Jan 21 2009

Essay: Why I Think Haruhi Matters, Part 2

haruhi_towel2To conclude the article from yesterday, I post the second part of my rant unedited. I think if I were to rewrite it I might say things a little differently, and make the argument more organized, but this still represents what I think. The only thing I might add is that there are clear hints that reinforce the idea that Mikuru is more than a pet, and that there must be some kind of family link to Kyon, thus reinforcing the parental element to it. After all, that is exactly how the original moe (as opposed to the more recent more sexualized moe) worked. Anyway, I get ahead of myself.

Original Title: Annoyance, Part 2

I had to run off to work. I just finished a big task so I’m gonna get out the last few remaining thoughts in my head. I seriously doubt anyone is gonna bother reading this, this is purely for my own edification. I ranted like this about Eva, and very few people I think agree with my interpretation of that show as well. All I can say is, I wouldn’t even THINK about having this dialogue, err, monologue about something like Kanon or any other show that I like. This is not just because I happen to like the show…

There are a few other things that help illustrate how well constructed Haruhi is as an anime series (well, it applies to the novel as well, but that review was commented at the anime, not the novel). It is in its very nature, a very clever setup for future storytelling. By implying that Haruhi is an engine to turn thought into reality, it is a perfect setup for any genre of story. From a literary point of view, this is probably just a matter of how you set up your narrative. From the anime perspective, it means you can use the mechanism to turn any subplot or story ark into a completely different visual style. From that, we get episodes like the Day of Sagittarius, or the Remote Island episodes, or the Live Alive episode or even the Someday in the Rain episode. Hence, we have an ideal pop-culture laden device for sugar coating the base philosophical theme of the work. Haruhi manages to be harem anime, high school romance, action show, psychological drama and pop culture/otaku injoke all at once.

Even from a psychological perspective, it seems like the series, by design or coincidence, has a really balanced structure for crafting an interesting narrative. The SOS-dan represents a very complete entity. I am very much compelled to make a comparison to the three computers of Nerv (Melchior, Balthasar and Casper), modeled after Dr. Akagi (Ritsuko’s mother), as scientist, woman and mother (intellect, ego and parent). In this case I would say that Yuki, as a frontend for a vast database, is the intellect, representing the collection and manipulation of knowledge. Itsuki is the human ego (as opposed to the lover, in the case of Eva). He represents the stuggle against self-doubt. His ability to actually fight the manifestations of Haruhi’s melancholy, which are literal embodiments of her dissatisfaction with reality (as witnessed by their destructive rampages), seem to point to this very strongly. Finally, the moe character, Mikuru, is the “pet,” and reflects Haruhi’s desire to play mother with a live “doll,” dressing her, doing her hair, etc. One could even go as far as to point to a Freudian tension, when Mikuru gets too close to Kyon. And of course we have Kyon, the embodiment of inner narrative and stream of consciousness. He is the perfect observer of the goings on around him, and ultimately he appears to be the key factor in the awakening of Haruhi. His lack of a name certainly reinforces this notion. The SOS-dan, in essence, consists of people who are personifications of the different parts of Haruhi’s identity.

All of this is before we say anything about good screenplay, timing, character animation or backgrounds.

I guess the whole point of this rant is that Haruhi is rich and complex enough of an anime for such an analysis. I have watched enough anime to know that most titles might have enough meat for occasional discussion, but only once in a while is there an anime gem that has enough grist for the mill of literary/cinematic criticism. I honestly think that Haruhi fits that bill.

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