By Shanuka Kadupitiyage Ceylon Today Features
Watching animated series is not everyone's preference. One of the main factors of this is the fact that most audiences find it hard to relate to the characters. Usually, this is masked by stunning visual effects and avant-garde stories.
Yet it becomes a whole new ball game when producing a slice of life story where over the top stories cannot be made, where the stories resemble ordinary life. Not many productions manage to remain "human" in such occasions. Amidst all this, Welcome to the N.H.K. manages to do that, and even more.
Welcome to the N.H.K. is based on a novel written by Japanese author Tatsuhiko Takimoto. The story consists of the day to day occurrences of 22 year old Tatsuhiro Satou, who has been unemployed for the past four years. The special twist is that he leads a reclusive life, believing that his failures in life are a conspiracy, performed by the "secret organization" named "N.H.K." Subsequently, he meets Misaki Nakahara, who manages to get the main character to sign a contract where she will provide counseling until he overcomes his mental instability.
Many other misadventures proceed in the narrative, mostly focusing the story of each supporting character with the interactions of the main cast.
In this case, the narrative style is not revolutionary and it's a widely used method for many other productions. The art style was not impactful either, sometimes ending up in really low quality. The low budget is very evident.
Unlike the animations, Welcome to the N.H.K. performs incredibly well in audio. The voice acting is exceptionally well done, making the emotional roller coaster of each character even more impactful. This, paired with a set of calming soundtracks, gives a certain character to the story that was very refreshing. The meanings behind the lyrics of each soundtrack only made the effect deeper and more profound.
However, Welcome to the N.H.K. truly shines because of its characters. Not many titles have managed to master character driven narratives but this certainly has. Each character is well thought out, solid, very real and surprisingly human. They are relatable, sound and even feel realistic to the viewer. It is a highly acclaimed story that discusses many deep topics such as social values, child abuse, depression, suicide and many others. Yet the theme it bases the narrative on is what really makes this title shine; accepting responsibility and overcoming adversity by finding resolve.
While it may not be the most elegant of narratives, Welcome to the N.H.K. tells a very "human" tale in a medium far from it. It is not a flawless creation, yet has a charming message, delivered in an almost sublime manner. It is very highly acclaimed and recommended. Welcome to the N.H.K. is something you definitely shouldn't ignore and definitely worthy of your attention.
(Pix courtesy Tokyopop.com and Crunchyroll.com)