Archive for July 15th, 2008

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: The Dirty Anime Secret

Ahh, anime. You love it. You love it so much. It consumes your life and your soul. And, yet, some people seem to have this notion that it’s somehow a shameful thing, on both sides of the Pacific. While it is true that society has a tendancy to view anime in a distasteful manner, society is also a schizophrenic hypocrite, becuase society can’t make up its mind what it wants to do.

It’s difficult to pin down what, exactly, is the cause of people being ashamed of watching anime–sometimes it’s because they’re afraid that if they tell someone that they like anime, they’ll immediately think that when you’re alone in your room and you think no one is watching, you secretly don a bootleg Naruto headband and chant arcane ninja-ish things in the hopes of performing Sexy no Jutsu so that, finally, you will know what it is like to be the opposite gender. Sometimes it’s just the fact that you don’t want to lecture people on the engineering feasibility of Gundam units. Sometimes it’s because you have to keep that image of a manly man and you can’t let on that you secretly enjoy the escapades of Akari and her friends in Neo Venenzia, lest people stop thinking you are cool (This is actually the topic of a manga Shaa, the original artist of Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, did before he illustrated Haruka’s light novels). Whatever the reason, there’s this pervasive notion of “shame” and guilt over watching anime, which translates into the discarding of anime into the rubbish bin of “guilty pleasures” and “not really good” and “it’s all junk” which leads to burnout or elitism or self-loathing or other bad things.

Which brings me to Nogizaka Haruka. The actual episode was exactly what I expected it to be, although I was surprised at the relative lack of fanservice, especially involving Haruka herself. Yuuto’s pair of live-in women were quite obnoxious (deservedly so, since they exist to make sure that Yuuto doesn’t hold an interest in romance with the opposite gender) and spent most of the episode not wearing much at all, but I expected them to be fanserviced up. Haruka, though, gets by with a couple pantyshots (that might as well not be pantyshots, depending on how much you enjoy opaque dark-colored pantyhose) and a boob joke, which is impressive for something that, going into it, I assumed would overload me with T&A.

I actually quite liked the episode from the standpoint of what the series was trying to do; whether or not I follow the rest of the series will depend on a) time and b) how they handle Haruka’s “secret”, namely that she is a huge otaku. I’m not even expecting much on that front, either–any indication that Igarashi Yuusaku might be trying to use Haruka to try to get reclusive otaku out of the notion that they should be ashamed of watching anime or, in fact, for just being themselves (and not taking it to the extreme other end, where otaku become the next step in human evolution)-or not even that, just treating the issue of “oh no anime is embarasssing I must make it a secret to maintain my image” in a somewhat honest way will satisfy me. I don’t doubt that the emphasis is going to be on how cute Haruka is–but at least I find her more genuinely cute than forced cute, but that may just be the Mamiko Effect.

Where to now? To the Tree of Hope with 1000 paper cranes, in fervent hope that Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu doesn’t blow its chance to at least attempt getting a message out there. Beacuse the best way to get otaku to listen to a message like this is to package it up with a cute girl. Possibly the only way–those “rent-a-sister” joints for de-hikkikomori-fying hikikkomori (or NEETs, or whatever they’re called these days) use this concept and have met with some kind of success.

And, yes, I know that the deal with hikkikomori is more complicated than “they like anime therefore they are ashamed and therefore they stay in their rooms” and that it’s a society thing too. If this can get them thinking about these kinds of issues and maybe become a stronger person, so much the better.

And, yes, the glass is half-full, why do you ask?

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NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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