Archive for August 5th, 2008

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: “Komatta wa, komatta wa, watashi no himitsu mo barechau wa?!”

I am going to spend time in Purgatory for that voice actor joke in the title.

So, yeah, as I fervently hoped earlier on, and as some other bloggers have pointed out, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu has actually managed to attempt dealing with the whole convoluted problem that comes with being an anime fan (regardless of whether or not you qualify as “otaku” or not). I don’t think it was entirely successful (it’s trying too hard to pander to the otaku crowd, which is a double-edged sword), but it gets an A for effort.

There were a few things I noticed as I watched episodes 2 and 3; the first being Haruka’s reasons for falling into the anime hobby. Apparently her father is a gigantic douchebag who emotionally abuses her (we found out more about this in episode 3, and it is emotional abuse), so after becoming so incredibly crippled by some words he said to her she runs out and is handed a manga serial by (I am making a leap of faith here, one I liken to Evil Knievel trying to jump over a sidewalk crack with his motorcycle) Yuuto. She promptly devours the manga serial, praising it for allowing her an escape from the dreary life around her. Escapism is, of course, a dirty word and not a word to be mentioned in polite company, but I think it’s a natural function of the brain–if one is stressed out, one will try to find ways to get around being stressed out, and, honestly, our brains need conscious down-time just as much as they need unconscious down-time.

Escape, of course, comes in many forms–watching Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, for instance, or reading A la recherche du temps purdu or The Lord of the Rings, or following eight daily newspapers and seventeen news websites. As long as you aren’t actually stressing yourself out over something of pressing and unavoidable importance and are relishing the pure enjoyment of totally inappropriate pantyshots or ravishingly philosophical prose or the lyrical nature of Elvish or constantly being reminded every day how horrible life is in Rwanda (it’s Darfur, these days, isn’t it?) and how there’s nothing anyone can really do about it, you’re escaping. It’s stress relief, and we all have different ways of blowing it off.

Haruka’s use of anime as escape is quite legitimate, considering her position–rich daughter, excellent at everything, etc. etc.–but equally distressing as the reasons for the escape is the fact that one must keep it secret, because there are looming hordes of faceless bit characters waiting to whisper things as you walk past them in the hall ready to mock you for your disgusting anime habit. What perhaps makes the already-existent problems for closeted otaku even more traumatizing is the social stigma they get when people find out they are an otaku. Haruka, of course, exaggerated this to an almost ludicrous extent (as it has been exaggerating everything to an almost ludicrous extent, and not in a Imagawa Yasuhiro way) with the school being completely full of people eager to hate on the filthy otaku in the school.

The funny thing being, of course, that neither Haruka nor Yuuto are actually “filthy”–they’re quite decent and (get this) normal people, if rather bland characters–but Haruka has certainly internalized the notion that she is inferior to everyone else due to her hobbies and other such things. Which just goes to show that stereotypes hurt those that don’t fit the stereotype more than those who do. If fitting a stereotype is even possible. It’s actually a good thing–and probably the most genuine bit of moe that she’s been shown to have in these three episodes–that Haruka completely threw caution to the wind and put her secret right out there in the open.

I am 100% certain that I’m taking this show entirely too seriously, but that’s my God-given right and if you think this is ridiculous, there’s probably worse taking-it-far-too-seriously posts yet to come. I still think the series is pretty much fluff, and any benefit the above analysis brings is rendered almost completely worthess under the sheer mass of fanservice. I’d actually love this series if it wasn’t the Moetan of trying to fix some of the psychological problems of otaku. But that’s a more noble goal than teaching otaku bad English, and since I’ve been inspired by series that I don’t think were really trying to inspire people in the first place, I can’t really fault it for trying. I’m happy it tried, and that it seems to be partially succeeding in some weird way.

Also, I just noticed something: Mamiko’s Haruka voice sounds eerily similar to a form of Ayako’s voice, but maybe that’s because I was just watching a To Heart episode earlier and had to hear the ED again.

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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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