Kaori ShimizuHiroki YasumotoAki ToyosakiMai Goto
Haruka Nogizaka's Secret
Also known as: Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2008
Director: Munenori Nawa
Writer: Tsuyoshi Tamai
Original creator: Yusaku Igarashi
Actor: Aki Toyosaki, Aya Hisakawa, Eiji Miyashita, Eri Kitamura, Fumihiko Tachiki, Hiroki Yasumoto, Hitomi Nabatame, Jun Oosuka, Kana Ueda, Kaori Shimizu, Mai Goto, Mamiko Noto, Miyu Matsuki, Reiko Takagi, Rina Satou, Wataru Hatano
Keywords: anime, harem, rubbish
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 28 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=9012
Website category: Anime late 00s
Review date: 23 August 2022
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
I liked the first few episodes. They're charming and Haruka's adorable. (At that stage.) Before long, though, the anime had dived into harem bullshit. I ended up hating it.
Haruka is a clueless heiress who talks like the queen. Her parents live in a mansion as big as a village and have an effectively infinite supply of money. Her dad buys a tropical island for her surprise birthday party. She's lovely. She wouldn't hurt a fly, her classmates worship her and she's a world-class pianist, among her many achievements.
Also, though, she's a secret otaku. She thinks everyone would hate her if they knew that she loves watching anime, drawing terrible art, etc. Then, one day, a boy called Yuuto finds this out.
Season 1's first half is quite good. (The show has two 12-episode seasons and a 4-part OVA finale.) I enjoyed it. It's about Haruka struggling with her issues and her love of her hobbies. Yuuto takes her to Comiket. The gags work. I could believe in the characters, despite mildly silly bits like Yuuto's loud sister and sleazy teacher/flatmate.
Ep.7, though, takes "mildly silly" and nuclear-boosts it to "piss off and die". It's Haruka's dad. We'd guessed that he was overprotective, but words cannot describe the private army, soldiers, swords and chainsword-wielding maids. A good show becomes stupid... and there's more of that to come. Haruka's sister and maids become intrusive comedy stalkers who are unfunny. (The three sleazy classmates in ep.9 can sod off too.) The show then becomes a harem anime, as other girls (Shiina, Mika) become interested in Yuuto even though even a toddler could tell that he and Haruka are inseparable. Both Shiina and Mika will at different times be cheering on the couple and making a move on Yuuto for themselves.
Eventually, it becomes obvious that the show's priority isn't Haruka, or storytelling, or drama. Instead, its purpose is to be an insert-your-face-here fantasy for sad male loners. All the girls love Yuuto, despite his lack of personality traits! He keeps being thrust into sexually suggestive situations that the show hastily averts before anything can actually happen. (The whole "sexy but NO SEX!!!!" thing is rendered pointless quite early when Haruka says aloud that she'd be willing to have sex with Yuuto, after which you're rolling your eyes even harder at all this nonsense that only serves to tease the audience.)
Season 2 is a step down because it's silly from the beginning, has even more stupid plot beats and twice has Yuuto becoming a tsundere's slave. I'm no fan of tsundere in general, but the character type can work. This is not one of those times. These tsundere (Touka Tennouji and Milan Himemiya) are so abusive that it's annoying to see people (e.g. Yuuto) not telling them to shove their orders up their arses. Meanwhile, the season's baddies (Yayoi and Nozomi) are so obviously dodgy that Yuuto's an idiot for listening for even a moment. Also, their plan is absurd. They're trying to trick Haruka into becoming an idol, but they're telling her lots of dumb lies and never at any point getting her consent for what they really want her to do. This isn't just bad, but stupid and a waste of effort. They should try recruitment techniques that aren't almost guaranteed to end with their victim saying "no" and walking away.
Oh, and ep.14 ends with female-on-female rape. For comedy.
Season 2 also has a ton of bad fanservice. There's lots of nudity... and no nipples. This is anti-sexy, like being invited to peek on someone who's been mutilated.
It's dreadful. I wouldn't have minded so much if I hadn't genuinely liked the early episodes, but it's frustrating to see a promising story getting thrown away on an endless loop of Yuuto-focused naughty imagery, Yuuto-focused girls and indeed a Yuuto-focused universe. Let's just look at the first half of Season 1. That's more worth talking about. I like those episodes. They're about the social downsides of being an otaku, for instance, even if one can't help wondering how much of it is in Haruka's mind. (Nobunaga gets on just fine, for instance.) They're about someone gaining the courage to come out of the closet (very slightly) and start exploring her hobbies. They're about self-generated social pressure in general, e.g. Shiina saying yes to the swimming contest in ep.5, even though she can't swim.
But don't watch any further. You'll hate it.