As a somewhat older anime fan who’s been watching anime for a while, I sometimes reflect on who is anime aimed at, such as in this post about demographics. I confess to finding myself cranky and cynical, when shows aimed at “adult men” most often depict high school girls being “cute”, and the more thought-provoking anime often end up relying on sound-bytes of philosophy and gore to show us just how “mature” they are and are even ostensibly marketed towards teenagers.
Uchouten Kazoku showing us a rare level of self-reflection within anime.
Moreover, while anime is a medium, it often feels as if proper dramas are sorely missing. We have comedies, romantic comedies, action – both of the physical and of the thriller varieties, and we have mysteries. But dramas, of the kind where we get to know characters, and in more than just the tear-jerking capacity are sorely missing. As such, there’d been a few shows I was pleased with in particular with a few shows I’ve watched this year:
Unlike some other shows which use someone being shut-in as a comic relief or to show how weird they are (mostly with secondary characters), or as a setup for an uplifting story where the main character learns to overcome their problems and joins the productive life in society without a lot of trouble and effort, Welcome to the NHK stands as a more serious reflection of the issue, where the return to society and the trials and tribulations this puts in front of the characters are serious and hard to overcome. Unlike shows where someone being a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and/or Hikikomori (shut-in – someone who doesn’t leave his home) is used as a characterization of a character, here it is the crux of the main character’s story.
One of the things that actually made me think of the show is a recent discussion of Game of Thrones I’ve read after the now-infamous Rains of Castamere episode (As a book-reader, I’ve waited very long for this episode to come out so I could discuss it with people); many stories build heroes – they have them fall only for their inevitable return/revenge later on. Game of Thrones and Welcome to the NHK don’t do that – you fall down because life is tough. You fall down, and the story is allowed to be sad. You fall down, and no one guarantees you will later rise from it.
Welcome to the NHK gives a much more mature treatment of human emotions, especially those who run the negative gamut.
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be light spoilers in this post. This anime is based on a novel by the same name by Tatsuhiko Takimoto).