Posts Tagged ‘Haruhi Suzumiya’

Happy Birthday Haruhi

October 8, 2016

HaruhiSuzumiya02According to the light novel, Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒ Suzumiya Haruhi) entered North High in April of 2003. Other sources report that her birthday was October 8th, so she presumably was 16 in 2002, and so was born in 1986. That makes her 30 years old today. She’s now an adult, middle-aged, having graduated college nine years ago, probably married Kyon, and now has a couple of kids, named Natsu and Aki. How fleeting are the days of youth.

Twelve Days of Anime 5: Revisiting Haruhi

December 18, 2015

The Suzumiya Haruhi franchise is now 12 years old, and Haruhi herself is approaching 30: an early Millennial, soon to be middle-aged. It’s one of my favorite anime, and I thought I’d revisit it as part of my 12 Days essays.

Kyon, Haruhi, Time Traveler, ESPer , Alien

Kyon, Haruhi, Time Traveler, ESPer , Alien

For those of my reader born this Century, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a 2006 two-season TV anime plus movie, based on a series of ten light novels that started publishing in 2003. Haruhi is a high school girl only interested in the exotic — aliens, ESPers, time travelers and the like. She starts a club to search for these, roping in our POV character, Kyon (his nickname, which is the name of a miniature Japanese deer), as well as … an alien, a time traveler, and an ESPer. It turns out that Haruhi is some sort of goddess unknowing, whose merest whims can turn pigeons white, cause cherry trees to blossom in January, freeze time, and threaten to destroy and rebuild the universe; or call forth aliens, ESPers, and time travelers to play with. The first half of the first season is spent learning these things. The next season-and-a-half, plus movie, is spent with the members of the club frantically trying to head off her whims and keep her distracted.

The start of the second season was interesting, because KyoAni Studio tried something different: they reran the episode about the world being caught in an endless time loop eight times in a row — the infamous Endless Eight. They didn’t skimp on the work, however, because they animated eight different episodes around the same, or nearly the same, script. It was a bold artistic experiment, that didn’t work. Most fans hated it, and ragequit both the franchise and the studio forever. Or at least until Hibiki! Euphonium came out. The reason for the time loop, BTW, was that Haruhi was having so much fun with her friends that she didn’t want Summer to end. They could have called it Endless Summer, but I think that one was already taken. It took another three years before KyoAni was ready to reboot the franchise with the movie Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Time Loop 15,876

Time Loop 15,524

Time Loop 14,782

Time Loop 15,498

Now, about Suzumiya herself. Dangerous as it is to apply Western demographic labels to the Japanese, it looks like the Millenial label — in several of its different interpretations — might fit her quite well. According to Wikipedia, two conflicting descriptions of Millenials is that they are both civic-minded and narcissistic. I think this fits Haruhi exactly.

She is as self-centered as a gyroscope, interested in things that interest her, and totally oblivious to the rest. In the making of the student movie The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina, when Asahina’s Mikuru Beam slices a lightboard in half, she gets irritated with the film club (who she stole it from) for buying such cheap stuff. Later, when the beam chops down a chain link fence, she just assumes it was badly maintained. On the civic-minded front, aside from a personal desire to meet time travelers and aliens, etc, her life goal (as we learn in the later LNs) is to become a philanthropist and make lots of money so she can give it away.

Her oblivious enthusiasm was fun at the beginning, but got old after a while, and the series was right to center on the activities of the other members of the SOS Brigade as they worked to keep her both happy and in the dark. What saves the anime from becoming boring are the soliloquies of Kyon, the self-deprecating POV character and the only normal person in the group. In fact, the whole series should have been called The Melancholy of Kyon Haruhi’s-Helper.  Kyon isn’t particularly attracted to Haruhi, he’s more interested in Mikuru’s chest, and Yuki’s intellect. He’s there probably because goddess Haruhi wants him there, and she isn’t sure herself why that is (or why she gets irritated whenever he spends time with one of the other girls).

Kyon under observation

Kyon under observation

On the one hand, it’s unfortunate that the franchise hasn’t revived, because there’s at least one more season’s worth of material in the light novels. On the other hand, it’s not all that unfortunate that the franchise hasn’t revived, because the material in the light novels isn’t that strong. It involves an anti-Haruhi storyline, where alternative versions of all our characters appear to contest the validity of Haruhi as mediator of the universe. The story arcs are interesting, but the ending is unsatisfactory.

The animation was done with KyoAni’s usual insane attention to detail. One blogger has pointed out that items, like the Tanabata bamboo, were included (unremarked) in the background of Season 1, because they’d be important in Season 2, if there was one.

Checkov's Bamboo

Checkov’s Bamboo

All in all, I consider The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to be a minor masterpiece, and I’m glad to have a chance to write about it again.

Supporting Characters in Anime

October 29, 2012

Rita Moreno, Helen Hayes, Hattie McDaniel, Elsa Lanchester, Margaret Dumont; Jack Palence, Vincent Schiavelli, Sydney Greenstreet, Thomas Mitchell, Robert Morley, C. Aubrey Smith:

Prisoner of Zenda C. Aubrey Smith counsels younger actor

Prisoner of Zenda
C. Aubrey Smith counsels younger actor

All are instantly recognizable, by name or by face, even though they were never stars. They are the superb actors who played supporting roles, secondary characters, often better than the stars they were supporting. In part it was because of their abilities. In part it was because they were playing people who were interesting characters in their own right. Those of a certain age might not remember right off hand who played “Wild Bill Hickok” in the TV series, but everyone knows that Andy Devine played his sidekick.

It’s the same in anime. While the heroes are driving their mechas, transforming into magical girls, or agonizing over confessions of love, there’s always a supporting character there, to provide key intelligence, to move the plot along, maybe just to vamp till ready. Sometimes it’s a minor part (Fujishima), and sometimes it’s a minor costar with a back-story (Asahina). Herewith, a too-short list of characters I think deserve shows of their own, the way Mary Tyler Moore spun off Rhoda.

Fujishima Maiko (Kokoro Connect):

Fujishima

Fujishima

The class representative. She’s perceptive, supportive, and manipulative. Also yuri. She wants to encourage love matches amongst the students of Class 1-3, and is willing to help others against her own interests. What is her love life like? Who else is calling her for romantic advice? What else is going on around the school that a perceptive Class Representative with police connections might be involved in? (more…)

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

October 30, 2010

Is the story about a girl who can change the world just by wishing. It has appeared in a wide range of media in a wide range of countries. So far, I have read the first three MHS light novels (the only ones out in English), watched both seasons anime, and scanned a couple of the manga. It’s a fun concept, somewhat flawed in the execution. I’d recommend it, but I’d also recommend that you not watch it in the order in which it is presented.

Introduction
Three years before the start of the series, Haruhi Suzumiya (then in middle school) realized her small personal world was not all there was, that her city was bigger, Japan was far bigger, and the world was infinitely bigger than she thought. She immediately became depressed. As Douglas Adams once said, “in a universe as big as this one, the last thing you need is a sense of perspective”. Suzumiya also, unkowingly, at that point, developed the power to change the world to be more like what she wants it to be. The key word is, ‘unknowingly’. The series tracks what happens when she gets to high school. The main POV character is a high school classmate of Suzumiya’s, nicknamed “Kyon” (we never learn his real name). Kyon, by the way, is the Japanese name for a small barking deer, which is why he keeps complaining about people using it. (more…)