In which Satou repents, deletes his porn, burns his manga collection, and experiences Hyper Self-Pleasure. A word of caution: this is the most disturbing chapter yet in the saga of a very disturbed manga; it may also be correspondingly hilarious. Peruse at your own risk.

Chapter Title: Welcome to Pleasure!
Release Date: December 26th, 2005
Serialized in: Shounen Ace
Author: Takimoto Tatsuhiko
Illustrator: Ooiwa Kenji

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Satou returns to his house the morning after his frantic bike-bound exodus and prostrates himself in front of his parents, seeming as if he is truly repentant and understands what he has to do to make things better. He has a clearheaded moment in which he realizes the lessons he’s learned from his life back at the apartment and the people whose paths he crossed there; his parents don’t know quite how to take this sudden burst of honesty, with his mother on the verge of tears.

His father snaps them out of the atmosphere by offering to help Satou carry his stuff in from the moving van where it was left the day before. As they bring it up the stairs to his old room, his dad says, “there’s only one thing I want from you, Tatsuhiro. Don’t make your mother cry anymore.”

Satou sets up his computer and sits down, determined to revise his eroge script and send it off to Yamazaki for incorporation into the graphic engine of their game. His mom knocks on the door as he’s looking at an inopportune image and brings some food in for him. He tries to cover the image on the monitor, but she is oblivious and soon leaves. After bashing his head against his desk a few times he realizes it’s time to do away with his stash of digital porn. Cursor wavering, he dumps it in the recycle bin.

Deprived of his who-knows-how-many gigs of ero material he goes through the rest of the day in a zombified state, finally remembering that he has a stash of ilicit manga left over in storage from his high school days. He drags it out, opens it up, and just as he’s flipping through a choice bit his mom comes in again. Time to burn the manga.

He watches the pile go up in smoke, tears flowing down his face. As one day bleeds into the next he manages to finish the brush-up job on his eroge manuscript, but becomes increasingly listless and agitated at the lack of his supply. Eventually he reaches the breaking point in his pornless state, and snaps.

He decides that the only way to rid himself of his demons is to induce a state of “Hyper Self-Pleasure”. This involves several suspicious items, including hardcore loli porn acquired from Winny, a bottle of the questionably legal stimulant Rush, and an “ona-roll”. Just as his preparations are complete and he’s settled in for a nice theraputic session, his mother walks in looking for her handbag.

He swings around violently, the back of his chair hitting him in the crotch and ripping the plug of his headphones from the jack, flooding the room with a high decibel eroge (live action?) vocal track. He grabs a hammer and smashes the screen of his monitor, turning to his mother. “Why the FUCK did you just come in like that?!! If I’m jerking off or doing whatever it’s my OWN BUSINESS!!”

“Being in this house is so FUCKING BORING there’s no way I can get any work done! It’s all YOUR FUCKING FAULT!! Don’t EVER come into this room again, you hear?!! Just because I saw a little hope, just with that there’s no way my life is getting better!! I’m NEVER finding a job! The only thing I can do is JERK OFF… My entire life is MASTURBATION.”

Cut to Misaki, back in Tokyo, preparing to go to high school for the first time in a year. She expresses the same determination that Satou had at the start of the chapter to turn a new leaf and get things right for a change. She heads out the door for school, and the chapter ends.

…Whew, that was a hard one to get through. Primarily because there but for the grace of something go I, I suppose, but it’s hard to imagine anyone reading this chapter without cringing. The scenario is darkly, pitifully hilarious though, and yet another reminder of why I think NHK is one of the most compelling, envelope-pushing manga currently in production today. It’s not the kind of story you can laugh away with a jolly ho-ho-ho at those crazy Japanese and their shut-ins – I’d say it’s the rawest glimpse into modern social pathology since Evangelion. In a way – not the SF giant robot way, but in the drama way – NHK really does feel like a spiritual successor to Eva, and like Eva I can’t see it ending in any way other than tears (or a lot of enraged fans).

I have no idea what being turned into an anime will do to NHK from this perspective, as I doubt a lot of the insanity present here (including way more blatant drug use references than are typical for manga, and to ones that are current hot topics at that) will make the self-censorship cut to the airwaves. If they can preserve the deep, wretched dysfunction while maintaining the humor I think the anime will succeed, but if it veers off the deep end in either direction I think I’ll stick with the manga.

Given what happened in this chapter I have dire predictions for Misaki’s first day back at school, but if nothing else it can’t possibly provide as many occasions to wince and turn away from the book as this one did … right?