Welcome to the NHK! – (Never) Learning to Fly

Having just finished watching episode 19, this must be the first time I’ve left off Welcome to the NHK feeling happy! It was fantastic to see a smiling Torotoro-san biking around and about the streets of Tokyo; you can see in his grinning face that suddenly life is worth living again.
Despite Satou’s constant whining, I’m not convinced his mental condition is dire. He has friends to keep him company, hell – Misaki’s even cooking him dinner now – and having all this is so important. At the other end of the Hikkimori scale is Torotoro-san; a genuinely scary dead-beat with no friends and no Misaki; I can’t help but think his sad condition is closer to the real life of a hikkimori. He lives in the lonely perpetual hell of knowing his life sucks but being too afraid (and too paranoid) to do anything about it. People fear change and responsibility, and if given the choice will often take the easy way out.
Both Satou and Torotoro-san had one thing in common – they can rely on others to survive. Satou can afford to live like a hermit because his parents are funding his isolation, likewise Torotoro-san’s sister will do anything and everything for him. They are spoilt kids – never kicked out of the nest and taught to fly. Only when Torotoro-san’s sister disappears for a few days is the guy forced to decide whether to eat (and live) or starve (and die). Given NHK’s track record, I was expecting Torotoro-san’s suicide, but I guess the human spirit isn’t that ridiculous. My heart was ready to break. All it takes is a bit of tough love though – Satou’s parents take note.
As a side note the animation of episode 19 was a lot more fluid than usual. Despite sacrificing some facial detail and hair texture, for once I really enjoyed seeing the characters actually glide through a scene and physically convey their feelings – it helped the slapstick humour, and the interesting use of facial shadows meant this was a particularly good looking and stylish effort.

3 replies on “Welcome to the NHK! – (Never) Learning to Fly”

The change in animation quality was immediatly apparent. But imo it wasn’t for the better.
Your right though, Satou isn’t living like a Hikikimori at all, what with actually working on the game, taking public transportation and joining mouse road. He isn’t living up to the title at all.
I do have to say though, I’m suprised at how different the manga and this anime have become. The manga definitely shows more of Satou’s Hikikimori life and how it just keeps getting worse. But the anime looks like it’s trying to go for a happy ending and I’m very interested in how they’ll finish things off.

The animation style of this episode in some ways reminded me of Kemonozume’s fluid movements (minus the sketchiness). It really doesn’t fit, given that the rest of the series has pursued the clean-cut, digital look. A solid episode though, although after watching Kemonozume (and particularly after the spectacular climax in episode 13 of NHK), it’s all feeling a bit forced. Won’t Satou just hurry up and integrate into regular life? It’s unfortunate that they put such a poignant, touching moment so early on in the series. If this were a fifteen, or maybe sixteen episode series then episode 13 would have been perfectly timed, but as it stands it was far too early and much too powerful for the past several episodes to even come close (even this one).

This episode was incredible, it really get me chills, its very emotive and very nostalgic too. Great is just great.

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