After episode seven of Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu proved to be a bit of a disaster in this 'Blogger's opinion, episode eight could only really be an improvement as long as it managed to get its feet firmly back on the ground. It certainly accomplished that task, but unfortunately did so with such a high level of predictability that I had pretty much the whole episode mapped out in my head for the brief segment before the opening titles.
Perhaps it's a little harsh of me to compain about a series such as this being too obvious - After all there's only so much you can do with this kind of anime - But when you've seen exactly this sort of thing done so many times before, and so well to boot in other cases, it's tricky to get too enthused about another offering to add to that particular pile. After introducing Haruka (of course) and Shiina into Yuuto's growing harem, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Mika succumbed to his charms (and he is entirely too nice to begrudge him all that attention), and this episode is exactly where this happens, as Mika's attempt to get Yuuto to make a first move with Haruka backfiring somewhat as she 'teaches' him how to go on a date.
Despite its blatantly obvious plot points, I still have to confess that this episode was still pretty entertaining, and also managed a couple of quite funny (if also predictable) moments. If nothing else, I'll never be able to think about making pancakes in quite the same way again. Yeah right, like I ever make pancakes....
Anyway, once again this series has failed to bring anything fresh to its romantic table, but try as I might I really can't get mad at it for following such a tried and tested path for the simple reason that it does it so solidly. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu has never been a brilliant series, and the last episode was a complete abortion by any stretch, but its creation of a bunch of leading characters that I like almost all of goes some way towards dissuading my feelings of disappointment about what this series could have been.