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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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…