Review : Welcome To The N.H.K.

There is a massive conspiracy going on, one huge company is calling the shots. Their sole purpose, to destroy your dignity, self esteem and turn you into a house-bound hikikomori (social recluse). Luckily one brave hikikomori has seen through their scheme and is fighting back, his name is Satou Tatsuhiro.

Satou is a 22 year old, unemployed, university drop out, who has been living holed up in his apartment for 4 years. He sleeps 16 hours a day, only ever leaves when he needs to buy smokes or food and lives off money funneled through to him from his parents. Satou hasn't given up, but any attempt to leave his apartment is foiled by the N.H.K. A real-life Japanese television channel and in his mind an evil corporation whose sole purpose is to stop him from re-entering normal society.

Satou's life is arguably changed for the better though when Misaki, a young girl with aspirations of curing him appears out of the blue. But it's not quite that simple, thanks to his perverted otaku neighbour and friend who ends up getting him into all sorts of morally questionable activities. Like downloading gigs of porn, hiding in bushes and taking photos of school girls and to top if off, attempting to make a hentai game.

It's not all fun and laughs though, with the characters all having to deal with their own traumatic emotional issues and hardships. Which perhaps reflect many of the social and mental issues associated with todays youth and modern society.

The art is that of the usual manga style. It communicates Satou's psych quite well, it can make him change from just an average guy, trying his best, to a crazy depraved molester in mere seconds. It's all in the angles, use of shadows and facial hair. Obviously with such questionable themes comes questionable imagery. Welcome To The N.H.K. is best kept to a mature audience. Also for anyone interested, the original book that the manga is based on is also available in english from Tokyopop and has a very different ending.

Welcome To The N.H.K. is perhaps one of the greatest black comedies ever written, it will make you laugh, cry and even gasp in horror at some of things Satou and crew get up to.

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