Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Episode 1
A pleasant surprise all around – read the rest of the review behind the cut!
OP: Tomadoi Bitter Tune” by Miran Himemiya and Chocolate Rockers
I thought this was cute! I liked the song alright, but I can’t say it really stood out to me – in fact, I had to go back and re-watch the OP in order to talk intelligently about the song, because I couldn’t remember what it sounded like!
What really stood out to me were the animations; particularly the beginning part where they’re designing the “Innocent Smile” cover in a Photoshop-style setup. I thought that was really creative! Although I had to laugh at how the sketch was magically inked and colored in .5 seconds…I wish it was really that quick and easy!
I also had a nice laugh at how the big [SECRET] bar would come and cover all the naughty bits just in time…especially with the kiss at the end!
The anime begins with an anime (“Clumsy Aki-Chan!”) – something that I thought was terribly Genshiken, but still amusing. The boy (Yuuto) watching it doesn’t seem to be an otaku, judging by his comments, but is watching it anyway. He’s interrupted by the crazy party noises below, and the camera pans to show us…
…the other two ladies living in the house, both of whom are 50% dressed but 100% smashed! He gets up and leaves to go cater to their drunken needs. We get a quick shot of a cloaked mystery character watching “Clumsy Aki-Chan” alone in a darkened room before the OP starts.
When we return, it’s breakfast/hangover time at Yuuto’s house. When he finally gets away from the ladies, he’s off to school, where he is equally tormented by his friends. We learn that Yuuto, despite negating any claims that he is homosexual, seems to have no interest in women. The conversation is distracted by some beautiful piano music that somehow is heard by everyone on the school campus.
The piano music is being played by a girl named Nogizaka Haruka who is immensely beautiful and popular. She seems to be good at everything, but has no boyfriend because she turns everyone down.
Nobumaga rushes over to bother Yuuto about “Clumsy Aki-Chan,” his anime magazine “Innocent Smile,” and his new Aki-Chan figurines. We notice that Haruka takes a strange interest in eavesdropping on this conversation from across the room, but not much is made of it. After school, the intercom announces that Nobumaga has kept the magazine past the deadline and that he must return it immediately. He asks Yuuto to return it on his behalf as a favor, for some reason which is never disclosed.
When Yuuto goes to the library to return it, he runs into Haruka, who is desperately trying to hide her identity. Through some assorted mishaps (most of which involve panty shots and falling into other people’s crotches), Yuuto discovers that Haruka was at the library to check out “Innocent Smile” because…*drum-roll, please!* she’s an OTAKU!
After a game of hide-and-seek in which Haruka avoids Yuuto for an entire day, Yuuto confronts her on the school roof where he tells her that he doesn’t think any less of her for being an otaku and promises to keep her secret.
BUT – the story doesn’t end here! At home, Yuuto gets a call from Haruka. She needs his help sneaking the magazine back into the school library because it’s past the due-date (how short are deadlines in this school, anyway?). If she waits until tomorrow, they’ll call her name (along with the name of the book) out on the intercom with morning announcements and her secret will be revealed!
So, of course, Yuuto runs out in the middle of the night to help her return the magazine. She clings to his arm the entire way (because it’s dark and scary!), and eventually the mission is completed once the set number of flags are triggered (lol). The episode ends with both of them asking the other to use their more familiar first name…cute!
I’ve seen a few poor reviews for this anime, but I think this is a surprisingly sweet anime for the semi-ecchi it is! I like otaku anime, but I was really afraid of this one being a fanservice-fest; especially after the very beginning with the drunken gals. However, I was happily wrong!
Something I especially like is the portrayal of both a female otaku that isn’t obsessed with yaoi or BL (that we know of…) AND the portrayal of an otaku that has other habits and lives a normal life. I think this is one of the more realistic otaku anime I’ve seen – certainly more so than Welcome to the NHK, but also a bit more than Genshiken. I’m glad to see someone who is clearly an otaku, but doesn’t eat, sleep, and breathe anime.
The art is another thing I was happily surprised with; I was expecting something fairly low-budget and unimpressive (along the lines of Goshouu-Sama, Ninomiya-Kun), but found myself really enjoying the ART in this anime! Even though it doesn’t give a strong impression at first, the closer I watched, the more I noticed – “Hey…this doesn’t really suck the way I thought it would!”
ps. The uniforms remind me of Kanon…is it just me?
4.5 / 5
It feels strange to give the same rating for this as I did for Natsume Yuujin-Chou, but I think it truly deserves it! I found this anime full of happy surprises and backed by a solid (and fairly original) storyline. I look forward to the next episode!
I’m starting a new thing here at Enima – with each episode, I will put up a link to a photobucket album with all the screenshots I took (because I usually take anywhere between 50 and 70, but use less than 10). This will be in the last section; Screenshots. The links for this episode are here: tell me if you like this system!