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Welcome to the NHK!
Reviewer: Aaron Murphy 09/22/2010

Satou Tatsuhiro is living the dream. Between sleeping for twelve hours a day and living off an allowance from his parents, he has the whole day to do whatever he wants. At least, he could do anything if he wasn’t a hikikomori, a person who’s so socially withdrawn that they can hardly leave their own home expect in times of great need (like for food) and even then they only do so at night as to avoid as many people as possible. Since dropping out of college Satou has been cooped up in his apartment for two years and has failed to do much of anything with his life. But that’s all about to change after a chance encounter with Misaki, a young and very pretty girl who has taken an acute interest in Satou and is peculiar predicament. She’s eager to help him and he’s eager to prove he doesn’t need help in just about any way he can. But after his many hilarious failures he soon succumbs to her conditions and starts his enrollment in her special class to cure his being a hikikomori and to free him from his self-made shackles. What they don’t tell you, however, is that this is all just one big conspiracy. You’ve got to watch out for those, they’re everywhere!
Part social commentary and almost all comedy, Welcome to the NHK! is a series that will resonate deeply with those who have hikikomori tendencies, but is also a series that everyone will be able to enjoy thanks to the hilarious situations held within. As the series begins you have Satou trying desperately to disprove that he’s a hikikomori to Misaki in any way he can. One of the gems he uses is that he’s actually in his apartment all the time because he is working on a hentai game with his friend and next door neighbor Yamazaki. Of course this isn’t true, but after she wants to see it he has to actually start working on a hentai game. But after he starts to do research, i.e. playing an endless number of bishoujo games, he gets so caught up in it that weeks go by without him doing anything productive at all. Unfortunately for Satou situations like this just keep happening to him. Whether it’s downloading a hundred gigs of porn images, trying to make money playing MMOs, or just being a bump on a log unable to do anything, Satou has no chance of winning this cat and mouse game.
It's only once this realization finally hits that he gives up his failed attempts to disprove what he is and finally agrees to enroll in her hikikomori curing classes. These include all manner of lectures and real world tests that Satou has to go through in order to gradually cure his condition, but it also sets up another dynamic entirely—the relationship that starts to form between Satou and Misaki. As Satou and Misaki continue to interact and break through his social barriers, you can see the growth between them, along with the pain and sorrow that comes as the series nears its end. There's a lot of give and take between them, especially considering Satou's anti-social tendencies, but Misaki isn't quite what she appears to be either. And that makes for quite the dramatic end to a series that really tries to stay true to its comedy roots without getting overly serious. Especially given the, quite frankly, serious nature of the subject matter, especially in Japan where the hikikomori issue is far larger than here in the states.
As Welcome to the NHK! is largely a comedy series, you're not going to be all that impressed by the animation. After the first couple episodes lull you into a false sense of security there is a noticeable and sustained drop in quality throughout the rest of its 24 episode run. While this is unfortunate, it's not too much of a problem in a series like this where people are mostly just talking. The character designs are fairly well done, though most of the men tend to have a very similar look to them, while Misaki is just absolutely adorable. The voice acting is great on both ends, but again I am partial to the English dub thanks to Chirs Patton manning the helm.
With a successful combination of comedy and some drama here and there, Welcome to the NHK! is an incredibly enjoyable series playing itself off a real life issue. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll root for poor Satou to finally get over his disorder and take Misaki in his arms. Welcome to the NHK! is series that shouldn't be missed, especially if you can relate to Satou's condition at all.
The Welcome to the NHK! anime series unfortunately doesn't tell the whole story. You'll have the read the manga if you want to find out what happens next.

Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
Welcome to the NHK!
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Review Title:
Welcome to the NHK!
Alternative Titles:
NHK ni Youkoso!
600 Minutes
General Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Comedy, Psychological, Romance,
Slice of Life
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