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….
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!
RELATED ARTICLES/ESSAYS BY ME:
- Hikkikomori: The Digital Age Hermit
2. Fandom: The Ultimate Secuirty Blanket
3.Handcuffed by Geek Culture
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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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Yuki The Snowman