Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Wednesday October 10, 12:48 a.m.

It was another Sunday of foodie-ism and anime with The Anime King back on the Thanksgiving Monday. The anime menu consisted of a couple of episodes of "Smile Precure"and the final episode of the zany "Joshiraku"...certainly hope that the producers will think about another series for that last one.

However, the theme for this entry is connected with the anime that I'm currently watching. The 2006 series of "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" has been fun and is keeping me on my toes in terms of the overall story arc. Mind you, the chronological Episode 7 was far more of the goofy comedy that Episode 0 had been. I caught Ep 7 this afternoon, and I found it a bit of a nice respite considering what I'd seen on Monday.

Over at the King's house, he showed me a Season 2 episode which was vital to watch before he showed me the movie "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya". Then it was on to the main feature. Over the months, The King had been telling me about the glory of watching this movie. After first watching Episode 0, aka "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina", I was rather wondering if The King had been exaggerating about how good this movie was.

But I have to say that "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya"was about as far away from "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina" as "The Quatermass Experiment"was from any episode of "The Big Bang Theory". Although I have read differing opinions on the movie since I'd watched it, I have to say that it did deserve the accolades it has gotten as a masterpiece of the genre and the clear anime winner for 2010.

The plot itself wasn't original. The idea of the protagonist (in this case, Kyon) waking up in an alternate world where all of his friends have gone has been in a lot of Hollywood flicks from "It's A Wonderful Life" to at least a couple of episodes in the "Star Trek"franchise. But the director told the story well. There was a definite upgrade and improved fluidity to the animation compared to the TV series which hadn't been any slouch either. Camera angles and movements seemed to emulate those used in live-action pictures which added to the upgrade. And the director and writers made a very bold move by making "Disappearance" absolutely dramatic. Film versions of anime TV have always tended to bring over the basic patterns of drama interspersed with goofy comedy, but this film almost completely eschewed any opportunities to inject (with the very tiny exception of Mikuru being dressed in a Santa suit) any humour into the proceedings. Any of the verbal sparring matches between Kyon and Haruhi were kept as such.

The other bold move was to yank out the title character who had been the heart of the series for most of the movie. This would've been insanity in other productions, but in this case, the ploy worked because the other half of the power duo, Kyon (the soul of the series), was taking on the burden of carrying the movie. This was a Kyon story, as he (and we) discover over the span of 2 hours and 45 minutes that all that has happened is due to him and his feelings about the SOS Brigade. It's truly a large arc as the initially grumpy Kyon comes to the realization that he needs and appreciates the motley group of friends that he's had for several months.

But at the same time, it's a Yuki Nagato story as well. The emotionless artificial humanoid interface has been the brains (and at least in one TV episode, the brawn) of the operation, and at least to me, her arc was even more interesting to watch at points as her story starts to resemble that of Pinocchio....after he gets turned into a real boy.....while Kyon becomes George Bailey and Marty McFly. As I eventually discovered her role in the story, there was definitely a feeling of pathos surrounding her, and seeing the subtle emotions that surface on her face in her completely humanized form made her the most deserving of our sympathy. Both arcs finally converge at the end of the movie as both Kyon and Yuki still get something new from each other. And I was left wondering at the end of the movie, if Kyon's romantic directions have gotten further muddled and even though she reverted back to her old self, whether Yuki may have evolved a little.

"The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya"left a lot of philosophical questions for me to mull over which is often a sign of a good movie.