Welcome To The NHK episodes 1-4

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I figure that this is a good series to re-watch. After all, the series’ gallows-black humor seems perfect for someone who has been feeling much like the protagonist (Watamote isn’t enough in mere one-episode-a-week bursts). As it is the first re-watch for this section, it will be addressed as one. That means that there will be MAJOR SPOILERS coming up.

Sato is a NEET (No Work, Education, or Training) and hikikimori (a recluse who cannot function around others). He dropped out of college four years ago, has barely left his apartment (apart from food shopping and going to a park late at night), and believes that everything wrong in his life is the result of a conspiracy against him by the NHK organization (a Japanese TV network (that didn’t air this, for some reason) which he believes is plotting in creating an army of hikikimori because…….). One day, a girl named Misaki comes to his house (with her grandmother handing out fliers spreading awareness of the NEET problem) and then at a manga cafe where he attempts to (and fails to) apply for a job (he goes to prove to her that he isn’t a hikikimori and fails to because she works there). She gives him an offer: she wants him to be a member of her project to cure him of his hikikimori affliction. He refuses, following a blatant lie that enlists the help of his high school friend and next-door neighbor (discovering that they were neighbors is hilarious) to create a hentai game as proof that he in employed.

If you aren’t following, this is not a series for everyone. The animation is ugly, though it may be intentional to fit the dark and grimy tone of the series. However, the animation could be chalked up as studio Gonzo’s fault (they aren’t good with visuals). However, this series showcases the best qualities of Gonzo: they work best with unorthodox projects no one else would dare touch (this, Samurai 7, Last Exile, Romeo x Juliet, Red Garden, Gankutsuo). It works better for them than their attempts at series which aren’t experimental or unorthodox (Rosario + Vampire, Kaze No Stigma, Witchblade, Desert Punk) or are just awful (Afro Samurai, I’m singling you out as the worst Gonzo series). The look is, however, fittingly bleak.

The writing is top notch. It shows that this was initially a novel, in that the series is well-paced story-wise and a lot of detail is put into every situation. However, it does suffer from what I’ll call “The Last Unicorn Syndrome”: it’s so apparent that this was a novel because it feels like a novel: long narration that would be an inner monologue in the novel just describes the images on screen or are just the inner monologues of miserable human being. This needed some more of “show, don’t tell”.

Still, the monologues hold a good portion of the dark humor and the viewer is ever so grateful for that. The series still holds up well, possibly because we can all still laugh at a shut-in downloading 102 GB of porn.

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Author: criticoffilm

Amateur film and anime critic, animation enthusiast, hopeful writer

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