Wildstar's Anime Review

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welcome to the NHK!

Welcome to the NHK (or NHK ni Youkoso!) is one series that I have wanted to blog about for a long time and recommend highly to serious viewers.

First of all, I want to set things straight about the title, because it does not really give a good idea about what kind of series this is or what genre it fits into exactly.  It is largely a drama about otaku, very character driven, with mature college-aged protagonists.  While it does have a lot of social commentary, the plot is progressed in a classical narrative style. Although this description might confuse it with other shows, let me say that it is nothing like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, which lacked NHK's plot and character development.

That being said, Welcome to the NHK is a pure drama, following the lives of its two main characters, Satou and Misaki, with a well developed story line, and each episode logically following the preceding one. 

The series is particularly poignant in dealing with the daily ups-and-downs of Satou, a very depressed game designer, who has trouble even leaving his room to face society (also called a hikikomori). The hours he spends in his messy room, trying to figure out his life, are vividly portrayed, and as awful as it is, you somehow care enough to enjoy being with him. These scenes remind me of Densha Otoko, in which a bunch of geeks lazing around their small rooms chatting on the net was somehow made interesting! There appears to be hope for his completely messed up life, however, due to Misaki, a young energetic lady he befriends.  She also has her own social problems, and her story is very well told, weaving in and out of Satou's life. Their effort at conversation and communication is the heart of the story - because you know what they say about a car crash...you can't keep your eyes off it.

Overall, this is a really addictive series which is hard to put down once you start, similar to the first season of Genshiken, as both series are executed with similar styles. My only complaint about the story that the two major climaxes of the show, in the middle and end, are basically repeating the same story arch.  So you when you get to the second climax, it feels like you have already seen it before.  But this does not reduce from the quality of the show overall, and is probably due to trying to remain true to the manga (which I have not read, so would appreciate to know about that.)

I wanted to highlight this show because it is a real rarity in anime, and I wish that there was more good work like it around.  The downfall of most recent anime series is that they do not have good writing with a strong plot overall.  Flashy animation is not enough. The great series always have an excellent series structure and good writing.  You may not like the genres, but it would be hard to find fault in the writing of series like Fantastic Children, Utena, and Cowboy Bebop.

Although it can be a heart-breaking experience, if you like good story telling, real drama, and a lot of angst, then do not pass up this show.  It doesn't have any moe, or mecha, or hyper cute characters, but it has what really matters, a great story and interesting characters that you care enough about to keep watching to see what happens to them.


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