For a long time, I’ve been a lover of anime. Ever since I was a young kid, I remember watching Studio Ghibli film’s alongside my dad and sister, over and over again. They never got boring; the rich lands, and the characters, the stories – they seemed so utterly magical, so out-of-this-world, and yet completely believable, completely immersive. Sure, no doubt some of it was due to the impressionability of my younger self… but the remainder, was an intrinsic love for narrative of that type, one that would develop and mature as I grew older – as I grow older. Most notably the ‘Slice of Life‘ genre of anime.
Not just anime itself, but the surrealism which is often intrinsic to its nature. That which my most-loved author Haruki Murakami often portrays to such mesmerising levels.
Welcome to the N.H.K was originally a Japanese novel written by Tatsuhiko Takimoto , which was later adapted into a serialised manga, and then, to critical acclaim, a 24-episode anime series in 2006.
I can’t remember the exact date, or even the exact year when I first watched it. I guess somewhere around 2013-14. At that time, watching it, I realised so many things – too many things. Most of all, it absolutely terrified me – ripped open my soul and left it there to be eroded by the environment if I did nothing to protect it from the elements. Here’s a synopsis: (from myanimelist.net)
“NHK ni Youkoso! is a psychological dramedy that follows Tatsuhiro as he strives to escape from the N.H.K’s wicked machinations and the disease of self-wrought isolation, while struggling to even just leave his apartment and find a job. His unexpected encounter with the mysterious Misaki Nakahara might signal a reversal of fortune for Tatsuhiro, but with this meeting comes the inevitable cost of having to face his greatest fear—society.”
Maybe that does not do it justice, but I could not find anything better that was shorter, and my synopses-writing-abilities are severely lacking. But, I’m sure the general gist of it gets across well enough. Also, this isn’t a review. There are enough people doing reviews of things out there. Probably any of them are better than anything I could write. (Though… maybe I should make a review blog… hmm)
Anyway… back then, my anxiety and the depression resulting from it were tearing me apart. Much like two cart horses pulling on opposite ends of my body, I constantly feared the day when I would snap, when everything would permanently go black. Some days, I longed for that too. Some days, I contemplated picking up the horsewhip, and tempting them to pull harder, and harder, and harder…
I watched Welcome to the N.H.K – Not a lot changed. I suppose, it made me feel happy and desperately sad in equal measure; revealing to me the darkening reality I existed within, and also illuminating the door to more hopeful pastures. And yet, I was in no place to capitalise on that, to asses the desperate situation I was decomposing within, without prejudice. I saw no future, only the wailing of the past. Something which, I suspect’s a familiar story for many of you.
I write about this a lot: My poems, stories, and writing in general – it’s all riddled with the past, with the anxiety and depression. That which still takes residence somewhere inside of me, albeit accepted and not nearly as crushing as it once was. Sure, I was never a Hikikomori, but I wasn’t far off either, (or at least the Western equivalent…)
noun: hikikomori; plural noun: hikikomori
- (in Japan) the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males.
- a person who avoids social contact.
I know… I know… it’s ironic, right? Here I am, sat, typing away on my keyboard, rambling about a life that I in no way experience alone, that is in every respect perfectly average, and deceiving luxurious. We forget that. We always do.
Welcome to the N.H.K spoke, and speaks so much truth to me. Facing reality is terrifying , whatever that reality might be, and whomever might be experiencing it. For myself, that was – and continues to be – society, the wide-open-world. It’s so easy to avoid: through social media, through the rather nefarious places on the interwebs, through over-indulgent escapism and consumption of media – be it movies, TV, video games, or anime. And yet, despite this, there’s no true escape from society, no matter where you go. That’s the trouble, I was trying to find a solution to something that didn’t have one, to something that would never truly be the way I’d like it to be. And, that’s what’s important. Realising where you are. Realising you could be somewhere else. Even if you are unable to get there in that very moment. You have to believe it exists, believe in different perspectives. And understand that you, yourself have to find them.
Because, although we’re all perfectly similar, we are often painfully unique.
So, yeah, if you like anime, watch Welcome to the N.H.K.
If you don’t, well… maybe still watch it. You never know, you might realise something, just like I did.
(Sources: Featured header image – Zerochan )
(If any of the images explicitly belong to you, contact me. They will be removed, or properly credited, at request. 🙂 )