Welcome to Dougenzaka!
Welcome to the NHK! chapter 17: Welcome to Dougenzaka!
serialized 04/26/2005 in Shounen Ace A
The chapter opens with Yamazaki and Satou making real progress on their eroge. Misaki overhears their conversation about the protagonist and decides to try to attract Satou by dressing up as her, but only manages to freak him out. Yamazaki reminds Satou of his date with Kashiwa-sempai that he set up in Chapter 16’s series of escalating hikikomori relationship bloody knuckles, and Satou bolts to make it to the meeting place on time. Misaki changes clothes and follows him, but is cornered in the train station by three of her old junior high classmates. She tries to avoid them but can’t, and spins an almost Satou-level story about how she’s been studying abroad in America and only just got back to Japan and she’s about to go meet her boyfriend for a date. The girls obviously don’t believe her, and decide to tag along. She manages to leave them behind as she follows Satou from the train, but hangs back in shock when she sees him meet up with Kashiwa. Satou has meanwhile been having his typical fantasies about her, getting all worked up prior to their encounter, and is thrown off course when it seems that his fantasy is actually coming true. Kashiwa all but confesses that she isn’t satisfied in her life with her new husband, and wants to be with Satou – the reader can easily feel her pain and frustration, but Satou is oblivious. They wind up on the doorstep of a love hotel, where he blindly forces her back into the socially required role of a happy newlywed and rejects her offer to go inside. Satou goes home to Yamazaki, leaving Kashiwa desperately unhappy once again, and Misaki sits on her bed, hugging a pillow in frustration. The chapter ends with her thoughts: “Because Satou-kun is absolutely, absolutely mine!!”
This chapter was up there with several of the best from the first two volumes, getting the eroge element in the beginning, teasing out a bit more of Misaki’s past and delving back into the tormented character of Kashiwa, absent for several chapters. Like so many before it this one was an emotional meat grinder, going from the wildly comic to the tragic in the course of 32 pages, dealing with the tragedy on an intensely human level. This one didn’t hit home personally quite as hard as some of the others, but I do feel terrible for Kashiwa; at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if she tried suicide again. NHK has a penchant to start new chapters in places entirely unrelated to where the previous one left off, so it’s anyone’s guess as to where the story will go from here. I’m certainly looking forward to whatever comes.
A final note: the next scheduled news update will contain an item of great interest for NHK fans, so stay tuned.