Living with the Pain: Haruhi and her Tormentors
Episode 22 was lots of fun. As I’ve said time and time again, I’m an Athenian when it comes to the Haruhi franchise, which means I enjoy Anime THEn Novels.
However, things are always complicated in the Haruhiverse and due to the structure of Tanizaki’s books and my intense dislike for leaving a book half-read, in essence what I did was watch the first series and then read the first three books. This means that I have read the whole “Movie Arc” and that’s kind of a shame because it’s so witty and odd that I would have loved to see it animated first as a proper Athenian would have.
Now, I was kind of jolted by the appearance of Tsuruya in this episode. I didn’t even remember her popping up here, or at all. When Churuya-san came out I didn’t even remember the character and I quickly realized about 80% of the excitement over her (tooth is the other 20%) came from the Lighters, the people who had chomped up all of the novels and spent their days on cloud 9 speculating over a tenth volume WHICH ACCORDING TO THE LATEST REPORT IS NOW IN THE WORKS!!! These people evidently knew much more about Tsuruya than I did, and I did my best to keep it that way…
But I was curious enough after this last episode about the green-haired maiden to go back and reread the relevant passages in the second novel. I found nothing new, which in fact is not at all a surprise as: I rediscovered just how amazingly faithful is KyoAni’s adapation!! I could have easily done the screenplay myself: open up the novel on a word processor, erase everything not within quotation marks. Stop.
And this made me realize to what extent this anime, much more than your standard show (good or bad) relies on the source material. This realization gives me a new, positive attitude to all the trolling KyoAni or Kadokawa or the DPJ or whoever it is has been up to: rather than trying rationalize it because “they” are geniuses, rather than abandon it because “they” are demons, the thing is to put up with it for the sake of the story, which is the source, which is the novels.
Because there’s no doubt about it: Tanigawa’s story is awesome and the jokes are hilarious. It helps a lot that Kyon’s references are often to Western matters, not only because they are easier to understand for the likes of me, but also because as well-informed outsiders (educated) Japanese always have an interesting, novel approach to the legacy of the West. To say that Haruhi was as cheerful as Hannibal before his assault with the elephants, as Kyon said one or two episodes ago (I’m paraphrasing, I’m not exactly sure how he put it), is very revealing if you know how the war ultimately turned out. Also, Haruhi does remind me of an Innocent III lording it over Europe…
As far as Haruhi’s cruelty as exposed in this episode goes [gee, this is some new grammar pattern I’ve just created!], I don’t see why anyone would be shocked or surprised. She’s always been this bad. This show is at heart a portrayal of the whimsicality of omnipotent divinities. When a schoolchild is whimsical, that’s cute. When the deity is whimsical, well, we’re bound to gnash our teeth or while our time drumming up justifications. The fact is, though, Haruhi is what Haruhi is, and that’s all there is to it.
There is a chance that Suzumiya will mature and blossom into a nurturing character. Even so, this wouldn’t detract from the basic whimsicality slash injustice of it all: why wasn’t Mikuru, who has never hurt a fly, the deity in the first place??? Etcetera etcetera. For all the trolling going on around her, it’s clear to me who’s the biggest Tormentor: Haruhi herself.