Just another place for one anime fan to put his thoughts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya S2 -24

This was the most satisfying new episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in this second season. It's a shame that (I think) it will be the last new episode.

The abrupt (or rather complete lack of) transitions that have marked the Sighs of Suzumiya Haruhi episodes continues. We are thrown into the filming scene with nary an explanation, expected to have the ending of the last episode fresh in our minds. It's just lazy editing and directing; since the story of all 5 episodes is based off of one straightforward novel in the Haruhi series, it was as if KyoAni decided to make the whole thing, and cut it into fifths without concern for how the results might hold up when viewed episodically.

But I digress. This episode was a little different from the other ones in the arc. It succeeded because it finally presented us with a greater glimpse into the underlying scifi/fantasy setting where all this typical high school comedy is taking place. The Shimasen scene in the beginning was one of the only moments in this season that I found genuinely funny, but more than that, it gave us a segue into discovering more about the mysterious powers of Suzumiya Haruhi. As Haruhi's antics produce weirder and weirder results, the non-ordinary people around Haruhi become more and more on-edge, realizing that a cataclysmic event, like the one that happened at the end of last season, could be on the horizon. And of course they take this information to Kyon, the only one capable of influencing Haruhi. They each meet with him individually, chiding him to remember that while on the surface they lead a normal life together, there are many things happening behind the scenes to which he is oblivious. The fact that these characters are not from the same side is made clear here. Mikuru outright states that her organization disagrees with Koizumi's interpretation of Haruhi's abilities. This while Koizumi makes it very clear to Kyon that he believes that Mikuru's cutesy helplessness is all an act, designed to get her closer to Kyon. And Yuki gives Kyon a nebulous no comment, reminding him that he shouldn't trust anyone, not even her. It was during these scenes, scenes that almost seemed like callbacks to the end of the first season, when each character was having one-on-ones with Kyon to prove their extraordinariness, where the episode really shone. It was nice to be reminded that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya precisely because it's not just another regular high school comedy. The ending to the Sighs story arc was handled okay, I thought. Having read the book, I knew what to expect, but I was hoping they'd make a bigger deal about Haruhi's recording the disclaimers, maybe even show us with Kyon holding the mic to her and forcing her to read out loud what he had written, and Haruhi angrily yelling, "Isn't it obvious?!" The explanation was relegated to a couple small comments as the credits for their Mikuru film begins to roll, and we the audience finally understand why those words were in the credits in the very first episode of the first season.

Alas, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is no Arrested Development.

But I'm being nitpicky here. That said, the final bits of the episode was undoubtedly a call-back to the last episode of season 1, where we're shown Haruhi and Kyon meeting together sans the rest of the brigade for club activities. Then, Kyon's narration only hinted that he would tell her about the time travelers, aliens, and espers around her. This time, we're shown him actually trying to do it. I wasn't a fan of the scene. I do think KyoAni was being faithful to the novel, though. At this point, we'd expect that, if he really wanted to get the truth across, he would know Haruhi well enough that he'd know that just telling her wouldn't work. But maybe that's the whole point; he himself didn't want Haruhi to know, but another part of him wanted to just lay everything out on the table, so he did it in a way that both looked genuine on the outside and was destined to fail. But now I'm getting too pop-psycho-analytical.

In any case, whatever Kyon's intentions were, they weren't conveyed very well here.

Yet, I liked this episode because it gave us a reason to care about Haruhi again. With this season, starting with the OP, it was clear that KyoAni was giving us a show about a stubborn girl who got her way, and by getting her way, she would force everyone around her to have fun. That had been one of the main themes of the first season. But this season, it was as if all other ideas had been muddled and dimmed out in order to only highlight that one.

And that's how we ended up with the mess that was Endless Eight and the overlong Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya. This episode was like a glimpse into the first season, the (what I consider to be) masterpiece that made so many many of us fall in love with the series in the first place.


  1. Maybe a subtle thing, but it bumped up the episode several points in my estimation: right at the end, as Haruhi storms out of the cafe. She stops, picks up Kyon's coffee, *swallows it*, then slams down the empty cup and walks out.

    Did she do that just to cause annoyance, as an expression of her anger towards him? Well, maybe... and if you asked her I'm sure she'd claim that was her only motive. But remember the Japanese drink-sharing cultural thing, like in FLCL. This season, just like last season, is sealed with a kiss.

  2. That action did catch me as an indirect kiss, just like Haruhi had blocked Kyon and Mikuru's in a previous episode, but I didn't make the connection to the last season's ending until you mentioned it.

    It really was a fitting way to end it, once again. I just wish everything up to the ending had been as good.