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Analysis / Welcome to the N.H.K.

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The idea of the "NHK" is a metaphor for the driving force in one's life. Sato's multiple names for the organization all are linked to other characters and describe their fatal flaws, with his own being NHK because of his anti-social lifestyle. In the end, Sato and Misaki's NHK is renamed to the National Hostage Association because their driving force is surviving for the sake of the other.

One of the main recurring themes centered around Sato is fixing one's own life by using other people to do so. Sato has been used over and over by the people whom (at one point at least) he genuinely trusted, and each of them represent a light and dark side of a particular social need that Sato recognizes in himself over time:

  • For Misaki, poor Sato is nothing more than a worthless hikkikamori that makes her feel better about her own life. She escapes the trauma of her abusive past by trying to help him, a person whom she sees as more worthless than herself. Misaki represents the lighter side infatuation as well as introspection.
  • Hitomi uses Sato as a way to escape the cold trappings of her life. Neither her boyfriend nor her job can give her the warmth and attention she craves, but Sato can. She views him as not necessarily worthless, but someone who will be able to give her the emotions she seeks instead of being genuinely interested about the person. Sato's sempai represents both isolation and the yearning to feel close to another person (the dark side of infatuation, emotional lust).
  • Karou uses Sato as a way to escape his home. Karou views himself as highly cerebral and undeserving of the rural farm life he had before coming to Tokyo. By using Sato's lie to Misaki about being a game developer, Karou develops his own fantasy about finishing a game that will crack him into the big development leagues, finally giving him a chance to get rid of the boring life he left at home. It's also hinted that being around Sato makes Karou feel more confident about himself, despite being in nearly identical situations, as he feels socially inferior to his university classmates. Karou represents the lighter side of ambition and the desire to better one's self.
  • Megumi views Sato in the most materialistic way possible, thanks to her pyramid scheme 'duties'. She sees Sato as someone who can be conned (a sucker, in her own words) and who will help her on her way to eventually escaping the corporate trap she has walked into. Though their high school relationship was tumultuous at best (from her viewpoint anyways, Sato didn't really care for her), Megumi herself has gone from being a very ambitious person to someone who is very nearly at the end of her rope. Unlike the rest of the cast, it is implied that Megumi does not have anyone to turn to nor any further options for earning money until the pyramid scheme is stopped by the police. She represents the dark side of ambition (necessity), and the sadness of one's obligations.

Another, fairly obvious theme that revolves around Sato is the idea of escapism versus reality, which is neatly woven into the characters and setting of the series' universe. During one of their counseling sessions, Misaki reads from a book that states hikikomori syndrome is mainly due to one's inability to adapt to or incompatibility with one's environment. Each of the main and major supporting characters have this issue in their lives to varying extents as they are unable to live in the world as is or unable to meet the expectations they have about their lives. Strangely enough, this seems to be tied into what they represent to Sato (see above):

  • Misaki, for all her innocent intentions, is using Sato as a confidence booster to escape her own traumatic past. Her life doesn't seem so bad when it's compared to that of a hikikomori college dropout who has no ties to anyone whatsoever. Her infatuation with Sato masks her own insecurities as it gives her a chance to direct them outwards at someone else instead of inwards towards herself.
  • Hitomi wishes to escape the cold reality her life has become by ending her life. Neither her job nor her boyfriend bring her any sort of joy. Even her junior, Sato, can't seem to bring a spark to her, though her relationship is one of mixed signals combined with slight condescension. By projecting her emotions on every negative event in her life onto some sort of overarching conspiracy, she is able to convince herself that neither she nor the person concerned is at fault.
  • Karou's almost misogynistic views of women and his obsession with completing the galgame show that he wishes to escape a life where he has been betrayed by them. Nearly every single woman, save Misaki and Hitomi, has ended up disappointing him in some way or another. The absence of a strong relationship with someone of the opposite sex, let alone one with love, has had a profound effect on him to the point where he cannot deal with disappointments and channels his frustration into a make-believe character with a mask and the game itself.
  • Sato uses the hikikomori syndrome itself to escape his own life. Before Misaki came along, he was fine with the life of a recluse and avoiding all social contact. It is by being aware of how low he is viewed by other people and how deeply his problems are entrenched that he makes an effort to change, only to be screwed over at every attempt. By withdrawing after each trauma, he retreats back into the world of his own head, where no one is able to reach him and cause further damage.
In some cases, the series forces you to wonder whether if living reality is a better option than the escapist one. Karou will definitely trigger all feminists from here to Tumblr's end, but he is the product of multiple rejections when all he wanted to do is have someone to love. Hitomi's life is basically one big dead end, as is Sato's. This troper is purely running off the anime here, but when watching the series, there are points you have to ask yourself "why is this person denied a chance to escape when their reality is so painful?"


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