Welcome To The NHK: What’s The Conspiracy?

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.

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10 thoughts on “Welcome To The NHK: What’s The Conspiracy?

  1. Good that you finished the anime now ^^

    I liked this show a lot back then, it has been a completely new experience for me.

    The way NHK portrayed all the little and big dangers that can lead someone astray if you don’t keep it at a healthy dosis was quite nice. Satou really got addicted to everything which was connected to the anime culture. The anime showed Satou as deterrent example, in his last few adventures I was like “No! not again :D”

    Aside from the entertaining comedy moments NHK had a good portion of realism to it, at least in the end it became rather sad to see the characters with their problems.

    This anime rather showed how to deal with hikikomori, without free support they have to get their act together and start to work.

    • It took me a long while! >.< I'd say that this series is a completely new experience for me as well. It's quite different from other anime, really.

      I know right? It's really sad and hard to watch the characters with their problems. T.T

      That's right. I remember besides Satou, there's also this other guy, who's very much like himself, got out of the house and found himself a job because there's no one else to feed him. I think this part holds great truth – give a limit to a person, he/she tends to be better.

  2. Watched NHK earlier this year XD

    Another one of those anime that realistically portray otaku-hikikomori life style.

    Though I hate to admit it, I was once like Satou (not to the extent that I look myself up) – always fearing the possibility that people are talking right at my back and such. This had its ups and downs but still was worth my time. Lol at the Multilevel Marketing Scheme (forgot which episode) I remember someone sales talking my into it XD

    • So far, I’ve only seen this one that portrayed hikikomori lifestyle in a realistic manner. What other titles are there? I’m curious.

      I think there’s that fear in everyone of us. I used to care a lot what others think of me when I was younger, but I let that slide once I realized there’s no point in that. Just do what I want and have fun the way I like.

      Lol, Multilevel Marketing Scheme seems to be widespread huh? We have loads of that kind of thing here as well. I guess I’m not really into making big bucks so managed to dodge the bullets countless times >.<

  3. I was slightly confused too when I started watching Welcome to the NHK wayback, but few years after that, I realized that the anime wanted to portray the social troubles these individuals, which I believe is the main theme of the anime.

    Otaku/hikikomori, may seem like a light term for foreigners, they depict the terms as someone who watches anime. However, for Japanese themselves, I don’t understand why but hikikomori are sometimes even being treated as if they are social trashes. Well, it’s not like I experienced this firsthand but I heard the stories. It’s times like these I idolize people like Danny Choo, he makes us otaku proud 😀

    • Yeah, it’s funny how the term “otaku” holds such different meaning in Western and Japanese cultures. But I believe not all otaku are hikikomori and vice versa. I haven’t met anyone who is one or do I have personal experience, but the media certainly paint a dark color to them. Sigh.

  4. I respect your opinions on the show, there really isn’t much to laugh about in the end (though I got some laughs in parts). I feel a strong connection with this series because it touches on some very real aspects of my own life, and I don’t mean watching anime or any crap like that. I have some severe social issues in real life that truly do hinder my progress in life, and even though I’m married and have a son, things aren’t always peachy. I don’t think the show was meant to entertain as much as it was a sort of overly dramatized autobiography of the original novel/manga author. I know this doesn’t pertain to the anime version so much, but in the novel the author makes it a point that Satou is sort of an extension of himself. Watching this could very well could be dangerous, but what really makes it shine is the fact that it doesn’t glorify the hikkikomori lifestyle, nor does it completely trash those who live it, it’s a nice (though very dark) realistic take on things.

    • “it doesn’t glorify the hikkikomori lifestyle, nor does it completely trash those who live it”.
      – I like what you said here. It’s exactly how the show is. It approached the idea in a realistic manner, which I think that’s what makes it different. It’s too real. Some of the scenes made me paused and think about the effects.

  5. I sort of agree with you, as I was deeply touched by Misaki’s story (her fear when the protagonist tried to raise an hand on her was heart straining for me) while I was definitely less touched by all the other situations (especially multi-level marketing girl and protagonist as they searched for their problems).

    Still an entertaining series for me…:)

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