Monday, October 11, 2010

It's A Mind Game, Right, Right? The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya Pt. 2

Credit: Nagaru Tanigawa, Noizi Ito, Kadowkawa Shoten,
& Kyoto Animation.

                                    The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya Part 2


                                                                     Jay Agan

      So what is it about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya  that's had anime fandom by the short hairs since 2006? Sure, the concept, plot, storyline, & stand alone eps are great. Animation, artwork, music (both original & use of classical), are more than well done. These, of course go a long way in ensuring the success of a show. But there's more to it than the sum of the above. I think it's the little brain whacks you're hit with from time to time. They certainly make it for me. Here's a few.

       First, there's the convoluted plot from the light novels made even more so when it was put to the screen. As a result, there are two "seasons". Certain selected story arcs were used for the first season leaving out intertwining events/episodes from other arcs thus leaving "gaps". Not that you'd notice. Second season (Of which I have every intention of getting.) includes the 14 eps of the first plus another 14 with extra material, thus most of the gaps filled. Because of this curious way of producing a program, the show can be viewed three or more(?) ways: Broadcast, "chronological", or DVD. It all makes for a seemingly well thought out tapestry where everything is connected & not as confusing as one might think.

      An interesting little order anomoly is ep 00 of season one: The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina, an amateur film made by Haruhi & the gang as a school project. It's also the "final" ep in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya story arc from the SECOND season. One wonders why this would be a first ep as the "movie" seemingly makes no sense at all. A subsequent viewing after watching the first season, has all these little details jumping out at you (Oh! Now I get it! Don't know what it is, but I get it! Huh?). It's also a great little study on how NOT to make a movie (Turn off auto focus. Have an actual script & shooting schedule. Get people who can ACT, etc.).

      The Sigh arc, by the way, shows what an inconsiderate, abusive, little jerk the title character can be, resulting in the best & worst scene in the series. Best, as Kyon is about to deck her for her abusing Mikuru (Liquoring her up to make her more compliant for the movie.). Worst as Itsuke stops him (So what if the world could end? Supreme being or not, the kid's got it coming!)

       I find the first few seconds of the first season opening credits sequence, interesting. (I understand a new one has replaced it for season two. It's nice but I really like the first.) A long shot of title character looking up longingly at the night sky. "Camera" sweeps in, accompanied by the sound of church bells & the singing of the first line to the opening number ("The answer is always in my heart."). The heavens open up, a hand reaches down. As she clasps it, the look on her face transforms from absolute, dumfounded surprise to sheer, total, joy of the moment. She's found it! Or it's found her! (Rapture believers, take note.) Amazing how the manipulation of a line or three of a subjects face can make for such a great effect.

       In ep 06/05 (Season 1/season2. I refer to the dvd order.), the Anthropic Principle is set straight. The universe is NOT the way it is because mankind sees it that way. It's as it is because Haruhi sees it as just so. Well I guess that pretty much settles that. One can rest easier in knowing. Vox Haruhi. Vox Dei.  

       The series is like one of those movies (ex. The Wrong Box) where you see something new every time you view it. There's always something going on in the fore/background, some related to not only the ep being viewed, but to later ones. Ex: In ep 07/06 we briefly see two members of the ENOZ rock band practicing under a tree, in a long shot toward the end. They don't show up again until ep 12/26, Live Alive, which has a lot of fore/background action itself.

       The anticlimatic last ep, Someday In the Rain, depicts a rather "ordinary" day for the members of the aptly named SOS brigade. Haruhi, being the user she is, & Kyon, Mikuru, & weasel Itsuke, being the "victims" they are. The only "extraordinary" thing happening is a long sequence of Yuki, "on station", seated, back to the camera, reading a book as we hear events in the school building taking place around her. We've all heard of "the banality of evil". Is this epsode an illustration of "the banality of the divine"? Haruhis' last gesture pretty much says it all. I guess the joke's on us.
       Next week: The third and last part of The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya. The head trips within  the biggest head trip of the series. "See" ya then.

Article copyright © 10-11-2010 Jay Agan

The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya Pt. 1

The Head Trip of Haruhi Suzumiya Pt. 3


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