The closest thing I can compare this too is Catcher in the Rye. By no means do I think this is any where near as good but the themes are similar, if only with a Japanese twist in it. Watching a character which a serious social problem, spiral worse and worse. Sometimes getting better only to regress. The people around him struggling with there own problems. This anime is about the issues everyone faces and a bunch of people who learn to overcome them.
As you can tell, this anime is fairly deep at times. It has moments of funniest, moments of pervertedness, but at the heart, this anime is very realistic in how the world works. Some people leave school and swim easily. Others sink. The world can be very cruel and harsh at time but people learn how to get though it all. In many ways parts of this anime can be very sad. Dreams don’t always come true, as much as we would wish it otherwise.
The main character is a hikikomori. Plain and simple. Satou Tatsuhiro is 22 years old and has dropped out of college. He is an example of a growing social problem in Japan of a NEET who never leaves his house and lives off his parents. However things can’t remain like this forever. Satou desperately wants to get a job and be normal but is terrified of doing so.
Like anything Satou’s mind spirals out of control, and he comes to the conclusion their is a conspiracy around him in order to keep him as a Hikikomori. The Nihon Hikikomori Kyoukai, aka the NHK. Or for those unable to speak Japanese ‘The Japan Hikkomori Association’. A company which does its best to keep hikikomori’s as such in order to give society something to laugh at. When things are going bad, the NHK are shown by purple creatures. If they show up, bad things are happening.
This is a fairly important thing and not something too far from the truth. The idea of someone panicking to the point where conspiracies become real and they are obsessed there is one against them I mean. When people lock themselves away from the real world, it’s not that hard for them to become paranoid of the world outside. Our mind can’t really cope with being stagnant, which is why people are better off with some form of job. Its not just money, but giving ourselves a purpose. For a lot of people, all they really need is a purpose, or in the case of the Hikikomori, a kick to get started.
Part of the problem with being Hikikomori is that parents enable the consideration by continuing to pay for their children once they are adults.There is no need to go out because everything is always there. Obviously there are other factors but parents are often part of the problem and not the solution from what I have read and studied. This in itself is another key issue which is played out in Welcome to the NHK. As money becomes tighter, parents are less and less able to help their children out. Gone is Japanese golden age where such things were possible.
So how will this particular NEET overcome being so? For reason unknown at first, a beautiful girl has taken interest in him. Misaki has chosen him for a project which will hopefully save him from being a Hikikomori. This girl crashing into his life with more effects than he could have foreseen. She is mystery and basically a stalker. Seriously, between Misaki watching him from her house on the hill to Sadou’s sempai and old crush almost getting him to commit suicide, I was very tempted to stop watching this anime. The themes just a little too twisted, but I persisted, given this anime has a very good reputation on the net.
Misaki grew on me, especially as it grew obviously she was as socially awkward as he was. She wasn’t just a girl out for kicks, though she does seemingly grow obsessed with him. At first I wondered if we were going to end up with a character with Yuno levels of obsession. However, it turned out to be less obsession and more a kind of dependence. Everyone has one friend right? Misaka’s friend is Sadou and she gets very worried when he goes off with other people without mentioning anything to him. On the other hand, she is the only one to check up on him and make sure he is still alive. Even feeding him when his allowance gets cut.
As far as the animation style goes for this anime, its not beautiful or sleek. Its plain and drab. Honestly it just adds to the story. This is a real world story, despite the conspiracy, nothing particularly amazing happens. Ignoring the episodes when Sadou gets hooked on to online games on the hope of making money. The different between the virtual world and the real world are stark. Especially when you compare the bright colours of the computer world to the dim of the room Sadou is hiding in. All in all I give this anime a gold. It is an excellent anime with some pretty strong characters and themes.