In which the secret of Misaki’s past is revealed… kamo.

Welcome to the NHK! chapter 18: Welcome to the Trap! continued

serialized 06/25/2005 in Shounen Ace A

Chapter 18 continues this month in a short (twelve-page) installment that despite its abbreviated length packs a powerful punch. The action picks up right where last month left off with Misaki showing Satou the scars on her arm. She proceeds to explain in graphic detail how she grew up with her father who had collapsed into alcoholism after her mother died and frequently beat her at the slightest provocation. She loved him in spite of this, and was as distraught as he was when the social workers came to take him away when she was in junior high. She leaves the story off there: “I’m sorry… I’m not the angel I said I was…” We’re left to wonder what Satou’s reaction will be.

So is Misaki telling the truth here for once? I think her story is certainly plausible (even if the sudden appearance of the scars is somewhat troubling from a continuity perspective) – it fits in with other aspects of her past that we’ve already been made privy to, namely that a) she’s living with her religious fundie “aunt”, who could easily be a foster parent caring for her out of a sense of moral or civic obligation, and b) her former “friends” lost track of her after junior high. As far as we know she didn’t go on to high school and has become nearly as much of a hikikomori as Satou himself.

Graphically this chapter (or fragment thereof) was a real punch to the gut, but I find this potential revelation to be a bit too formulaic to affect me much. I suppose I relate better to the childhood scenarios we’ve seen from Satou and Yamazaki; abuse was never a factor for me, thank goodness, but I’d imagine this part of the story will be much more visceral for others. At this point I’m more interested in what Satou’s reaction will be, and whether Misaki is actually telling the truth – if it’s just another fabrication I’m sure it will unravel in the next couple of chapters, but if not the web of Satou’s relationships may recieve a thorough shaking here. Next month’s issue can’t come soon enough.