The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, part 1 – What to do? What to do?

Haruhi prepares to spill tea on Kyon
Haruhi looking for trouble

There was a time where I wanted to put some special effort into my Haruhi posts – I thought that highly of the show – then Endless Eight hit, and now I have no clue what I’m doing.

For better or for worse, the Haruhi watching experience has never been normal. From the initial Adventures of Mikuru Asahina episode, to the strange ordering of episodes to the three years of Kadokawa/KyoAni trolling to the most recent Endless Eight troll, watching Haruhi has always been a strange experience. And maybe it’s been that off-kilterness that’s raised our expectations for this show. But Kadokawa and KyoAni’s previously endearing quirkiness had become a full fledged calamity by the time E8 ended. There’s a fine line between eccentric and repulsive, and K&K crossed that line with their years of false starts. And like a drug addict who’s lost control, they continue to keep getting further and further off-course. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya wasn’t a huge hit just because its episodes were broadcasted in a weird manner. It was a huge hit, because it has a cast of interesting characters with great chemistry, great designs and animation, and an interesting story that effortlessly weaved in the mundane with the profound, supernatural and remarkable. This is why I enjoyed the show, and this is why I’ve enjoyed every one of Nagaru Tanigawa’s novels.

So now we’re back with the Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. A somewhat ironic choice, since unlike E8, we know exactly how the Sigh turns out in advance. And admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was glad to hear the familiar background music, and to see the tit-for-tat back and forth between Kyon and Haruhi again. Similar to E8, we see how Haruhi can turn a rather ordinary event (although based on everything I’ve seen in anime, cultural fairs sure seem like a lot of fun!) into something totally outrageous.

The episode had a similar Haruhi feel, and there were some great moments as well (Haruhi pretending to be a clumsy maid, Kyon being assigned to be Haruhi’s assistant), but something felt off. And I don’t want to make this another post about E8, but it’s hard to watch the rest of this season without associating it with E8. And the worst thing that E8 did was it broke the "magic" that Haruhi carried. Before, the first thing I did when I came home was watch Haruhi. New Haruhi was "Haruhi!" An event! But E8 got me into the routine of expecting the expected. And then I did the unthinkable – started skipping huge chunks of episodes. And the magic began unraveling. Suddenly new Haruhi episodes were just "Haruhi" not "Haruhi!" It was no longer the first thing I watched when I came home (in fact I watched the latest episodes of Spice and Wolf, Sora no Manimani and Umineko before getting to Haruhi).

You could argue that Haruhi is still Haruhi, and you’d be right. The first episode of "The Sigh of…" was pretty good. But I’d argue what made Haruhi really Haruhi was the "magic." It’s what separates a very good show from a cultural phenomenon. Can Haruhi recapture that magic? I think so – although I don’t think "The Sigh of…" is the right arc to do that – but it starts with KyoAni and Kadokawa getting back to focusing on what makes Haruhi special – the story and characters – and not gimmicky shenanigans.

Anyway, now that I got all of the above out of my system, I promise to talk more about the actual episode in future write-ups. I’m still trying to figure out my way in this post E8 blogpocalypse.

5 Replies to “The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, part 1 – What to do? What to do?”

  1. I guess the problem with the “magic” is that, at least from a critical perspective, it can help prevent judging a show on its own merits rather than by the reputation or goodwill it built up. The same, of course, can be true in reverse–the rage and disappointment over Endless Eight may have helped prevent people from seeing the good stuff that was in the arc (albeit only accessible by skipping all but 3 episodes like I did!), and to realize that it was still within the Haruhi tradition, as it were. But I hope KyoAni learns that goodwill and “magic” are actually really important when dealing with fans and that it’s something that can be squandered. Not even Haruhi is indestructible or untouchable.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Want to collect our voices for your cell? =-.

    1. Ha! Only three episodes of E8 would’ve kept the Haruhi bandwagon’s wheels greased and rolling. 😀

      KyoAni/Kadokawa created a monster, and now they’ll either live or die by it. Like you mentioned, the more intense the fans, the more extreme their opinions will be (for better or for worse). And I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with an angry mob.

  2. “It was a huge hit, because it has a cast of interesting characters with great chemistry, great designs and animation, and an interesting story that effortlessly weaved in the mundane with the profound, supernatural and remarkable. This is why I enjoyed the show, and this is why I’ve enjoyed every one of Nagaru Tanigawa’s novels.”

    Very true. K&K doesn’t realized that the story is about the stroy, not the gimicks. We love Haruhi for Haruhi, not because she makes weird stuff happen, but because we understand her.

    The sad part is you can see by the lowered post count how many people have completely lost interest in the anime. :-((

    Quite sad.

  3. I think a lot of people forget the show was originally shown out of order. That was a pretty dramatic and risky step. For me personally, and I think for a LOT of people, we didn’t get into the show until all the episodes had aired and we could watch them in proper order, so the impact was lost on a lot of people. I think if the show had aired in proper order, then they did a “Season 2” completely out of order, people would be reacting the same way as they did with Endless Eight. I think new fans who get into the show after all of S2 airs will know to skip most of the EE episodes, the same way we all knew to watch the show in order. This “trolling” everyone likes to say they did, really isn’t trolling since they have been pulling these kinds of things since the show first aired. To KyoAni it is just part of the show.

    They want you to “blame” the character of Haruhi since they give her a spot in the credits. They try to blur the lines between the show and reality. Some might say they failed with Endless Eight.

    It was a risk, some say it failed, but over time it might show to be a success.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Must Watch Anime: K-On! =-.

    1. I think new fans who get into the show after all of S2 airs will know to skip most of the EE episodes, the same way we all knew to watch the show in order.

      I think if E8 is something that’s to be skipped, that in itself is a failure. Especially considering it takes up more than half the season. Whereas, I personally like the out-of-order season 1 airing and usually watch it that way. But like you mentioned, you can just as well watch it in order. Either way, there’s nothing gained or lost, it’s just a personal preference, whereas E8 being relegated as a throwaway is tremendously disappointing.

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