As Pontifus already told you, we’re diving hip-deep into the twelve moments of anime project for 2008. However, I will warn you in advance, I’ll be “cheating” a little and doing some video game moments as well — I don’t think that’s too much of a problem, as Super Fanicom is about gaming as well. Moving on!
As you might have gathered, my first entry into Superfanicom’s ultimate, giant Christmas extravaganza is Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. The trick here — the one that explains the questions you’re hurling at your screen right now — is that it isn’t the show that I’m entering here. It’s the phenomenon.
I know things turned sour, yes. I know the show went awry. I know I haven’t even finished watching it, despite my maddened oath to blog every episode (I believe what I said was, “By God I’ll finish this show if it breaks me“). But can you cast your mind back to that moment when the first episode had just come out of your local fansubber’s hot little queue? Your cursor rested lovingly on the file icon and you prepared yourself for. . . something. I’m sure my following statement includes people who didn’t even watch, but it seemed as though we were all excited. And for a few episodes it paid off. The Akihabara episode was actually pretty great. This is a show, we felt, about us, about the sometimes-crippling sense of alienation that we have, to greater or lesser extents, put up with. Some of us maybe for all our lives.
Perhaps the part that hurts nerds (of all stripes) the most is that gnawing anxiety that underlies every reminder that we’re different from those around us — we chose this. It may not actually be true, by the way. Some people think biology determines our personalities. If that’s true, then I have generations of other people to blame for the way I swoon when Luke turns off his targeting computer. But unlike people discriminated against for their gender, race, or sexual preferences, most would agree that nerds, in some way, chose to be nerds. That is, at some point I was (metaphorically) presented with a football and a lightsaber toy.
So Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu seemed promising to a lot of us. Some otaku are still self-conscious about being nerds. I’m not, but that’s because of my circumstances in a grad. program. So for someone so demonstratably-popular among the “normies” to be an otaku did a lot of things. It let the still-self-conscious feel better, because even the popular kids like moe. All of us can identify with the social estrangement Haruka fears, and so the show, in some ways, functioned as a microcosm of our lives.
Bloggers, fans, and anime-watchers all came together to talk about this show, to wonder what was going to happen, and to be fascinated by someone’s attempt to chart the really painful moments of an otaku’s life. Sure, we had Genshiken and Lucky Star already, but those are after the fact — sure, some people still make fun of the Genshiken, and even Konata’s friends think she’s a bit odd, but the nerds in both shows were basically in safe zones, where they could do whatever they wanted and only their actions, not their predilictions, would be judged. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu put its characters in the worst pit of arbitrary judgment and bias imaginable: high school.
So that seems to me to be a great moment for this year. Personally, at least, and this is meant to be my twelve moments. My reasoning stands this way: I rarely know anything about the state of the otaku-rhombus, but I was made aware of it by this show and the giddy discussions about it. We seem to have risen up as one and said we need some kind of figure to rally behind. And getting that many nerds to agree on anything is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.