Sunday, July 31, 2016

hikikomori 引きこもり

In Japanese, hikikomori 引きこもり means a "shut-in." Someone who "shuts [themselves] into [somewhere]," hikikomoru 引きこもる, like in their room, or in their home.


There are many hikikomori characters in anime. They're all shut-ins that never leave their home, or, in some cases, their room. They lack any social skills whatsoever, and their neighbors probably don't even know they exist.

A hikikomori is not the same thing as an otaku オタク, though they usually are. After all, you must spend a lot of time shut-in to become a hikikomori. But doing what? Probably on your computer, playing games, watching animes, accidentally turning into an otaku, and so on.

A hikikomori is not a NEET either, though they usually are. Since a hikikomori is a shut-in chances are he's nothing doing anything useful to society in his enclosed space, but let's not judge a book by its unseen cover. A hikikomori can have a job or study while being a shut-in.

In Japanese

The word hikikomori 引きこもり in Japanese joins the verb hiku 引く with the verb komoru 籠もる.
  • hiku 引く
    To pull. To back down.
  • komoru 籠もる
    To seclude yourself. To be confined somewhere.

Joining the two, you have someone who backs away from society, secluding himself in his own room, which would be the verb hikikomoru 引きこもる. Hikikomori is just a conjugation of this verb. Other conjugations would be:
  • hikikomotta 引きこもった
    Had been shut-in.
    (past tense)
  • hikikomoranai 引きこもらない
    To not be a shut-in. (negative)
  • hikikomoritai 引きこもりたい
    To want to be a shut-in.

The word hikkii ヒッキー is Hikigaya Hachiman hikikomori abbreviated.

How to Become a Hikikomori

If you want to become a hikikomori, that is, if you hikikomoritai, then all you have to do is follow this simple and easy step-by-step program and you're guaranteed to achieve maximum hikikomori-ness in a few days or we'll give your money back:
  1. stay in your room
  2. repeat

Though you won't keep your maximum hikikomori levels if you leave the room, even briefly, it's common practice to do it if you need to go to the toilet or to check the fridge for food. Actually you should check the fridge even if you know it doesn't have food, just in case a food fairy dropped by your kitchen.

How to become a hikikomori 引きこもり, a shut-in, in two steps. Step 1: Stay in your room the whole day. Step 2: Check the fridge from time to time. Guide illustrated with the character Lucifer, a.k.a. Urushihara Hanzou 漆原半蔵 from the anime Hataraku Maou-sama! はたらく魔王さま!

As long as you do these things you can call yourself a shut-in hikikomori with confidence and pride.

In Anime

There are plenty of anime with hikikomori characters. Specially since it's a real, actual issue in Japan.

A hikikomori is basically the opposite of an ikumen イクメン, so most anime will highlight how much a problem it is in order to make the youth stop shutting themselves in their own rooms, fiddling with computers, watching animes and writing blogs about the Japanese language.

That means hikikomori characters are always stereotypical, creepy and walking social hazards.

In the anime No Game No Life ノーゲーム・ノーライフ, for example, the duo of protagonists had given upon on the "shit game", kuso geemu クソゲーム, that is life itself, shutting themselves in and playing computer games day and night to the point they didn't even know whether it was day or night.

The duo had social phobia and the only reason the anime was set outdoors was because the characters convinced themselves they were inside of a game, and not inside real life.

In the anime Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (WataMote), the main character, Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子, is the most socially awkward girl character to walk on 2D Earth, spending most of her time alone, over-thinking things instead of speaking out, and avoiding people like the plague.

In the anime Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji 逆境無頼カイジ: Ultimate Survivor, there aren't hikikomori specifically, but the anime makes a great deal of talking about one's life's worth and how teenagers and then older adults waste their lifetime doing nothing thinking their real lives have yet to begin.

In the anime NHK ni Youkoso! NHKにようこそ (Welcome to N.H.K.) the... uh... well... I mean... this whole anime is actually about hikikomori, so... if you want to know more about them, maybe you should watch it.


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  1. man, I want to like almost every your post, but I've got no FB account (

  2. the last time i went outside the house was in April 2018. exactly a year now. but the previous years i'd been out for like four, five times a year.

    YEP. I am one. I'm from outside of Japan.