Welcome to the NHK [END] – And so dies the NEET

It was cute to see NHK end with a role reversal between Misaki and Satou – there are big differences between a lazy hikkimori and having a genuinely mixed up life. In spite of his personal problems Satou was always a fairly normal person just in need of tough love. When his parents’ money dries up, for perhaps the first time in his life Satou loses his comfort zone and is finally forced to fend for himself and become independent. And so dies the NEET.

Misaki is a lot more interesting. We’ve gone through this show thinking she is doing Satou a favour by sticking around, but during these final couple of episodes it becomes fairly clear that she desperately needs him; having a dead (suicidal) mother and an abusive step-father, the self-loathing, unconfident and lonely Misaki has grown up surrounded by hate. Her problems are deeply seeded and psychological – she needs help and probably sees herself in Satou; the lectures, the exams and even the home-made lunches are as much (if not more) for her as him.

It all ends on a (notorious) cliff top with both characters ready to jump into oblivion. Both actually give up on life and jump, but both are saved. Misaki is caught by Satou, and Satou himself (amidst another surreal vision of gooey paranoia) is saved by a steal mesh especially placed there to catch suicidal fallers. Given their personal problems through out the show, it seems fitting that Misaki was finally saved by genuine friendship (not a stupid contract) and Satou by the society he so fears. At this point NHK could have flown into romantic territory, but despite these two obviously being in love, it ends with them as good friends having knowingly been through so much, and Satou lecturing Misaki on the park bench!

Undoubtedly this has been one of my favourite shows of the year; despite losing some momentum during the over-long MMORPG arc, Welcome to the NHK was ultimately a fine testament to the importance of friendship and independence. GONZO’s animation production was fairly unspectacular but Pearl Kyoudai’s grungy score, paired with a couple of totally uplifting and poppy opening and ending themes, more than made up for any visual shortcomings with its melancholy and chilled tone; surely a contender for best soundtrack of the year.

Welcome to the NHK is not a show for everyone – it can come across as overwhelmingly depressing and slow, sometimes too close to the bone and uncompromisingly geeky, but then I suppose that’s why I like it too. Within a few episodes I had totally fallen for these characters and desperately wanted to see them grow and find happiness. With this end – leaving the characters feeling optimistic but still somewhat scarred and timid, I’m more than content, knowing deep down they’ll be okay.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

22 thoughts on “Welcome to the NHK [END] – And so dies the NEET”

  1. I think some people complained that the anime didn’t hold true enough to the manga

    but I felt that the anime had a good balance of how depressing it went.

    Misaki my favorite!

  2. If that’s how the anime ends, then it’s not holding true to the manga. The manga is "Hey let’s all kill ourselves" depressing.

    I can’t comment on whether it was a good thing or not, since I didn’t watch the anime, but it seems like GONZO has once against forsaken the original material and struck out in a bold new direction.

    1. I know… the manga was so depressing when I read it that I spent about a year or two afterwards feeling depressed. It was also because I was a somewhat arrogant, angsty teenager who was bad at communication (thank god I now have developed communication skills).

  3. To be honest I was so invested in the anime that I totally forgot about the manga. I think I may go back and begin to read it now, though I suspect the end resolution will be the same; just depends whether or not I’m ready to read through yet more chapters of Satou’s depression!

  4. Manga is simply has the pages to be more interesting. Anime though is a complete story in itself.

    Though Misaki is alot more interesting in the manga. Her anglic ways didn’t stay long in the manga unlike in the anime. She lies and manipulates Satou into doing her bidding while doing her fair share of "hikikomori"-esque antics rival that of Satou’s.

  5. If it wasn’t for Misaki’s existence in this anime I would have quit watching this after the first few episodes. I think Satou’s character built on too much grief and sorrow, on the other hand once Misaki came in, the blend of the two character’s characteristics made this anime very interesting. This is also what makes this last episode such a wonderful experience for me. I feel I can understand Misaki more than Satou, the fact the story was told from Satou’s perspective was not to my liking, but over all it was one of the best psychological/ comedy anime I have seen.

  6. What I liked about the anime’s ending was that it presented a vague glimmer of hope for both Satou and Masaki while maintaining the show’s somber, pessimistic undertone — Satou thinks to himself, even while deciding to stick with Misaki and make the best of things, that “we’ll probably live the rest of our lives mumbling, ‘it’s no good, it’s no good…'” It stays consistent with the rest of the show, basically saying that life is mostly suffering and uncertainty, but we can at least try to live our lives and be okay.

    I’ve been thinking about this anime a lot, and am about to start reading the manga — considering that I am going through a phase of social withdrawal and depression at the moment (I seem to fall into a rut like this once every couple of years or so), I found a lot of the emotional subject matter here to be quite resonant and insightful.

    The single moment that made the deepest impact on me and keeps running through my mind is the end of the internet suicide arc, where Saitou is pulled back up after slipping on the cliff, covers his face, and bursts into tearful shrieks met by Misaki’s wailing from the boat below — and then those opening piano notes of the second ending theme, which I just can’t get out of my head. God…

    I hope I am prepared for the manga (and eventually, probably, the novel). There were moments of bleakness in the anime itself, which is supposed to be quite a bit lighter, that I found almost overwhelming.

  7. :D Nice review. I concur, WttNHK is overwhelming and sometimes i’d find myself after watching an episode thinking about my life and stuff i’ve done xD i like that in an anime. Plus the soundtrack *-* amazing! About the final episode ): i wanted to see more, but i guess it was ok, they solved their issues and stuff, so its ok. :] Byes~

  8. I know this review is old – not sure if this comment will be seen by anyone.

    But I just had to say that this show is astounding. I’m suffering from agoraphobia and depression. It started as just a social withdrawal. There were times in this show I absolutely bawled. The way Satou acts is horrifyingly realistic. It was almost too close to home to watch. I’ve survived multiple attempts on my life just as he had.

    But in the end, the show taught me several very important things. I’m glad I stuck through to the end.

  9. Ty,

    i have seen your comment, so it hasnt been in vain. =)
    I have the feeling that we experienced the anime kinda the same way. Almost in every Episode i thought. “Don´t do this, don´t do that…” but at the same time i knew a person like him would do it because i have been in some of his stages myself. Satou and Misaki are really well made characters and the anime is not reluctant in showing the depressing reality. I think everyone can learn something from this story.

  10. I’m surprised to see such a recent comment describing what i felt while watching NHK.

    I have also been depressed for nearly 3 years now. And boy was this anime accurate! Well not with everything of course, but i can really relate to many of the things tatsuhiro went through. I kinda felt like showing this to relatives because it might give a good impression of depression, but then i remembered the fairly prevalent eroge parts and such. Nonetheless Welcome to the NHK is a brilliant anime that really gets me thinking about my life.

  11. Truly psychological show.
    A therapeutic one.

    Though I personally might be more of a Yamazaki than Satou, there’s a fair degree of Satou too.

    Just so many emotions look so familiar and close to home. A brilliant work of art.

    Complete role reversal was unexpected.
    Guess I wanted a romantic ending.
    Though what we have might be more realistic

  12. For me it is a relief other people can relate to this anime because it makes me feel like I am not the only one who felt certain ways while watching it. The show was very close to home for me too.

    It turns out the author himself was or is a hikikomori and that is probably why Satou felt like such a realistic character.

  13. i’m a satou here. i got the purupuru rin ringtone for my phone… that’s how much i related to this anime. i liked the ending despite the uneven pacing, quality, visuals, etc. of the series. overall i’ve never seen anything like it and will remember it for some time. the manga was a bit underwhelming at the end so the final judgment on which was superior will be when i read the novel. i hope more people enjoy this series and Welcome to the NHK!

  14. Yesterday I just sat down and watched all the episodes in a row, all 24. Not my brightest moment, but this series was just too amazing to stop.

    I don’t know how accurate the depiction of depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal was, but it definitely felt real. By the end of the day I was just in awe, I had to find out if anyone online was left feeling the same!

    It’s draining and exhausting. It might seem like a slow show, but there’s a lot of things going on at once, you just need to read between the lines… it’s all obvious after watching of course, the good ol’ hindsight.

    Personally, I believe this series would be just as strong without the surreal conspiracy theme, but it’s a personal preference, I rather have my slice-of-life anime be as real as possible.

    I’ll definitely give this a second watch

    1. How funny, I had just watched all 24 today! I hadn’t anything to do and i had watched it first when i was really young, and thought it sucked due to its lack of action/ecchi-comedy, but that is just the contrast of maturity! I LOVE this anime and am SO happy I got to re-watch today. I loved it, and agree with you in regards to the overdone conspiracy aspect, but it was just to show how he copes with the lack of happiness in life, and how it takes a toll on his sanity.
      God i wished the ending or at least one point in the anime had a true kiss.. I wouldn’t want it to throw off the themes of the show with a romantic aspect, but i really wanted it, just to see them successfully express their love once.
      Overall superb anime.. i’ll miss it, and am looking for more Philosophical/Deep romance-action/drama/comedy/philosophy/slice-of-life anime.

  15. Dam….i just finished watching attack on titan, thats a great anime to….but in terms of raw emotion, depressing and up lifting moments this Masterpiece…HNK is just so good first 4 episodes i got hooked, and now that its over im Sooo Sadddd Lol, but i suppose thats the beuty of art…im just glad it ended with a semi happy ending…altough i wish there was at least one kissing scene haha i have a bit of a romantic in me unfortunatly, guess im a fool lol.

  16. Just finished the last episode. Gaaaahhd. That was completely exhausting. (psychologically). I thank the creators for making this series. Although this was dated 2006? Lol. Not too late to say thanks i guess. Welcome to Nhk!

  17. I LOVE this anime and am SO happy I got to re-watch it today with enlightened eyes. I loved it, and agree the conspiracy aspect was overdone, however it was just to show how he copes with the lack of happiness in life, and how it takes a toll on his sanity.
    God i wished the ending or at least one point in the anime had a true kiss.. I wouldn’t want it to throw off the themes of the show with a romantic aspect, but i really wanted it, just to see them successfully express their love once.
    Overall superb anime.. i’ll miss it, and i’m looking for more Philosophical/Deep romance/action/drama/comedy/philosophy/slice-of-life anime.

  18. I watched this show in two sittings basically and I gotta say it had quite the raw reality feel to it. I can relate to a lot of it which I’m personally not proud of, but that’s in the past and for a bit over a year now I’ve been married. As to the anime I find that two things would have improved it, for me. One would be to take away the ecchi stuff and second to tone down the conspiracy. All in all it is quite a well made anime that can move you.

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