Wednesday, December 5, 2012
25 Days of Anime - #21: Welcome to the N-H-K
At its core, Welcome to the N-H-K is an exploration of all the ways in which depression can manifest. Satou Tatsuhiro is the ideal case study and pet project for young Misaki, who believes she can cure the college dropout of his reclusive ways. The idea is that this will, in turn, help her cope with her own depression. But Misaki finds herself in a little deeper than she originally anticipated, as Satou has spouts of obsession with video game cat girls, plans to make and Eroge game with his neighbor Yamazaki, and reconnects with his long-lost high school crush.
Welcome to the N-H-K is a very dark comedy series. It's easy to find humor in Satou's behavior as he gradually overcomes his fear of the outside world, daydreams about improbable fame and fortune resulting from the game he and Yamazaki plan to create, and even how he manages to delete important files from his computer in the favor of filling it up with adult content. While Satou's impulsive behavior and drastic shifts in mood might be extreme, the issues he wrestles with and the problems that arise because of his behavior are things people deal with on a daily basis. Through Satou's wacky and weird perceptions, Welcome to the N-H-K becomes as much a comedy series as a social commentary.
The soundtrack is simple and moody most of the time, with peppy tunes breaking the gloom and generally accompanying one of Satou or Yamazaki's spastic outbursts. While Satou continues to return to his apartment after each attempt to find something meaningful in the outside world, his time spent indoors becomes less frequent as the shoe progresses. Even when he is at home late in the series, he finds something relatively productive to do, and realizes he cannot rely on the support of others forever. Satou is sort of an everyman - a representation of those in their late teens to mid-twenties - and as he is drawn from the depths of his depression, the show takes on a much brighter tone. We get to see more of the local area and witness Satou take chances, effectively rising from his depression as well.