Author: Tatsuhiko Takimoto
Manga-ka: Kendi Oiwa
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2008
Synopsis: “Satou’s hallucinations of an Angel-Misaki are getting worse! Having run away from home, he now turns to arcades and pachinko bars for relief. But he soon learns that there are expensive habits, and this escapism comes at a cost he might not be willing to pay. Feeling alone, with no one to turn to, especially now that Yamazaki’s got his own girl problems, Satou is at an all-time low. Where will he turn?”
The hallucinations, social downfalls and episodic insanity continues in volume six of Welcome to the NHK. Satou, Misaki and Yamazaki all get their time on centre stage to let readers know that nothing’s really getting any better, despite what opportunities present themselves.
Reading Welcome to the NHK is finding entertainment in the misery of others, non-existent others who fortunately aren’t hurt by our scrutiny and jeers. On the other hand, they get enough of that in-story. It’s all at their expense in these bleak, but humorous, trials of their young lives.
Despite help from his parents, Satou continues his spiral down to the bottoms of the social ladder, finding himself a bum digging food from trashcans. He seeks Misaki, his ‘angel’, but the Hikkimori-curer has some issues of her own and isn’t exactly the perfect specimen hallucinations have made her out to be. Meanwhile, Yamazaki is moving back with his family to help on the farm but not before numerous advances from an attractive prospective voice-actor! Some part-time characters make their reappearances and new faces arrive to get a chance at sharing their misfortunes with readers.
Bad luck isn’t the name of this game; it’s all a mental trip for this cast of depressed individuals who’ve all but given up on their lives. They’ve given into sexual frustration, hopelessness and attempted suicide, then turned and laughed in the face of insanity. But is it funny? Yeah, it’s pretty funny but unfortunately not as funny as it was a few volumes ago.
The artwork works well with the story: strained expressions, over-exuberant reactions and the transition from clean-shaven homeboy to crest-fallen bum. Kendi Oiwa is obviously a talented artist whose style shines most when he’s drawing the pretty-girl anime heroines of the males’ fantasies.
Overall, Welcome to the NHK still manages to be entertaining but it’s faltering a lot as a whole. I didn’t enjoy it half as much as I have volumes in the past and I’m not sure how much patience I have left for future releases. Having come this far already, I’m sure I’ll be in for the rest of the trip but at this point I’m hoping it’s a short one.