|| Apr 6, 2014
So I recently had another debate defending this anime to the death. I admit I love this anime, but never forget--from a technical standpoint, this is the perfect anime.
Welcome to the NHK is an anime produced by Gonzo, ADV Films, and FUNimation Entertainment, after the novel of the same title by Tatsuhiko Takimoto. It is built around several themes, including anxiety, paranoia, depression, suicide, and just how life doesn't always work out the way you want it to.
I'd start with the story, but the funny thing is that there isn't one. Sure, you can pick apart the different events that occur, but a story has a beginning and an ending, of which NHK lacks the latter, and thus has caused some conflicted reactions. It's better to interpret the story as one large example that speaks to the themes, and it does so flawlessly.
So we get to the meat of this anime. The characters. It focuses upon the life of one Satou Tatsuhiro after nearly four years of shutting himself away from society in fear. It's a challenge for him to open the door. As he continues his small lifestyle, through the power of alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs, his furniture informs him via emergency broadcast that, of course, the mocking laughter, malevolent glares, and public disapproval, were all the result of a conspiracy--the Nippon Hikikomori Kyoukai.
Satou realizes his neighbor is his high school friend, Kaoru Yamazaki. Yamazaki is an outcast, being a hardcore otaku, but he continues to work towards his goal of becoming a famous game producer, and has enough spirit to even encourage Satou, a large part of his 'healing' process. He has his great moments, and he has many bad moments, all of which fit perfectly into the role of an outcast that continues to fight for a perfect future through college and love, though things never seem to go right for him no matter how hard he tries. He puts his life into his goals, and he will always be left behind.
Then another character is introduced, a beautiful girl, Misaki Nakahara. As I'm sure you've seen this before if you're reading this, I'll get to the point here. Misaki comes seeking help from Satou from her depression through the roundabout method of offering help to him. Misaki uses Satou to dispel her depression as she lives among an uncaring family with no friends to speak of. Satou soon sees Misaki as this beacon of hope that can rescue him from the NHK and bring him back into a normal lifestyle. Of course, the NHK is merely somewhere to shift the blame for his own failures, so he can give himself the confidence to fight against them. This relationship between them, where Misaki helps Satou overcome his social anxiety, and in turn, continues for the majority of the series, and each occurrence that... well, occurs, during this period intricately details how they slowly change.
Soon, Satou believes he can successfully pursue his long love interest, Hitomi Kashiwa. Hitomi, too, deals with depression, and this escalates as her boyfriend is often away, and she exaggerates her life problems to justify her thoughts about suicide, and soon she takes action, planning for an Offline meeting. When Satou finds out about the Offline meeting, he doesn't realize the purpose, but has confidence he can take the chance to be alone with Hitomi in her time of weakness. Soon, he learns how the Offline meeting is a planned group suicide, he panics, though while he is in hysterics, he doesn't resist, but instead takes on a form of denial, and claims he will follow through for Hitomi's sake.
At the moment of the suicide attempt, somebody backs out in second thoughts. Misaki, on a boat, comes into view, and shouts for them to stop. Satou then realizes his mistake before his very hope, and he feels as if it had been lost, and he loses sight of a good future, and thus attempts to throw himself off of the cliff nonetheless. He ends up being stopped, and though he is tense, Misaki assures him it's alright, and that it's actually better for the project that way, which in reality allows her to feel better about herself. As they continue to obsess over their issues, they completely overlook the problems of the other for quite some time. Over time, though, Satou improves, and Misaki realizes he has a lot of potential. Her depression sets in, even deeper, as she had been relying on him this way for quite some time, and she attempts suicide shortly after. Satou follows her, and again panics, as the person he had believed in had lost her own hope, and instead throws himself off of the cliff, feeling it's necessary to overcome his fears.
In the end, however, both Misaki and Satou either haven't realized or are simply ignoring the problems of one another, and they become awkward, and essentially how they both began, and it is assumed that the Project is terminated. Anticlimactic, quiet, and hopeless, but without some grand gesture such as despair. It punctuates the difficulty of overcoming a challenge when you feel as if it is insurmountable.
As that was the bulk of the overview/analysis, I will say here, the reason this, from a technical standpoint, is the perfect anime, is because every single action has justifiable reason behind it. Even if it's pointless and stupid, it's realistic and believable. There is no filler, no useless side plots, and no useless characters. A happy ending was simply unrealistic when the entire cast is orchestrated by strongly conflicted people.
It's also worth noting that the voice acting, English and Japanese, are wonderful. The English dubbing is probably the best dub you could ever find in an anime. The actual music is melancholy, and quite a few songs are very memorable, and it easily is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. It never gets in the way of what's happening, as all music should and does, but then it really pulls at you with a cynical narration by Satou with the tune of Youkuso! Hitori Bocchi playing strongly in the foreground.
The art in this is beautiful. The animation is smooth and shaped nicely, even by today's standards, and has a lot of character. The detail put into backgrounds is also absolutely astounding. It takes only a glance into either Satou or Kaoru's apartment to realize just how much detail is there. Characters and their expressions are also very spot-on, and capture the moods well. Every angle and shot is descriptive on it's own with locations, times, and simple moods. I applaud the work put into this.
And so, this concludes as to my reasoning of why Welcome to the NHK is the perfect anime.
I welcome any and all comments, please do so.
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