12/19/2007

Twelve Moments of Anime 2007 - #7: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 4

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The "12 Days of Christmas" series is a joint feature by some members of the Anime Blogging Collective recognizing twelve moments, twelve series, or just twelve things about anime that we've enjoyed over the past year, that really make us enjoy loving what we do, and that is being an anime fan. Feel free to join in the list-making fun too if you wish. We hope you enjoy this feature.

Some things just can't be denied in this world.

No matter how much of a soft-hearted, romance-loving, magical-girl-watching anime viewer I become, there are some things that just work every time with me, that just resonate strongly as a Great Moment.

It's like sports to the average male. I don't claim to watch football or baseball passionately, or even on a weekly basis, but when it's bases-loaded with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, the raw energy that such a moment can emit can be felt and enjoyed by just about any person.

Such is the case with a well-done fight scene in anime. Conflict is a key part to any show - whether action or romance, it be physical or emotional conflict - and when that conflict builds to a head, that's when the real exciting stuff happens.

Physical conflict between characters is tough to do right. There's a fine line of disbelief not to be crossed. But when a fight is made correctly - replete with exciting animation and high-energy - soundtrack, it's something to be seen, even for the most avid harem lover like me.

And so enters another reason for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 4 (chronological) to become legendary.


12 Moments of Anime 2007
#7 - The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 4 (10)
"The Literal Definition of Hax"

The Overratedness of Haruhi Suzumiya? Quite likely.

Make no misinterpretation of it, SHnY was definitely one of my most enjoyed anime this year, and I am nothing short of melting into a puddle over the second season announcement, but the way a lot of the community speaking, you'd think Haruhi was God herself or something.

Wait, I see what you did there.

But really, there reaches a point of stardom for a show that it becomes nearly impossible for it to live up to its reputation. For some it may be the epitome of all that is good and right in the anime world, but for the rest of us with less tinted glasses, SHnY will have to settle for being very good.

It's not a life-changing anime.
It's not a seat-of-your-pants thriller anime.
It's not any one thing.

And that's the strength of it. It has the moe, has the romance, has the action, has the existential technobabble, and it all. It may be the jack of all trades but the master of none, but somehow that doesn't seem so bad.

It doesn't really come across as spreading itself very thin; with a few exceptions, pretty much element you could look for gets a bit of attention.

The show treads the ever-important shipper line masterfully, throwing each female lead a piece of bait and letting the viewers decide for themselves who Kyon tilts toward; since, if Shuffle! has proven anything, it's that the wrong choice can be very controversial. And so, in SHnY, there really is none.

The technospeak can be glazed over or drooled over as well; those who can actually figure out what the hell Fabulous Esper Itsuki is going on about will love his ranting speeches, will love the paradoxes presented by the concept of time traveling, of having done something, yet having not actually done it, yet being forced to do it in the future in order to preserve the continuum.

And those who can't handle all this can sympathize with the main character Kyon, who's equally clueless in these situations. And there's always adult Mikuru.

And the fight scenes are enthralling without being overbearing, important without becoming all-encompassing. A sort of "and now for some action", except without that feeling of being disjointed with the rest of the show. Yeah, it's confusing at first, but it's damn good looking and eventually some character will come along and make sense of it all.

(And then another character will come along and make sense of that, and so on, but I digress.)

The clash of the humanoid interfaces in chronological episode four is probably one of those moments that could personify the above statements and the series as a whole.

Yeah, it's more than a touch unrealistic at times.
Yeah, it kind of has that 'just trust what I say' mentality to it.
Yeah, you could probably deconstruct it as a way of showing what's wrong with the show.

But really, you'll probably be busy getting your jaw off the floor first.

Perhaps a bit of a understatement but one can't deny that a scene like this really is made with high-quality values. Maybe I'm just distracted by all the fast motion, jumping, and projectile-throwing, but the fight scene definitely looks impressive, and the high-energy soundtrack fits and is timed great to the visuals.

The scene is a good capping piece to a mound of revelations, a sort of "You think we're kidding? Well, here's the truth" response to all the sci-fi aspects that Ryoko and Yuki threw out there.

There's that sense of power there, from Ryoko's wanton destruction of the environment around her (not to mention the eerie, otherworldly background itself), to Yuki's space-warping physics-defying jumps and so forth.

And it's enough to fool you too - maybe those with more common sense could remember that, chronologically, Yuki and Kyon both live through the fight. But who didn't hold their breath when Yuki got impaled like that?

Too many fight scenes are amusingly one-sided, with the most damage a protagonist taking be a few bruise marks that do nothing, but the damage here was quite real, even if it was healed easily.

Attention to detail is another thing that I can't help but love. Hidden messages encoded backwards at a high rate of speed in all that 'computer speak' of theirs? Maybe it's a bit esoteric, but it's the kind of thing that adds a personal touch, a metaphorical wink from studio to audience.

And the simple details, such as Yuki losing her glasses; one of those details that seems like it would be blaring but really didn't stand out until it was cleverly brought to light at the end of the scene.

Maybe other people have less of a tolerance for feeling like an idiot but I really like this style of foreshadowing, in a sense; that sense of having all the pieces to put the puzzle together, but just not knowing the right picture. A lot of anime are either rather blunt with their clues or don't use them at all (or, in some cases, both), and so the coy style in which SHnY drops the little hints for you - a line here, an object there, is something that I can really enjoy.

In the end I haven't done a lot of explaining as to why the Nagato vs. Asakura fight scene is number seven on 2007's list aside from "it's pretty and the music is awesome", and at the risk of a cop-out, I'd like to argue that there's not a lot that needs to be said.

Everyone has their weakness in anime. Some like the crying shows, some like a good straight-up machofest, others a sweet romance. Maybe even a subset of the genre; a particular brand of love might resonate strongly with a person, while it bounces harmlessly off the other.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya seems to be something that's struck a lot of people the right way, and being one of those who can attest to this at least in part, it's kind of a matter of 'getting it' or not - and I don't blame you if you don't. Haruhiism is polarizing like that.

And picking this moment out of the many quite appealing moments that SHnY has is pretty much down to a matter of taste. Haruhi fans might take the climax of the show at episode six as their number one. The musically inclined, the God Knows concert. Mikuru supporters, perhaps the appearance of Adult Mikuru at the end of episode four.

As a Nagatoist to the end, there can be none other than this scene.

-CCY
(and his scary fanboy side)

5 comments:

Still haven't watched this show... but I'm starting to get intrigued. Anyways, I wanted to ask if you minded if I did this blog as my first review. Just send me an e-mail over to iniksbane@gmail.com. Thanks :)

It's good to let the scary fanboy side out, once in a while. I reckon my scary fanboy side is a big motivator.

Also, 'Wait, I see what you did there' was hilarious.

Nagato vs Asakura is also my favourite part in SHnY.

The music, background lights, conversation and just the sheer insanity of the scene itself deserves 2 thumbs up :D

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