Welcome to the Trap!
Welcome to the NHK! chapter 18: Welcome to the Trap!
serialized 05/26/2005 in Shounen Ace A
Misaki is still distraught after seeing Satou go out with Kashiwa in the last chapter. She pulls herself together and decides to try to bring him out on a date herself, but when she arrives at Satou’s apartment she sees the two talking and runs away in tears. Kashiwa had come to see Satou to apologize for what happened on their date but leaves after she sees Misaki, mistakenly believing that she is the reason Satou refused to go all the way with her when she brought him to the love hotel. Oblivious to the facts that a) the two girls closest to him now mistakenly believe that the the other is held higher in his affections and b) they are both completely miserable, Satou goes inside to play eroge.
Yamazaki shows up soon after with a new concept for their game: the “ACTION RENAI SIMULATION” system, which daringly imposes a time limit of five seconds on multiple choice questions in ADV dialogue. Satou gets pumped up by Yamazaki’s new scheme momentarily, but as he tries to work on the game script his thoughts keep turning to Misaki. He doesn’t know why and it’s increasingly pissing him off, so when he gets a call from her with a request to come meet her in the park he agrees to do so. Yamazaki asks him where he’s going, and Satou says he’s going to end this Misaki thing once and for all.
At the park they both lay it on thick and heavy. Satou says that he hates her right off the bat, tells her she’s ugly and that he wants to break off with her entirely. She responds with a hard-hitting critique of Satou’s world view, saying that he sees everything in terms of “winners” and “losers” and that he’s afraid of dealing with people because he doesn’t want to be disliked by anyone, but paradoxically feels like he’s ok as long as he knows there are people worse than he is. Satou tries to defend himself ineffectively before finally grabbing her arm and telling her to shut the fuck up and leave him alone – and then he sees the marks on her upper forearm.
The chapter ends with us wondering what Misaki could have done to herself. Given the chapter title, though, I’d bet money that this is another one of her lures in her ongoing attempt to win Satou’s affections, as twisted as that might be. Misaki has a broad sadistic streak, but she is also intensely vulnerable and reliant on Satou’s acceptance and compliance with her attempts to reform him – this is the only way I can explain the two sides of her we’ve seen so often before and which are again exemplified here.
All in all it was a decent installment in the HIKIKOMORI ACTION COMIC saga, but merely ok in comparison to what came last month and much of what has come before. This was definitely a chapter meant to set up a new dynamic that will hopefully come to fruition in the near future; for now we must be content with a couple of extra images and the knowledge that the Negative Campaign is going strong (scroll down for updated, colorized images of the November Misaki figure release).