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Welcome to the N.H.K

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Welcome to the N.H.K
Welcome to the nhk
Welcome to the N.H.K anime cover

director

Yūsuke Yamamoto

studio

Gonzo

network

Syndicated (9 stations), AT-X

Welcome to the N.H.K. (N・H・Kにようこそ! NHK ni Yōkoso!?) is a Japanese novel written by Tatsuhiko Takimoto, with a cover illustration by Yoshitoshi ABe, and was published by Kadokawa Shoten in Japan on January 28, 2002. The novel was first published in English by Tokyopop on October 9, 2007. The story centers around a twenty-two-year-old hikikomori who gets aid from a strange girl who seems to know a lot about him, despite never meeting him before. A common theme throughout the story deals with the hardships of life and how people must deal with them in their own way. Welcome to the N.H.K. was adapted into a manga series, also written by Takimoto, with art by Kendi Oiwa. The manga was serialized between June 2004 and June 2007 in Kadokawa Shoten's manga magazine Shōnen Ace. The manga's forty chapters have been collected into eight bound volumes released in Japan and overseas.

The English edition of the manga is published by Tokyopop, and the first volume was released in October 2006. The novel was also adapted into a twenty-four-episode anime television series by Gonzo which aired in Japan between July and December 2006. ADV Films announced at Anime Central that they acquired the English rights to the anime, and they released DVD volume one in October 2007 with volume two released in December 2007. In 2008, the anime became one of over thirty ADV titles acquired by Funimation Entertainment. In Japan, "NHK" refers to the public broadcaster Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, but within the series, the main character believes it stands for Nihon Hikikomori Kyōkai (日本引きこもり協会?, "The Japanese Hikikomori Association"), which is a reference to the protagonist's claim of a subversive conspiracy led by NHK (the real-life broadcaster) to create hikikomori. While it mainly deals with the reclusive phenomenon of hikikomori, the plot also explores many other Japanese subcultures—for example: otaku, lolicon, and internet suicide. Despite the show's name, Welcome to the N.H.K. was not broadcast on the NHK television channels, but it was syndicated throughout Japan, from July 9, 2006 to December 23, 2006, with Chiba TV (July 9 - December 17, 2006, every Sunday) as a flagship station. It aired mostly on Japanese Association of Independent Television Stations stations, and Hiroshima Home TV (July 16 - December 23, 2006, every Saturday), a local All-Nippon News Network station in Hiroshima.

PlotEdit

Welcome to the N.H.K. revolves around the lives of several young-adults all living in or around the city of Tokyo. Many different lifestyles are shown though most of the time the story focuses on the concepts of being a hikikomori, anime otaku, and having most of the characters experience intense feelings of depression and loneliness. The main protagonist is Tatsuhiro Satō, a university dropout entering his fourth year of unemployment. He leads a reclusive life as a hikikomori, ultimately coming to the conclusion that this happened due to some sort of conspiracy. One day just when his life seems entirely unchanging, he meets Misaki Nakahara, a mysterious girl who claims to be able to cure Tatsuhiro of his hikikomori ways. She presents him with a contract basically outlining that once a day they would meet in the evening in a local park where Misaki would lecture to Tatsuhiro in an effort to rid him of his lifestyle. During these outings, many subjects are discussed, though they almost always pertain in some way to psychology or psychoanalysis. One of their first meetings in fact deals with interpreting Tatsuhiro's recent dreams. Both Tatsuhiro and Misaki, however, have a tendency of over-doing things, such as hiding the truth, especially from each other and themselves. Despite Misaki's offer and pressing attempts at salvation, it is Tatsuhiro's neighbor and high school friend, Kaoru Yamazaki, who Tatsuhiro often turns to in moments of need and support. Also, despite his own idiosyncrasies, Yamazaki is one of the more stable characters in the story. The novel also regularly mentions drug use by the main character, and later, his friend, Yamazaki. This element of the story is downplayed in the manga, and left out of the story altogether in the anime (with the exception of Hitomi). This is likely due to several reasons, including a more public-friendly rating, as well as ultimately being unneeded for the progression of the plot.

Theme songEdit

The opening theme, "Puzzle" (パズル Pazuru?) was written by Rieko Ito, composed by Kitagawa Katsutoshi, and performed by Round Table. The second opening theme is a remix of the first entitled "Puzzle -extra hot mix-" (パズル-extra hot mix-?) which was produced by the same people as with the first opening theme. The first ending theme used for episodes one through twelve, "Odoru Akachan Ningen" (踊る赤ちゃん人間?, lit. "Dancing Baby Humans"), was written by Kenji Otsuki, composed by Fumihiko Kitsutaka, and featured vocals by Otsuki and Kitsutaka.

ReceptionEdit

A. E. Sparrow of IGN gave the light novel a nine out of ten while comparing it to Catcher in the Rye, saying "there's enough Holden Caulfield, or even Tyler Durden, in Satou and the events that surround him to make this story a solid read for anyone interested in books that examine the human condition." The manga version of Welcome to the N.H.K. was also positively reviewed. Writing for Anime News Network, Carlo Santos rated the Tokyopop releases of the third manga volume with a B grade for story, an A- for art, and an A- overall. Speaking on the volume's art, Santos noted "it's endlessly entertaining to watch the parade of shocked, disturbed and stressed-out faces as Satou confronts each of society's ills," as well as highlighting the "detailed backgrounds" and "clean, rectangular layouts and frequent speedlines." Concerning the writing, "the dialogue is full of vigor and wit, with a straightforward tone that conveys mad outbursts, tearful breakdowns, and everything in between." And with regards to the adaptation, Santos praised the volume by writing "out of Tokyopop's many, many translations, this series stands among one of their best, if not the best." Santos was more couched in his approval for the fourth volume, giving it a C+ for story, an A- for art, and a B grade overall. While criticizing that "the plot has taken a vacation," he wrote that "those who are into NHK for the highly developed character drama, however, will find these chapters to be some of the most memorable yet," and concluded "it may not be the best or most entertaining volume of NHK, but it does serve its purpose, which is to deepen the story and make the characters even more dysfunctional and twisted than they already are." The anime series was generally well-received by critics. In his review for Animation World Magazine, James Brusuelas wrote "Welcome to the NHK is a true anime gem," describing it as "a delicately human tale." He went on to praise the series, saying "This is more than just anime. This is film." Concluding his review, he remarked "I cannot recommend this series enough. It is perhaps the best anime I saw during 2008."

TriviaEdit

The song "puzzle" was remade with sound improvement and made longer for a very popular manga called Hikari ochiru.

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