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NHK ni Youkoso 7

Tatsuhiro dreams of Misaki in angel wings, telling him he's finally freed of the hikikomori condition by having wandered into town to the design school on his own. She pulls a cord which drops him into the "real world". Tatsuhiro remains unfazed, believing he really is cured, and goes to the school. In class, he is roundly welcomed by everyone. An assignment is due that day, and he hands in a whopper of a manuscript which impresses the whole class. Unfortunately, the lecturer still calls it an amateur work, resulting in Tatsuhiro repeating the nightmare of his first major public rejection.

All his classmates pull off their skins to reveal secret agent garb. Tatsuhiro is back in his own 007-style dream from Episode 1, where he's escaping the NHK. He blasts out of the classroom into the desert. There, he crashes into the sun, with cameras labeled, 'NHK' in its eyes.

And we're back in his apartment. I'm constantly amazed by the amount of junk in that place. I have noticed the hygiene seems to improve whenever Tatsuhiro is distracted, like during those times he's hard at work on his manuscript. If anyone's watched Dare mo Shiranai (Nobody Knows) and remembers the filth when the children were at the end of their ropes, his apartment gets like that. Big bags of garbage everywhere. This means, I think, that Tatsuhiro has managed to recede into himself again, probably as a result of dealing with the trauma of going out in the last episode. It's still good on him to have dealt with Yamazaki in the nicest way possible first though (Episode 6), basically putting others before himself -- which I think might be one of the keys to really kicking him out of his funk.

Speaking of which, Yamazaki arrives with food. Tatsuhiro apologizes for troubling him with this chore, but Yamazaki says he doesn't mind. He's worried about Tatsuhiro though, as he's had a cold that's lasted far too long. At first, he suspected Tatsuhiro's hikikomori situation got worse. Tatsuhiro is startled by this insight, but manages to hide it. He knows he's a terrible liar.

Ever since he went to Yamazaki's school, his condition has worsened. He can't get the scene of himself screaming about the NHK as he ran out of the writing class. He refuses to see anyone or answer his phone. He's going suicidal. Like most good suicide addicts, he also realizes that death is troublesome, that in such a situation, it's more of a wish to disappear completely. In that regard, he's grateful that Yamazaki is looking after him, and doesn't like having to lie to him this way.

In the midst of his depressed state, his furniture begins speaking to him again, as they did back in Episode 1. They tell him to fight against the conspiracy with love and courage. Tatsuhiro doesn't think he has either. His cell phone starts beeping for his attention. The other appliances tell him he should respond to her, since it's unusual for Phone-chan to call for him. Maybe it's something important. (Maybe it's your hot senpai trying to ring you up for more interesting ways to say goodbye.) It turns out that Tatsuhiro actually has a fax machine -- never noticed that before. He willfully hides under his blanket and tries to shut out its rings.

His messagebox starts up as a result. The caller turns out to be his mother, who's coming to Tokyo to dicuss his future. Tatsuhiro goes into a panic. What if his mother has come to drag him back home like a dog to a pound, after he's struggled so hard to get to Tokyo? (There's a really cute scene here of Tatsuhiro-as-a-dog, being carted off in a cage with Misaki and Yamazaki waving goodbye.) There's another call, which he does pick up. It turns out to be his mother, again. She'll be there in three days. She's also worried about him, and to allay her fears (and get out of going back home), Tatsuhiro tells her he found a job with a small software company writing scenarios. He also has a girlfriend, whom he is thinking of proposing to. This makes her ridiculously happy, and she asks to meet the girl when she gets there.

The camera pans over his apartment, filled to the brim with garbage and old beer cans. Smoke from his last cigarette is still rising from one of the cans. He asks himself if his mother can detect his lies. He wished she were more suspicious. Or that she was less pleased with him.

The phone rings again. It's Misaki, who is worried since Tatsuhiro hasn't been showing up for their sessions. He tells her everything. She tells him there has to be a limit to answering (other people) without thinking. Tatsuhiro is genuinely concerned he'd have been sent home otherwise. Misaki starts on how she probably won't have a choice (yeah, right!), but she can always act as his girlfriend for the day. Tatsuhiro suddenly launches into a tangent about asking Yamazaki for help, which leads to a pink-backgrounded shot of Yamazaki in a short skirt as a girl, looking good, I might add. Directly after that, we're shown Yamazaki in bed, busily rubbing against his Dutch wife. It's disturbing hilarity, as Tatsuhiro dashes home!

Yamazaki is rudely awakened from his wet dream to Tatsuhiro declaring they will start a game company. As he recalls, it's cheap to register a company name these days. He'd be able to deceive his mother -- no, they will start the best game company ever, and stamp their brand on the face of the world, albeit slightly ahead of schedule. Yamazaki and Tatsuhiro both immediately try to think up a name. "Sayama Co." doesn't work, in case someone thinks the company really is owned by a person called Sayama. Tatsuhiro suggests English: "Wonderful Fantastic Dreamy Galge Company Created by Yamazaki and Sato from M.H. for the Future"

Which is really pushing that use of language as a design element off a cliff...

Tatsuhiro: How was that?
Yamazaki: I can't memorize it!

They tentatively stick with Y.S. Company, though neither one is happy with it. Yamazaki suggests they change it to something better when they make it to the top. In the meantime, he sketches a potential logo. Tatsuhiro points out it looks like a baseball team's logo. Yamazaki tells him it's just to get the ball rolling.

Then it's time to think of a company song. Tatsuhiro breaks out a guitar and sings enough to have Yamazaki clapping his hands over his ears. And of course, there have to be company cards. Yamazaki quickly designs and prints out a few on his MFC. Tatsuhiro says it's great Yamazaki gets to be the President. He'd have loved to have been a co-founder, but he did tell his mother he worked for the company. Yamazaki breaks out the perfect title for his friend, a N.E.E.T. This is so everyone will know who he is at first glance. This results in much kicking to the face.

Outside, Misaki is listening in on everything going on.

Inside, they're planning a reception counter. Or at least, Tatsuhiro is. He grabs one of the life-size cardboard figures from Yamazaki's room and sticks it behind a desk, calling it a receptionist. Yamazaki and Misaki are both pretty horrified. When things pipe down, Yamazaki tells him they don't have to go that far, if all they need are the barebones of a company. He really isn't going to show his mother this, is he? Tatsuhiro concedes the card may be enough. Meanwhile, Misaki knocks on the door and asks about her own evil intentions, what is Tatsuhiro going to do about that girlfriend he said he'd marry? What if she were to masquerade as such for him? (She is, she is such a shoujo fangirl stalker!)

Tatsuhiro quickly walks around her back to his own apartment and calls up Hitomi. He's sure she'd help out, given the circumstances, and furthermore, the lie might turn out to be the truth in the long run. Hitomi apologizes, but she's already made plans for that day. (They have her saying this in her own huge, apparently lonely apartment, dressed in a tiny robe that shows off a very nice chest, lucky sod. She seems to be looking towards someone we can't see as she speaks to him.) Tatsuhiro sighs and says he might as well ask Yamazaki to crossdress for him. There's a horrible scene of Yamazaki as a one of those really freaky otaku-dressed-in-schoolgirl-sailor-suits, and even Tatsuhiro has to admit he'd not be able to live that down.

Misaki knocks on his door again, and tells him she'll pretend to be his girlfriend for him.

The next day, Misaki and Tatsuhiro go out on a date. (I'm telling you now, she's going to turn out to be one of those psychopatic fangirls like the one from Perfect Blue...) Misaki's reasoning is that Tatsuhiro is such an awful liar, if they didn't at least get used to each other first, he could slip up. Tatsuhiro is more worried about his reaction to being in public places again. (Cue for his cap halfway down his brow.) Misaki reaches out to grab his sleeve, dating sim-little sister archetype fashion. The two wind up in the city. I still admire the way they've animated backgrounds for this series. They're full of vibrancy, especially for the city scenes, and really help bring out that sense of a place larger than the two people we see. They window shop and have coffees together. Eventually, they go watch a movie. Misaki actually chose a film called "Jukon" (Cursed Spirit), which is a parody of Juu-on, a popular horror film (about cursed spirits). A lighthearted song about going to the dark side with someone you like starts playing. Tatsuhiro's smoking habit is really getting to Misaki's lungs. The song goes into stuck tape mode as a result. (Kill her!) Tatsuhiro notices this and puts out his cigarette. The song resumes. (Ah, damn.) Tatsuhiro wonders if this is what it means to properly date someone, as his senpai told him about before.

As they walk down a street, Misaki decides to take advantage of him and suggests they lock arms, to look like a normal couple. The result of Misaki brushing up against his arm really makes Tatsuhiro think of her breasts (rubbing against his arm), which kind of leads him to think of her naked. He wonders if it's some kind of sign. Is she really trying to seduce him? (You mean apart from the fact she is clearly a thing of evil?) He gets so distracted he walks into a pole. (If this were a proper porno, there'd be significantly more nudity by now, not like there wasn't just a fully naked girl back there or anything.)

Later that evening, they're back in the park near Misaki's place. The next time they do this it'll be the real thing. Misaki says he should probably clean out his apartment before his mother sees it. I have begun to notice that one of the constant landmarks Misaki is posed in front of in the park is a large building on top of a hill. It looks like a mansion, and the opening sequence suggests her home is at least comfortably middle-class. Is that a hint as to the real Misaki? Tatsuhiro realizes that if they're going to pretend to be lovers, they should at least know more about each other. Tatsuhiro doesn't know anything about Misaki apart from her name. She knows his parents' names, his full name, his birth date, his sun sign, his blood type and the name of his ex-university. When he asks how she knew all that, she claims he told her himself, even though he has no memory of this happening. In fact, he wonders, how did she even know his apartment's phone number?

Tatsuhiro demands to know more, on the pretext of being able to complete his disguise. Misaki clearly looks worried about this, asking him why he'd want this information. Misaki comes up with a completely unbelievable story about her family tree, saying she was the granddaughter of a Frenchman called George Bruffel, who married her grandmother, a Japanese prima donna. They met in Port Morresby and married in Japan. Her grandmother gave birth to her mother, who married her father, an elite businessman. Due to family reasons, Misaki has had to live with relatives. She says it so quickly he couldn't possibly remember a word she said. When she tests him with her grandfather's name and he makes a mistake, she makes it his homework for the night. As he tries to memorize it, she runs away, leading Tatsuhiro to realize she was lying all along.

Gotta admit, if he's going to lie, he might as well have a partner who's actually good at it.