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NHK ni Youkoso 6

Because I feel people are not nearly horrified by this enough, I suggest one pays a short visit to the ending sequence of NHK ni Youkoso (Welcome to NHK!) as seen on YouTube. Because I can't really not tell you about the earless corpses of Cat in the Hats sacrificed for this video nearly enough, or that completely messed up soundtrack, or even the snide commentary on people returning to infantile states to escape the idiocy of this ridiculous life.

In the opening moments, Tatshiro illustrates an important point I can't stress enough myself: Writing is Hard Work. And 3/4ths of all porn out there is outright embarassing to read, let alone write. This is his problem with writing the game scenario. How does anyone write sex scenes so...hideous?

It just so happens that tonight's lesson from Misaki happens to be about conversational techniques. She makes a good observation that the root of a hikikomori's stuttering is a fear of embarassing himself. Her "revolutionary method" of boosting self-confidence in the hikikomori is to apply Copernican conversion to the hikikomori's way of thinking. This means that if you lack confidence, you should work to make someone around you even more miserable to feel better. (Tatsuhiro is confused. So am I.) Misaki further explains that if one is nervous in conversation, that it helps to think the person you're talking to is inferior to you, to gain confidence.

This explains a lot about her own manner of speech, what with all the Satou-kuns. It also hints, pretty broadly, she's helping him out to feel better about herself. Which isn't so bad, since the idea of generosity stems from making one's self feel good by giving, but it does also make Misaki a bit scarier. I still think she's a secret shoujo manga fan-stalker in disguise.

"The reason I'm speaking clearly now is because I'm using the same technique."

See previous point.

Interestingly, she goes on to tell Tatsuhiro that the best way to use this technique is to not let the other person know you are using it. Even Tatsuhiro would be mad if she told him he was human trash, that's why she keeps her lips sealed. Tatsuhiro just looks flabbergasted.

So he asks, well, that means, from the bottom of her heart, she must really look down on him, doesn't she? Misaki shakes her head really innocent-like and says no. Tatsuhiro decides to vent his frustration by poking her some more about his unfinished dream analysis from the last episode (the one with all the phallic imagery). Misaki is perturbed, but finally asks him if he's a virgin. After all, he's a hikikomori, and doesn't have a girlfriend. Tatsuhiro starts blustering about Hitomi, mentioning that in high school, there was this upperclassman who did him. (Not a bad way to go since Hitomi is hot. Gotta dig the humour in the overboiling kettle imagery from the last ep. Much better than cut off flower heads, but I guess that only works for deflowering girls.)

Misaki asks if Yamazaki is Tatsuhiro's neighbour. When he confirms this, she tells him that even Yamazaki has a girlfriend. She found out when she went to perform her rounds with her aunt. All Yamazaki would talk about at the door was about his girlfriend, and he seemed happy. Tatsuhiro kind of morbidly wonders how that guy has anyone interested in him, first and foremost, he doesn't even have any interest in real women. Misaki starts running down some statistics: Yamazaki's girlfriend is called Nanako, she's a voice actress training at his school, short hair, slim, slightly shorter than Yamazaki and has a cute voice. Tatsuhiro really can't believe her, but Misaki suggests he should go confirm it.

Outside their apartment block, Tatsuhiro is running through scenarios in his head. If he barges in and just asks, he thinks Yamazaki might grab his Dutch wife and simply tell him he only loves PIrin-chan. On the other hand, Yamazaki might suddenly snap all his dolls into two, saying he prefers real girls over 2D ones. Furthermore, Yamazaki might just tell him it's none of his business. The scenes here are pretty funny, because Tatsuhiro is taking all the endings quite badly, and referring to each scenario pretty explicitly as patterns, like from a game. He finally concludes, the biggest problem is that humans are born to lie.

He wonders if Yamazaki would be truthful. As he does so, Yamazaki opens his door and slams it into Tatsuhiro's forehead. Seeing Tatsuhiro, he tells him that he's headed to a convenience store, and wonders if he'd like to follow him. Tatsuhiro tells him he still has a scenario to write though, so Yamazaki wishes him all the best with that. In the end, Tatsuhiro realized he should've asked him then.

It's the following morning, and Tatsuhiro has had a sleepless night. From the neighbouring apartment, Yamazaki's alarm clock starts bleating out, "Onii-chan, it's morning! You'll be late!" in a generic cutesy voice. Yamazaki is shown leaving his apartment. Tatsuhiro, in glasses and cap, is following close behind. He follows him onto the train, where Yamazaki is typing on a Clié. It hits me that we're seeing interesting sides to both Misaki and Yamazaki in this episode. The one is being a manipulative freak, and the other is actually growing more reasonable. Yamazaki also seems pretty well to do, if his parents' farm was quite lucrative, as mentioned in the last episode. Those Cliés are costly (and not really worth it).

As he watches Yamazaki, Tatsuhiro is still pondering his relative truthfulness. He wonders if the girl he likes will turn out to be a fashionable cutie. If it does turn out that way, Tatsuhiro will murder him.

They get as far as Yamazaki's design school. Tatsuhiro recalls Yamazaki was in the game creator's classes, and begins to look around. (There's a poster as he enters the building that says the school is actively seeking students.) It's a bustling school filled with people from the industry, and there are nice, brief snippets of conversations from the students that sort of illustrate all the things that drove Yamazaki nuts about them, including a critique of bad animation in PIrin-chan's latest episode. Tatsuhiro bumps into a lecturer who thinks he's a trial student, and asks him which course he's after. He asks for the game creator course. The lecturer invites him over to his game writing course. In Yamazaki's room, a lecture on drawing the human form for comics is going on. In another room, voice actors are practising their vowels. We get a shot of a short-haired girl who matches Nanako's description.

Tatsuhiro, I should mention, doesn't look bad in glasses. He's in his own class, and the lecturer has asked everyone to fill in a proposal for a game scenario. He realizes it's been three years since he's done any exercises for school. The last time he was in university, he was waiting for it to end. A flashback shows us that he was taking management courses. He was constantly phasing out his studies, merely attending school for the sake of it, and felt an increasing lack of relevance between what he was learning and what he felt. Eventually, because he couldn't cope, he was expelled.

In the present time, the lecturer on writing is telling his class to write their proposal as if they were really submitting it to a company. What matters most is their enthusiasm. Tatsuhiro looks at his proposal sheet, and seems determined to do his best. He describes his game as an ambient-type galge, with a target audience of young people who've given up on relationships. His selling point is to create a balm for the frustrated soul. The scenario revolves around a craftsman who lives on a mountain. The heroine is a mountain spirit who comes to see him everyday. Even though they see each other all the time, neither person says anything to the other. They don't have to, as their feelings speak for themselves. The spirit does not ridicule the craftsman for being a hikikomori, and is in that way very kind. They live a peaceful existence.

Unfortunately, the game will also feature a fully hands-free system, with absolutely no tension. It will be Tatsuhiro's innovation for the industry. In fact, all the player has to do is watch the game play itself. (*sweatdrop* - Hamp)

The lecturer comes over to read his proposal and begins to laugh. Tatsuhiro immediately cowers over his proposal to hide it. The lecturer reassures him that he doesn't need to be ashamed of what he wrote. A real game creator isn't afraid of his own games. The lecturer apologizes for laughing, though he was laughing at the originality of his proposal. Tatsuhiro comes after him for this though, for being arrogant because he's an amateur. It's a telling sign of his inner frustration since Misaki got to him. At the same time, I'm left feeling slightly under sympathethic for him because the point of these exercises in the classroom is to develop a writer's thicker skin. It's an unfortunate circumstance, but a necessary one. Tatsuhiro crumples his sheet. The class looks back in surprise.

The lecturer reminds him that everyone starts out an amateur. (Go funky lecturer!) They all begin with inappropriate work and build their skills from there. However, if Tatsuhiro rejects those of equal or inferior rank to him, then he's being arrogant himself. In the midst of this, Tatsuhiro flashes back to Misaki's words about pretending someone is inferior to you in order to speak to them confidently. He denies he's being this way. He starts freaking out. He also starts hearing people laughing at him, everywhere. Tatsuhiro holds his head and asks the lecturer if people are ridiculing him, as he hears it. He wonders if his actions outted him as a hikikomori. He doesn't know why he's there. This triggers his NHK conspiracy theory, and he runs out of the classroom declaring that society is evil.

Tatsuhiro makes it to a stairwell, where he wonders how he's going home, or even why he thought of coming to a public place by himself, being a shut-in. Nanako just happens to enter the stairwell at this time. Tatsuhiro worries she might find him, but she wanders in a different direction. However, Yamazaki's voice is heard calling out to her from behind, and this clues in Tatsuhiro on who she is. He follows them to the soda machines, where Yamazaki is recommending a game to Nanako. Tatsuhiro immediately gets angry at him for dragging him into a two-dimensional world when he enjoys the privileges of the real one, and starts plotting his doom. (Cool shot of Mita House as a gothic graveyard as Tatsuhiro howls for blood.)

A couple of Nanako's friends show up to collect her. She bids goodbye to Yamazaki. As she leaves, Tatsuhiro listens in on her telling her friends that Yamazaki is just a friend himself. They rib her about him being cute, but still an otaku, virtually a step away from being a hikikomori. Nanako establishes that she really likes someone else, anyway. Ashamed, Tatsuhiro goes in to collect his own friend, and, breaking away from his own insecurities, he puts on his onii-san face and starts teasing Yamazaki, saying he saw everything. When they get home, Yamazaki tells him all about Nanako. They've been dating for two weeks, and Yamazaki really believes that he managed to win her heart. Tatsuhiro cheers him on, but gulps down his beer with a sad face. He doesn't know how to break it to the guy.

At his hikikomori counselling session for the evening, he tells Misaki his findings. She's surprised that it wasn't as she suspected. Tatsuhiro catches on and asks her what she means by "as she suspected". Misaki says she thought all along that Yamazaki was chasing a dream. Tatsuhiro starts grumbling about all the trouble he went through just to find that out. Misaki points out the obvious, that by going to a public place like that, it must mean he's actually making progress with himself. Tatsuhiro wonders if she planned this all along. As he thinks so, the light catches her face, and he visualizes her as an angel. Just when he gets delusional, Misaki slips and falls on her bum.

Tatsuhiro doesn't quite believe what he just thought either.

Just one more ep to go before I run out of subs, I promise, sparing everyone any more of this until whenever Oyasumi releases more.


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