Welcome to the NHK is a special anime. It follows the university dropout Satou as he is forced to face the reality of having become a hikikomori – a shut-in. With neither job nor employment, Satou is living off his parents’ allowance and is slowly growing more out of touch with reality by each day. Author Tatsuhiko Takimoto has himself gone through (is going through?) a period of being a hikikomori and it shows, while being difficult to put into words as my knowledge of this type of social anxiety disorder is limited at best.
What appeals to me is not necessarily the story itself, but rather its characters. They are flawed and do not always make the correct choices; in fact, there are times when I am actually slightly frustrated at them. “Why are you doing THAT?!”, I often found myself thinking while also realizing how attached I had grown.
The choices made almost seem comical to a degree, but they are all the more real in Satou’s warped mind. It feels as if they were created by someone not only having experienced similar things, but also by a person who has gained perspective. This perspective allows for punches in the gut – without being too cynical – and still being able to present the harsh reality many suffer from in a thoughtful manner.
As said earlier, it is incredibly difficult to put what makes me like Welcome to the NHK into words. All I know is that it is a fascinating story that completely absorbed me in the span of a few days, only wishing for every character’s well-being. It is often painful to watch and is not a happy experience, but it is no doubt a memorable one I will remember for a long time.