It’s time to meet the parents, only Satou doesn’t have a girlfriend, or a job, or a life outside of his apartment, making the whole arrangement pretty awkward from the get-go. If only Robert De Niro was his Dad – what laughs we would have!
Judging by his mother’s phone call in the previous episode, I wasn’t expecting her to be quite so cool though. She wasn’t the demanding and expectant figure anticipated, instead she comes across as the first thoroughly likable character in Welcome to the NHK!, in other words, a real parent to her son. When she realises Satou is basically lying about everything, she doesn’t throw a fit — rather just acknowledges the fact that she has a weird son. When she surprisingly leaves Satou and Misaki to have a "real date", you get the impression that she is content in knowing that Satou has made friends good enough to help him out with his insecure, paranoid bull shit. For now, a hikkimori Satou is not.
The rest of this episode is notable for how Misaki is warming up to Satou — they engage in a real date and nearly kiss, only to be distracted when Satou’s phone rings — a cliche "rom-com" way of padding out the now inevitable romance? Misaki makes several hints about her troubled home life too — clearly she is hiding some dark secrets about her past and probably needs Satou as much as he needs her. Where the narrative goes next will probably define the true path of the rest of this series.
I’m really enjoying watching Welcome to the NHK!, it has a cast of characters bustling with fascinatingly broken personalities and is completely unpredictable in whatever colourful, dreamy direction it decides to head in next. The art, though the quality varies, often shines with style when emphasizing a moody or emotional feeling – the flackback to Satou’s childhood in this episode being a prime example of this emotive aesthetic beauty.