Tuesday Terminology is a weekly segment to enlighten the masses with words, phrases, and ideals usually tacked on to today’s anime/manga scene.
This week’s topic: The Legendary NEETs and Hikikomori
On Wikipedia you’ll find pretty simple explanations as to what NEETs and Hikikomori are, in general.
NEET is a government acronym for people currently “not in education, employment, or training”. It was first used in the United Kingdom but its use has spread to other countries, including Japan, China, and South Korea. People under the designation are called NEETs (or Neets)… In Japan, the classification comprises people aged between 15 and 34 who are unemployed, not engaged in housework, not enrolled in school or work-related training, and not seeking work. The “NEET group” is not a uniform set of individuals.
Hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引き籠もり Hikikomori?, literally “pulling inward, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal”) is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or young adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general as well as to people belonging to this societal group.
You’ve probably seen people like this in real life. Maybe people getting closer and closer to this ugly truth. This is a real-life thing that has seen a rise in depiction in recent anime and manga scene since 2005. In Japan, their current generation is undergoing a large influx of people that regress and confine themselves, which affects the overall population economically. With less and less people working, money is unable to flow. With less and less social interaction, birth rates decline. Problems, such as these, have arisen in this past decade. The anime “moe” boom has been blamed to attribute to this as well, but that topic is another story.
While both terms mean two different types of downfalls, they tend to usually go hand-in-hand when they show up as a character in a series. Most often, when you see a character that fits one of the above descriptions, the character has a reason to be that way. Reasons usually tagged with childhood or teenage trauma. For instance, a person that may have been bullied in their middle/high school days would choose to become a recluse and heavily rely on their dependence of their parents’ assets and home. It is likely to find a series that would depict a main character as the Hikikomori-type where they may suddenly meet a new friend, or love interest, and that fateful meeting changes their life (e.i- Rozen Maiden). Or, in rare cases, a series will tackle the overall ideology of NEETs and Hikikomori as if it were an illness (e.i- Eden of the East).
A series that comedic-ally tackles this overall topic is Welcome to the N.H.K.
Here’s another series, but uses the Hikikomori status as a side-character in the comedy, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.