Welcome to the NHK: Satou in the bushes with a camera

This was originally part of a “top 10 manga” post (like my top 20 anime post), but it got too long and sort of off-topic so I’m making it a standalone post.

Welcome to the NHK is a franchise that started with a depressing novel in 2002, a raw story written by a hikikomori for hikikomori. A manga adaptation followed in 2003, and the anime was made in 2006. While the anime is in my top 5 and the novel is a phenomenal read, I consider the manga the definitive version of the story.

The novel is just too dark. While Takimoto clearly tried to make the humor stand out, it just doesn’t work when the novel is in first person. Satou’s thoughts make me cringe and feel worse and worse as more and more depressing things happen until there’s nothing left to laugh about. On the other hand, the anime isn’t dark enough, straying a bit too far away from controversial subjects. The manga isn’t as faithful to the novel’s plot as the anime is, but has a much better blend of black comedy.

The differences are best shown in the most iconic scene of the series: Satou hiding in the bushes outside an elementary school, camera in hand. Takimoto talks about this scene in the postscript to the manga:

But the more realistically you write about a hikikomori, the more you lose the image of a hero. […] Back then, I spent a good two or three weeks straight worrying about it on my futon. Suddenly, a scene of Yamazaki and Satou snapping peeping shots of grade schoolers flashed before my eyes. I’d found my suffering hero, crying and disgusted at himself while simultaneously getting off on those photos. With that vivid image in my head, the images of Yamazaki and Misaki gradually began to take shape…

This scene was clearly central to Takimoto’s novel and subsequent adaptations, so I think it’s worth taking a look at how it turned out. It also happens to illustrate exactly what I like about each version.

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Thoughts on Darling in the FranXX after episode 18

The best part of this show is how the ending song always starts just a bit ahead of the credits.

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Spring 2018 rankings: impressions

Wanted to just jot down my ranks for various anime this season, since I’m watching a ton of series. Not going to put much detail into any of these…

  1. Hinamatsuri (3 eps): 9/10
    Biased from my love for this series. I’m just as excited about the recently-announced US release of the manga, though!
  2. Hisone to Maso-tan (2 eps): 9/10
    This has been the shock of the season for me. What an amazing first two episodes. Bravo, Bones. Also, the best ED this season.
  3. Tadakoi (3 eps): 9/10
    Despite an overdone premise and characters that are far too over-the-top, it’s so creative with its storytelling, legitimately funny with its parodies and execution of even telegraphed jokes (Nyanko Big’s face gets me every time), and really sweet when it comes to romance.
  4. Saiki Kusuo S2 (14 eps): 9/10
  5. Megalo Box (3 eps): 8/10
    It’s been great so far, but only 1 cour for a sports anime is pretty rough.
  6. My Hero Academia S3 (3 eps): 8/10
    This is gonna go up. There’s no way this season can be bad with the content it’s going to cover.
  7. Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Encounter (3 eps): 7/10
  8. Wotakoi (2 eps): 6/10
  9. Golden Kamuy (3 eps): 6/10
    A 9/10 story meets a 1/10 animation studio. The worst part is seeing people defending the CG fire and bears. Go see your optometrist. Good lord.
  10. Izekaya Nobu (2 eps): 6/10
    Can’t tell if this is better in anime or manga form. Pretty average either way, though.
  11. Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory (2 eps): 5/10
    It’s been a long, long time. The whole feel of this show seems… retro and behind the times. It doesn’t seem like such an old formula will be able to stand with the heavy hitters this season.
  12. Darling in the FranXX (15 eps): 4/10
    The characters of this show piss me off to no end. It’s a crappy knock-off of Eureka Seven with unlikeable characters, uninteresting world building, and a feeling that everything that happens is utterly pointless. Just sticking with it because it’s the most popular thing right now.
  13. Mahou Shoujo Site (3 eps): 4/10 (dropped)
  14. Mahou Shoujo Ore (3 eps): 4/10 (dropped)

Still need to watch:

  • Steins;Gate 0
  • Gegege no Kitaro

Maybe:

  • Sword Art Online – Gun Gale Online
  • Lupin III: Part 5

South Pole Shoujos 13

I was going to write a “Winter 2017 wrapup” post, but then I realized that it would be almost entirely about Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho. This show has been unexpectedly good, refining the “genre” of cute-girls-do-cute-things to focus solely on the characters, making it seem a hell of a lot more meaningful than all of its otaku-pandering peers. Its depiction of a growing friendship was very heavy-handed at times, but never pointless. From the girls running in Shibuya to overcoming their past regrets in Antarctica, every moment felt like a tangible increase in their friendship levels.

At the start of this episode, I was planning on giving the show a 9/10. I kept thinking about the quick resolution to Shirase’s plot in the last episode, and it just felt so jarring compared to the incredible amount of time they spent saying goodbye in this one. Yet I felt emotions welling up as the episode went on, and I realized that I would be missing this show dearly. I’m not going to remember the plot of A Place Further Than The Universe (in true CGDCT spirit, there wasn’t much), but the characters are going to stick around in my memory for years to come.


Antarctica 10-12

Last time, I said Antarctic Girls was obviously going downhill, and with good reason! The episodes of the trip to Antarctica (Ep 6-9) were a lot weaker than the first third of the series introducing the girls (Ep 1-5). The conflicts either felt petty and small or were getting resolved too quickly.

In contrast, episodes 10 and 11 were the best we’ve seen so far.

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