I decided to chicken out of writing a long, drawn-out analysis of the show in favor of a quick round-up of what I liked and didn’t like about it.
What I liked:
- Story: A lot of praise geared towards this anime is that it presents a realistic representation of the hikikomori lifestyle. While I feel the nature of this show is a little exaggerated, I would agree that it’s gentle enough with the subject to paint the central character in a respectfully unrespectful light. I also enjoyed that through whatever method, Sato, said central character, still isn’t able to escape his hikikomori habits and thought patterns, giving clarity at the message of “patience” when dealing with people exhibiting that nature. Even by the end, he still isn’t entirely cured, but he’s made noticeable progress through a very malicious truth.
- Characters: I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed each character by the end of the series. All with the exclusion of Misaki, I believe each character was developed well enough to make their situations both inherently wrong, but morally justifiable. On the surface, a lot of these characters like Sato or Yamazaki are just “shut-ins” or “super otaku,” but the struggles and backstories that go along with each character’s core motivation and interests is enough to make their stances understandable, even if their actions because of it aren’t entirely productive. Some characters, such as the “class rep” and her hikikomori older brother, I felt were a little rushed in terms of a resolution to their problems, seeing as every character gets one, whether positive or negative. Then again, that scenario is another case of the “malicious truth” I stated above.
What I Disliked:
- Art & Animation: NHK ni Youkoso! is not a pretty-looking anime. I can understand from a logical standpoint that this anime doesn’t need to be flashy due to its realistic setting, but it looks as if this anime didn’t have much of a budget to it. There are various representations of sketchy animation in certain episodes that look off-putting. The beginning of episode nineteen comes to mind. Sometimes it last a few seconds while other times it goes on for minutes. Aside from that, I can appreciate the anime for making characters look different from one another. In terms of character design, this anime does a very good job with differentiation. However, Misaki never changes clothes… what’s up with that? In a more fanatic light, Sato’s illusions of nightmares came across as goofy for me. Perhaps that was intentional, but the whole “conspiracy” nonsense I felt was too silly in its appearance to be seen as anything worthwhile. It’s certainly entertaining to watch, but not to use as an explanation for slacking off or being suspicious of others.
- The Ending: Before I go on, it’s not how the anime concludes that I don’t care for, but the events that lead up to the conclusion. The events involving Misaki’s past and Sato trying to save her from it. I label it “The Ending” because it is the last few episodes of the series, so it’s essentially like rounding to the nearest ten. I stated above that Misaki’s development isn’t included in the “well enough” category, because I feel her past and motivations become apparent far too late in the series. There are a couple scenes of foreshadowing, but one can’t necessarily count that as anything development-wise. I feel the last few episodes are more melodramatic than need be. And while it’s shown that Misaki regretted her actions leading up to that point, up until that, her character just felt… off. It didn’t seem like she was the same person. To give the chain of events credit, it shows the progress Sato made throughout the series. Overall, I think the ending spills too much info all at once. It leaves too much impact leading up to the climax to have the climax itself leave any noticeable mark.
Fun fact: I had this anime on-hold for over three years. I started this back in 2012, only watching a single episode before putting it on-hold until earlier this year. I both regret and don’t regret this decision. I’m not sure I could’ve appreciated this anime that long ago, when my experience with anime as a whole was still but a slow-moving caterpillar. With close to 250 anime to my credit now, this anime becomes all the more impactful for how inherently different it is and how it presents itself. It’s an anime I would absolutely recommend, but for those “in the know” of anime culture… or perhaps those who can relate to Sato’s situation. Yes, it’s a good representation of hikikomori lifestyle, but it’s also a good representation of a well-told story.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.