Hakujo Academy is a private high school with a student body filled with elite students. At the top of this list is the beautiful Haruka Nogizaka, an intelligent and wealthy girl who comes from a prestigious family, and is by far the most idolized girl at school. Her popularity is so great that her classmates occasionally give her French nicknames to further express their infatuation.
Yuuto Ayase is a timid boy who has the unbelievable luck of sitting in class with Haruka every day. Like many others, he admires her from a distance, never even dreaming of approaching her. But with a sudden twist of fate, Yuuto's random visit to the school library brings Haruka's darkest secret to light, one which could potentially destroy her current reputation of elegance. As it turns out, the school's most beloved princess is actually a huge otaku. This revelation marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship between these two classmates.
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is the most fun and just plain entertaining series I have watched this year. I don’t like to throw out 10s to shows that often and maybe I am rating this show a little high in comparison others. But this is one of the few shows that had me from episode 1 and never let me down through the end. While the overall concept of this anime is not anything new and groundbreaking (though really what is anymore?), Nogizaka does everything exceptionally well.
At its heart, Nogizaka is a romantic comedy with some mild echiiness and a few harem elements.
The story starts out with our protagonist Yuuto accidentally discovering the schools most idolized girl Haruka Nogizaka is a closet otaku when he bumps into her in the library with a manga called Innocent Smile. After a bit of an overreaction on Haruka's part, Yuuta promises to keep her secret from everyone else. Personally I thought this was an excellent concept for a story but in one of the few things that this series fails at a bit because it doesn’t quite deliver. By episode 3 she’s already exposed her secret at school herself, but there doesn’t seem to be any consequences or reaction to this revelation. The romance elements then take over as the story becomes more about Yuuto and Haruka developing their feelings for each other than her secret obsession.
The series also features a number of anime and manga references, mostly to Shakugan no Shana. If you have seen that series and especially if you’re a fan like I am you will get some extra enjoyment out of Haruka cosplaying Shana. One of my favorite moments was Haruka saying Shana's trademark "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" and replying that she had always wanted to say it (Haruka's voice actress played Hecate in the series). Plenty of other references provided a lot of laughs such as a yaoi doujinshi featuring Inukami! characters Keita and Karina. I also found the cameo by manga loving Japanese prime minister Taro Aso humorous.
As leads, Haruka and Yuuto are very enjoyable and fun to watch. Yuuto reminds me of other anime males I like such as Tomoya and Yuichi from Clannad and Kanon. He feels like a real guy to me, he isn’t perfect but he stands up for his friends and acts like a man. One of the few anime males I would actually want to date myself. Haruka is a bit more stereotypical of anime girls, she is very beautiful and seemingly unattainable on the surface. She’s shy, clumsy, clueless, and very moe. Despite this, I don’t think anyone will not find something to relate with her and she is just so funny and cute that you can’t help but love her. Several of the supporting characters manage to be entertaining as well, in particular Haruka's younger sister Mika. Though she is the most stereotypical of the group as the perverted wise above her years younger sister. The Nogizaka house maids also provide a number of laughs as do the mother and father. Yuuto's sister and her teacher friend are pretty boring though as they are the fairly boring half naked drunkards. Shiina is a classmate who could be considered a rival for Yuuto but she never develops as a serious contender (rightly so I must say). The characters are also kept to a minimum as well so we get to know most of the supporting characters pretty well.
The show really shines in the art and music. The characters are beautifully rendered and the series as wonderfully vibrant colors and detailed backgrounds. The voice acting is stellar and features a great overall cast. I can’t say enough good things about the music. It captured the charm and the tone of the series perfectly. The OP/EN songs as a pair are probably my favorite anime songs to date.
Overall there is little for me to complain about, because I found this show to be exceptional. The length was a bummer because I didn’t want it to end! While not everyone will find this show to be as great as I did, I recommend it to all fans of romantic comedies and Shana lovers.
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (Haruka Nogizaka's Secret) is an Ecchi, Romantic, Comedy about a relationship formed from a secret shared between two high school students. This anime doesn’t offer anything remarkably different to your average Rom/Com; however it certainly has a refreshing feel to it.
Yuuto Ayase is a fairly normal guy and Haruka Nogizaka is the school idol but their separate lives soon intertwine when Yuuto discovers Haruka’s secret hobby (Anime). Hardcore anime fans may enjoy the concept because it’s easy to relate to the stigma that may comes along with being an ‘open anime fan’, even though it does go a bit overboard. Though
what makes this anime worth watching is the sweet romance that develops. The story moves at a steady pace, dealing with one issue at a time however the problem with this is that the episodes feel very disjointed, as there’s no real flow between one episode and the next. Also once the major issue about Haruka is resolved, this ends up becoming yet another typical romance anime.
Like in most romance anime, this one centres on the characters in the main relationship. Well unlike most protagonists in these kinds of Rom/Coms, Yuuto is quite the appealing guy and acts how a guy is supposed to be and is a welcome change from all the spineless loser-kuns. Then there’s the main attraction, Haruka who is seemingly perfect and has a cute timid personality, however she also comes with her own problems. The supporting characters do an alright job providing some comedy, but can be a real nuisance when it comes to the story.
Just from looking at this series’ picture, anime fans can expect this anime to go for animation and music that we are used to. The art style is very typical for this type of anime, with very simple big-eyed character designs but the way it is animated is certainly better than some similar looking anime (Myself; Yourself, H20, etc.). On the other hand this series doesn’t perform too well in the sound department. The music is subpar and can easily go unnoticed during the non-dramatic scenes and the only thing that helps to bring it to a satisfactory level has to be the great voice actors (Mamiko Noto, banzai! ^^)
Overall Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is one of the decent Rom/Com of its season, though I feel that there can be an unnecessary amount of fanservice (i.e. pantyshots). The comedy is okay, especially on the rare occasions that it includes some obvious anime references but it does get stale after a while. Nevertheless the endearing romance is the only real reason worth watching this anime. It’s a shame the romantic relationship lacks a sense of progression and is littered with trivial problems.
You know, for all the internet rage I've heard that this show is "Too much Otaku wish fulfillment", it failed to fulfill my wish of being entertained. ZONG! And now, ladies and germs, the actual review:
Actually, I wouldn't argue that the problem with this show is that it's a substance-less, extra generous heaping of Otaku wish fulfillment as some claim, because let's face it, KissxSis and Chocotto Sister REALLY have no critical quality to them, and instead only show me just what I want to see, and yet I'm still entertained by them. No, instead, I find that there are three major problems that
cause Himitsu to fall short of it's potential.
The first is that for an Otaku-centric comedy, Himitsu feels as though it were written by a non-Otaku. While many of the stereotypes and experiences that we have all become accustomed to through real life and other shows are present, they lack the personality that shows such as Genshiken capitalize on. For example, in Hayate no Gotoku, there's an extremely short scene (Not but a single panel in the Manga) in which Nagi exits the room in order to watch an anime DVD boxset she purchased on a whim. Every fan can relate to the scenario of buying (Or downloading) anime which we have never heard of, simply for the sake of owning it, or because the cover art looked cool. You can also take Genshiken, and the strained relations between the Otaku characters and the "Normal" characters. Undoubtably each viewer has had an experience of their own with someone who was less than accepting of their hobby. Through these shared experiences, the watcher relates the characters, and connects to them. However all of Haruka's adventures feel as though they went through a game of Bohemian Telephone before they were scripted into the show. Oh sure, all the major hallmarks of an Otaku life are there (Comiket, cosplaying, Akihabara, figurine obsession), but the personality and small details have been lost in the process. This lack of a personal touch makes the series seem like a second hand story, as though the author had heard about such experiences from a friend.
The next aspect holding the show back was that the secondary characters are better developed than the main characters. Yuuto, for example, is a total blank slate. While I understand that often lead male characters in such series are made bland so that the watcher can impose their own personalities on the the character, Yuuto has absolutely no personality at all. The only noticeable aspect of his personality is that he seems to mildly care about Haruka. Haruka herself, claims to be an Otaku, but shows a forced interest in everything Otaku related. Her character is just an amalgamation of various "Moe" characteristics, without any new flavoring. At the same time, the trio of Haruka's little sister Mika, and the family maids provided more entertainment and laughs than the rest of the characters combined. They were fresh and original, and quite entertaining to watch. However, this trio was given far less airtime than they deserved, and instead the focus of the series lied with the blander characters. Obviously it would have been absurd if these bit characters became the focus of the series, however I just wish that the same amount of love and dedication went into formulating the other characters.
At the same time that this show tries to be an Otaku-centric comedy, it also plays up romantic elements, which I have no problem with. My troubles however, lie with the fact that neither party seems to make any real effort at making the other like them. This may be due in part to the fact that for half of the show Haruka shows a mild, dispassionate interest in Yuuto, while the other half of the time she seems totally unaware that there are two genders.
In closing, while this series did provide me with a little fun, at best it was disposable entertainment, not to be remembered after it's 8 month relevancy.
One more thing: For an Otaku-centric comedy, I only picked up on like three references (The blatant Shana one from the Hazuki episode, the Doujin that they buy at Comiket was drawn by the person who illustrated the original Light Novels, and the person who voice Gento voiced Gendou from Evangelion, if that even is a reference.). WTF is up with that? I mean in Pani Poni Dash, there was a heaping of thirty references per episode.
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, follows classmates Haruka and Yuuto. Haruka being the popular daughter of a an extremely wealthy and powerful family. Yuuto being......some guy.
The story picks up as Yuuto accidentally discovers that Haruka is a closet otaku, and, not believing it to be a flaw (though others do), he promises to keep it a secret from their schoolmates.
Actually, I didn't think otaku were quite so ostracised in Japan as is shown, but perhaps it's true of private schools. Anyway....
What follows is your typical high-school romantic-comedy fare, but with some storylines having the otaku twist (eg. going to a convention) or the rich-girl twist. There
are also some harem elements, but they don't overshadow the main relationship. The show does contain some ecchi-ness, but it's not constant enough to be much of a problem. The show generally moves along at a swift pace, and manages to get quite a bit done in each episode, but it doesn't feel rushed.
There are a fair few characters, though quite a few get swept aside before becoming anything more than a couple of lines of dialogue. The regulars are familiar sorts, including the loud drunks, and the teasing, adult-minded loli.
So yes, it has all the typical elements, but, I often got the feeling that something was different. I don't know for sure, but perhaps the show is focusing that bit more on the central relationship than is usual. Sure, there's a lot of noise, and silliness, but it just doesn't seem to be as overpowering as other shows, leaving more room for the main attraction.
So, the final verdict: Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, is a nice, typical, romantic comedy, that just nudges ahead of the pack, thanks to being just a little bit calmer, and more focused. Also, it differentiates itself somewhat via the otaku angle. If you're a fan of high-school romantic comedies, then this is definately worth a look.
Oreimo, short for Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, complicates a simple brother-sister relationship. Kyousuke is a normal older brother just being brotherly to his little overachieving sister, who happens to secretly be an otaku. But... is that really all there is to these two siblings?