Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
Things will proceed in a generally good direction.
Being a shut-in – or hikikomori as it’s called in Welcome to the NHK – is not fun.
It’s bad enough the people consider you a worthless freak that is sloppy and will probably die alone but what will happen when your funds dry up? This is the situation that Tatsuhiro Sato finds himself in as Collection Part 2 of Welcome to the NHK comes to its finale. Even after having failed to fool his mom when she came to town, Sato’s mother calls with word that his allowance will be cut in half. Oh, but there are more pressing things at hand seeing as, in Part 1, he is talked into joining his lovely Sempai, Hitomi Kashiwa, in an island where a suicide party is about to take place.
Thankfully, Hitomi’s boyfriend is concerned when Hitomi doesn’t answer her phone and as he retraces her steps he finds out that the woman he does love has left with Sato to an island. Figuring out what the party is all about, the boyfriend, Yamazaki and Misaki Nakahara head out to save Hitomi and Sato. Meanwhile, Sato attempts to befriend the island’s guests only to find that they are all eager to kill themselves. The plan is to toss themselves off a cliff and into the ocean. Searching his soul, Sato thinks suicide might just be the real cure to his hikikomori problem. Yet before they consider jumping, a member of the group has a change of heart, which in turn changes everyone else’s mind including Hitomi.
Still, Sato plans on jumping and it isn’t until Misaki and the others arrive that they try to convince him. Strangely enough, Misaki’s words to encourage Sato from not jumping comes off more as criticism and insults. In the end, Sato doesn’t jump but becomes upset with Misaki for reminding him how pathetic he really is and thinks it was better to jump anyway. Worst yet, the day he chose to join Hitomi on the island was the day he and Yamazaki were suppose to show off their game demo. Their first debut as game designers becomes something of a failure.
The youngest member of the group that had planned to kill himself gives Sato a demo for a Final Fantasy/World of Warcraft-styled MMORPG you play online with other gamers. He tells him that a shut-in like him could still make money by selling rare in-game items to other gamers for real cash. When Sato’s mother calls again telling him that doesn’t plan on sending any money at all, the young man turns to the game. Little does he know that MMORPG’s aren’t played alone but rather in groups with real players. He has trouble striking up a friendship until he meets a player with an avatar of a cute female feline character. Within days, Sato becomes obsessed with this online world where he’s actually somebody. Sato even ignores Misaki who sees the young man’s problems have become even worse than before.
Still, Sato is able to quit the game with the help of Yamazaki but is sucked into another trap by an old High school colleague named Megumi Kobayashi who talks him into buying unnecessary junk in a pyramid scheme. Megumi has financial troubles but on top of that she also has a brother who spends his days locked in his room playing the same MMORPG Sato got hooked on.
Collection Part 2 is actually a lot more funnier than the first part and there’s just something endearing about the way Misaki attempts to pluck Sato out of the darkness whether it’s dressing up as a cat-girl (because of his fondness for the “cat-like girl” he met online or help Sato get out of the pyramid scheme with Megumi. When Yamazaki is talked into moving back home with his family, Sato withdraws once again only to find some comfort hanging out with Misaki as well as Hitomi.
Strangely enough, things turn to the more dramatic when Misaki attempts to inject herself more fully into Sato’s life and revealing a part of her we only had a slight peek at in the first part of the series. There’s more to Misaki than meets the eye and there’s a good reason why she decided to come up with her project to help Sato. In the end, it isn’t Misaki that saves Sato … it’s Sato who saves Misaki. Sato has come a long way since we first see him and it’s strange but he actually does end up being something a lot more special than he himself could ever imagine.
The road to recovery is a strange but interesting one and I have to say that Collection Part 2 of Welcome to the NHK is, by far, the better part of this utterly strange yet wonderfully unique series. We watched Sato suffer through his problems with a smile but watching him obsess over a computer-generated world, cope with a close friend moving away and coming to terms with his feeling over a girl that is trying to save herself as well as him make this one of those rare anime treats.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Slowly but surely, Sato’s life begins to change for the better despite the fact that he joined a suicide party, was the victim of a pyramid scheme and has become addicted to a World of Warcraft-like MMORPG. There are funnier moments in Part 2 of the Collection.
VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The animation is really good and there’s definitely a lot more fan service in this one so if nudity bothers you then you’re out of luck. Still, you just have to love the funny nods to video games here.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The voice acting is still top notch whether you prefer the original Japanese voices or the English dub cast. Even the original score is good and the ending theme called “Modokashii Sekai no Ue de” by Yui Makino is a personal favorite.
Once again, all we can look forward to are a few trailers and the cleaning opening and closing theme songs. I know it doesn’t count as an “Extra” but the cover art for each DVD is super cute.
Welcome to the NHK, Collection Part 2, proves to be the better part of this original and unusual story. Sato has come a long way since the first 12-episodes of the series and his road to recovery – as far as this second part is concerned – one of the more amusing collection.