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Welcome to the Self-Reflection: An Welcome to the NHK Anime Retrospect Part 2: Hitomi

NOTE: This retrospect will only explore the anime version of Hitomi as I am only on chapter 6 of the original novel at the time of publishing. If I had missed anything about Hitomi’s personality from the novel then I ask for forgiveness on that front.

Link to part 1:
https://yukithesnowman.com/2022/01/27/welcome-to-the-self-reflection-an-welcome-to-the-nhk-anime-retrospectpart-1-introduction/

You know, if Welcome to the N.H.K came out during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hitomi wouldn’t be just a beloved character: she would be the Waifu Queen of the anti-vaxxers who would share their views of conspiracies with vigorous, all-mighty passion. They would swear up-and-down that mask mandates and stay-at-home orders are secretly about control. They’d proclaim that COVID vaccines could alter one’s DNA. Finally, they would express that COVID itself was the ultimate plan of the world’s elites to reduce our population. Horny anti-mandate Hitomi fanboys would wish that she was real so she could step and spit on them; begging her to call them her cute little submissive kouhai while she talks about how COVID-19 is a conspiracy to dominate us while she dominates them.

On the flip side, however, those who’re pro-vaccine/mask mandates would do everything in their power to make Malty Melromarc of Rising of the Shield Hero fame look like an utterly innocent angel compared to Hitomi. On Twitter, they’d mindlessly rant about how Hitomi inspires vaccine “misinformation”. They’d wage war against those who’re Hitomi fans: stating that their waifu is the reason why there’s an increase of COVID deaths and variants. Hitomi cosplayers would be bullied at anime conventions by morons who can’t separate fiction from reality. Japanese and Japanese-American women named Hitomi would flood their local circuit courts to change their name to something like…idunno, Heather, or some shit. Why? Because they can’t bear the shame of having the same name of a cartoon and novel character who might be anti-vax.

Goddammit Tatsuhiko Takimoto, why couldn’t you just had been born about 10-15 years later?

In any case, ladies and gents, I hope you’ve enjoyed my humorous introduction because that is the only humor you’ll get from this article/essay today because I’m going to go into some dark territory. If you’re bothered by subject matters such as depression and suicide, then I advise you to turn back and check out some of my other content on this website (I mean, if that does bother you then why are you a fan of Welcome to the N.H.K in the first place?)

With that said, let’s get into it!

*****

Alex Jones’s waifu.

Seen in a flashback in episode 1 (but officially introduced in episode 4) Hitomi Kashiwa is Satou’s senpai from his high school days. Bonding over playing cards, having debates on conspiracy theories, and being the only members of their school’s literature club, the two would quickly become friends. Due to Hitomi’s fascination towards conspiracies, plus his lone-wolf social status, Satou’s worldview would be wrapped by her3. This in turn led him to believe that his hikikomori state is the result of a conspiracy itself.

Despite her unfeasible hopes of a future with him, Hitomi would find herself extending intimacy with Satou. From this, it’s possible that Satou and Hitomi were (sexual) lovers. However, this is merely hinted at via directorial imagery: such as Satou playing an erotic video game starring a senpai in a relationship with her younger male kouhai, cards from the Heart Suits lying on the club’s table, and Hitomi’s lips wrapped around the tip of a straw in episode 5.

In the cafe’ scene of episode 5, Hitomi notices that Satou isn’t looking well, so she offers him drugs to boost his mood. Satou questions her on this, to which she responds by declaring “Being a working adult is tough, you know.”. It’s clear that Hitomi is abusing substances to cope with her life. This is further proven in episode 11 as Hitomi is popping pills in the shower, on the streets, and while she’s browsing through forums dedicated to the discussion of suicide and suicide pacts.

As we’re given a peek at her everyday life, we come to understand why she abuses drugs. She’s in a strained relationship with her boyfriend Akira due to his busy work life. She earns no respect at work: often belittled by her superior and coworkers. Moreover, she struggles with mental health (which we’ll get into soon).

Excluding the boyfriend thing (as I’m into women), I couldn’t help but partly relate to Hitomi. Working bullshit jobs were people older than you try to test and mess with you because they’re screwed up in the head and don’t know how to cope otherwise. Disrespectful middle-management bosses who think they’re hot shit (but are utter pussies when the cool district and regional managers come by to visit) acting like they’re above you (when they can be easily fired like you). Having to cope with the stress of work through my vices: drinking and smoking. Admittedly, dealing with the bullshit lead me to some darkness (which I’m still dealing with today, but I have better control of it).

At times, I wouldn’t come straight home after work at night. I would hit up a grocery store on my way home and buy at least buy some beers (or if I was feeling really down, a bottle of hard liquor), head to a park near my house, prep some weed for a blunt or my bong if I have any, and indulge in my vices.

Then, the darkness would come as I sat.

Maybe if I didn’t waste all my money and time partying and going to bars/clubs nearly every weekend trying to make up for all the times that I never got the chance to party during my high school days due to being unpopular. Why did I decide to be a nerd living a square ass life instead of a normie street dude who could make fast, easy money and stack the money up for something better in life instead of working at this bullshit ass job.”

Drinking and smoking weren’t enough for my dark side. It got to the point where at times, I would browse through Facebook and other social media platforms just so I can see others suffering worse than I was; finding joy in their misery. Now, before anyone thinks I’m a monster, I had a code like I was Dexter Morgan from Dexter when it came to my darkness. I only laughed and mocked those who I knew and could prove they were horrible people or those who had wronged me in the past and never apologized for it. I do not and will never find joy in seeing good, kindhearted innocent people suffering.

I convinced myself that as long as the other person whom I was laughing at and mocking was proven to be bad, it was okay to tap into that horrific darkness to find joy in their misery. It was my personal stress release. “I know it doesn’t make it right but the world doesn’t operate on right or wrong: only winning and dominance!” I told myself.

Just like how Hitomi’s drug abuse only made her temporary “fix” her issue, that too was merely a temporary solution. I knew this. But I kept at it until I realized I was only hurting myself at the end as I only sunk further into my darkness.

Thankfully, I didn’t reach the point of darkness where I was suicidal….

I swear to God I want to just slit my wrists and end this bullshit
Throw the magnum to my head, threaten to pull shit
And squeeze until the bed’s completely red
I’m glad I’m dead, a worthless fuckin’ Buddha head
The stress is buidlin’ up, I can’t — I can’t believe
Suicide’s on my fuckin’ mind, I wanna leave
I swear to God I feel like death is fuckin’ callin’ me
But nah, you wouldn’t understand

-Biggie Smalls, Suicidal Thoughts (1994 hip-hop single)

Hitomi’s stress would reach its peak as we see her planning to end her life in the middle of the series. As mentioned earlier, we see her browsing through and posting on a suicide forum: expressing how she wants to end her life and will go through with it the next day. Following that, she invites herself over to Satou’s house with beer, snacks, and stories of their high school days. Satou can’t help but notice that the usual “conspiracy-mania” Hitomi is in a blissful mood.

This happens quite often with victims of suicide. Examples: the night before she ended her life, fashion designer Kate Spade was reported to “sounded happy” by her husband. The wife of Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington shared a picture of Bennington smiling with their family; stating that the evening before his death, he seemed like he was at his best. In both cases, the spouses admitted that there were warning signs, but they never picked up on them before it was too late. For Satou, we can say the same. Hitomi showcased the warning signs of depression and suicide, but he never picked up on them (sans the fact that she saw her go through this in the past from when she broke up with her boyfriend).

It’s not until he unwittingly joined her at the OFF group suicide pact meeting that he realized there was something wrong with Hitomi.

We know the rest: The members of OFF realized they had lives worth living and called off the group suicide – excluding Hitomi. Struggling with the idea that nobody neither wants nor needs her, she convinces Satou to end it all with her: making him promise if they’re reborn at the same time to play cards again. However, when Akira arrives at the meeting spot for the suicide group, Hitomi changes her mind as Akira express that he wants her hand in marriage: to which she happily agrees (much to Satou’s dismay)

Hitomi isn’t seen again until the final arc of the series. During New Year’s Eve, Satou meets up with Hitomi (after he and Misaki are separated by a crowd). The two bar hop with Hitomi drunkenly suggesting that they should have an affair while Akira is away on business. Satou shoots down the idea: telling Hitomi that he doesn’t want to destroy her newfound happiness towards life. Hitomi, smiling, agrees with him. Finally, she drops the news that she’s pregnant with Akira’s child (which she delivers in the series’s epilogue.)

I myself never try to take my own life, nor had suicidal thoughts, so I’m not going to pretend that I understand Hitomi’s situation. As much as I talk to those and have empathy towards those who’ve experienced such thoughts or even try to take their lives, empathy doesn’t equal understanding. But, I can see why some people would want to end it all. With the state and stress of the world, it is clear why some people believe they have no other option or outlet. Over the years I’ve come to learn not the judge people with suicidal thoughts because we don’t know what goes on in someone’s mind. Additionally, you or I could easily find ourselves in that state of hopelessness.

Japan is famously known for being a country that holds the status quo in the highest regrade. Working hard and providing for your countrymen nation is expected of you. You must put on your best face (or tatemae, 建前 たてまえ, lit. “facade”) no matter what. You are not allowed to express your true feelings (or the honne, 本音, lit. “true sound”). Expressing oneself in Japanese culture is taboo; even if you’re going through emotional pain. So, it is understandable on why Hitomi wanted to kill herself before she got better.

Honestly, it’s messed up.

Being a working adult is truly tough, you know? There’s nothing you can really do about it as you need to work to survive. Living this life comes with stress: may the be from bills, competition against and from others to advance, and dealing with things that take a toll on both your physical and mental health. You can’t ask the world to help you; as this world is not an ally, but rather, a cruel and unforgiving enemy.

But it isn’t all bad.

While the world itself will never be your ally, you’ll find people who are willing to be your friend if you can form that bond with them. In turn, they will be willing to help you get through life.

Are there conspiracies in this world that make it hard for someone to live a good life free of stress, pain, and suffering? Of course! But, we must acknowledge and face them head-on – no matter what. It doesn’t mean that we should use said conspiracies as crutches or excuses to not do good for ourselves. Hell, in fact, those behind the conspiracies would love it if we give up and give in to the darkness of the world. So we must do good for ourselves. We must treat each other with kindness. We must show empathy to those who aren’t doing too well mentally; showing them that they’re not alone in this cruel, cold world.

That’s how we defeat the conspiracies of the world.

Next: Welcome to Yamazaki.

AFTERWORD :

1. I find it funny that Hitomi names herself “HANA-HANA” on the OFF suicide forums when Hana means “Happiness” in Arabic and “hope” in Kurdish as Hitomi was neither happy nor hopeful. I do not know if Takimoto (or the writers of the anime version of NHK) was aware of this and used that as irony.

2. At the time of this article’s publishing, I am on Chapter 9 of the original novel. However, I probably will not edit said article to reflect anything from the novel because I’m lazy.


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The Swarthy Nerd Podcast
A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in nerd culture. Every Tuesdays we drop episodes containing serious and laidback topics while Saturdays we drop episodes talking about TV shows, anime, film, comics, manga, and video games.

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anime 0

Welcome to the Self-Reflection: An Welcome to the NHK Anime RetrospectPart 1: Introduction

You know, the arts have so much power – anime include. There’s something about anime that can change people for the better. It’s common to hear anime fans declare that a certain anime made them a better person. I myself am not immune to that power.

As I’ve oft-stated, the anime that changed me was Kyoto Animation’s (in)famous The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. First, it was my first “non-normie” anime. Second, it opened my eyes to the wild, wild world of internet otaku-ism (the mid-to-late 2000s was an amazing time to be an anime fan on the internet). Finally, and most important, it inspired me to want to leave my mark on the world – to show that I exist.

Haruhi’s existence monologue still resonates to this day.

Around the same time I got into Haruhi in 2009, I was introduced to Welcome to the N.H.K (N.H.K) from a former friend who was willing to let me borrow his copy of it. Foolishly I decline; as I thought it was about the actual Japanese TV broadcast network NHK WORLD-JAPAN. I (at the time) had no interest in television production.

Plus, can you blame me for assuming that it was about TV production based on the title? Hell, I even thought Satou was a stressed-out TV producer who drank a lot (because of the open beer can on the promotional art). I also thought that the bunny girls (Hitomi and Misaki, I assume) on said promotional art was Satou’s playful and flirtatious interim who were complete screw-ups who caused Satou to drink.

…I should have actually researched the show first before blowing it off back in 2009.
If I did, maybe NHK would have changed my life more than Haruhi did.


*****

It wouldn’t be until 2016 when I learned the truth about N.H.K. The truth? N.H.K is an anime based off a novel written by Tatsuhiko Takimoto about a 22-year-old college dropout named Satou Tatsuhiro who has been living as a hikikomori for the past four years; believing that his condition was influenced by an evil organization named the “Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai”. The group’s goal? To transform healthy young adults of Japan into socially inept shut-ins.

Now, knowing this, did I give N.H.K a chance then?

Well, everyone, the answer to that is….


Nah! 🙂

I dunno why, but I waited until late Summer 2019 to finally watch N.H.K…up until the final arc where I put it on hold for anime such as High Score Girl season 2 and Ascendance of a Bookworm. When both of those shows ended, did I pick Welcome to the N.H.K up again?

Of course, I did!

…on January 22nd, 2022 when I found out that the 20th anniversary of the novel was a week away. That’s when I decided to restart the series so I could write about it for said 20th anniversary!

(Better late than never, right?)

As I restarted N.H.K, I started to think:

‘What if I had seen this way back in 2009 when I was 19 instead of 30, then finishing it at age 32? Maybe I wouldn’t have this habit of starting anime and TV shows and never finishing them or putting them on hold forever? I would have seen Satou waste four years of his life doing nothing which would have led me to not waste time like that. Would my life right now would had been way better than it is currently? I wish I never blew this series off because I KNOW it would have changed my life…’

NHK made me reflect. Not just on the show, but on my life for the past decade. Not saying I wasted most of my 20s, but I could have done a lot better with my 20s. I swear, if I would have given N.H.K a chance in 2009, I think my life would be greater than what it is right now.

It didn’t help that I saw myself in each of the main characters of the anime. While fans stated that they find themselves in one of the four core characters, I can’t. In fact, I found myself in ALL of the four main cast members. Hitomi. Karou. Misaki. Satou. Each of them I could say represent different parts of my 20s.

For the next few weeks, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the original novel, I’m going to explore each of the main characters and not just reflect on them, but on myself. Because I truly believe the anime and novel are life-changing and it deserves more praise, more fans, and more love in general.

If you’re down with that, then join me as I explore the conspiracy maniac Hitomi and how her words, “Being a hard-working adult” hits home with me!

Link to Hitomi Retrospect:
https://yukithesnowman.com/2022/01/27/welcome-to-the-self-reflection-an-welcome-to-the-nhk-anime-retrospect-part-2-hitomi/

RELATED ARTICLES/ESSAYS BY ME:

  1. Hikkikomori: The Digital Age Hermit
    https://yukithesnowman.com/2019/09/03/hikikomori-the-digital-age-hermit/

    2. Fandom: The Ultimate Secuirty Blanket
    https://yukithesnowman.com/2020/06/25/fandom-the-ultimate-security-blanket/

    3.Handcuffed by Geek Culture
    https://swarthynerd.com/handcuffed-by-geek-culture-ep-123

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The Swarthy Nerd Podcast
A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in nerd culture. Every Tuesdays we drop episodes containing serious and laidback topics while Saturdays we drop episodes talking about TV shows, anime, film, comics, manga, and video games.

Instagram: YukiTheSnowMan314

My Facebook Page:
Yuki The Snowman
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Japan 2

Hikikomori: The Digital Age Hermit

Editor’s Note:  This is a text version of episode 32 of my friend and I podcast “The Swarthy Nerd Podcast” . It has been edited for this blog.  You can listen to the episode in full by clicking on this link. Please enjoy! 

 

Japan: A nation rich in cultural tradition, technological advancement, animation innovation, and an unreal politeness. It’s a peaceful county that holds the status quo on the highest pedestal.   From childhood to adulthood, the Japanese are expected to follow the status quo, daring not to stand out from the crowd; as they will be hammered down like a nail sticking out from the board.

You’re expected by society and by your family to work hard. At school, work, and for the general public, Japanese citizens must put on their best face (or tatemae 建前, たてまえ lit. “façade”); regardless of what they might be going through in their personal life thanks to the nation’s intense conformist nature.

But, what happen when this intense conformist nature Japan is known for becomes too much for one person to bear?  Let’s say a salary-man gets chastise by his boss for a one minor mistake that can be easily fix.  In America, we might get in our feelings over the matter for a split second then seek to correct the issue.  In Japan however, the salary-man will cave in, withdraw into his shell, and finish the work for the day – never returning to work the following day.

Instead, he’ll lock himself away in his disgusting, trashy room of his parent’s house in a state of deep depression for months or even years. He doesn’t interact with the outside world beyond the virtual, online world – a world in which he feels is much safer than brutal reality.  He wastes his time and life away watching anime and playing video games; never contributing to society.  His parents provide his need out of “support” until they grow old and die.  They don’t know what else to do with him or get him out of this state.

This man is a member of Japan’s missing one million: hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引きこもりlit. Pulling inward, being confined).  A social phenomenon with origins dating from the mid-1980s and appearing in the Japanese mainstream in the late 1990s, the hikikomori is the modern-day reclusive hermit who has withdrawn from all social interactions.

According to the 2016 Japanese census report, 540,000 people aged 15-39 are considered hikikomori. However, some experts has estimated that the number is 1.55 million (since hikikomori do not interact with society and prefer to be hidden) and growing.  This condition can go on for years – even decades – and this is a problem that Japan must address before it worsen.

There are hikikomori that in their 40s (the first generation) who have not left their aging parents’ house in decades, leading to Japan’s “2030 Problem”; an issue in which the hikikomori baby boomer parents are entering their 60s, 70s, and 80s; therefore, they  cannot provide for their hikikomori children (due to retirement, illness, and death).  With the parents dying, this causes concern as many are wondering who’ll take care of these hermits and what to do to help them come out of their shells.

In this episode of the Swarthy Nerd Podcast, we will explore one of Japan’s infamous dark side: the hikikomori. What is a Hikikomori?  Why so many men in Japan are withdrawing from society and causing a strain on the Japanese economy and their family? And could America experience their unique version of the Hikikomori.

JOIN US!

 

PART I
BREAKING DOWN THE HIKIKOMORI

 

Before acknowledging why Japanese youth are becoming Hikikomori, we must analyze what causes and does not cause Hikikomori. 80% of Hikikomori are male; with the reminding 20% are females. The average age of Hikikomori is around mid-20s. However, there are reports of   Hikikomori in their teens and 50s. A Hikikomori must’ve not partaken in society for a period exceeding six months.

They are not employed, seeking employment, or in educational training (NEET). Forms of entertainment fill their time, for example: video games, internet, and television.   While it’s possible for some Hikikomori to suffer from pathological problem disorder such as autism, borderline personality disorder (BPD), schizophrenia, et cetera, Hikikomori itself isn’t considered nor treated as a pathological disorder.

The following items are what don’t make one Hikikomori. Simply going from home to work and only having interactions with people from those places doesn’t make the criteria for Hikikomori; as you’re employed and interacting with society.  Non-conformity isn’t hikikomori.  While Hikikomori itself is an extreme example of non-conformity, the act itself isn’t inherently Hikikomori. Japanese Herbivore Men who don’t desire a relationship with the opposite sex aren’t Hikikomori; as most are social.  Understanding what makes and does not make a Hikikomori based on the factors listed above; we can begin to look into the reasoning behind the why.

 

PART II

WHY JAPANESE YOUTHS ARE BECOMING HIKIKOMORI

Referring back to the introduction of this essay/episode, Japan is a conformist nation where individuality is frown upon. Their youth are expected to aim high towards academic, social, and career success.  Matt Davis’s article for BigThink.com on Hikikomori and the rigidness of Japan goes further on such expectations:

“Like most behavioral issues, it’s difficult to pin down exactly what mechanism lies behind it. However, there are some common features.

Japan is a very rigid, structured society, and the pressure starts early. Students are expected to study constantly, the school year lasts six weeks longer than in the U.S., and, when the Ministry of Education reduced the school week from six days a week, many parents began enrolling their children in juku, or “cram schools,” to fill in the extra hours with as much education as possible. Because of the emphasis on exams in Japan, about half of all junior high students in Japan attend juku.

Combined with the fact that the period from 1990 to 2010 saw very little economic growth in Japan, many students questioned the purpose of their high-intensity education when there was little guarantee of work at the end of it.

Social life in Japan, too, is highly structured and etiquette practices can quickly become complex depending on the situation and the others involved. For example, Japanese has many grammatical structures that vary depending on the exact nature of the person being addressed, whether they’re a superior, an employee, a customer, an older woman or man, a younger woman or man, and many others. Giving gifts is common, but certain items are considered impolite. Giving a kitchen knife to a newlywed couple is a no-no, since this implies separation.

What’s more significant than the specific rituals and rules in Japanese culture, the general, pervasive sense of propriety and correct behavior can be stifling. It is impossible to go through life without embarrassing yourself socially at least once, but in a culture where correct behavior is highly valued, slipping up in this regard can be traumatizing.

Often, a triggering academic or social failure prompts young men and women to withdraw from society and become hikikomori. It’s also been speculated that this social phenomenon is due, in part, to a culture of shame surrounding mental health issues. Depression wasn’t even recognized as a real condition until the late 1990s in Japan, and it is sometimes still seen as an excuse to take time off of work. Rather than be labelled as depressed or anxious, the term hikikomori paints people with a broader brush.”

And from William Kremer and Claudia Hammond’s BBC News article Hikikomori: Why Are So Many Japanese Men Refusing to Leave Their Homes:

The trigger for a boy retreating to his bedroom might be comparatively slight – poor grades or a broken heart, for example – but the withdrawal itself can become a source of trauma. And powerful social forces can conspire to keep him there.

One such force is sekentei, a person’s reputation in the community and the pressure he or she feels to impress others. The longer hikikomori remain apart from society, the more aware they become of their social failure. They lose whatever self-esteem and confidence they had and the prospect of leaving home becomes ever more terrifying.”

Let’s refer back to the word tatemae.  As tatemae literally means “façade” or “pretense”, you will display a sort of masquerade of “happiness” and “carefreeness” for society: never revealing your true face, or honne (本音 ,ほんね). What is honne? Honne literally translate to “true voice” or the dark thoughts you keep hidden from the world. Thoughts such as “My boss’s idea is so fucking stupid; he needs to be fired!”,  “I want to kill my bullies”, and “I’m tired of you crying about your problems all the time”.

The clash between tatemae and honne births inner conflict. You want to speak out about what’s bothering you or how you truly feel about a situation, but you live in Japan: a country of conformity – with tatemae a major component of Japanese social conformity.

Balancing between honne and tatemae for the Japanese can be stressful to the point that it can drive many to isolation.  Why face the world with a façade, never being allowed to express your true thoughts when you can alienate yourself from said world?    However, isolation is a dangerous trap.  Having others support you won’t work well in the long run.

PART III

The Strain Hikikomori Cause

Hikikomori refusing employment and educational training to support themselves causes an ill effect on the Japanese economy and their caregivers.  The Japanese workforce is dwindling as the numbers of Hikikomori increases.  Aged  Hikikomori whom decided to return to society find  reintegration difficult; as they lack the (job) skills to generate income —  especially as they’re entering the worst job market in modern history (the lingering effect of the 2008 market crash).

When discussing the caregivers of Hikikomori, we must bring up two set of numbers: 2030 and 8050. 2030 represent the year in which the first generation of Hikikomori will turn 50 while their caregiver parents will turn 80 (with some Hikikomori turning 65 even).  By this time, the caregiver parent(s) of their Hikikomori child have long since retired and eventually died; leaving the Hikikomori without their primary support system.

Diving into the morbid, there are reported cases in which parents of the Hikikomori have passed away in their house. Due to Hikikomori’s lack and fear of social interactions, few Hikikomori have spent days or even weeks with the decaying body or bodies of their decreased parent(s) for days or weeks before contacting law enforcement.

Example 1: Late November-Early December 2013: 34-year-old shut-in  man from Osaka, Japan was arrested for corpse abandonment after reporting his father passing in their house – two weeks after his death.  Did not contact the police due to Hikikomori state  Source: https://soranews24.com/2013/12/16/man-finds-dead-father-lives-with-the-body/

Example 2: November 9th, 2018: 49-year-old shut-in from The Kanagawa Prefectural arrested for failing to report the death of his 76-year-old mother after sister of the Hikikomori male discover their mother’s body in her bedroom. The mother died in mid-October. Source: https://nextshark.com/japanese-hikikomori-mom/

Now, imagine hearing multiple reports of rotting bodies of the Hikikomori parents discovered in their houses because of the Hikikomori’s extreme social anxiety in 2030. I fear that it’ll be the norm come 11 years from now.

PART IV

The American Hikikomori

 

For decades, it was believed that the Hikikomori phenomenon was a Japanese exclusive problem; a cultural issue of sorts.  While not as extreme in Japan, there have been case studies of the Hikikomori in the United States.  In her February 2019 article for the New York Magazine titled When ‘Going Outside Is Prison’: The World of the American Hikikomori, Allie Conti spoke with 21-year-old reddit user “Luca” through private messaging about his case of Hikikomori dating back from the age of 12.  During class, he’d become so anxious that he’d forgot to swallow.  The anxiety led his mother to remove him from school and take online classes – which he would soon drop out of those courses as well.

After watching the anime series Welcome to the N.H.K (an anime about a Hikikomori man “discovering” Japanese broadcasting company N.H.K, or Nippon Hoso Kyokai, translation: Japan Broadcasting Corporation conspiracy to transform Japanese youths into shut-ins), Luca decided to quit school and forego work as a personal rebellion against the world (meaning he’s a lazy ass white boy who needs to grow a pair of balls).

University of California researcher Alan R. Teo theorized that Hikikomori-like conditions are coming into the light in America. In 2010, the mother of a 30-year-old anime fan contacted Teo after her son, “Mr. H”, read one of Teo’s translation; leading him to diagnosed himself with Hikikomori.  From the New York Magazine article:

“Teo encouraged Mr. H. to come by his office at the University of California in San Francisco for treatment, despite the fact that would mean stepping outside for the first time in three years. Mr. H. wore a leather jacket that reeked of cigarette smoke, had mangy hair, didn’t shower, and had long fingernails. “During the first and most severe year, he remained within a walk-in closet, ate only-ready-to-eat food, did not bathe, and urinated and defecated in jars and bottles,” Teo would later write in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry.

“He passed the time surfing the internet and playing video games.” Tests run on Mr. H showed seemingly conflicting results. While he exhibited traits consistent with obsessive compulsive and schizoid personality disorders, various scales and inventories concluded he had neither. Mr. H. claimed his reclusiveness was based on something pretty simple: He just didn’t want to be a part of the world, which is both what hikikomori in Japan had long said and basically what Luca told me.”

Throughout America, a large number of young men are isolating themselves in their parent’s basement bedrooms.  They cannot cope with work, school, and lack motivation to launch themselves. Recent economic crisis combined with the labor market has discouraged recent college graduates, especially given when 12.6% of college grads are underemployed (source: https://www.epi.org/publication/class-of-2016/) Princeton researchers suggests that technological usage such as video games and social media has led to a 23-46% decrease of young men working in the labor force (source: https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/maguiar/files/leisure-luxuries-labor-june-2017.pdf).

We must not also forget that the 69% of college grad are entering the real world with with an average of $29,800 worth of debt – something that an average min. wage job cannot pay off (source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/20/how-much-the-average-student-loan-borrower-owes-when-they-graduate.html).

With seemly unpayable debt, a weaken work force, and an economy that’s expected to crash soon, more and more American youth are partakning in the hikikimori lifestyle to escape reality.  This is not good for the American society.  If this problem continues in America I fear we will see the same problems with Hikikomori in Japan with Americans – especially with most male Hikikomori in the West are radicalized through white supremacist and incel groups.

FINAL PART

Yuki’s And TV Guru’s Thoughts on Hikikomoris

 

Yuki: “First off Japan, stop shamming people for failure: everyone fails. There’s a difference between failure and stupidity.  Shame people for being stupid, but don’t shame them for failure.  Another way to prevent hikikomori is reduce the workload on workers and students alike.  You got people in Japan working 12-18 hours a day and it’s literally killing them (karoshi lit. death from overwork). Finally, stop shamming people with mental health issues; people in Japan are afaird to admit their issues due to the stigma link with mental health. Why would people admit they have mental health issues if they are being shammed for it?”

TV Guru: “Same thing, you can’t be fucking shaming somebody for failing. But, that’s the pressure they put on society.  You can’t pressure somebody into working hard. Yea Japanese people are smart because they spend hours studying but all that long-term studying comes with a price…”

****

“The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves.  A fortress seems the safest.  But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle.  You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.”

“The weight of society’s pressure to conform, and the lack of distance from other people, can make it impossible to think clearly about what’s going on around you.  As a temporary recourse, then, isolation can help you gain perceptive. The danger is, however, that this kind of isolation will sire all kinds of strange and perverted ideas.  You main gain perspective on the larger picture, but you lose a sense of your own smallness and limitations.  Also, the more isolated you are, the harder it is to break out of your isolation when you chose to – it sinks you deep into its quicksand with your you noticing.”

-Robert Greene