First Impression: The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka

The third non-blogged series I’m watching in the summer is Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu a.k.a. The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka.

This one is about, shockingly, Haruka Nogizaka, the quintessential perfect girl in the school – rich, good grades, great looking, good at sports, etc., etc., etc. Meanwhile, there is Yuuto Ayase who is kind of your average nerdy boy, but more in the mold of Ike from Shakugan no Shana in the sense that, yes he’s a nerd, but he isn’t really a loser. Yuuto also has just about 0 interest in girls, largely thanks to two girls who I’m not totally sure what their relation to Yuuto is who live at his house and basically do nothing but drink.

One day Yuuto finds out Haruka’s secret hobby – that she’s an otaku. She’s afraid that he’ll tell everyone but, of course, he’s too nice of a guy to do that (unfortunately she runs away from him for a while, making everyone else think he’s done something horrible to the queen of the school). She is largely afraid of being picked on “again,” which makes me think that she’s become this super-girl person in response to bad teasing, which I’m sure we’ll get into later if that’s the case.

I think this series definitely has potential, since the “queen of the school” type girl is a huge otaku, and I can see a lot of laughs from that, though Haruka seems to be a little too ditzy to be one supposedly so good at everything, but maybe we’ll be shown otherwise later.

I also get strong vibes that this is going to be in part a parody otaku series. First off, the ending theme and the name give out vibes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I’m sure the OP made fun of several shows, many of which I’m not catching, and I’m sure the same is true of the Clumsy Aki-chan cartoon from the beginning.

And especially since this doesn’t seem like a series which is going to rely on fan service for most of it’s laughs (at least based on the first episode), this series definitely looks like it has some potential.

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First Impression: Birdy the Mighty: DECODE

This was a “I’ll wait what I hear about it first” show, but enough people recommended it on various websites that I decided to check it out, especially since I ditched Strike Witches.

My main worry was that this looked like it would be a fan service fest show, and things didn’t necessarily start off extremely promising with Birdy’s fairly revealing outfit as well as the photo shoot scene at the start. Luckily the fan service isn’t really bad, and this is the only place it exists in the first episode.

The rest of the episode shows the series to be a rather promising comedy/action show. While Birdy may be a tad on the ditzy side, she looks like she would be a rather competent female lead, while the boy she possesses (due to accidentally killing him in a battle) Tsutomu doesn’t seem to be your normal loser male lead either, which may this series interesting as well.

I loved Tsutomu’s last line of the episode, though: “Is this the next part of my nightmare? I turn into a beautiful girl?” because, of course, a boy turning into a beautiful girl (even one that does modeling as a cover) is typically one of those fantasies that turn out being not so much of a fantasy.

Having seen the first episode, I can see why people recommended it, as this series may be the most promising of all the summer series I’ve seen so far.

Maid Guy – Episode 09

It’s Maid Guy episode 9, and Naeka’s two friends come to ask for help regarding the cake shop they work at, which is being run out of business by another cake shop which is pulling in customers by featuring very busty waitresses.

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MoonPhase – Anime Review

The Essentials

Name: MoonPhase
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Episodes: 26
Released: October 4, 2004 – March 23, 2005
Based On: Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase manga by Keitaro Arima
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Produced By: Victor Entertainment, SHAFT
US Distribution By: Funimation

Major Japanese Cast

Hazuki/Luna: Chiwa Saito
Kohei Morioka: Hiroshi Kamiya
Ryuhei Mido: Mugihito
Seiji Mido: Takahiro Sakurai
Elfriede: Yumi Kakazu
Hiromi Anzai: Michiko Neya
Haiji: Vanilla Yamazaki
Kaoru Mido: Miyu Matsuki
Hikaru Mido: Mai Kadowaki

Major English Cast

Hazuki/Luna: Monica Rial
Kohei Morioka: Jason Liebrecht
Ryuhei Mido: Randy Tallman
Seiji Mido: Sonny Strait
Elfriede: Stephanie Young
Hiromi Anzai: Laura Bailey
Haiji, Hikaru Mido: Luci Christian
Kaoru Mido: Brina Palencia

Scores

Animation: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Story: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Music: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 9/10 (x 2 = 18 pts)
English Dubs: 9/10 (x 1 = 9 pts)
Gut Score: 9/10 (x 5 = 45 pts)

Total: 176/200 (88%)

Review

MoonPhase is about a young female vampire, Hazuki, who is being held in a castle in Germany by her father and by his servant Vigo. One day, Kohei, who has an amazing ability to photograph supernatural phenomena despite the fact that he can’t sense them at all himself, spots Hazuki and her alter-ego Luna as he is taking pictures of the castle. Kohei goes back to the castle along with Seiji, who knows how to use ancient magic, to take more pictures when Hazuki. However, when Kohei finally meets Hazuki, she bites him, under the belief that biting him will put him under her control and help her escape the castle. However, supernatural things having absolutely no affect on Kohei, the bite has no such result. In the end, Kohei helps Hazuki escape the castle anyway, and she ends up coming to Japan to live with Kohei and his grandfather Ryuhei.

From there, Hazuki gets help from Kohei to try to find out what happened to her mother, while at the same time forces of Hazuki’s father marshal up in order to try to return Hazuki to the castle. The reason for this being that Hazuki has a secret: she is a true day walker – a vampire who can walk in daylight. If other vampires found out about this ability, they would rush to Hazuki to take that power for themselves. However, minions attempting to recapture Hazuki find another important reason to succeed: Kohei himself is revealed to be the mythical vampire lover – a human whom, if a vampire bites them, will free that vampire from any blood bonds which they may be constrained by (such as by being bitten and turned into a vampire by another vampire).

However, despite the pretty hefty-sounding description, MoonPhase still has a pretty good amount of comedy in it, with the continuing interaction between Kohei and Hazuki, as well as between Kohei and Ryuhei almost always ending in laughs. However, on top of the comedy, this series also contains several drama and action-intensive stints as well, which I have to say are usually very well done as well. Some of the sub-plots may get a little drawn out at times, but the story still moves as a pretty reasonable pace.

As for technical aspects, the animation is probably above average, and the music is pretty good, if not unusual for an anime series. The dubbing is also very good as far as I could tell.

In the end, if you’re looking for a very well made supernatural/vampire series or an otherwise character-driven series, I think you should definitely give MoonPhase a shot.

First Watched: August 2007 – January 2008
Do I Own: Yes
Do I Recommend: Yes