Winter 2014 Harem Hill, Week 4: A lesson in how to sow your seeds

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Good news: it’s time for Harem Hill again, the only reason why anyone reads this blog! Wait a minute, that’s not good news. That’s horrible news. What have I done?

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Nourin Ep. 3

So let’s see what our plucky farmers are up to now. Kousaku returns to his room to find all of his Yukatan stuff have been thrown away. How horrible. Minori readily confesses to the deed, but wait! Don’t condemn her just yet. She did it for him. People always seem to be skeptical when I throw terms like “surrogate mother” around, but the anime can’t be any more blatant about it here: “Your mom begged me to do so. I have to take care of you for her. … That’s why I won’t allow you to go on a date with that bitch as long as I live!” Don’t forget that Minori wrote down on her career survey that she wants to be married, married, and married. And what better way to prove your worth as a future wife by also mothering the crap out of the harem lead! Boy, I’m sure Japanese girls are just lining up to play mother to their boyfriends. No wonder Japan is having so much sex right now and current dating trends look incredibly healthy. Thankfully, shows like Nourin are around to make sure boys grow up with the right set of expectations.

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Speaking of “sets,” Minori gets Ringo to cosplay as a generic female warrior in an RPG, complete with a bikini armor and everything. Why? Because the latter needs to ignore how she looks while she’s farming or something. I dunno, who can understand girls’ crazy logic. As long as they mother me, they can be as nutty and irrational as they want! Plus, Minori is also going to be wearing revealing clothing too! All’s forgiven as long as you willingly objectify yourself… in the name of motherhood, of course! Besides, if anime had simply given us an episode where the girls merely compete against each other, it would’ve been so dull. Better make sure they’re doing farm work in incredibly unsafe outfits instead just so our dicks can get hard.

The girls start off their competition with a cucumber leaf inspection race. Like seriously. No, seriously. Everyone thinks Ringo, the city girl, is going to lose horribly to Minori, especially when the former encounters caterpillars because we all know how much girls scream and squeal at the sight of creepy-crawlies. But wait! Our idol is so “perfectly pure and cultured, she doesn’t even know that insects are abominable creatures!” My God, such purity! “How innocent she is,” Kei wonders in shock. With that, the first leg ends in a draw.

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Next, our two mothers-to-be have to see who can sweep the hen house the best. Man, all this domestic training is getting me all hot and bothered. Girl, I love the way you’re working that Swiffer. Aw yeah, pour that beautiful Pine Sol. Besides, a girl ain’t worth marrying if she can’t stand the smell of chicken shit on a sweltering hot day. And according to the boys, there’s nothing worse than a swarm of cockroaches. But of course, Ringo doesn’t care; she simply does her job, and thus passes a test she had no idea she was taking. What a mother she’ll be!

Minori isn’t willing to accept defeat quite yet. Their final battleground will take place in the rice fields. For some reason, Nourin suddenly feels charitable enough to put the girls back into relatively proper attire. I guess the audience is done fapping now, so our heroines are allowed a brief reprieve. Kei, on the other hand, is in an outrageous outfit, but before anyone claims that the fanservice is thus fair and equal, c’mon… you can tell the difference between fanservice and a crude joke. Don’t play dumb. In any case, Kousaku objects to his friend’s attire because “[t]here are girls [here] too, like Ringo.” Yeah dude, gotta protect my future waifu-slash-mother from such salacious visual material! Unless she’s objectifying herself, of course. That totally doesn’t count.

Say, it has been a while since we made a total fool out of Becky. Where has that homeroom teacher been lately? Oh that’s right, she’s over there in a wedding gown!

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Ho ho ho, stupid Christmas cakes. You can smell the desperation from all the way over here. Come, let us continue laughing at the woman for being unmarried. Even better, we’ll make her act ridiculously around the students because that’s what old, unmarried woman are like. Make sure you get married young, girls. It’s just simple biology. When a woman’s ovaries are not quickly married off, they shrivel into prunes that begin to secrete pervert juice. You wouldn’t want to turn into this:

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Mother-to-be Minori springs into action to protect her precious harem lead from that “pervy MILF” despite, well, Becky not being a mother. I think the term you’re looking for here is cougar, young lady. Get your dehumanizing slang right at least! In the end, even Kousaku has to profess his gratitude. ‘Cause c’mon, he might be perverted — we might have spent half of last week’s episode on his pantsu obsession — but he’s not pathetic enough to be with a Christmas cake. A harem lead’s got to have a modicum of self-respect, y’know? Otherwise, the bitches will walk all over you.

Anyway, remember when I said the girls would get a brief reprieve from wearing ridiculous outfits in order to do farm work? My bad. This is Harem Hill, after all. It’s only natural that Minori is now wearing bloomers, a revelation that causes Kousaku’s spirit to soar high into the deep-blue sky. Even Nourin has to admit that bloomers are a bit of a cultural dinosaur, wonderfully preserved in the land of anime and nowhere else. Not to be outdone, Ringo unzips her track suit to reveal a school swimsuit. Ah, the fetishes are out in full force this week: “It’s simple and has a girly image. I don’t even know what I’m saying.”

Eventually, the rice planting competition does begin… and ends as quickly as it starts. Rather, it dissolves into a mud-wrestling contest. Of course. How else could it have ended? In the end, Minori gains a new level of respect for Ringo… ’cause nothing helps two girls bond like an entire day of fanservice and objectification. With that, I present to you guys this parting shot of Nourin which I’m sure you’ll no doubt enjoy:

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Who’s in the mood for sausages~!

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Nisekoi Ep. 3

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On the one hand, this wasn’t really Harem Hill-ish. I’m only including it here for the sake of completion. On the other hand, it’s not a great show either. Right now, it follows a very strict formula. Kosaki is the amazing ideal! She is Raku’s dream woman, but he just can’t get her because his heart isn’t prepared to confess or some inane shit like that. So every week, he’s going to agonize over how beautiful and awesome she is, and how sad it is that he can’t confess to her it’s all just an act between he and Chitoge. Then with Chitoge, we’ll have these brief glimpses of vulnerability. Yes, vulnerability is the real key here and not the physical ones you’ve been seeing throughout the series. The real question is how do you go from tsuntsun to deredere anyway?

‘Cause honestly, a tsuntsun girl by herself would just be perceived as arrogant and nobody likes an uppity bitch, am I right fellas?! Chitoge has a character arc, and that character arc will trace her descent from tsuntsun to deredere. And the magical ingredient that serves as our catalyst is vulnerability. Just take a look at every tsundere character ever made. They are never truly tsundere until they are vulnerable in some form or fashion. And this week, we learn that Chitoge has trouble making friends. Since he feels sorry for her, Raku decides to help his fake girlfriend out. Oh, how magnanimous. Oh yeah, although vulnerabilities will make a tsundere attractive to the hero of the story, what makes the hero attractive to the heroine? It’s when he’s magnanimous. He can be a total dick, like how Raku goes, “Duh, you’re still annoying, but I understand…”

Like wow, thanks for throwing me a bone, man! Sorry for being so annoying! I know it’s only been three episodes so far but hopefully I can be even more vulnerable in later episodes so you’ll actually start to see me as a love interest!

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Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga. Ep. 4

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So how’s my favorite imouto-pissing anime doing? We start off with a ridiculous juxtaposition: a montage of MItsuki’s many moments of pure humiliation set to a plaintive piano and strings soundtrack. Like, all of a sudden, the anime is feeling sorry for her. Yeah, sure. After three weeks of making the girl continually expose herself to her step-brother, now you want to sympathize with Mitsuki. No, let’s face it. The montage is just to remind the audience what they’ve been missing if they hadn’t been watching ImoCho this entire time. Tsk tsk, look at all the underaged ass you missed out on! Don’t worry, you can still buy the DVDs when they come out though.

Aunt Nanami is back, and this time, she’s infinitely less drunk than she was before. Yuuya invites her to dinner because he made too much. What a guy. In any case, Aunt Nanami’s role in this anime is so important that we don’t see her for the rest of the episode. Hell, we don’t even see her leave. Even worse, did she even check up on her own niece? Oh well. Hiyori continues to mope in her own room, but who can blame her? After all, how many times now has she been forced into an embarrassing situation just for our own amusement? Thank god Hiyori’s there to police Mitsuki’s feelings: “You’re still not over that? Just get used to it already.” Yeah girl, just get used to all the sexual assault and self-urination. You’re totally not being a cute imouto that even Confucius himself is shaking his head in shame.

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Dad finally calls to check up on his main man. No clue whether or not either he or his equally careless wife bothered to see how Mitsuki’s doing. It’s alright; we only need to ask the harem lead and his words are more than enough for both himself and his stepsister. Meanwhile, Hiyori has taken over Mitsuki’s body again, and this time, to commandeer the kitchen. You didn’t think a potential candidate for marriage would get through an entire show without cooking, did you? I’ll tell you what though… I’ve never heard anyone cook in the kitchen and giggle as much as Hiyori does. Oooh, I’m tasting the soup, tee hee. I’m cutting veggies, tee hee.

At the dining room table, Hiyori coyly confesses, “I can’t say whether it turned out all right, though.” Shit, what we were you tasting the food for, then? It turns out she’s really bad at cooking. Well, what a surprise. I think I once posted instructions on how to cook… lemme see if I can dig it up… oh yeah, here we go!

how to be a good cook

Meanwhile, our genius of a harem lead is like, “Her usual sharp attitude just disappears. It’s like she’s a different person.” You don’t say. Moving on, Hiyori announces that it’s time for “platonic mushiness,” platonic only because Mitsuki forbade her from doing anything perverted with Yuuya. So we get to see this supposed platonic ideality between siblings, and it apparently involves doing boring shit like go to the supermarket. Here, we get gems like, “Why do girls always try to get weirdly creative with everything” and, “Listen, the normal kind tastes best.” Whatever you say, generic harem lead.

But don’t worry; Yuuya’s not the only stupid person in the room. Mitsuki has her own wisdom to impart: “H-he’s smiling. Well, of course he is. He smiles like anyone else.” Whoa, people can smile? Now, if you thought a date to the supermarket was exciting, just wait until you see what our siblings have in store for us next! Rock skipping at the local creek? Man, kids nowadays are wild! Even Mitsuki is starting to get jealous: “To think I could be spending time with him like this…” Yeah, what high school girl doesn’t wish she could coo, “Onii-chan…” as her manly brother throws a rock?

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But oh man, Yuuya suddenly tells us a story about how he and Yuki used to visit a girl in their younger days, and all three of them would play with rocks. This story is so riveting already! Even better, this mysterious childhood friend used to also call him onii-chan. Could it be?! Is it…?! No, I’m too stupid, anime, Please spell it out for me. Naturally, Hiyori freaks out at this and starts embracing our harem lead. Mitsuki wants to put a stop to it, but whoops, some sort of electric barrier is preventing her from reclaiming her own damn body.

Anyway, the lesson is to never tell a ghost that you can’t reclaim your body. The selfish Hiyori doesn’t give a damn that Mitsuki is being denied her rightful corporeal existence: “Then, I should go over and have sex with my big brother right now.” Gee, I wonder why Hiyori died in the first place. She’s such a good person. In any case, the seduction of oniichan begins. A convenient storm allows Hiyori to play the helpless imouto role, whereupon she attempts to convince Yuuya into sharing a bed. Mitsuki’s protests continue to fall on deaf ears, but at least Yuuya isn’t inappropriate enough to give in entirely to Hiyori’s demands. So instead, he puts out a futon on the floor for himself to sleep on while Hiyori gets his bed.

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Still, in the dead of night, Yuuya finds himself unable to fall asleep because ohmygersh… there’s a girl in my room! He can’t help but suddenly visualize his own step-sister in the kitchen and wearing an apron of course. She suddenly turns around to caress his ears with that shrill “oniichan” that I’m sure all the guys in the audience are just dying to hear. To this, Yuuya can’t help but admit, “No! If I think about it, it’ll be even harder to sleep!” Yeah, I’m sure it will be even harder… but before he knows it, Hiyori has already slipped into his futon. Oh dear. It begins. I like to think the sudden clap of thunder is the heavens’ way of expressing its disgust at the nonsense that is unfolding beneath, but who can really say? It’s not like the heavens’ disapproval would stop Hiyori anyway. Mitsuki suddenly gets sad and thinks nobody would miss her if she became a ghost. Not even her own mother. Well, considering what we’ve learned about her mother thus far, Mitsuki’s probably right as sad as that might sound.

Meanwhile, Hiyori swears, “From now on, I’ll be your ideal little sister, oniichan.” Suddenly, Yuuya gets all after-school special on us. He tells Mitsuki — not knowing that it’s really Hiyori — that she doesn’t need to change who she is in order to fit in. The real lesson here is to be honest with yourself and your feelings. Y’know, like what Mitsuki had been doing in the first three episodes. Sure, you might come off as a moody, grouchy imouto, and anime fans might not like that, but what would you rather have instead? Would you rather just bury your intense feelings of discomfort and unhappiness deep, deep down… because you somehow think it’s more important to conform to some idea — a guy’s idea — of what an imouto should be instead? Should you sacrifice who you are for the sake of familial bliss even though nobody asked you whether or not you wanted a new family in the first place? After all, isn’t this idea of fulfilling your role as an ideal imouto just the first step in becoming the “Good wife, wise mother” archetype that is so highly-valued in Japanese culture? Why else would it be so fucking important to cook for your oniichan and go to the supermarket with him?

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Okay, so Yuuya didn’t really say all of this or even much of it, but he should’ve. Not that it would have mattered though. Yes, his words do make Hiyori unhappy enough that she willingly leaves Mitsuki’s body. And hey, this allows our poor heroine to reclaim what is rightfully hers. But like I already said, Yuuya’s words are all for naught. Out of anger, Hiyori assaults Mitsuki again after the latter kicks Yuuya out of his own room. This time, our lovable ghost proclaims, “It’s your fault, Mitsuki. Our big brother will never do anything to you with these little lumps!” Ah, these lumps. That’s really the issue.


13 Replies to “Winter 2014 Harem Hill, Week 4: A lesson in how to sow your seeds”

    1. I haven’t been giving out weekly MVPs for the worst harem though. I think ImoCho takes week 3 while Nourin brings home the award this time around.

    1. I don’t think anyone was under the impression that these would be smart shows at any point in the season. Silver Spoon is already Farmer Brown’s Guide to Basic Farming. There was no way adding an idol to the mix was going to suddenly make Nourin the one smart farming anime.

      1. If anything, I think that No-rin belongs in the same genre as say, Humanity is In Decline. Not that No-Rin is as good as Jinrui, the author is clearly far inferior (though given that this is apparently the author’s first published work, while Jinrui’s author was a highly seasoned veteran, this probably is to be expected).

        Though I don’t think the author is actually praising or advocating for the aspects of Japanese culture that you analyzed. It’s an attempt at satirizing and highlighting the absurdities of these negative aspects of Japan, from the obsession over the concept of “purity”, to the concept of the Christmas Cake. The author is giving aspects of Japanese and Otaku culture the finger with No-rin’s brand of insanity. Sadly, the show is as graceless and unsubtle as showing someone the finger.

        1. You always come here talking about the source material when I’m only looking at the adaptation by itself. If the author doesn’t actually advocate these negative aspects of Japanese culture, that’s nice but it’s ultimately irrelevant to me. It doesn’t change the fact that the anime is relentlessly shitty.

        2. I apologize if I misunderstood your arguments. You seemed to be arguing No-rin was bad because of the themes it brought out, and the fact that it seemed to be advocating and promoting these Japanese-specific themes and issues. If I am wrong about this, I’m sorry.

          When I’m referring to the source material, I’m referring to why it’s likely to have been shitty in the first place. First time authors usually lead to shitty animes – exceptions are pleasant surprises and extremely rare. That’s why I brought up the issue.

          The anime itself does not seem to be advocating these negative aspects of Japanese culture. If anything, it seems to be an attempt to satirize Japanese culture. If No-rin is bad, it’s not because of the themes it raises, but rather, the sin of being an unimaginative and unsubtle parody. An incoherent parody that is being carried out almost singlehandedly by the VAs themselves. No-rin is not so much a shitty pure harem, but a shitty attempt at social satire with a harem setting that has no ounce of subtlety to it’s name.

          1. This is the last comment I will make on this particular topic as I have no desire to get into an extended debate about Nourin. Nothing fruitful will come of it as I’m sure we’ve have never particularly agreed on anything anyway. If you remain unconvinced, so be it.

            1. I haven’t read the source material. Therefore, I do not know if it is a parody or not.

            2. Even if the source material is a parody, it does not by extension make the adaptation a parody.

            3. I do not know whether or not Silver Link intended for the adaptation to be a parody. But even if it had been their intention to create a parody, it would not matter. You can intend to do one thing and end up doing something else entirely. If you do not agree that there is such a thing as intentional fallacy, then this entire discussion is a non-starter. A countless number of people smarter than me have already written hundreds if not thousands of scholarly papers on the topic of authorial intent. I’m sure if you were curious enough about it, you could look them up.

            4. The adaptation does not resemble a parody. Where is the attempt at irony? Where is the attempt to subvert the common harem tropes? Where is the attempt to challenge the status quo? Where’s the attempt to locate the blatant hypocrisy? When does it ridicule these negative aspects of Japanese culture? For example:

            a) I see Becky’s desperation, but I do not see where the anime says it is wrong to judge unmarried women. You could, for instance, show a scene where everyone attempts to judge an unmarried man in the same way. This would be satire. Unfortunately, there is no such scene or even anything that closely resembles it.

            b) I see the guys continually insist that girls must be pure, but at what point do they face ridicule for the implied slut shaming? Where are the consequences? When do they say something so reprehensible that even slut shamers would feel bad about it? After all, this is what a satire is supposed to do. Stephen Colbert presents right-wing talking points in such an exaggerated fashion that even most right-wing proponents can’t accept them. Nothing in Nourin suggests to me that fans of harem anime will watch it and start feeling bad for how they treat women.

            I do not care if the source material is a parody or not. I look at the adaptation and I see a harem being executed with a straight face. If the source material is actually a parody and Silver Link failed, well sucks for the author but it doesn’t change the fact that the adaptation is not a parody.

  1. “Aw yeah, pour that beautiful Pine Sol.”

    This reminds me of a time we were cleaning barracks and a couple of the soldiers thought it’d be a good idea to try smelling the Pine Sol by putting their noses right at the opening of the bottle. They burned their noses.

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