Hikikomori Blues

Finished re-watching the Japanese anime series, Welcome to the N.H.K (歡迎加入NHK!). Eccentric, charming characters, and an interesting storyline, the show follows the (mis)adventures of a young NEET, Sato Tatsuhiro, as he tries to cope with an life of no friends, no job, no girlfriend, and no prospects for the future. Living alone in a tiny 套房 apartment, Satou-san meets a mysterious girl who tricks him into enrolling in a plan to cure him of his hikikomori (隱蔽青年) lifestyle. This is happening while the young man and his friend try to develop a sellable erotic video game, a plot angle that shows, in brilliant clarity, the “political unconscious” of stressed-out, repressed young students.

The show is a lot different from past popular anime like Naruto (火影忍者), Inuyasha (犬夜叉) and Bleach (死神) that I’m semi-familiar with in that it focuses mainly on social awkwardness and the erotic fantasies of these guys . This, coupled with the fact that it has no supernatural elements or superhero themes, makes it a much more “mature” show (whatever that means). Also, for me it was also a lot more poignant in its funny depictions of NEETs and hikikomori as people with problems just like everyone else. This would probably earn it nothing less than an R rating if it were ever released in the USA or some parts of SE Asia, but that’s one of the things I find so interesting about the series–it deals with real (and quite new) social problems in a thoughtful and darkly humorous way that rewards repeated watching. Executive summary: this work further convinces me the Japanese lead the world in tackling “difficult” sexual/erotic topics (adolescent erotic gaming) in original, philosophical ways.

Obviously 5 ★s

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