Welcome to the N.H.K Light Novel Review

October 1, 2009 at 8:46 am 7 comments

Welcome to the NHK Novel Cover

Reviewed by: Kafkafuura

I figured that this would be a good title to start with, given that the title is going to be reprinted soon, in December 2009 hopefully. I haven’t seen a specific date, but it’ll be what I’m giving people for Christmas. Currently if you don’t have the book and you can’t wait, you can find it on amazon from $60 or $140 depending on how new you want it. If you’re interested in what happened to the author afterwards, (because the book leaves you hanging), I believe he now writes regularly for Faust in Japan.

Title: NHKにようこそ!/ Welcome to the NHK
Author: 滝本竜彦/ Takimoto Tatsuhiko
Illustrator: 安倍吉俊/ Abe Yoshitobe
Licensed by: TokyoPop
Translated by: Lindsey Akashi / Laura Wyrick (? “Adapter”)
[It’s bothering me but the cover illustrator is not credited at all in the English Edition. D:<]

Alright. Welcome to the NHK. This is a fantastic book, and the first real book to spur me into Japanese literature, because that’s what it is. Literature. – Now, after an attempt at banishing my inner fan I will continue.

The first thing I tell anyone when I tell anyone about this book, is that it is not the manga, nor the anime, thank god. Now I know that a good amount of people like the Welcome to the NHK manga and anime, but perhaps by misfortune I read this book first, and everything else afterwards was a disappointment. So please if you have experienced NHK in one of its other forms, hold your judgement and just read.

This is what the cover of the Japanese second edition of the book says in Engrish on the cover:

The existence of the evil organization of “NHK”, I happened to find it.All the reasons why I dropped out from the university, being unemployed and “Hikkikomori” – homicidal young person – are due to NHK’s conspiracy. I’ll keep fighting till the day I will up at the vice organization.But one day, an assassin from a religious group, show up to kill me. She is a neat and beautiful girl, Misaki-chan, with a parasol.Who is she? What can save our future contaminated with eroticism, violence and drug? Love, courage, or friendship? This is an ultimate non-stop Hikikomori Action NOVEL!

In a way that makes more sense, I would say Welcome to the NHK is about Satou Tatsuhiro and how his stagnant puddle of a life gets a rock thrown into it in the form of Nakahara Misaki, and a plunger pulled in the form of his allowance being withdrawn. It is a plot designed for character development, and it succeeds. It makes incredible use of “dark humor”. It’s wonderfully hilarious, and then you think about it for a moment, and it hits you how sad and true it feels, and then you laugh again. It is also an insight into the “culture of the Japanese youth”. I think a lot of people who talk loosely about the demographic situation in Japan would do to read this, and I also think a lot of random organizations would ban it. That means it’s good.

Satou is a hikikomori, someone who has withdrawn from social life for various reasons. Satou has gotten to the breaking point, he is into drugs to pass the time, creates the NHK to move the fault away from himself, flutters on through lolicon-ism, religion, and strives to create an h-game with his friend as if it were the holy grail. You may have taken the Kafuka Fuura approach, “there’s no way someone like that could be near me!” to hikikomori before, but as I’m sure nearly everyone that has gone to college and dealt with the social, academic, economic stress… or is a writer – can identify with Satou. Part of that is because it’s really well written. Takimoto Tatsuhiko was a hikikomori when he wrote Welcome to the NHK and really put part of himself into it. Part of that is because the plot is realistic; no matter how ridiculous it gets, it has that real feel to it. The end has a lot to do with it – the writer himself by the end of the second afterward, is still a hikikomori after all.

The other characters are believable as well, I might have met them before. Misaki-chan is a normal girl, therefore she has social problems. Yamazaki is the guy that should be happy because he has money when you don’t, but has “thrown away his life” to run in random directions, running with a bomb not knowing where to ignite it. It reverberates. If I could have my way I’d assign it for high school reading, say “this is what you’re getting yourself into.”

As for the translation, I know I’ve heard people say they hate TokyoPop translations or this and that, but the translation for this particular light novel is excellent. It doesn’t over-localize things, it doesn’t try to change Takimoto’s writing style, and it has a decent but not overblown endnotes section for explaining references. It uses terms that won’t upset people with knowledge of Japanese culture etc., but still won’t leave other people in the dark.

As a recap, Welcome to the NHK is not quite an “ultimate non-stop Hikikomori Action NOVEL!” – it’s better. It’s hilarious, has spectacular character development, and is real. It’s one of the better shorter (light) novels I’ve ever read.

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Entry filed under: Reviews.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ranobecafe  |  October 1, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Great review Kaf, I’m very happy to have you a part of the team here. ^_^

    Reply
    • 2. Jacob Martin  |  October 1, 2009 at 11:00 pm

      I’d start a review, but nobody has helped me understand how I can contribute via a Dashboard or something. This was a good review and I hope I can do something just as deep for the novel Train Man by Hitori Nakano, which has been a profound influence on my life.

      By the way, I have a philosophical examination of the NHK light novel if you would care for me to link it to you, dealing with Satou’s idea of deity being a monster.

      Reply
      • 3. kafkafuura  |  October 2, 2009 at 4:27 am

        Oooh, I’d like to see a review on Train man, I saw the movie and read the BBS (condensed version) ^_^ but not the novel version.

        If you’re a contributor you should be able to log into to dashboard for this site in the (log in) on meta, or if you already are “site admin” (or there’s usually a toolbar at the top so you can go to “dashboards->ranobe cafe”) – then you add a post and submit it for review ^_^ – I’m sure you can figure the rest out – just play around with it. 🙂

      • 4. ranobecafe  |  October 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm

        Your reviews sound great. ^_^

        I believe Kafkafuura explained how to access the Dashboard Posting options well enough.

  • 5. Jacob Martin  |  October 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    You guys invited me to be a contributor (I got an email from this site saying I had been invited to be a contributor) but I don’t know why it hasn’t added me as a contributor yet.

    This is compounded with the fact that I can’t see the Log In page anywhere. I’m lost. Kafkafura’s help is helpful, but the main problem now seems to be that I recieved an invitation to be a contributor but I was unable to figure out how to be added.

    Maybe if I go to the email again and reply it will add me, but it’s a “noreply” email. Please help!

    Reply
    • 6. ranobecafe  |  October 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm

      Perhaps try googling for the answer? There’s no rush, so no worries. Relax. 🙂

      Reply
  • 7. Zratul  |  October 26, 2009 at 5:58 am

    I just discovered your blog and I love it !
    I’m a french fan of Light Novels. I started 2 years ago with Shakugan No Shana and FMP. Then I placed a lot of hope in Seven Seas with Ballad of a Shinigami, Zero’s Familiar but then the financial crisis appeared and we, Light Novels fans were severly hit.
    Tokyopop, Viz, Seven Seas, they all placed their LN lines on hold or cancelled them (Ballad of a Shinigami T_T).

    It was the desert for near 1 year until the release of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I was relieved, Suzumiya has the strength to have good sales and maybe editors will try to translate LN again.

    Here in France, we have less titles than in the US but there is some hope. The french version of Haruhi is available since August and if the sales are good, Hachette will continue. And we have the luck to have all the volumes of “The Twelve Kingdoms” when Tokyopop has only released the three first.

    With Spice and Wolf and Kara No Kyokai for the end of the year, I still hope that the situation for all LN fans will recover fast 🙂

    Reply

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Welcome To Ranobe Cafe!

This marks the english speaking world's first dedicated light novel blog, bringing you news and views from the english perspective on light novels. We are more than just a blog about light novels though, we also stand in awe of the many other literary works crossing over to the West from Japan. So expect to also see articles that dabble from time to time in Cell Phone Novels and Japanese Sci-Fi works, to mention a few.

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