What’s the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child?" The equivalent saying here would be "It takes a SOS brigade to keep Haruhi’s head on straight," or more aptly, "It takes one jealous Kyon to nearly end the whole world." Haruhi’s one of those people if you give an inch, she’ll take a mile. So it should be no surprise for any of the SOS-brigade members (or us, the viewers), if Haruhi takes her eccentricity and megalomaniacal behavior to the limits if no one bothers to stop her, much less empower her. I’ve noticed a lot of anger towards Haruhi on blog posts, on forums, but I think a lot of that anger’s misplaced. I’m not going to deny that this episode featured Haruhi at her petulant worst, but it also featured Kyon and the SOS brigade (sans Koizumi who shines) at their worst as well… since E8 at least.
Is Haruhi crazy for wanting to scale the fence to get into a pond that’s been cordoned off to get film a scene for her movie? Nah. Kyon needs to stop throwing a mental fit over every little thing. A trespassing sign or a fence has never been much of a deterrent for curious people. My question is what is Nagato doing opening the fence for everyone to get through? Haruhi’s shown time and time again when the group is adamant one way or the other, she’ll be flexible and listen to them. Maybe not willingly or happily, but eventually she’ll acquiesce. So why is it that Nagato is merely an observer for over 15,000 iterations of Endless Eight, where she doesn’t bother saying a fricking word, but here she actually goes out of her way to enable Haruhi’s eccentricity? Did she want to get that hot biting scene in?
In this scene, Kyon throws a mental barb at Haruhi for giving Mikuru another contact, but did it occur to any of SOS brigade members to tell Haruhi to not go with contacts in the future? I mean, a simple explanation could’ve sufficed. As Nagato’s impromptu wrestling routine shows, Haruhi’s willing to change directions if the SOS brigade members are fervent about it.
Similarly, there seems to be a lot of anger at Haruhi for throwing Mikuru into the pond. But here again, Mikuru willingly accepts it. There was a prime opportunity to object, but she doesn’t. If she’s willing to do it, and nobody’s going to make a huge fuss about it, why not? I’ve lived near a pond, and I’ve helped toss some friends in, and we weren’t even filming a movie. What’s a little mayhem amongst friends? I think this scene seems worse than it actually is, because Mikuru’s hiding behind Kyon, shivering like a retarded puppy, while Kyon stands there with an angry look on his face. Haruhi suggested it, but in her eyes, this makes perfect sense because it’s part of the movie. The SOS brigade allows this to happen, meanwhile Kyon gets angry at Haruhi for suggesting the idea. Where’s the anger at himself and the rest of SOS brigade for not saying anything? This reticence is especially prominent to me after the failures in E8. Where should the anger be directed? Does all the anger deserve to be directed at Haruhi for being Haruhi, or should some be reserved for Kyon & co., for letting her be Haruhi? A more equitable split seems warranted.
We now go to the next scene, where a sauced up Mikuru and Koizumi are about to engage in a kiss until Kyon stops them in a jealous rage. Ok, let’s step back here. Now, personally, I don’t think spiking a friend’s drink with a little bit of alcohol is much worse than say, spiking a friend’s drink with a bottle of laxatives. But disregard that for a second and let’s think about what happened here.
Haruhi suggests to Tsuruya to add a little alcohol to Mikuru’s drink to loosen her up for the big romance scene. An outrageous ask? Perhaps. But it’s in line with Haruhi’s character, and based on Mikuru’s inability to blurt out a sentence without stuttering, a pretty logical suggestion.
But what happens next? Tsuru-chan’s the one who actually adds the alcohol in Mikuru’s drink. Kyon’s furious at Haruhi. The audience is furious at Haruhi. But why does Tsuru-chan skate by? Where’s her common sense?
Haruhi meanwhile tries to encourage Mikuru by bopping her on the head. Again here, I think KyoAni does a good job of manipulating the audience, with the BGM, scene direction, Kyon’s angry face and Mikuru’s patheticness. Because Haruhi isn’t hitting Mikuru maliciously. She’s not beating the crap out of her. She’s bopping her lightly, and the tone of her voice is more encouraging than angry or forceful. However, Kyon snaps at this and actually raises a fist at Haruhi. Seriously? Kyon spends 10,000 years being a spineless coward, unable to say the right words or mount even the most basic of counterarguments, and he goes from internal monologue angry to slap city? That’s how psycho killers start. Thank goodness for Koizumi, who’s awesome level continues to rise and rise. I need to see serious Koizumi more often.
Haruhi then in a fit of anger and shock says some things that I think everyone can agree is pretty obnoxious. And whether or not that’s really what she believes, I’d take Haruhi’s words with a grain of salt. People say things they don’t necessarily mean in the heat of the moment. If the worst thing I’d ever said during an argument was, "NO INSUBORDINATION" or "MIKURU IS MY TOY," I’d consider myself a saint.
I’m not absolving Haruhi of all wrong, although I know it sounds that way. I’m just trying to present an alternative perspective. Think about it as Haruhi:
- You want to film a movie. Everyone’s cool with it. Kyon bitches about how the movie doesn’t make sense, but he bitches about everything, and isn’t offering any good suggestions of his own. Besides, everyone else seems to be fine with it.
- You want Mikuru to be the star wearing skimpy clothes. Everyone except Mikuru’s cool with it, but Mikuru’s a wet blanket and the butt of all jokes, besides she agrees anyway.
- You want Mikuru to wear contact lenses. Everyone’s cool with it. You have no idea that she can suddenly shoot laser beams out of her eyes. Kyon’s giving you a dirty look, why?
- You want to film a scene at a gated-off area and you want everyone to climb the fence. Instead Nagato opens the fence for you. Hurray!
- You want to throw Mikuru into the lake. Taniguchi says something, but he’s a clown and not even Kyon listens to him, so why would you? Mikuru agrees. No one objects. She gets thrown in.
- You want to sauce up Mikuru, because you know she’s too stiff to pull off the romance scene. You suggest it to Tsuru-chan. She wholeheartedly agrees and goes and does it.
- You want Koizumi and Mikuru to do the kiss scene, because it is the big romantic moment. Nobody objects. Until the last moment when Kyon does and then Koizumi concurs. So you relent and lose the scene.
- You head over to Mikuru, because you can’t believe how drunk she got off so little alcohol. You lightly bop her on the head three times.
- Your pal Kyon then flips out and raises his fist to hit you. WTF?
Maybe it’s just me (and Haruhi), but I think I’d be shocked and offended by Kyon’s random temper tantrum and threat of violence. It amuses me there’s so much hatred directed at Haruhi over her “abuse’ of Mikuru. To be honest, I think the faux-raep scene with the computer society in season 1 was much more heinous, and I don’t recall ever seeing an uproar about that.
I really liked the subsequent scenes between Kyon and Koizumi and Kyon and Taniguchi. With Koizumi, because the talk about how Haruhi thought she could always count on Kyon’s support no matter what, peels away at Haruhi’s character. Behind her always confident facade is someone who needs the comfort of a safety net backing her up. It’s telling how the next day Haruhi is depressed, not angry.
I liked the scene with with Taniguchi, because Kyon finally realizes he’d just become a useless naysayer. At least Haruhi was trying to do something productive, something she believed in. I also really liked how Tomokazu enunciated his "kusos" as he walked to see Haruhi. Great stuff.
And of course, I loved the ponytail scene because a.) it’s a rare sighting of her deredere side (I think back to how she wore a ponytail to school the day after the kiss, and how she decided not to give Mikuru a ponytail in The Boredom of…) and b.) it shows she cares and isn’t completely off in a world of her own.
The last scene was just pretty funny. This is the power of a happy Haruhi. She can make cherry blossoms bloom and turn fall to spring. I laughed out loud at the "perfectly timed irregular climate change." Koizumi’s reaction was priceless as well. I imagine if closed-space had been created, the monsters would’ve been dancing and pooping unicorns.
All in all, even though I think a lot of the hate and anger towards Haruhi is misplaced, this was one of the stronger episodes of the season (hard to rank them with 8 of the episodes being throwaways). I’m looking forward to the Shamisen episode, which hopefully will provide some good laughs as the probable final new episode of the season.