This post is part of trzr23′s “Remembering Love” project, a project where bloggers rewatch their favorite anime during the month of May and post about why they love it each week. There’s supposed to be four posts in total, whether they choose just one anime to write about or several. However, due to my personal blogging preferences, I decided to dedicate just this one post for the project…
The rules trzr23 set down for the project are simple: rewatch all or part of one or more of our favorite anime and write about why we love them so much in any format we choose. But he made it clear that we’re not to review or critique the anime; it’s all about “remembering love” – remembering why we personally love it without trying to be objective. Since I’m only planning to write one “Remembering Love” post, at least at this time, I decided to go ahead with my #1 favorite. For those of you who know me, it’s no surprise at all…
trzr23 suggested that we not pick anime that have already been gushed over to death or that are common favorites. It’s funny that when most of us think of Haruhi, we think it’s one of the most popular anime and a generic favorite. But while that may well have been the case in 2006 when the original 14 episodes aired and they wowed people with their unusual style of production that had never been seen in anime before, I don’t think it’s an overly gushed about series anymore. If I was writing this post back in 2006-2007, it certainly would have been just one among many other praising posts for the series. But since then, and especially since the even more unusual “second season” in 2009 (which I’ll get to later), I think it’s been years since fans who were impressed by Haruhi in 2006 have “remembered love” for the series. The movie in 2010 brought a slow and steady flow of just about all positive reviews, but it definitely didn’t generate the phenomenal buzz that the 2006 airing did. Since Haruhi has been my #1 favorite anime and novel series since 2007, I’m always up for any opportunity to remember my love for it…
So what is it about this series that has made it consistently my #1 for years? One of the main reasons comes from Kyon’s deliciously savvy narration. It’s sometimes sarcastic, sometimes intuitive, and sometimes comically random. At times it reminds me of a less crude and a more witty version of Holden Caufield from “The Catcher in the Rye.” It can shift from humorous to philosophical quite naturally, and is sprinkled with cultural, mathematical, scientific, and historical references that add a helping of intellectual appeal. The range of funny metaphors he comes up with as he describes the situations and characters around him isn’t short on cleverness either. Unlike other series where we can freely see into the thoughts of all the characters, by sticking to Kyon’s POV only, the Haruhi series offers a unique way of revealing the characters through his amusing observations and sudden realizations about them. With this refreshing style of writing, I’m never bored.
And with it comes a refreshing premise and a refreshing blend of genres. If one looks up a synopsis of the Haruhi series, it’s not a typical premise at all. It’s not a typical science fiction or a typical “save the world” story, or even a typical school/slice-of-life series. It has all these characteristics and more, but it blends them all together so well that it’s hard to give it a defining genre. It can be jargon-heavy science fiction one minute and cute, funny school antics another minute without any feeling of disconnect. It has a great variety of themes together with a fun story that easily lends itself to comedy, sci-fi, romance, and even drama.
While there’s nothing typical about Haruhi’s story and genre, there’s nothing typical about how it’s produced either. Kyoto Animation is already known for their above-average animation, but the way they promote Haruhi stands out even more. A while back I wrote a post listing all the times KyoAni/Kadokawa had only tossed around clues of a new Haruhi anime since 2006 and never flat-out stated what the re-airing in 2009 would consist of. What anime never officially announces a new production? What anime messes up its official web site each year to coincide with important dates in the story’s timeline? What anime – heck, even what TV series – has the tenacity to make eight of virtually the same episode? Only Haruhi does.
All the atypical things about the Haruhi series coincide perfectly with the atypical traits of the titular character, Haruhi herself. It’s not typical for the titular character in a series to often be the antagonist too (at least she sort of is in the stories the anime has covered so far). Haruhi’s unusual personality brings out either a lot of love or a lot of hate. I’m in the former camp…in fact, I consider Haruhi my #1 favorite character, not just because of my feelings for the series. I actually think it takes a lot more effort to give a character a truly unique personality instead of a truly unique background history, and Haruhi has such an incomparable personality. Like I’ve said in other posts, the things she does and believe are so outrageous, and her view of the world is so unusual, I can’t help but be drawn into her outpouring enthusiasm and self-confidence. Despite this, there are numerous times where she shows that she has a caring, deep side to her (again, more so in post-anime stories) so that helps keep her otherwise radical personality grounded. I can understand gripes about her selfishness and tyrannical attitude, especially in her treatment of Mikuru, but there’s no malice in what she’s doing – she truly believes others are to do what she says. I don’t think of Haruhi as “mean” as opposed to terribly oblivious. Call it a mental disorder or a side effect of having god-like powers, but Haruhi is unlike any character I’ve ever seen and I can’t help but adore her for it.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a lot of fans’ ability to “remember love” for Haruhi was hampered greatly in 2009 by Endless Eight. If you still think it was just a troll and nothing more, I explained the reasoning behind E8 in another post. Despite that, I can agree that it was frustrating at the time. But unfortunately, because it was “hip” to hate on E8, people decided to concentrate only on the frustration they felt about those episodes and forget the awe they felt for the 2006 series. Should we let eight repetitive episodes make us totally disregard the greatness of 20 other episodes + 1 movie, especially when it takes no effort to just watch the last E8 episode and act like the others don’t exist? Well, I hope that KyoAni doesn’t wait too much longer to make a proper Haruhi anime sequel. The anime has only adapted about five out of currently eleven light novels, which are still ongoing, so there’s plenty of material left to work with. The movie was a slight start but only further anime adaptations of the later novel stories would make anime-only viewers remember love for Haruhi. I eagerly await that time! =)
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