Haruhi Suzumiya, Season 2 – Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, Part 1 and Time Travel

I figured I’d try something different with my episodic write-ups on the new season of Haruhi (or at least I’m going to try. This post took me forever to write.) Less focus on standard summary and impression, more focus on a tangential issue that piqued my interest. Haruhi’s one of the few shows that has enough depth beyond what’s happening on-screen to capture my attention and warrant some extra thinking (I’ve no intentions to wax poetic about K-ON! for example).

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Does Kyon look younger? Haruhi-chan art influence, perhaps?

In this episode, there was something about the whole idea of past-Kyon sleeping in the room next to Nagato when current-Kyon is meeting her for the first time that makes my head twist and turn. It’s interesting because a.) time travel is inherently interesting and b.) I think about some of the little hints that were present in the first novel and series (for example when one of Haruhi’s first questions for Kyon is “have we met?”, referencing the Tanabata event) and wonder if they were intentionally placed with future stories in mind (in which case I marvel at Nagaru Tanigawa’s foresight).

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I wish I knew a girl like Haruhi when I was in 6th grade. I think.

So let’s think about this for a second.

  • Kyon meets Nagato in her apartment for the first time around April 2009 (I’m just going to say 2009 for clarity’s sake), according to the Baka-Tsuki timeline (spoiler free).
  • Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody happened in July 7, 2009 (which is after the closed world kiss, BTW). Kyon goes back in time to July 7, 2006 (Tanabata) and meets chibi Haruhi for the first time.
  • He and Mikuru then meet Nagato that same day and theoretically are put to sleep all the way until July 7, 2009.
  • Nagato notes that Kyon and Mikuru both disappeared from the world for 2 hours on July 7, 2009 while they were time traveling.
  • Kyon then returns with memories of both Kyon’s intact.

So how does that look? Something like this:

suzumiya-timeline

(note: If I would’ve known how long it’d take to make a decent looking timeline I wouldn’t have bothered. First I tried Photoshop. Then I tried Excel. Finally, I ended up using PowerPoint. Now I’ve forgotten the whole point of this post. Forgive my subsequent rambling.)

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Dang, Mikuru is cute

Kyon recalls that Mikuru said that there’s no continuity between the past and the future. This explains how there could be two separate Kyons at the exact same time. But what’s going on in that 2 hour gap when both are missing? If time is not continuous as Mikuru says, how do the memories of both Kyons sync up to become the new Kyon? If “time-traveling” Kyon overwrites “current” Kyon’s existence, shouldn’t the memories of  “current” Kyon get erased by “time-traveling” Kyon? Or vice versa. But the memories of both Kyons have somehow become synchronized.

Similarly, if you’re to think about Mikuru, you’d realize that there’s 3 versions of her at certain points: “current” Mikuru, “future” Mikuru and “sleeping beauty” Mikuru. But again with Mikuru, at some point the memories of “current” Mikuru and “sleeping beauty” Mikuru coalesce to become “post-sleeping-beauty-current” Mikuru. Follow that?

The episode easily addresses the Nagato memory synchronization problem by giving “past” Nagato and “current” Nagato the ability to synchronize with each other to ensure that each of them has the same exact memory, but that’s not as easily explained with Kyon and Mikuru. Considering that there’s some type of memory synchronization happening for all time travelers, I’m inclined to think that Mikuru’s theory is incorrect, and time is indeed more continuous than disjointed as Kyon points out. (Does this make sense?)

Considering the complete illogicality of time travel and Tanigawa’s purposeful skipping of details, I don’t know if there’s a real answer to this. But I wonder…

10 Replies to “Haruhi Suzumiya, Season 2 – Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, Part 1 and Time Travel”

  1. Er, what? No “memory synchronization” is necessary since the Kyon and Mikuru that traveled to the past already lived the period between July 2006 and July 2009. They are not other people, they are the same people!
    I also don’t remember this “disappeared from the world” thing. You are probably thinking about the Closed Space incident when Kyon and HARUHI went missing from the world for a couple of hours.

    1. Hmm, I just read the book so maybe I’m mixing the two up, but I could’ve sworn Nagato said that the two disappeared for a while.
      But if they’re the same people, that would mean that a separate version of Kyon (current Kyon) split off and lived through the April-June period, because that Kyon had no memory of the Tanabata event when it happened originally.

  2. I think you’re right about something.

    Kyon left with Mikuru at 7:30 (or so) to 3 years ago, and they returned at 9:30.

    So, yes, there was a period when Kyon and Mikuru were missing (they were in the past). But there’s nothing to be shocked about. It was simply the king being put in Koizumi’s shirt pocket.

    In other words, they disappeared from this timeplane. But they reappeared 3 years ago. Which means that for these three years (until 2 hours ago), there were TWO instances of Kyon (and of Mikuru): One was frozen in Nagato’s guests room.

    The moment when Kyon and Mikuru traveled to the past, only ONE instance of them was present.

    Kyon and Mikuru don’t need to synchronize, as the frozen versions of them are the “latest” ones. As for time being continuous at some point, you’d need to read the entire “The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi” novel to understand the concept of time iterations.

    As Mikuru had mentioned earlier, time has more than one dimension. This correctly explains whatever problems may arise with people traveling back in time (they just add one iteration of time that overlaps the previous). It also explains the concept of time loops presented in *classified information*.

    What I’ve found personally is that the theory explained in “Back to the Future” (creating a second timeline with a time change) fits along with the Haruhi novels quite well. I guess this is what Mikuru describes as a “time quake”.

    Hey, maybe just as light is both wave and particle, time is both discrete and continuous 🙂

    1. Great explanation Rick. I’ve read the Disappearance of… but it’s been a while. I may have to go back and do another read through.

      I keep thinking about Mikuru’s analogy of time being a flip book, and you being able to place an image on one frame, without it messing with any of the other frames. But I’ve been struggling to make that analogy fit here. Because like Kyon’s actions affect Haruhi’s decision to go to North High, but have no bearing on Kyon between June 7, 2006 to June 7, 2009, after which Kyon gains the memory after being “unfrozen.” So it’s like changing page 1 doesn’t impact the picture on pages 2-11, but does start impacting the picture after page 12.

      So I guess what’s throwing me off is, I’ve been thinking that all different dimensions exist for the same time span. So, for example, each dimension starts and ends at the same exact time.

      But based on your example, and what happens in Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, it seems like different dimensions can cover different spans of time. So the “unfrozen” version of Kyon lives in a dimension that spans from 3 years ago, to no later than June 7, after which the “frozen” version becomes the dominant timeline.

      Suddenly it starts making sense. I think.

      Did I just talk in circles? 😀

  3. Yup, you’re right. Let’s think about this for a second:

    Let’s suppose that in a previous iteration of time, Haruhi joined North High just because going to another school would be BORING. Later Kyon goes back in time, and becomes John Smith. When he wakes up three years later, he wakes up in a dimension in which John Smith becomes relevant for Haruhi. A time quake changes the flow of time so that the supposed time frames in the flip book are not the ones being actually linked. So the links change frame from frame, like a domino effect. This is like the turtle being dropped down in the river in book 7. The ripples are time switching frames. That’s the time quake.

    However, this does not explain why Haruhi thinks she met kyon earlier. Perhaps Kyon’s memories also got affected with the time traveling, and he now remembers Haruhi asking him that. Of course, this could be just a misunderstanding and she THOUGHT she recognized Kyon from somewhere else.

    Maybe Haruhi DREAMED that she met him before? Hey maybe time loops or events in different dimensions have the manifestations of deja-vus?

    Anyway. Kyon wakes up in a world where Nagato fought Asakura knowing that Kyon would survive. Otherwise he hadn’t met her three years ago.

    This is better explained in tvtropes dot org, in the trope called “stable time loop”.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StableTimeLoop

    I’ll quote.

    — snip —

    “Don’t do anything that affects anything, unless it turns out you were supposed to do it, in which case, for the love of God, don’t not do it.”
    — Professor Farnsworth, Futurama, “Roswell That Ends Well”

    Through Applied Phlebotinum, Functional Magic, or some other means, our heroes travel back to the past. In the past, they wind up being responsible for the very events that underpin their own “present.” This creates a chicken-and-egg scenario, in which the looping sequence of events has no clear beginning. The result of breaking the law zero of time travel: do not cause the event you went back to prevent.

    This is sometimes referred to a “time loop” paradox, particularly when a character, object, or piece of information was never originally created, but exists solely because of its own existence. Also known as a “bootstrap paradox,” from the classic Heinlein short story, By His Bootstraps. It’s also called an “ontological paradox” on that other Wiki.

    Tricked Out Time is when you “change” the past on purpose to resemble this.

    Contrast Temporal Paradox. Compare You Cant Fight Fate, Wayback Trip, Timey Wimey Ball.
    — /snip —

    What Kyon asked while playing chess was the bootstrap paradox. An event that exists solely because of its own existence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_paradox
    And the paradox in here, being “John Smith”.

    The solution to the bootstrap paradox (explained above) took elements from the light novels, where iterations of time exist. Pay attention to Koizumi explaining things to Kyon while drawing an infinity sign.

    I also wrote a fan fiction based on the concept of time iterations, using time traveling letters: The Love Affair of Nagato Yuki. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4988226/1/The_Love_Affair_of_Nagato_Yuki

    For this fanfic, I also grabbed concepts from the movie “Frequency” (2000) with Dennis Quaid. Here the concept of time being continuous between two time frames is explored much more thoroughly.

    I *THINK* that the following theories apply to Haruhi:

    * Back to the Future (alternate timelines. Remember when Biff traveled back in time and changed Marty’s present?)
    * Time loops
    * Frequency (about time frames being connected by two means other than the normal flow of time)
    * Deja vu (A deja vu was a glitch in the matrix, I mean… a different iteration of time – this is explored in Endless Eight from “The Boredom of Suzumiya Haruhi”.

    Basically, if I understand correctly, EVERY SINGLE CHANGE you make in the past becomes a new iteration of time… I think.

    Anyway, please write to my e-mail if you want to discuss this further.

    1. lol, I think I need a brand new diagram.

      But great stuff man. Bravo.

      You went right to where I was thinking – the discrepancy between Haruhi’s memory of John Smith, and Kyon’s non memory when they first met. It could be that Haruhi dreamed meeting him, but maybe it’s that it occurred in her primary reality, but didn’t trigger in Kyon’s primary reality uet. I wonder, since Haruhi is God, maybe she’s the one person – the only person – who always exists in the “primary reality” and all other dimensional iterations happen around her. So things that Kyon did in the past that haven’t triggered yet, are hidden to “current” Kyon until the proper trigger, but present to Haruhi at all times. This would then give credence to Koizumi’s theory that the world revolves around Haruhi.

      I wonder if that holds weight.

      The one example I’m thinking where it might not, is her memories of the closed-space experience with Kyon. But then again, her memory isn’t gone, it just reached a level of unbelievability and her common sensical side took over and rationalized it (just a bad dream). So maybe it does work.

      Actually, it just occurred to me, is Tanabata ’06 the event that Koizumi refers to when he says the world is only 3 years old, and Nagato refers to the massive data explosion?

  4. I ended up using PowerPoint. Now I’ve forgotten the whole point of this post.

    While I really have nothing to add to your post, just wanted to say I liked the pun (even if it wasn’t intentional =3… or was it?). Also pretty interesting was you point of the whole “Have we met?” part. I love it when they give tiny hints that don’t seem important, but make too much sense once you re-watch the series 8)

    and man, I really need to start on the novel!

    Jesus159159159’s last blog post..Site Update: Fan Sketches

    1. Dood, you’re missing out! 8) The anime actually did a great adaptation, but the novel’s fantastic and a real quick read.

      lol, no pun intended.

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