The 13th Episode: Haruhi; K-On!; Harlock: Endless Odyssey

If I do a separate post on Harlock: Endless Odyssey, people won’t click on it.  If I do a separate post on K-On!, people will click on it with false expectations of a paean or an eulogy.  So I cleverly pack all of them in together and slap this on the cover:

moment of truth

moment of truth

Then I add a comment to the effect that only correct interpretation of Itsuki’s words is that they are of the nature of a reproach: to wit, Itsuki is angry at Kyon for playing with his emotions, and he wishes to contrasts Kyon’s ambiguous romantic feelings towards the other members of the S.O.S. Dan with his own single focused desire.

What a lush episode Haruhi 13 was.  The hues and the lighting were fantastic.  I didn’t really know what to expect plotwise either, as I haven’t read the novels, but all in all I think it’s the loveliest Haruhi episode so far.

gorgeous

gorgeous

I wrote a whole post on the tension between Kyon and Itsuki in the context of Haruhi-chan and what I said there applies here (post).    More curiously, though, was the strange silent fanservice that was going on.  Several situations were repeated from episode 12 but with focus on breasts etc, everything done so clinically it didn’t seem naughty anymore.  Was this Haruhi’s mind adding in these shots to the original timeline, for Kyon’s sake, to spur him on, while hating herself for doing so, and thus doing it coldly?

realistic, to be sure

realistic, to be sure

cropping the eyes out, cold fanservice this.

cropping the eyes out, cold fanservice this.

I don’t really know what’s going to happen here but I just hope it doesn’t involve Kyon kissing Haruhi because it’s been done before…

***

K-On! 13 was nice.  It was the best episode IMO since about episode 5 and there’s a simple, good reason for it: it was fresh.  The show managed to finally get out of its loop (was Haruhi messing with this timeline too?! I wonder) of: 1) teacher forcing girls to cosplay; 2) silly girl eats cake; 3) silly girl forces cake down sullen girl’s throat etc etc.  I find it really hard to believe that Azusa, a Japanese girl (or really, a girl of any nationality) would find herself troubled in dealing with a kitten, but other than that, I enjoyed the flow of the episode.

MacMugi's

MacMugi’s

they like this "hey look at me, i've got no nose" shot!

they like this “hey look at me, i’ve got no nose” shot!

Then again, what’s up with Ritsu not getting a boyfriend?! If Ritsu had actually gone out on a date in this last episode I could actually look forward to a second season.  Instead, she was robbed by the writers just as Kagami was in Lucky Star.  I know that the main reason to have the setting of a manga/anime be an all-girls’ school is to assure the male fans of exclusive enjoyment of the characters but, well, I guess I’m not reconciled to the concept at all.

better sneak out between season 1 and 2, and get a bf...

better sneak out between season 1 and 2, and get a bf…

Back in the old days, you’d watch a show and if you liked a character of the opposite gender then you’d identify with this character’s suitor/s.  That way you could see dating, break ups and all of that interesting, dramatic stuff.  I can’t believe fans have gotten so lazy (or crazy, traa la la) that they demand that suitors be consigned to oblivion.    I haven’t seen Kannagi but the kerfuffle over that was amazing and maybe the blowback is still with us.

***

I blogged the first 5 episodes of K-On!, and then stopped because I couldn’t see anything really exciting occurring in the next seven.  If you think that’s bad, look at what happened with Harlock: Endless Odyssey (Harlock ’02).  With much fanfare I did a post on the very first episode and then stopped until the very last episode (13) which I will discuss now.  “much fanfare” is a bit of an overstatement, considering the # of comments the post got.

You might know of the French writer André Gide.  I’ve read two of his books (The Counterfeiters, The Immoralist).  My experience with both books was so similar that I think of it as a Gide Effect, and Harlock ’02 had the exact same effect on me so let me explain.

Gide bores me.  In fact, I’ve spent equal times of the first 90% of a Gide’s novel between reading and deciding whether I should drop it.  But then the end stuns me.  It pulls in all of the (boring) threads that Gide was weaving throughout into an amazing, beautiful finale.  The effect is so powerful that it becomes retroactive: if you ask me about Gide today I will tell you he’s a great writer, despite of what I said above.

tadashi1

Now, clearly, if you’re not enjoying anything but the end of a work then you can’t really consider the work (subjectively speaking) good.  Plenty of writers, plenty of stories and shows, are great in the beginning, in the middle and the end.  Perhaps the best way to figure out what’s going on is to reread (or rewatch), but the Gide effect is not that powerful: I’m not in the mood to reread him at all!

So what happens at the end of Harlock ’02?  Well, we figure that the whole story was one enormous tragedy, one revolving around a series of promises.

The story started with an ill-fated scientific expedition that unlocks the evil power of the Noo.  Dr. Daiba is the only survivor, and he is rescued by Harlock.  We know from the first episode that Harlock made a promise to Daiba, but we don’t really know what it consists off.

tadashi harlock

The Noo return and Daiba is found dead; then his son Tadashi Daiba ends up on the Arcadia, where Harlock pledges to help him take revenge for his father’s murderers.

In episode 13 we finally find out more about these promises.  First off, Dr. Daiba’s ghost tells Tadashi that Harlock promised: that if anything happened to the doctor, Harlock would take care of his son and raise him to be a man, but that if Harlock judged that Tadashi wasn’t enough of a man then he should kill him.

That’s a pretty messed up promise, but you can be sure Harlock will follow it through.  The doctor reveals that Harlock made a second promise to him, but he doesn’t have a chance to tell Tadashi.

harlock

Harlock is the one, at the very end of the show, that reveals to Tadashi his second promise to Dr. Daiba: that if the doctor betrayed humanity at any point, Harlock would kill him.

After Dr. Daiba’s return from the expedition, he was tempted to translate some writings relating to the Noo, knowing full well that to do so would probably end in the Noo regaining their power; but the temptation as a man of science was too much and he ended up doing the research.  Thus, Daiba betrayed humanity, Harlock fulfilled his promise and so Harlock is Daiba’s murderer.

Which means that, as Harlock explains to Tadashi handing him a gun, the boy must kill Harlock and avenge his father.  By handing Tadashi a weapon and making himself a target, Harlock is fulfilling his promise to him.  But if Tadashi refuses to kill him, then the only judgment Harlock (as a space pirate) can make is that he isn’t gutsy enough or man enough, in which case he must kill him according to his second promise to the doctor.

Harlock yells at Tadashi to shoot, while pointing his own gun at him.  THE END.

harlock tochiroh

pollywantsaharlock says that the “Harlock in this incarnation seems to be in a slow spiral of disassociation.  He doesn’t care much where he’s going or why.”  I agree.  This is weary Harlock, Death Drive Harlock.  He’s not in the least upset by the ethical dilemma his promises have entangled him in, he relishes it.  We never really find out what Tadashi did, but there is at least the possibility that he killed Harlock and succeeded him as captain of the Arcadia (maybe with Yuuki as “regent”).

The other amazing scene in this series also happens in this last episode.  Harlock gets to have a brief talk with Tochiroh’s ghost.  Tochiroh comments that he’d like to have more time to chat with Harlock as they did “back in the old days”.  Harlock replies that perhaps that day will come.  Then Tochiroh retorts: “I hope the day doesn’t come.  I pray that it won’t come.”

Harlock is taken aback, the event is subtle (this being stoic Harlock and all) but it’s there.  Why does Tochiroh say this?  I imagine he figures that they will talk again only after Harlock has joined the dead, and he doesn’t want to see this happening.  But I imagine there are more mysterious grounds for it, and I still haven’t come up with a truly satisfying theory…

Tochiroh

Tochiroh

~ by Haloed Bane on June 29, 2009.

10 Responses to “The 13th Episode: Haruhi; K-On!; Harlock: Endless Odyssey”

  1. I wouldn’t mind more Haruhi x Kyon kissu. I read SHNY as a love story too.

    Yeah Ritsu was robbed, but they just made you feel even more moe for her. Keion wins just as planned.

  2. i see haruhi more as a battle of the sultans: kyon and haruhi each have their (overlapping) harems (so that each belong to the other’s harem, + mikuru itsuki nagato) and they’re trying to destroy each other’s hold over the harem while keeping their own. like some crazy power struggle between two sibling claimants to the Turkish crown. In this case, the Ottoman princess will likely win.

  3. Well the ending I decided this (in the Harlock case).
    I believe that Daiba did not kill Harlock. In fact he didn’t. As seen in the ending (after the black out of the gun-pointing scene, it goes into the ending song which is now Daiba walking away from the Arcadia and Harlock smiling) Daiba survived and so did Harlock. So I believe that Daiba fulfilled his promise of “revenging his father’. But revenge doesn’t typically mean death. Daiba could have easily wounded Harlock as revenge. Plus the trip all the way back to the ‘Planet of Garbage’ takes days so Harlock could have healed a bit to be able to stand on his ship.
    Also another interesting fact was that I believe the reason why Harlock is so ‘anti-life’ is because Mayu is dead. Which makes sense. Mayu hasn’t aged a day and when Harlock saw Mayu sleeping he gave a sad look and Tochrio goes “Don’t worry.” Adding to that factor.
    Another thing was that Kei Yuki (after seeing Mayu and waking up after being shot) she goes to Harlock, “my memories formed together to create that girl”. Mayu was in the world of the dead. Kei was in the land of the dead. Hence why she was probably able to see her. And she did say “Memories”, so is Mayu really dead? I have no idea …
    Anyway I still must say that Harlock ’02 (as you call it), today my favourite Harlock- no my favourite anime. Because not only you see Harlock as low as he can EVER get, you still see him continuing on. Not ever allowing himself to die. And that is what Harlock is all about. His pure will.

  4. @Fallen

    The ending song…my impression was that possibly this happened after the last episode, but that it could be very well be a fantasy setting and have nothing to do with the plot at all (they were posing after all).

    I think wounding Harlock might be enough satisfaction for revenge if Daiba aimed to kill him, but hit him in the shoulder for example, which is possible, as I don’t know how good Daiba is with weapons. In duels this outcome was common. But if Daiba intentionally missed then it might be conceived as a cop-out.

    I agree with you that Mayu is dead. Tochiroh seems to be fine with the fact even though he’s her father, but then again he’s dead too so it’s cool. Yup, Harlock’s pretty shaken by that. Did everyone on Earth die when the Noo took it away??

    I’ve seen Harlock Saga and Gun Frontier, but I’ve yet to see original Harlock ’78 or Harlock ’84, so I can’t comment on which one is my favorite Harlock!! I’m glad you liked it so much, though.

  5. “I can’t believe fans have gotten so lazy (or crazy, traa la la) that they demand that suitors be consigned to oblivion.”

    I don’t think this is a consequence of Kannagi, this has been in the works for some time. I used to rail against the typical male lead in shounen romance anime. They were pretty much the most vacant archetype around. The all-girls slice-of-life moe series is kinda like the shounen romance without the annoying, vacuous male lead. The problem is then that there’s usually no genuine romance, unless the series is distinctly shoujo-ai. So instead, we just get teased, like the two examples you brought up.

    What I’d like to see are polygon romance series with male lead characters that are actually respectable. Fortunately there have been a few of these around in the last couple of years.

  6. @Sorrow-kun

    I’m definitely in your camp when it comes to most harem stuff. I mean, Makoto in School Days, that’s woeful.

    Polygons are great. If I may bring in Marmalade Boy: this is a great series bcos the guys and the girls are all interesting, “worthy” individuals (even the silly protagonist, although it takes time to actually see it).

    I guess shoujo does a much better job all-around than shounen when it comes to romance…

  7. It seems incredible that Tadashi could kill Captain Harlock, or even wound him. Mazones failed, Illumidas failed, Noo failed, and here comes the lucky kid… Who is a better marksman? Tadashi wounding Harlock would mean the Captain had taken a dive, and would he?
    Actually, I believe that the whole point is that there had been no duel between Harlock and Tadashi after all. There should not have been. Cause the only thing Harlock ever cared to teach Tadashi in this series was to do as he wished, as his heart (and reason) told him to. “Sometimes I’ll give an order, but you don’t have to follow it”. Besides, last time Tadashi used a gun to avenge his father resulted in Key’s near-death experience and he was torn with remorse of his rush actions afterwards. Being a true man not necessarily means shooting promptly when somebody else tells you to, even if that somebody is the Captain himself.

    And if Tadashi refuses to shoot, no matter what, it is Harlock’s turn to take a decision… Being a man does not mean that one is to kill a boy because for once he is acting like a man either… Interesting.

    And all this spectacular turning, flying folds of the cape, pointing the gun at Tadashi, egging him – for some reason, it made me smile and I felt a kind of relief. It was so boyish, in a good sense. A kind of revival, a flash of Harlock 78.

    • “It seems incredible that Tadashi could kill Captain Harlock”. I agree with you, and yet, Harlock has to die at some point, right? And is he going to wait and die of old age? Hmmm. All in all I suspect Leiji thinks like you do, it’s all a test and neither of them will kill the other, but as he leaves the opening we can all speculate.

      This episode, this ending, was definitely a revival of what is best in Matsumoto, after what I thought was a rather (scratch rather, extremely) lackluster series as a whole🙂

  8. Really, no one knows what’s up with Mayu? After being the primary unifying element and source of Harlock’s humanity throughout all of the original series, they barely touch on her existence in the follow-up, ignoring her (apparent) plight entirely when earth is zapped out of existence, and then obliquely implying her death at the very end of the series?? Anyone else think this is coming out of left field?

    • I haven’t been able to watch most of the original series, so I really can’t answer this. Fallen, Iskra?

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