Twelve Moments 12

It was this or NSFW. Damn fanart.

It was this or NSFW. Damn fanart.

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.

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6 Comments

  1. The ‘shameful otaku elements’ of NHnH gave it an interesting start, but all that boiled away by not even the halfway mark of the show, being reduced to just an arbitrary stereotype one could insert to create drama (see: final two episodes). Overall, I don’t think it said anything on the level of shows like Welcome to the NHK (although that was more about NEETs than otaku), and in the end, I don’t think it really planned to.

    NHnH is still special to me, though, for perhaps a more core element of it, the raw heart-melting ‘awwwwwwwwwwwwwww’ factor of seeing Yuuto and Haruka interact in such an honest (instead of pandering) manner.

    Reply
  2. @CCY Yeah, it was still fun watching them interact. But all the other elements bothered me so much. The last episode I watched was the one where the younger sister (I can’t even remember most characters’ names) forced Yuuto to take her all over town. It wasn’t *bad*, it just wasn’t interesting. At all.

    And I haven’t seen the last two episodes yet. I’ll get to them. . . Eventually. :D

    Reply
  3. lelangir

     /  14 December 2008

    Huh? Genshiken in a safety zone? That’s arguable I guess. It is really interesting to draw comparisons between ‘the subject’ and the position of the viewer, Genshiken vis-a-vis NHnH.

    IMO Genshiken seems much more of a inter-otacentric show (we see the culture from the inside), whereas NHnH is an outer-otacentric show (we see the culture from the outside). This is supported for NHnH ’cause the show was all about sociocultural ridicule and insecurity etc., how “we” are perceived from the outside. On the other hand, Genshiken, insofar as Sasahara was “the subject” – the viewer’s proxy (or one of the significant ones) – the show was like an invisible endoscope, an anthropological view into the lives of the otaku; seeing ridicule from the inside out. There were several scenes I remember of Sasahara playing galges by himself at night with the headphones on, a seemingly deplorable or humiliating scene.

    Lucky Star is definitely a safe zone, but I think Genshiken is more of a way to explore social stigmatization in a less-than-sugar-coated way NHnH treated the otaku predicament.

    Reply
  4. @lelangir You could be right about that. The one way in which Genshiken does offer a safe zone is the club itself, though — the guys all have a place and a group of people in which they know their interests are perfectly acceptable. That’s why the repeated joke of Kousaka being frighteningly hardcore keeps working: he looks out of place at the table, whichever direction you’re looking. And I like your metaphor of the ways the two shows examine their subject.

    In contrast, Haruka doesn’t have anything like that, because she knows that her friends aren’t into her hobbies. They *accept* them, but (this is me layering real-life experience onto the show here) acceptance means dick-all when you don’t have a friend to share with.

    So I guess the “safe zone” of Genshiken is intermittent. It’s there, but not all the time.

    Reply
  5. lelangir

     /  14 December 2008

    I can see how Genshiken – the club – is like a safebadzone, where the harshness of reality is, well, realized and self-satirized. I like that way of looking at it. That’s supported through Oguie’s tsundereness even though there is no apparent need to be insecure within a zone where the insecure gather, though, on the other hand, that isn’t supported ’cause Kousaka isn’t insecure in the slightest. Madarama…well, he’s interesting. I loved his interaction with Kousaka’s girlfriend (Saki?), especially when they were eating sushi and a food-on-conveyor-belt-eatery and the whole pants ordeal.

    Reply
  1. anitations - CCY’s 12 Days of Christmas [Day 1]

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