Noto Mamiko+books+otaku=SO MOE I’M GONNA DIE!!!
Now that I have that out of my system, I have to say that Nogizaka Haruka is shaping up to be one of my favorite summer 2008 anime. It contains so many of my favorite elements that I actually feel the need to blog about it.
Ayase Yuuto is your average bishoujo anime male lead. He lives with 2 loud, messy female drunks who make his life miserable. One happens to be a teacher with what appears to be an SM fetish and a thing for Yuuto. (I will stick to reading Negima! for my student-teacher relationships thank you.) The other is a lazy slob with a penchant for physical violence. Living with such individuals, it is no surprise that Yuuto rarely ever talks about women-so much so that he was once rumored to be gay.
In complete contrast, the titular heroine Nogizaka Haruka is the most idolized, unattainable girl in school famed for her beauty, smarts, and physical prowess. However she carries a deep, dark secret that no one must find out. Okay, it’s not that dire but letting people know that she is a closet akiba-kei can’t be good for her reputation. Naturally, Yuuto finds out and romance and comedy ensue. Okay, this may have been done many times before but it is sure to entertain me (and make me feel so ronery).
Her otaku tendencies are first hinted at to Yuuto during a conversation with his otaku friend Nobunaga. According to some girls in class, they would actually go out with him if his power level weren’t OVER 9000. He shamelessly parades around his gashapon and the copy of innocent SMILE he borrowed from the library. While Nobunaga continues his one-sided conversation, Haruka hears that this issue is a special premium one. Haruka jumps up from her seat and startles the entire class. She apologizes and everyone gets back to what they were doing.
When school is over, the PA announces that Nobunaga needs return his overdue magazine. Skipping out to go to some event, he asks Yuuto to return innocent SMILE for him. On his way out of the library, he walks past a strange girl covering her face with her bag. Turning a corner, she bumps into some shelves and Yuuto finds out that the girl is Haruka. Haruka grabs the new issue of innocent SMILE and checks it out from the library while still covering her face.
Hurrying back so no one sees, she bumps into Yuuto. She panics and starts asking questions quickly such as why he is here and if he saw what she burrowed. When he replies that he didn’t see, she tries to play it off and leaves walking backwards. Haruka trips dropping her loot. Yuuto attempts to do the right thing by picking up her belongings but Haruka jumps on him to prevent her secret from being exposed and in the process knocks over several shelves. Embarrassed that her secret has been revealed to Yuuto, she exits quickly leaving her stuff behind.
Later at night, Yuuto returns to school and finds Haruka trying to sneak in. He surprises her and gives Haruka her belongings while she blushes. From that point on, Haruka avoids Yuuto and runs away everytime she see him. He attempts to confront her but she runs away. Yuuto chases after and in doing so enrages the school body and Haruka’s “imperial guard.”
He somehow escapes and makes it to the roof where Haruka is crying. She tells him how weird it must be for her to have such hobbies at her age and that everything is over. Yuuto says that he will not tell anyone and what really matters is what is on the inside. Embarrassed but relieved, Haruka says that this is the first time anyone has said such things to her and smiles. (I would also say something like this if I actually had enough courage to talk to a girl romantically.)
In the bustle of the day’s events, Haruka forgot to return the magazine which was due earlier that day. She calls Yuuto and asks him to help her or else everyone else will discover her secret through the next day’s overdue book PA announcement. They meet up at the school and go in. Haruka is extremely afraid and clings on tightly to Yuuto as they make their way to the library. After a few scares for Haruka, they return the book and make their leave. Haruka musters up her courage, gives Yuuto her gratitude and tells him to call her Haruka because Nogizaka is for strangers.
Being the Noto Mamiko worshiper I am, I would have watched this show even if it weren’t for the otaku-centric premise. Noto-sama uses her unique voice to great effect in bringing out Haruka’s character. She displays many emotions throughout the episode from the perfect ojou-sama facade created for her to the shy, embarrassed akiba-kei to the cowardly side Yuuto gets to see.
As far as the rest of the production quality is concerned, the animation seems to be pretty good and consistent and the art and designs are really nice. The opening sequence is nicely animated though the song itself is not that memorable but I imagine it will grow on me over time. The ending however has what has become a favorite of mine in recent years-silly, random dancing. Aforementioned dance that I need to learn below:
Overall, Nogizaka Haruka seems to be a solid anime with likable characters that many of us can relate to. Can’t wait for the next episode!