Suzumiya Haruhi no Kodai

The-Melancholy-Of-Haruhi-SuzumiyaWhen Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (aka: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) came out, my eye was caught by all of the buzz it was generating. For those who don’t know, the story is of one Suzumiya Haruhi (or in the superior western style, Haruhi Suzumiya) — a female high school student who’s bored to death and believes that there is much more interesting things in the world like aliens, time travelers, and those with psychic abilities. When transfer student Kyon joins her class, she founds the SOS-dan (club) and manages to get him and three others to join with the purpose of investigating the possibilities of these very interesting things. I watched the “first” TV episode and found it to be just smegging awful.

“Oh, but it is supposed to be awful, ANB,” the fans proclaimed. “Keep watching and you will see the brilliance of the show.”

Well, I had other things I watch and so I waited for the entire series to makes its run before watching. As I did, I noted that the show was being aired out of order in Japan. That didn’t make much sense to me, but fans were eating it like candy! So I decided to investigate.

The anime is based on a series of light novels and short story collections by Tanigawa Nagaru-sensei, with the first and second novels and several short stories used in the anime’s creation. The first novel, also named Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, covered TV episodes 1, 2, 4, 9, 12, & 13. The 2nd novel, Suzumiya Haruhi no Tameiki (aka: The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya) covered episode 00 (and possibly episode 11 but I can’t confirm that yet). The remaining episodes seem to be pulled from the short stories (which collections, I’m unsure of).

As I continued to investigate, I saw that for reasons of having a powerful ending, the anime production team would want to use the ending of the first novel as the ending of the anime. However, rather than construct the story in a fashion to provide this outcome, the production team decided that they would write the story in a proper chronological order, but would then air the episodes out of order. So some “filler” episodes would reference events that had happened but for which the audience had not seen because they were now going to be used at the end of the series. Further, one episode might take place in winter, then the next in the summer before going to spring, then fall (as an example and not necessarily a literal happenstance in the anime). The thing that really caught my attention was the 2-part mystery parody the series (in apparent Detective Conan style). “Remote Island Syndrome Part 1” was aired, then the 2nd part of the series didn’t air the following week. Instead the filler episode (which in chronological order is actually the final episode) “Someday in the Rain” was shown and THEN part 2 of “Remote Island Syndrome” was shown. What the…?!

It was then that I began to see that what we had here was a brilliant marketing ploy on the part of the Japanese (though on paper, I would never have believed this would have worked) to boost ratings and create hype for this series. Clearly it worked based on the orgasms being had by fans in the U.S. watching the fansubs of the series. I loathe gimmicks with a passion and at that point, I decided that I would watch the episodes in chronological order.

The series itself wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. I liked the concept of the show and am interested in checking out the light novels and short stories at some point. I gave it a “Rent” in my final review at C.A.R. mainly because I didn’t really like Haruhi. Her bullying of the timid Mikuru-chan just really annoyed me to no end. I wanted to reach in and slap the crap out of Haruhi, who is basically a spoiled, selfish brat with little redeeming qualities.

Well, because I refused to buy into the gimmick and hype of the series, I am in a minority among those who’ve seen the show and find it the most brilliant thing to hit anime ever. I received more than one attack for my opinions because “you didn’t watch this in the TV order, therefore you didn’t get the full experience of the show, which is needed to see the genius of it.”

Hmmmm…how is splitting a 2-part summer mystery parody with some filler episode (set in the winter and chronologically at the end of the series) where nothing happens (beyond Haruhi sending Kyon on an errand so she can bully Mikuru-chan without interference) brilliant? If showing anime episodes in a non-chronological way is so awesome, why don’t we do it with more shows? If this is so brilliant, why don’t we re-publish the novels so that the first novel can be mixed in with events that take place after the first novel’s conclusion? And finally, why did the Japanese DVD release put the episodes in chronological order, save for episode 00 (the amateur movie)?

What prompted me to write this blog entry was the fact that the Japanese copyright holder, Kadokawa, has the R1 license for the series through their U.S. branch and has contracted the translation/marketing/distribution/etc. work to Bandai for release in R1. So the fans are excited and I understand that. What I don’t understand is the folks who swear they won’t buy the title if the R1 DVD release is done like the Japanese DVD release, meaning in chronological order. Again, they cite the brilliance of the TV airing order and basically say that the show sucks if seen in chronological order.

So, that means that what we have here, based on these fans own statements (though to be fair, I don’t think realize this is what they are actually saying), is a show that is OK on its own, but needs the gimmick of being seen out of chronological order to make it great. In other words, style trumps substance. Game over.

I’m not telling anime fans who never saw the fansubs to not check out the R1 DVD release from Bandai (regardless of how they decide to release it). You can watch it and make up your own mind. I am telling you to beware of the hype. It is an enjoyable anime, but it isn’t the best thing since sliced bread.

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5 Responses to “Suzumiya Haruhi no Kodai”

  1. Marc says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ein says:

    Hah! Maybe I should try watching Tenchi OVA 3 out of order if thats what it takes… I liked the show, honestly, though I agree, Haruhi needed to be strangled till she stopped moving. But the rest of the cast was great, and the animation quality was probably some of the best I’ve ever seen in anything at certain points. Though at others it was absolute garbage… It was a show with a lot of ups and downs, that made little sense, had a terrible… I dunno… Is Haruhi the Main character? It’s implied by the title, but I’d say the story is more about Kyon than Haruhi. It’s mainly from his perspective at the very least.

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I think some people would think that OAV 3 being played out of order would make it better. *lol*

    As for Haruhi being the main character, well if she’s not the main character, she’s the face of the series for sure. ^_^

  4. Peter Decker says:

    I wonder why there was no outcry in Japan for the series being released in chrono order for the DVD.

  5. […] first proper blog post was a rant against the hype of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I immediately followed that up with a rant about what America had done with the awesome Japanese […]

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