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Welcome to the NHK! Ep 15 & 16

Since its Halloween and I’m behind on watching this show, I thought that I’d post about the scary show called Welcome to the NHK! episodes 15 and 16. When we last saw Sato, he was talking to his mother on the phone. She was giving him some bad news. We find out what the bad news is, he’s getting his allowance cut because his father lost his job. She tells him that he’s going to have to get a job. After they hang up, Sato is depressed about the idea of having to go outside. He then remembers the MMORPG coupon given to him by the suicide club teenager. He signs up for the game and starts to play as a fighter. He starts to play the game by himself. Because of this, his low-level character keeps getting killed by creatures. He’s interrupted by Yamazaki who reminds him about the game they’re working on. Yamazaki finds out about Sato’s game playing and explains that he needs to be in a group to avoid being killed all of the time. Even in the online world, his hikikomori habits stop him from talking to other players.

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When he goes to his hikikomori meeting with Misaki, she reads something from her notebook. She tells him that success is achieved with small steps. Sato realizes that he can start out fighting smaller creatures in his online game. He leaves their session before Misaki can finish. Misaki thinks that he’s improving because of his positive attitude. Back in the online world, he starts to raise his character level by going after weaker creatures. He gets so involved in the game that he stops going to Misaki’s counselling sessions. While in the game he meets another player named Mia. Her character is a healer. They start to play together as a team and are able to raise their character levels. In the offline world, Misaki shows up at his apartment wondering why stopped coming to their meetings. She keeps knocking on the door, but Sato is deep into the game, ignoring her. She opens his door and sees him playing the game. She’s surprised by the discarded beverage bottles and other garbage covering his floor.

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Episode 16 picks up with Misaki in Sato’s apartment, freaked out by what she’s seeing. The apartment is covered in garbage and he hasn’t shaved in days. She tries to pull him outside but he shakes her off. Misaki notices that he’s playing Mia and starts to think that Sato might started a relationship with Mia. Insied the game, Mia and Satou are making plans to go after dragons in order to start earning enough treasure to sell and make money in the real world. Sato wants to do this so he can avoid having to leave his apartment and still earn money. As they talk, Sato starts to having romantic feelings for Mia. Misaki comes back to his apartment wearing cat ears and a tail. She starts making “meow” noises. Sato throws her out and asks her why she’s dressed like a cat. She tells him that she saw he was obsessed by the Mia’s cat character. When he gets back to the game, Mia introduced him to some of her friends that she recruited to go dragon hunting with them. The group sets of in search of a dragon to fight. Back in her bedroom, Misaki is reading some “moe” magazines in order to find something to distract Sato from the game. Inside the game, Sato and the group find and kill a dragon. One of the group members talks to Sato about selling game items for money. He wishes Sato good luck and quits the game. The show cuts to this characters room where he’s laughing at Sato. He thinks that Sato will fail at trading items for money and can’t believe that Sato’s character name is his real name. Outside his room, his sister tells him that his lunch is outside the door. She overhear’s his remarks about Sato’s character name. She remembers going to high school with a guy names Sato.

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Sato and Mia are still playing the game, defeating more evil critters. Sato has fallen in love with Mia. He tells her that he doesn’t like the real world because of all of the people lying and talking about love. He asks her to always play with him. She agrees on the condition that they meet in the real world. Sato is stunned. He’s afraid of what she’ll think when she sees the mess in his apartment. She tells him that she’s already walking up the stairs to his apartment. he hears someone outside his door and starts to become nervous. She tells him that she’s opening the door. Sato sees the door open. Standing in the door is Mia, a character played by Yamazaki. sato is stunned. Yamazaki tells him that he wanted to teach Sato the truth about characters in MMORPGs. That people can pretend to be someone else. Any sense of love or friendship is just an illusion. Sato lies and tells Yamzaki that he knew Mia wasn’t real and that the only reason he’s playing is to earn money selling game items. Yamazaki doesn’t believe and tells Sato that he won’t make money that way.

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Yamazaki tells Sato that the only people who make money from games are the game makers, a subtle way of reminding Sato that the two of them are supposed to finish making their game. Sato loses control and throws a chair at Yamazaki. Yamazaki escapes and goes back to his apartment. He starts to think that playing as Mia might have been the wrong decision. Sato is in shock at discovering that Mia is Yamazaki and that he won’t make any money selling game items. The phone rings. Its the girl from earlier in the show. Her brother was one of Sato’s teammates that killed the dragon. She introduces herself as Kobayashi, the class president from Sato’s high school. We see Misaki outside, dressed in her high school uniform and carrying a bag of groceries. She intends to cook him a meal in order to get him away from Mia and the game. After knocking on the door and getting no response, she opens the door and sees that Sato isn’t there.

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Welcome to the NHK 14

After deciding not to commit suicide, the off-line group, Yamazaki, and Hitomi’s boyfriend, Jougaskai, are cleaning up after themselves, preparing to return to the mainland. The youngest member of the group makes the comment that he didn’t think that he had any other choices other than suicide. The man who owns the island replies that people with tunnel vision can’t think of any other solutions, even when there is one in front of them.

Satou is sitting by himself when Misaki walks up to him and asks if he’s glad he lived. Satou jumps up and raises his fist. In a flashback, Misaki sees another figure raising its fist, ready to hit her. She falls and curls up, protecting her head. Satou stops and lowers his fist. Satou raises his fist again and she covers herself again and has the same flashback. She mutter “Please stop”. Satou storms off saying that he was more scared than she was.

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Everyone gets on the boat and heads off. Once they get off the boat, a man with a flag asks them if they’re the off-line group. Jougaskai explains that he contacted the resort, figuring that everyone would want to relax for a bit. The group excluding Misaki get on the bus. Saotu and the guys are in a hot springs room when a janitor walks in. He asks if they’re the group of fools who tried to kill themselves. To throw away their lives is the mark of a fool. He asks what they would have happened if they actually succeed. He points out that there would be a huge search for them which would involve the local fishermen. their deaths would disrupt the fishermen’ work, the local hotels and inns would have to have to spend time dealing with inquires about the group. And what would happen if their bodies floated ashore onto a beach. Tourists probably would avoid the area. He asks if they understand how many people would have been affected by their deaths. He implies that he was the same sort of fool.

At a group meal, a waitress tells two of the members, the ex-medical student and the teenager, that their families are here. After an emotional reunion, the teenager hands satou a coupon for an on-line video game that he usually plays. He mentions that one of his game friends is also a hikikomori and makes money by trading items that he’s earned in the game for money.

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Satou rejoins Hitomi, Jougasaki, and the island owner. Satou were Yamazaki went. Jougasaki tells him that Yamazaki had an appointment. Satou realizes that today’s the last day of the Natsucomi. Satou wonders if Natsucomi is more important than Satou’s life. Jougasaki mentions that Misaki also left. Satou mutters that he doesn’t care about her. Jougasaki and Hitomi offer Satou a ride back to Tokyo, but declines. Hitomi apologizes for bringing him out to the island. Satou passes it off, telling not to worry and to be happy. The island owner offers Satou a ride to the train station. On their way to his car, they see his son. The son tells him that his ex-wife let the son come to see him.

When Satou reaches his apartment, he sees a letter from Misaki stuck in his door. Ignoring the letter, he lies in bed in the darkness. Someone starts ringing his doorbell. Its Yamazaki and he’s back from Natsucomu and he’s drunk. And angry. He’s angry at the the convention attendees, considering them stupid for not willing to buy the trial version of their game, for not recognizing it as a masterpiece, that he couldn’t attend the opening day because he and Misaki were chasing after Satou. He blames Satou. Satou is thinking about Misaki’s letter which he had read earlier. She wrote that she’ll meet him in the park at the usual time. Satou gets up and leaves his apartment.

Satou meets Misaki in the park. Misaki doesn’t look at him, but holds up a copy of the contract. She says that he’s been absent from their meetings for several days and that there’s a penalty fee that he’ll have to pay. She goes on to sasy that she never told Satou were she lived (in the house on a hill where she could see directly into Satou’s apartment). Because of this, she waives the fee. Their counseling sessions will continue and that he has to come. Satou gets angry and as he rips the paper out of her hands he asks her who she is to decide these things. Misaki cowers like she did on the island and starts crying. This causes Satou to pause. As he’s standing there, Misaki tells him that she’s glad he’s back. Satou.

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As Satou walks into his apartment, his phone starts ringing. On the phone is his mother and Satou thinks that she sounds depressed. As they’re talking, there are sirens in the background of the phone call.

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The show has given very little information about Misaki. We know she lives with her aunt in a mansion on a hill that overlooks Satou’s apartment. We also know that she works part-time in a comic book shop. Other than that, we know nothing. But based on her flashback when Satou went to hit her, she’s been a victim of abuse. My guess is that the figure she saw in the flashbacks were her father.

This has also been a roller-coaster for Satou. He starts out the show to trying to change his hikikiomori lifestyle, he meets his senpai who he has a crush on only to lose her. He finds out that he’s been spied on by Misaki. And now there’s something gone wrong back at his parents’ house. I have to wonder that if he didn’t try to change his life, how things would work out.

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Welcome to the NHK! 13

This episode ended with a new ending song and visuals. It starts out with the off-line group enjoying their last meal around a bonfire while Hitomi’s boyfriend, Misaki, and Yamazaki race to find and stop them. In the car, Yamazaki states that it shouldn’t be surprising that Satou was committing suicide. He didn’t have a job or a girlfriend. he wasn’t in school and the game that he and Yamazaki were making was basically finished. The most damning piece of evidence was that Misaki was spying on Satou. When Yamazaki asks Misaki why, all she says was that he was important to him. On the island, Satou is still trying to figure a way out, stating that all he wanted to do was to hang out and have a good time with Hitomi, his senpai. While the others in the group reiterate their determination to go ahead with their deaths.

When Samazaki and the others get to the wharf, Hitomi’s boyfriend tries to find out any information about the off-line group, Yamazaki tells Misaki that since she was spying on Satou, she new he was lying about being a game designer. He also tells her that he’s a victim here too because he agreed to make a game with Satou in order to keep up Satou’s lies. All Misaki can say is that she wanted to help Satou who Yamazaki compares to a stray dog. Hitomi’s boyfriend comes back and tells them where the other group is and that he has rented a bout.

The island group starts to walk toward a cliff when one of the members, and ex-medical student, suddenly stops, not willing to go any further. He keeps saying he can see his mother’s face and her pain. A second member decides not to go through it also. This member is a young teenager and he admits to stealing money from his parents. This leaves Satou, Hitomi and the island owner. The medical student starts trying to talk everyone out of jumping by saying that even they have something to leave for, such as family. The island owner tells everyone that his wife left him and won’t let him see their son. This sets the medical student off, calling him irresponsible even if he can’t see his son. Hitomi, dragging Satou along (still unwilling to end it all) continues to the edge. Right at the last second, Hitomi’s boyfriend calls out from the boat below telling her not to jump, he needs her and then he asks her to marry him. This was what Hitomi always wanted to hear, that he needed her. Satou, hearing this decides to jump.

His crush on his Senpai has now been broken. As he starts towards the edge, the others grab him and Misaki shouts that he’s important to her, that she finally found someone lower than herself in life. Finally Yamazaki shouts to Satou that people like them aren’t allowed dramatic deaths. No matter how depressed or in pain they are, they have to stay in their daily routine lives. This snaps Satou out of it and as he starts to step back, the cliff edge collapses under him. Hanging on to the side, he’s saved by the others.

Even though I was sure that Satou would live in this episode, I was half-expecting that someone from the suicide group was going to die, even though Misaki and the others would get their in time. I also wasn’t expecting the cliff to collapse under Satou. I found Yamazaki’s statements to Misaki to be a little weak, especially when he claims to be vicitimized by her too. The thing is, he could easily have said no to helping Satou lie about being a game designer. I can only assume that since Satou was his senpai in school that had a lot to do with him helping Satou. However, Yamazaki totally redeems himself with the smartest lines said in the show. I think Yamazaki telling Satou that people like them weren’t allowed to have dramatic deaths and could only live routine lives wasn’t brilliant, instead it was practical, which is the brilliant part of this episode for me. This part really made this episode my favorite to date.

On a side note, the first manga book, that this series is based on, will be released sometime this month in English. I’m planning on picking it up, but I don’t really intend to compare the show and the manga.

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Welcome to the NHK! 12

This episode finds Satou and Hitomi meeting up with three other guys from the website Hitomi goes to. They’re here for the “off-line” meeting. They take a train and then boat out to an island that one of the group owns. With the exception of Satou, everyone is withdrawn, barely talking unless they have to. Satou, is the Engerizer Rabbit compared to the rest of the group. Not surprising since he thinks he’s going to start a new life with Hitomi. After getting to the island, they all pretty much hang out on the beach, “having fun during the last day of our lives” as one of the group says. While on the island, Satou decides to end his hikikomori life by trying to talk to each of these guys. He gets shutdown pretty quick and flashes back to his last year in high school where you can basically see the start of Satou withdrawing from society.

Back home, Hitomi’s boyfriend gets off work early and heads to her apartment. Finding it empty, he eventually starts searching around on her computer and find the website and the details about the offline meeting and Hitomi’s mention of basically visiting Satou. Over at Satou’s place, a cute but sad Misaki is walking up to Satou’s apartment (probably to collect the penalty fee from Satou since he cancelled the contract early). Yamazaki comes screaming out of his apartment and banging on Satou’s door because they’re late for the Natsucomi fest. Misaki tells him that Satou took off with a woman. Yamazaki doesn’t believe it until he realizes that Satou would follow Senpai shopping if she asked him to (not his words but then I’m just projecting). Hitomi’s boyfriend shows up and tells them about the offline meeting. Back at the meeting, Satou starts to build a bonfire. After talking with one of the others about “having fun during the last day of our lives”, Satou finally figures out exactly what the purpose of the trip is.

In this episode, we see three groups. Satou, the other islanders, and Yamazaki, Misaki, and Hitomi’s boyfriend. And they’re all trying to end something. Satou trying to end his hikikomori life, the other islander are planning to go offline, and the the last three will probably do attempt to do something to end the paths Satou and the gang are on. I believe that the third group will actually succeed in intervening and stopping Satou and Hitomi from the direction they’re headed in. And that means Satou will still remain a Hikikomori. And I pretty much belive that the off-line group will decide to not go through with it. So everyone wins but Satou. But I reserve the right to be wrong.

Is it just me or do these two go to the same stylist ?