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.

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

  1. 1 EvilDevil 5 August 2008 at 11:26 pm

    “scapism is, of course, a dirty word and not a word to be mentioned in polite company”
    there is nothing wrong with that word, that is like saying sleep is a bad word since it is for the weak…
    people dont seem to realise that scapism is important in our lives, as tolkien sugested we are trying to escape from a prison that is suffocating our lives. Is a shame, I like anime as well as Faery tales and fantasy, as a way to get a way from the troubles of my daily live, ‘to sleep’ so i can wake up refreshed; yet people still see this things as a waste of time… maybe one day society will get rid of sleep and dreams and forget their importance in our existance…

  2. 2 issa-sa 5 August 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I swear everyone is treating this series more seriously than the makers intended… Then again, what do I know, I haven’t watched past the first episode. Like you said, it’s “the Moetan of trying to fix some of the psychological problems of otaku [with Mamiko Noto, damnit!]”, which perhaps puts me off a bit… I guess it’s like people who won’t watch Antique Bakery past the rain scene -_-“

  3. 3 OGT 5 August 2008 at 11:48 pm

    @issa-sa: I am treating it seriously because I can, and also because it’s hilarious. Personally, the fact that they’re trying (even if they’re failing) is enough to make me not discard the series in the circular File 13. I can totally see how, say, usagijen can draw what she does from it. But, alas, it is trying to overly pander while it tries to give a decent message, so it’s going to fail as everyone’s going to buy Haruka goods because she’s cute (and because NOTO MAMIKO) and that’s all they’ll get out of it. I don’t normally get upset at pandering in series, but I think that without it, this could have been a pretty good series.
    And Antique Bakery and Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu are two totally different things. You can beat someone up for not liking Antique Bakery and it would hold up in a court of law. Do the same with this, the judge would laugh at you and tack on a few extra years.

  4. 4 hashihime 5 August 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I think the serious side of this show is just a fragile hook to lure in otaku to watch all the moe. But I also think the show is pretty good, with good writing, good acting, good comedy, and good animation. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that is more pleasant, at least so far.

    Then again, that rain scene in Antique Bakery is what convinced me I would keep watching to the end.

  5. 5 Ez 6 August 2008 at 12:58 am

    Frankly I was quite surprised. This show, annoying fanservice aside, has actually managed to show some good writing and directing. Even if it is a ploy, and I’m not entirely sure it is, the allure of this so called ‘otaku redeeming anime’ is pretty strong.

    I think it deals with Haruka and Yuuto’s relationship in a very good way. That said, I think their relationship is actually very normal, something which surprisingly doesn’t occur much in anime relationships.

    Anyway, I’m quite surprised that I like it myself. That said. Cheers =)

  6. 6 TheBigN 6 August 2008 at 8:27 am

    This is actually the sort of thing that I want to see the show focus more on. But I’m not sure if that will be a continued focus as the show goes on. Episode 4 had none of that, for example. :P

  7. 7 Mike 6 August 2008 at 1:28 pm

    “The people who are most concerned with escapism have a name: we call them jailers.” –JRR Tolkien

    I have to agree that I think some of my hopes for something a bit more serious were inflated by jen’s post–but that’s not her fault, those are the memories she was drawing upon. At least there are definite elements to the show that break the mold (a quick moving relationship, for one).

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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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August 2008

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