Takimoto, Tatsuhiko. Welcome to the N.H.K.. Trans. Lindsey Akashi and Laura Wyrick. Los Angeles: TOKYOPOP, 2007. Summary
: Satou has dropped out of college and lived for the past four years as a hikikomori, afraid to leave his tiny apartment all but briefly. Then he meets Yamazaki, who cultivates in him an obsession with lolicon and erotic games, and Misaki, who, tormented by her own insecurities, decides to try to rehabilitate him. Though she fails in this, they agree to rely upon each other to move on with life. Comments
: Now, I understand that being a hikikomori in Japan is no laughing matter, but that doesn't change the fact that this novel is pretty darn silly. And not necessarily in a good way. Conspiracy theories (a.k.a. NHK broadcasts anime, anime turns people into otaku, and otaku are most likely to become hikikomori. Therefore NHK is responsible for the shut-in phenomenon.
) and pedophilia do not in any way disguise the fact that this story actually has very little going for it. By the end, Yamazaki has returned to the farm (literally) and gotten a girl, Misaki has gone back to school, and Satou...well, he's become a shut-in with a friend. Puh-leeze.
A stupendously cramped, awkward translation/adaptation on a DMP order of awful isn't helping matters for the English edition, either. I honestly can't tell for certain how much the "badness" of Welcome to the N.H.K.
is TOKYOPOP's fault, and how much of it is Takimoto's. However, I'm inclined to split the blame down the middle. The author himself is decidedly unprofessional and inexperienced. He is also a hikikomori of sorts himself, so I'm betting the success of this book in Japan did not help matters in his personal life. It's too bad, really. Takimoto is still young, so there's plenty of room for improvement...but that improvement just ain't likely to happen now that he's "made it." Notes
: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten in 2002 Rating
- A vaguely unenjoyable reading experience. My only consolation is that it may be a vaguely important cultural object to have under one's belt.