Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu follows the story of Ayase Yuuto, a rather normal high school student in comparison to his rather oddball friends: three perverted stooges and childhood friend Asakura Nobunaga who is a hardcore otaku to the point that stores in Akihabara call him their master. The otaku lifestyle has been looked down upon as a majority of society consider it a disgusting hobby, and had Nobunaga not have such a hobby, he would have been pretty popular with the ladies. Among his classmates is student idol Nogizaka Haruka, said to be the perfect being to have walked the school grounds. With high grades, good athletic ability, first-rate piano skills, a cute face, and a beautiful physique, it is of no wonder than guys fall head–over-heels for her and girls from all grades admire her. However, even this beauty has a secret that she cannot expose,
After Yuuto to return a book back to the library courtesy of Nobunaga, Yuuto catches sight of Haruka who was trying to get a book. After bumping into Yuuto, Yuuto realizes that Haruka borrowed an anime and manga magazine. Haruka leaves in embarrassment, as though she was going to be hated by everyone because of her hobby. However, unlike other people, Yuuto was not bothered by her interest in anime, which was probably watered down thanks to his hardcore otaku friend. It took a while for Yuuto to get Haruka’s attention and tell her that he will not think negatively of her just because she is into these kinds of things. This is the first time anyone has ever said those words to her, and a rather interesting relationship was about to bloom.
Yuuto keeps Haruka’s otaku hobbies a secret from everyone in the school, making sure that her hobby is not revealed to the public. Along the way comes Mika, Haruka’s younger sister, Hazuki, Haruka’s maid, and Nanami, a maid usually seen with Mika. All three of them, as well as the remaining household other than her father, seem to know of her otaku hobby already. At one point, her secret was almost exposed until a last-second save by Yuuto. Despite the save, Haruka stiil did not go to school. Mika, Hazuki, and Nanami told Yuuto about her past. Apparently, during middle school, Haruka had her hobby exposed, which made everyone disdain her to the point when she could not handle the pressure and was forced to move to another school in another town. Her father, a strict man, warns Haruka not to be into such things and wishes for her to become an upstanding and righteous girl. Yuuto confronts to Haruka at her mansion, but Haruka was upset because she did not wish for Yuuto to go through the same pain she felt before. Yuuto tells her that even if everyone leaves him, as long as Haruka was with him, he can withstand the pain and fear of loneliness. This event boosts their relationship from friendship to a possible romantic relationship.
Several days have passed since that incident, and Haruka and Yuuto continue to be in good terms. At one point, Haruka goes to Comiket with Yuuto and enjoys herself because Yuuto was with her. However, during the Comiket festival, it seems as there were spies watching Haruka. That night, Haruka enters Yuuto’s house, stating that her father knew of her secret hobby and took away everything related to anime and manga. Haruka’s sister, Ruko, and her longtime friend Yukari, who is also Yuuto’s homeroom teacher, immediately agreed to her stay as well as Hazuki, who came to aid Haruka. The next day, Haruka was located and Haruka’s father and his men invaded his household. During a confrontation with Haruka, Yuuto stepped in front of her and talked back to her father as to why he should not treat her in such a way because of her rather odd hobby. Yuuto’s wish to defend Haruka’s hobby was well-earned by Haruka’s mother, who quickly made easy work of the crazy situation. This event was the final push that confirmed that Yuuto and Haruka are lovers.
After the events that occurred in his house, Yuuto and Haruka are closer than ever before. One can easily note that love is in the air when the two are close to each other. Both of them try to find some alone time together, but it may not be as easy as it seems. Enter Amamiya Shiina, a transfer student that happened to bump into Yuuto more times that she can count. During her stay in school, she grows fond of him and starts having feelings towards him. This was made evident during the school festival when both Yuuto and Shiina were in an misinterpreted position after an accident. Despite being an accident, the event was long enough for her to show her interest in him. Mika starts to have her feelings played with as well. During a summer festival, Mika invites Yuuto out on a “date” to teach him about proper mannerism and things to do and say for the sake of heightening their relationship. Despite teaching him what to do during dates, Mika gets caught in own ideas several times, which causes her to show feelings for her. The final push was during a firework scene when Yuuto puts her in a piggyback for her to see the fireworks. Yuuto thanks her for the advice, and his kind words make her fall in love with him.
No one said the road of love is always filled with happiness, and this is shown in the final two episodes when Yuuto attends Haruka’s luxurious birthday party. With so many expensive presented shipped to her, Yuuto loses confidence in his own present. This insecurity was further abused by one royal family’s son and henchmen. Yuuto was about to leave the part until an old man confronts him, and he hastily gives his present to her, a figurine of an anime character’s signature pose that Haruka was inspired by and copies most of the time. This made Haruka very happy, to the point that the remaining famed guests were surprised to see her make such a bright, glimmering face. A handshake from her father confirms that he accepts Yuuto as her lover, which shocked all of the guest.
After the party, Haruka and Yuuto meet up in her room alone. Haruka talks about the time when she first started becoming interested in anime and manga. A few years ago, when she was a child, Haruka fled to a park after being scolded by her father. Here, a boy about her age handed her the first volume of a popular anime and manga magazine. Her interest in the characters and the interaction between them gave rise to her future otaku hobbies. Yuuto also realizes something similar to her story has happened to him in the past, and it turns out that indeed he was the one who handed her that magazine. Talk about being fated to meet each other. That night, both were alone in her room, and the two were about to make love until the disruption of Mika, Hazuki, and Nanami, who were gleefully eavesdropping their conversation and actions. Thus ends the first season.
The second season, Purezza, follows immediately after the events of the first season. Haruka and Yuuto are still madly in love with each other, their love developing slowly and steadily. Yuuto and Haruka spend many wonderful moments together, such as a Christmas gift exchange in Yuuto’s room and a romantic kiss at a legendary cape said that those who kiss there during the first sunrise of the new year will be together forever. While they spend quality time together, the relationship hits a shaky road a few weeks before Valentine’s Day. Here, Haruka was tricked into joining a photo shoot of a couple only to simply have a picture occur. The overall goal of the people who tricked her was to make her become an official idol. The talent agency tells her that her pictures were mixed into an audition files, as she accidentally is a participant to become a star. After her confirmation, the talent agency immediately took her to lessons to fully groom her into an idol. During this time, Yuuto is told not to see her for she could be distracted by his presence.
Enter pop idol Himamiya Milan, a cheerful and smiling girl at work but an arrogant and rude girl in real life. She forces Yuuto to become her temporary manager after her previous manager left to a different prefecture. During her time with Yuuto, she seems to understand what was going on between Yuuto and Haruka and warns him about the true intentions of the talent agency. Yuuto soon came to realize what the group was doing, and is put in a tough position between his wants and what he believes to be her wants. Tension between the two builds, and both parties become depressed. It was only until Valentine’s Day at Milan’s concert that finally allowed him to choose that she should be with him forever. Yuuto runs to Haruka’s audition, who was unaware of the fact that she was actually going to be an idol. The talent agency was eventualy bought by Haruka’s father, ending the battle between Yuuto and the talent agency.
Yuuto and Haruka, along with the rest of their family and freinds, spent their final episode in a ski resort. One day, a heavy blizzard hits the resort, and Haruka was not present at the lodge. Yuuto and Haruka’s maids begin a desperate search for her. Apparently, Haruka was outside because she dropped Yuuto’s present somewhere in the snow. After finding it, the two fell from a ridge and decided to take shelter at a cabin when the blizzard worsens. When the mood was right, the two were about to make love once again, but were quickly found out by her maids and family members because the cabin they were in was not too far behind from the lodge.
Overall, I enjoyed the series quite well. A typical romance show about a guy and a girl falling in love. I definitely enjoyed the interactions between the characters, from the romantic development between Yuuto and Haruka to Mika’s schemes to getting them as close as possible. Of course, there were times when I wished Yuuto would man up, for he should know that he was the one for her and no one else. I guess some from of drama has to be needed and hurdles must be overcome in order for their relationship to continue to ripen and bear fruit. While not an outstanding anime, it is a good watch for those who are interested in light-hearted romance-comedy stories.