Well, Happy New Year everyone! Let’s get all the back slaps, handshakes and cheeky snogs out of the way… Wow. Saucy. I hope you all had wonderful Christmases, but before this turns into that conversation you’ve had a million times since you went back to work, let’s jump aboard some new anime releases, dig our heels in and ride those bad boys into 2012.
Small problem. It’s a pretty darn lean month. I have got you a five star, maladjusted, shut-in of a doozy: Welcome to the NHK but… erm… that’s about it! Samurai Girls is out on the 30th but we already did that one way back in November – when it was originally scheduled to come out. Check it out here, if you don’t believe me. It’s very boobsy.
What else can we pad this out with? Well, I fell in love with the “blu-tiful” new Blu-Ray of Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart, before Christmas. It’s out on the 9th and you can read my full review over here.
Welcome To The NHK
What’s it all about?
Sato Tatsuhiro is a “NEET” – not in employment, education or training. He’s a NEET as he has been housebound for four years. He’s been housebound for four years as he’s an intensely paranoid, socially awkward mess on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Actually he’s not on the verge, he’s pretty much permanently got one foot in the ditch of a nervous breakdown.
Sato’s jobless, reclusive state is also referred to as being a “hikikimori” and he believes that he has become this way due to some kind of conspiracy perpetuated by the titular NHK.
Orbiting Sato and attempting to help him break out of the isolating and damaging mental prison he’s created for himself are two characters: Misaki and Yamazaki. Misaki is a strange and mysterious girl who works in a comic shop and is intent on curing Sato as some kind of project. Yamazaki is Sato’s neighbour and an otaku (Japanese unsociable geek) who nearly drives Sato crazy by constantly playing the theme song of an anime show called Puru Puru Puruin. When Sato is eventually forced to confront his noisy neighbour he finds that he is actually an old school friend and an aspiring hentai game creator.
The two spend time together and Yamazaki drags Sato out of his home and on visits to shops to stock up on merchandise fuelling his obsession with Puru Puru Puruin. Sato begins to embrace his inner otaku too and after staying up all night playing through a stack of Yamazaki’s girl games, where the object is to successfully woo a lady until she sleeps with you, the pair decide to make their own game and become rich and powerful.
The pairs attempts at game creation, coupled with the efforts of Misaki to fix Sato and Sato’s paranoid delusions are the bulk of the show and although Welcome to the NHK at first feels a little impenetrable, carrying on and warming to Sato and co. is extremely rewarding.
Is it any good?
It’s actually kinda gosh darn brilliant. Maybe having an entire twenty-four episode series to immerse yourself in helps, but WTTNHK can suck you in and get you just obsessed as Sato. It’s a very adult show that shies away from absolutely nothing, which can be uncomfortable at times and uncomfortably familiar at others.
The show exists on a series of very fine lines, between: comedy and tragedy, empathising with our protagonist and being disgusted by him and familiar feelings for anyone who’s ever been a geek about something versus the disbelief at someone letting things go so far.
NHK has no action and is unlike absolutely anything we’ve had in the Annex thus far. It’s an addictive and surreal drama that tickles the funny bone with one hand and turns the knife with the other. Involving, interesting, crazy and sobering; if Welcome to the NHK had come out a month ago it would have been in my Top 5 of the Year.
Sum me up, in star form.
What are my audio and subtitle options?
English 5.1 or Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.
Any bonus materials?
24 episodes over four discs, but just textless opening and closing sequences and some trailers, extras wise. Bit of a shame as it’s the kind of show that you want to know everything about.
When’s it out?
Welcome To The NHK will be trying to leave the house on the 9th of January.
Told you it was a lean one! Hopefully there’ll be more for us in February… It is my birthday after all. As ever you can catch up with older Annex’s by using the super cool button at the top of the page and make me happy by adding comments in the section at the bottom. Did you have any favourites last year? Is there anything incoming that you’re particularly looking forward to? Holla back and let us know. Take it easy and see you next month x