Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Episode 3 (Kind of…)
Ok, instead of a typical review on Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, I’d like to talk a bit about the role/presentation of otaku in this anime as compared to the real world. This was a theme that was focused on very much in Episode 3 (and received mixed reviews), so I would like to throw my two cents into the blogosphere too – why not? ;)
This anime has focused on the issue of otakuism in a way that is different from anything I have seen before. It took what was always there in the undertones of Genshiken, and brought it to the front lines – the shame and embarrassment that simply is a part of being an anime fan (btw, I am going to use the word “otaku” from now on, even though I know it’s not a literal translation). Now, before you go all troll on me, let me clarify – I am NOT saying that being an anime fan is anything to be ashamed of for ANY reason. I am simply saying that 99.9% of otaku have felt moments of embarrassment (at the very least) on account of their hobby.
Genshiken avoided this issue (mostly) by putting all the otaku characters in a club together and showing very little of their social interactions outside of the club room. The only character who demonstrated a serious anti-otaku attitude was Saki, and she grew to understand and (dare I say?) like the people of the club for who they were – not what they liked as a hobby.
In Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, however, the roles are reversed – otaku are presented as the minority, and “normal” people spend pretty much all their screen-time otaku-bashing. The hate that is shown in this anime, while grossly exaggerated, certainly has its base in truth. In the same way that I think anime fans have been embarrassed of their hobby at least once, I think “normal” people have had these kinds of thoughts about otaku at least once.
I can testify to this one, having been on both sides of the deal. Before I was an anime fan (which was many years ago at this point), I remember that there was a girl in my church who wore an FMA shirt to youth group. The shirt had a picture of Alphonse’s blood seal on the front, which (if you are not familiar with the anime) looks like this:
Well, to me it looked a lot like some kind of dark magical circle – something that seemed grossly inappropriate for church. I certainly gave her a hard time about it – for watching TV shows (anime) with dark magic in them and telling her that they weren’t safe. Now, I can look back and see how wring that was – in the anime, that was a symbol of healing – one of the characters saved another’s life with that seal. I judged (wrongly) that that kind of symbol meant that anime had lead to my friend dabbling in the dark arts. It only confirmed my dislike of anime/otaku at that time. It wasn’t until my friend finally got fed up with my behavior (or so I imagine was the impetus) and made me sit down and read the first volume of Fruits Basket…lo and behold, it was love. As I got more and more into the culture and such of anime, I had to disregard my stereotypes and assumptions as they were disproved one by one.
In Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, I think it also accurately portrays the fear that Haruka felt at having her secret revealed. Obviously, as the hate is exaggerated, so is the fear, but I believe that for the fear (like the hate) the base in real life is the same. Haruka is obviously not the 100% eat-breathe-and-sleep-it otaku (I’ve mentioned that before in the reviews) and she is not surrounded by people who share her hobby; therefore, is it not natural for her to fear others finding out about her unusual hobby? When a non-otaku friend of mine heard that I went to Anime Mid Atlantic, he responded, “You? At a comic con? Really? I would have never guessed you were one of those types!” Even that (which wasn’t even a very direct insult) made me hesitate a little and feel that sting of shame before I responded that yes, I was one of those types, and it was an anime con, not a comic con. Not that that helped my case much…XD
But anyway, while I think that the ending where Yuuto told Haruka that she was not alone and that he liked Haruka for Haruka was definitely over the top (although VERY moe-moe~!), I found the rest of the episode to be incredibly relatable. Some of those insults that the classmates were flinging at Haruka stung a bit, because I’ve heard them too. Did any of you feel the same way?
Anyway, I’m sorry for this stream-of-consciousness ramble (I can’t even pretend to disguise it for anything else). If you stuck around to the end, you win the internetz!
Do you guys have any feelings on this subject? I know it’s vaguely similar to an earlier Round-Robin topic, sooo~
ps. In a completely unrelated note, the position in the picture below reminded me INCREDIBLY of one that Sunohara took at some point in Clannad…but I can’t rememeber when, so I have no comparison pic for you. Do any of you Clannad fans know what I’m talking about??