「秘密です！」 (Himitsu Desu!)
“It’s a Secret!”
Episode at a Glance:
After making her grand appearance with her parents, Haruka notices that Yuuto isn’t among the guests yet. Just outside the ballroom, Mika runs into Yuuto, who’s still dwelling on what Shute said about his present. Heading inside, the two of the witness Haruka blowing out the candles on a gigantic birthday cake. After Yuuto wishes her happy birthday loudly, he receives a number from Mika for his turn to give his present to Haruka. Noticing Ruko and Yukari in their usual drunken stupor, Yuuto avoids them and inadvertently runs into Shute, who riducules Yuuto about his Dojikko Aki-chan present after finding out what it is. Seeing first hand the expensive presents that Haruka’s receiving (gold, accesories, dresses, cars), Yuuto retrieves his figurine and decides to leave the party, feeling that he’s an unwanted guest.
On his way out, Yuuto runs into the old man from yesterday and explains why he’s leaving, making the latter disappointed that Yuuto’s not the spirited man he thought he was. The old man then questions how the first person Haruka’s every invited can be an unwanted guest, reminding Yuuto of everything he’s been through with Haruka up until now. Remembering that the Haruka he knows is a little clumsy, airheaded, and only shares her secret hobby with him, Yuuto heads back just in time for his number, which happens to be just ahead of Shute. With everyone pleased to see Yuuto, Shute wonders what he’s still doing here, especially after cutting in on his turn. However, Yuuto completely ignores Shute and wishes Haruka a happy birthday while presenting her with the figurine. Despite being amused that Yuuto didn’t heed his warning about giving a toy as a present, Shute and all the other guests are shocked to see how happy Haruka is about it, with her adding that any present from Yuuto makes her the happiest.
Since it’s a day of celebration, Gentou offers to shake Yuuto’s hand as well, which draws more attention from the guests. Shute on the other hand wonders just who Yuuto is and runs crying to his father about being insulted by Yuuto. The old man then appears, claiming Yuuto didn’t do anything wrong since it was his turn and that Yuuto simply gave Haruka the present that made her the happiest. Annoyed by another interference, Shute questions who the old man is, but his father soon realizes who it is and punches Shute out before making his stupid son apologize to the old man and Yuuto. Seeing this, Gentou questions why the old man is dressed up like that again, after which Hazuki announces the old man’s present—an illusionary Rainbow Snake which is supposed to bring happiness if presented on one’s seventeenth birthday. Hazuke then introduced as Nogizaka Ouki—the current head of the Nogizaka family. Shortly after, everyone’s enjoying the fireworks and Gentou is surprisingly lenient towards Haruka’s relationship with Yuuto in front of Ouki.
Later that night in her room, Haruka shows Yuuto her beloved anime treasures and explains that if it wasn’t for the boy that gave her the first edition of Innocent Smile, she may have never met Yuuto. Reminded of what Nobunaga said, Yuuto recalls that it was Haruka who he gave the magazine away to in order to cheer her up. Laughing at how this could be either a huge coincidence or destiny, Yuuto refrains from explaining to Haruka, prompting her to inadvertently push him over. Caught in the moment, one thing leads to another and the two of them are about to kiss, when all the eavesdroppers outside come crashing through the door by accident. Among them is Ouki and Akiho as well, but Gentou soon comes along questioning what the hell Yuuto’s doing to his daughter. With everyone scrambling, Yuuto invites Haruka to go to Akihabara again when they return and together they tell Gentou that what they’re planning is a secret. Unable to catch up, Gentou soon gives up in tears.
So as suspected by myself and many others, the old man last episode is none other than Haruka’s grandfather, Nogizaka Ouki. Also, Shute turned out to be nothing more than a bother as there was realistically no way for him to get close to Haruka like Yuuto has. I was a bit worried that Shute was going to break Yuuto’s present at the beginning of the episode though, after him and his group of “thugs” bullied Yuuto like a group of kids at a playground (… which was pretty pathetic). While I would’ve like to see Yuuto punch those guys in the face, all that was really needed to restore his confidence was a little reminder of how far things have come between him and Haruka. While I reveled in Shute’s “wtf owned” reaction, I still enjoyed watching him get beat up by his own father for disrespecting the head of Nogizaka family. I was rather sick of hearing him refer to Haruka as “Fräulein” over and over again too, so I was glad someone shut him up.
Other than that, Yuuto’s realization that he gave Nobunaga’s first edition of Innocent Smile to Haruka way back when finally hit him. I found it interesting how he was able to laugh it off as a huge coincidence and/or destiny and how he decided not to tell Haruka about it. In any case, I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve seen this flashback all blurred out, so I’m rather relieved that finally showed us Haruka’s face, even though we already knew it was her all along. As for their first kiss together, it befittingly turned out to be a big tease, especially with the “dominating approach” that Yuuto decided to use. While I was left wondering about whatever happened to innocent first kisses, I guess this approach gives us a lot more Haruka fan-service (including a brief underwear shot). Seeing as the two of them claim they have another secret now, I’m under the impression that they actually did kiss, but you can blame the illusionary Rainbow Snake for blocking our view when it happened. So yeah, big tease. Oh right, you can blame these people too. =)
As I mentioned before, this series didn’t turn out quite like I expected, but I found it interesting viewing things from a different perspective than other series about otakus or Akiba-kei. At first, I pictured Yuuto to be more of a sarcastic type of character that would tease Haruka a bit about her hobby before getting closer to her; however, Yuuto turned out to be the most realistically believable male protagonist I’ve seen in a romance comedy in a while now. With the series being completely devoid of any sarcasm between Yuuto and Haruka, the whole Akiba-kei thing really took a backseat to the relationship aspects of the series. Personally, I was hoping to see a fair bit of romance in addition to the otaku comedy, but was surprised when it turned out to be basically all romance in an otaku setting. Luckily, this formula proved to work well for me, so I wouldn’t really use it as a reason to knock the series, unless of course you were hoping to see something more along the lines of Genshiken.
In retrospect, I assume that some people will be unhappy with an ending that barely advanced Yuuto and Haruka’s relationship, but I found that it’s the little nuances of their relationship — going on that first date in Akihabara, protecting Haruka’s secret from everyone, going to their first comiket together, defending Haruka’s hobby in front of her parents, sharing in their first school festival together — that made the series enjoyable to watch. As such, I find the series going out on a comedic note rather appropriate. If Yuuto and Haruka’s relationship instantly became more “serious” than an innocent high school-like one, I imagine it would feel out of place given the context laid out by the series thus far. The two of them got closer, struggled their way through various obstacles, and are in a “good place” right now, so I’m content with the “coming full circle” type of ending here.
Overall, I enjoyed the series, so I hope you did too. As usual, thanks for reading!
– Nogizaka Haruka (乃木坂 春香) / Noto Mamiko (能登 麻美子)
– Ayase Yuuto (綾瀬 裕人) / Hatano Wataru (羽多野 渉)
– Nogizaka Mika (乃木坂 美夏) / Gotou Mai (後藤 麻衣)
– Sakurazaka Hadzuki (桜坂 葉月) / Shimizu Kaori (清水 香里)
– Nanashiro Nanami (七城 那波) / Ueda Kana (植田 佳奈)
– Ayase Ruko (綾瀬 ルコ) / Nabatame Hitomi (生天目 仁美)
– Kamishiro Yukari (上代 由香里) / Matsuki Miyu (松来 未祐)
– Asakura Nobunaga (朝倉 信長) / Takagi Reiko (高木 礼子)
– Nogizaka Gentou (乃木坂 玄冬) / Tachiki Fumihiko (立木 文彦)
– Nogizaka Akiho (乃木坂 秋穂) / Hisakawa Aya (久川 綾)
– Nogizaka Ouki (乃木坂 王季) / Naya Rokurou (納谷 六郎)
– Shute Sutherland (シュート・サザーランド) / Majima Junji (間島 淳司)
– Shute’s father (シュート父) / Taniguchi Takashi (谷口 節)
– Maid (メイド) / Satou Rina (佐藤 利奈)
– Celebrity A (セレブA) / Akashi Kaori (明石 香織)
– Celebrity B (セレブB) / Manaka Keigo (真仲 恵吾)
– Celebrity C (セレブC) / Oda Hisafumi (小田 久史)
– Celebrity D (セレブD) / Nakata Hayato (中田 隼人)