Ξ August 15th, 2012 | → 0 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
From Little Oaks Grow Great Acorns (or Something) Dept: I’d been thinking of giving tribute to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya for awhile now, and the recent comment by cosplaycostumes sprayed a little water on the seed, resulting in this quickie-post. I was (am) assembling an epic-AMV article when I saw this following little Haruhi-clip, and its infectious humor yanked me right out of that heavy/awe-inspiring/gut-wrenching mode and made things much more… light. Which is good, at this point
Please note that it includes scenes from other anime as well as Haruhi, and depicts a fictitious scenario using the characters as players. Still good fun!
Note that the above-mentioned “Haruhiism” is quite a different matter than the phenomenon of fan-driven Haruhiism. The explosive effect that Haruhi’s popularity had on western anime culture was palpable and the U.S market has never been the same since the show aired in 2006, for better or worse (I see no negatives in it, but critically-minded fans bemoan “yet another slice-of-life moe-driven show” and so on, despite its singular and atypical story, not to mention its bringing in legions of new fans).
I suspect that it was the vehicle that exposed real anime here rather than the force-fed product delivered to western audiences with marketing and merchandising ploys like Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and the like. What had been missing here were the stories that can make you think and wonder, become involved with characters funny, flawed and complex, and created by (in this case) a studio that clearly cares for its audience. Such efforts are most gratifying to see
When I began delving into anime in Spring 2007, discussion of Haruhi’s show was what was hot at the time, nearly a year after it’d finished. Prior to this, there hadn’t been too many stories going around of a high-school girl bored with everyday life to the point of starting a club to seek out aliens, espers and time-travelers. And then somehow attracts them. Never mind the fact that she’s probably the god of this universe and doesn’t know it… Oh, but that’s sort of telling xD Suffice to say that it redefined “slice of life” and turned it on its head. Then gave it a good spanking !
The most curious (and most notorious) thing about it was its deliberately-juggled airing schedule, and the second episode ordering that results in a different twist in the ending. (A handy Wikipedia article that covers the various arrangements is here.) Without even seeing one clip of the show, this caught my interest from the get-go. Seeing a company take risky, bold and unusual moves does that for me As I came to discover when I saw Air, Kanon (2006) and Clannad, the studio responsible, Kyoto Animation, takes its work seriously with its loving attention to detail and characters, and it lavished it all on Haruhi. Here’s the credit-less Opening as an example:
Maybe it was the timing of my arrival on the anime scene, but I haven’t seen any promotional blitzes (make that blitzkriegs LOL) reach the level of “phenomenon” that Haruhi has delivered to western shores. It’s sort of the “perfect storm” for an anime; it delivers on all counts. A story that’s un-obvious ad unpredictable, quixotic characters, creative flexibility, inventiveness, and most of all FUN
How can you not like that? This Just In: Some people take anime (and Life) way too seriously. Just sayin’
But yeah… that Summer’s conventions were filled with Haruhi showings, cosplayers, panels and … dances! I think that was my first real
portent -er, exposure… to rabid anime fandom: the Haruhi dance. Let me demonstrate with the Ending of Season One:
There was to be a companion video of fans cosplaying/doing the Haruhi dance but I couldn’t find any that weren’t cringe-worthy LOL There actually are some good ones but regrettably I only have so much time to search! I think “regrettably” is the right word; some of those vids were pretty scary
Anyway, that ED got funnier and funnier the more episodes I watched and the better acquainted I became with the cast: The energetic and in-control Haruhi being herself, the taciturn and emotionless Yuki moving anything more than hand’s reach let alone cutting loose, bashful Mikuru beaming (rather an in-joke LOL), the he’ll-go-along-with-anything guy Itzuki, and poor, put-upon and ever-suffering Kyon, the narrator and holder of precarious perspective in this utterly engaging and whimsical show. But the whims, of course, are all Haruhi’s!
Kyon’s voice actor, Tomokazu Sugita (one of my handful of favorite male seiyuus), clearly communicates his bemusement, befuddlement and begrudging acceptance of How Things Are With Her Dammit, with his humorous deadpan (more likely fatigue) narration of the ongoing wrestling match with how exactly to handle Haruhi herself, as drama-free as possible. Ya really don’t want to piss off (or bore) a god…
Here’s a little clip of a funny scene wherein Haruhi gets the notion of how best to promote the Club: Bunny suits! Don’t look at me; it’s Haruhi’s idea. Don’t look at Kyon either; he’s caught in the grip of an irresistable force! So is poor Mikuru, the reluctant apprentice xD
You’d never expect that quiet, book-reading Yuki could really shred, would you? I don’t think that Kyon did either, though he’s clearly astonished at Haruhi’s balls-to-the-wall performance at the school’s festival, when she and Yuki fill in for two missing band members, not having played before. In fact, my own expectations of “oh, this can’t end well” were shattered by not only the surprising musicianship, but by the connection of “caring” I finally felt for this aggravating but spunky girl nearing the end of her series (or “at”, depending on airing order).
Check out the expressions, animation, and how the details paint what dialogue or monologue doesn’t even need to: the gradual winning over of the ambivalent crowd (and Kyon), the sweat dripping from Haruhi’s face, the self-satisfaction and happiness from this usually self-centered and dismissive girl that shines right through her shell. I really felt Haruhi’s triumph at the end, with great credit going to her seiyuu, Aya Hirano, who belted this one out of the park. A classic and iconic anime moment for sure:
Did I hear “ENCORE”? Okay, I’m nothing if not accommodating to my Visitors xD This is the full version of “God Knows” with the concert animation cleverly used for the extended time; the anime’s version was just a couple of minutes long. Some tasty additional guitarring adds spice to the mix; who KNEW that Yuki had such chops o.O
Speaking of ends, I’ll close on this upbeat video from premier AMV-maker Koopiskeva, which I left out of the post I did about his AMVs some time ago. Finally found a place for it xD
Remember to have fun and not take anime (and Life) too seriously
EDIT: Regarding that North American promotional blitzkrieg mentioned above… witness the remains of the barest essentials of the battle to extract as much merchandise as possible for the least money (this is in the long-ago days when I had any): The Limited Edition art-box set which must count as among the most generous ever what with all the Extras in each box and each DVD.
The only real artbox was this lush beauty issued with DVD #1: full-color artwork on each side, a gatefold opening with magnetized door, and drawers to hold the remaining DVDs, CDs & various merchandise. The other three boxes each held a double-DVD set , a CD from the OST, and the merchandise you see in the pic. Supposedly you can cram the 4 DVDs and most everything into the main box, but I don’t dare try to find out LOL
I CAN rest assured that the money spent went to a Very Good Cause, as Kyoto Animation has continued to produce top-quality shows which inspires other companies to emulate (and hopefully not copy) them. I’ve been very impressed with how they’ve handled their projects, from creation & animation to marketing to their various and somewhat controversial gentle psych-job devices *cough “Endless Eight” & cryptic Haruhi teasers cough*.
Finally, it’d be great if more fans went out and bought the shows they love, especially if watching for free, which is about the only way the titles can really be appraised. Nobody here will buy a series sight unseen or partially aired/streamed; that’s just crazy talk! (Although I definitely would’ve bought Fate/Zero without seeing an episode were I able to afford it’s extortionate price ) Still, streaming sites are a great way to contribute if tight on money, as the ad revenue helps support the industry. Nothing wrong with fair compensation