer than expected to really get myself into the series. I started pretty well but the enthusiasm sort of slowed down just after a few episodes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not boring. In fact, I find Welcome to the NHK interesting. It has content that I don’t see every other anime season. It’s just that it’s a bit hard to watch a bunch of troubled characters going about their lives.
First of all, we have Satou who has been a hikikomori for four years or so. Then, we have Yamazaki Kaoru who has anger issues. The female characters also have their own personal troubles – Kashiwa Hitomi is suicidal with drug issues and Nakahara Misaki has a psychology condition.
Midway through the series, I found myself asking – what’s Welcome to the NHK is trying to accomplish? What’s the conspiracy behind this?! Okay, maybe I shouldn’t copy them and use the word “conspiracy”. It sounds like a big deal or something. I started out watching this anime like I do any other anime, which is to just enjoy and focus on entertainment value. But the more I watch, the more I ponder on what’s the point behind this anime chronicling the life of an adult male who’s a hikikomori. Is it because this is in fact a rising social issue or just because it is a popular term in anime culture? I only say this because the term “hikikomori” is often associate with whoever’s watching anime. Not always, but often.
Or is it a ground for us to examine or at least ponder on the troubled lives of the characters? Because being out in the society can be a really stressful. This part I can relate. We face many difficulties in all aspects of lives – family, friendships, relationships, career, education and so on. Some of us managed to get through one obstacle after another and grow stronger. Some of us learn the art of staying ahead in the game of rat race. Some, on the other hand, couldn’t handle the stress and they fall. Is it one of Welcome to the NHK’s goals to present that aspect of lives? I gotta say – not many anime focus entirely on the failures of the characters.
When I was watching this series, I thought it was kind of dangerous to be watching it at all. Some of the content touch on very real aspect of human living. It’s unlike some other series in which their content can be passed off as something entertaining but far fetched. Welcome to the NHK, in my opinion, isn’t that. Human want to be loved and to love others. They want to feel needed and need others. That’s basically the gist of the show. And it’s elaborated in a…let’s just say it forces one to really look at what’s happening in the lives of the characters through a pair of not-so-rose-colored glasses.
At the end of the series, I found myself breathe a sigh of relief to see that all the characters are doing well and got back on track after a dreadful year. Now, I don’t mean to paint such dark color to Welcome to the NHK. I’m grateful for the humor that’s consistently present throughout the series. But underneath that, I don’t think it’s something I should laugh about.