Archive for the 'nogizaka haruka no himitsu' Category

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.

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?


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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