Episode 5 – Welcome to the Counseling

Sato's first lady friend

Sato’s first lady friend

At heart, Welcome the the NHK has a series of very dodgy relationships. Central is, of course, Sato and Misaki, a 23 year old man and a 17 year old girl. A naive, sweet, maybe kind of crazy 17-year-old girl, and a man who has broken apart from society for no real reason. Then there’s Sato and Yamazaki, who have only renewed their friendship to make a pornographic game to show a 17 year old girl so that she won’t think he’s a hikikimori and have to try to save him.

New to the picture is Hitomi, who used to be the only other member of the literature club with Sato, and was the girl he tried to impress by rescuing Yamazaki from bullies (which, recall, did not work out for Sato at all.) She spies him in the mall, and the two go for a coffee, where he hints to her he has some problems. Out come her pills, all different kinds for whatever ails you, all easy to get from her three different doctors – which leads right to Sato’s confession. He tells her everything, even shows her the creepy things that he bought in the Holy Land of Otakuness to show how he’s messed up, too.

Sato, pensive

Sato, pensive

The connection between these two does not seem wholesome. They are old friends, kind of, but the extent of their friendship was playing cards inside the literature club, a club that only had the two of them as members. Hitomi recalls, and we see, Sato sitting in the club room alone, curled up on his chair, looking terrified and lonely. Whatever it is that damaged Sato, it has been with him for a long time. His latest 4 year and 4 month (he counts) bout of Hikikimoridom is just the latest, most lasting manifestation.

Hitomo is also revealed, way back in high school, as the person who brought the notion of a Conspiracy to poor Sato’s excuse-seeking mind. In the literature club, she tells him she thinks there are no bad people, just bad things brought about by the Conspiracy that make people act badly toward each other. (she says this right before it is implied she fully seduces old Sato, so that might have made it make more of an impression on him than otherwise) It also makes no sense, but it gives Sato the excuse that he requires to thoroughly fail in life. No more hopes, no more dreams. The Conspiracy keeps him down. What Sato would be accomplishing without it, who knows. Great, important things, no doubt.

But he does seem to go through some kind of change after the visit with little druggy Hitomi. He admits to Misaki he’s not a creator (and accidentally slips that he was making an eroge, a term she was happily not familiar with.) So, Misaki’s sessions begin.

WelcometoTheNHK_ep5_shot3When Sato asks her who she is, she says, “I’m just a kind-hearted girl who wants to rescue young people.” Whatever the truth is, it isn’t that. But she’s not some kind of weird conniver, either. She just has no idea what they’re doing. When they have their first counseling session, she’s woefully unprepared, and has a pretty low opinion of what Sato might know. She’s like a lot of precocious young people, who doesn’t know that her specialized knowledge is actually general knowledge, and everyone else has already heard all she has to say.

So when she insults Sato’s intelligence by telling him all about this interesting Freud guy and his methods of dream analysis, Sato feeds her the most phallic and vaginally symbolic dream he could come up with. A giant snake lifts up out of the ocean, a sword jams into an apple. Sato’s carrying around a big, long gun. Please, Misaki, look up what these things mean.WelcometoTheNHK_ep5_shot4

It’s a funny scene, but it also points to the weirdly corrupt nature of these two’s relationship. She’s too young to be spending this time with him. He’s too old to be toying with a young girl.

But, in a weird way, her therapy works, too, because it gets him to write a script for Yamazaki. Which might not be the best thing for him, but hell, it’s better than being a creepy Hikikimori.

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com