Meet Satou Tatsuhiro, a 22 year-old man who thinks everything around him is wrapped up in some sort of conspiracy. It's not long before Satou's conspiracies turn into one big theory? That a secret organization known as the N.H.K. is out to fill the world with reclusive adolescents like himself, also known as hikikomori. Now they've upped the ante by using media to turn unsuspecting viewers into otaku, and Satou becomes determined to stop the N.H.K. There's only one problem - he's too frightened to even go outdoors!
Like the popular live-action film Densha Otoko
("Train Man"), the off-beat animated comedy Welcome to the NHK
(2006) hinges on a chance encounter between an attractive girl and socially inept nerd. Twenty-two-year-old Tatsuhiro Sato is a hikikomori
: one of the increasing number of young people who have withdrawn from the world. He's dropped out of college and barricaded himself in his grubby apartment. When Sato meets pretty Misaki Nakahara, she declares that rehabilitating him is her new project, and asks him to sign a contract to that effect. Sato pretends that he's a game designer who spends hours working at home, but Misaki asks to see one of his games. In desperation, Sato decides to create one with his neighbor, aspiring designer Kaoru Yamazaki. But Sato doesn't know any more about games than he does about anything else. Yamazaki introduces him to the world of "girl games" in a spoof of otaku culture even more outrageous than Genshiken
. Voice actor Chris Patton somehow makes Sato an endearing doofus, and the result is an odd but funny series. (Rated TV MA, suitable for ages 15 and older: minor violence, profanity, risqué humor, alcohol and tobacco use) --Charles Solomon