Haruhi Episode 04 Review
Slam that bat, daddy.
Why I watched it:
Because I've lost control of my life.
How it works:
This episode is like if you were playing Half-Life, got through the intro, escaped the facility, then found yourself in an online Counter-Strike match with the exact same equipment and mechanics, but everyone else is playing on Counter-Strike rules while you're on Half-Life rules and your existence disrupts the entire flow of the game as the enemy team has to figure out how to kill a man who doesn't take headshots, has perfect accuracy while sprinting, and has a rocket launcher.
You knew that the mechanics would be different, and in fact you expected that you would be playing Counter-Strike at a later point, but the rules change so suddenly and inexplicably that it's like if you were playing Final Fantasy 7 and every fight is a Pokemon battle. All the foreshadowing in the world told you that there would be something to do with Counter-Strike later on, but your team is 100% genuine when they say that this is normal, and the enemy team is stuck putting together the pieces as to why Gordon gets a crowbar and they get kitchen knives.
The plot is that Haruhi is bored and wants to enter a baseball tournament. In the context of this anime, Haruhi getting bored is like the formation of the Manhattan Project - a disaster that everybody saw coming and yet go through with it because it'll happen eventually and the consequence of building 62,000 nuclear warheads around the world is of secondary concern. Thanks, Reagan. So the club member scraggle up a bunch of people they know and get enough members to participate. The school baseball team gives them the field to practice, thanks to Mikuru's twat. It's less the actual appearance of her twat rather than the implication that it could be shown at any time, and so the school team runs away. That's pretty impressive for a girl who has all the sex appeal of a dolphin (note to dolphin fuckers: stop spamming 8chan).
The team is awful. That's to be expected, seeing as Haruhi is one of the greatest arguments against an interventionist god, and they simply go along with it because they have nothing better to do with their time than try to appease their master. This anime is about religion, isn't it? I guess it's to be expected for a series where everything goes right for the disciples of the Church of Haruhi, and those who fall outside of it are punished by Her hand.
So the tournament starts, Haruhi wrecks the opposing team, and the opposing team wrecks her clergy. It's a typical baseball drama, but there's nothing wrong with that, seeing as it's less about the concept and more about what you do with it. The team tanks and tanks and tanks and goes REALLY into the shitter, and then Haruhi gets disappointed. Then the newest club member, whose name I don't know because this series is shot out-of-order and there's some catching up to do, gets a phone call, and the lambda ratio flips a bit and turns to 1. Holy shit.
In episode 03 [the one with the nerds] I joked to myself about Haruhi being a god because of her ability to do things with absolutely no punishment whatsoever. I didn't know that was actually the fucking case! The newest club member talks about some Steins;Gate shit involving closed spaces and electric ghosts, and the end result is that if Haruhi is disappointed, the world ends, much like an abusive relationship. And Kyon just sits there and takes it, like this was already common knowledge and that it was a completely normal part of his life he has to deal with. Whatever occurred between the events of the last episode and this one must have led to some pretty fucking persuasive arguments on the part of the club members, because I feel like I missed a beat.
Then the new guy recites an "incantation", which is plot-speak for "deus ex machina", to Yuki, and then the bat becomes magical and everybody hits home runs. This is actually what happened, and not a fanfiction writer deciding to finish up a chapter to get to the sex scenes, seeing as Yuki is apparently an actual alien, which ruins the drama I was expecting to get out of the plotline that episodes 02 [the one where The Gang forms] and 03 were driving at. When you introduce a plot point like that you actually start to believe it's possible, all bets are off to the verisimilitude of the show. Remember that scene in Deus Ex where Tong unironically says the Illuminati is real, and then it turns out the Illuminati is real because that's just how that universe rolls? Well, this anime is like if the Illuminati had the abilities of a Dungeons and Dragons mage and Kyon is the dungeon master trying to accept what bullshit his players is putting him through.
The players win, but the new guy decided to force a forfeit by leaving, making the enemy team cry tears of joy. The world doesn't end, and everything is blissful, until Haruhi decides to enter another one.
This is pretty much a filler episode, having no place in the chronology in the series except for as a way to make noobs like me go "what the fuck" because my suspicions about the world being less mundane as it seems being accurate. The issue with non-linearity is that if you audience figures out what's happening before you expect them to, the storylines become obvious because you will have fed them with information that they already know because of your excessive foreshadowing. Then you have to rely on the character interactions, and it would be hard to do that when two of the main characters are socially incompetent, one is a deranged god, and the other one is the protagonist. I'm more interested in the side characters than I should be - the club members have chill friends, and I'm disappointed there isn't a series about them popping around. But the new guy is also chill. I for one respect our chill overlords.
What I felt:
In contrast to most series where you're plopped into a setting and are just expected to "get it", this show alternates between coyly showing you nothing more than a nipple, before suddenly stripping naked and spreading herself on the sex swing. Then she puts on a bath robe, and walks out the door, while you limpy sit there waiting for the inevitably booty call. I don't advocate any of these things, but considering how a "sex life" is a thing amongst the normies who feel a need to get laid on a constant basis, I'm just sitting here sardonically laughing at these people as I play My Little Pony porn games in the next tab.
The nonlinear narrative proposes a bargain - I will give you the ability to lead the audience like a dog on a leash, and in exchange, you must write it as such so that it never feels a need to run away from that leash. Nice job breaking the deal, writers. I would have been okay with the hints peppered between the episode that Yuki might be an alien, and that the new guy might be a spirit medium or whatever he does, but when you blatantly show both of those things to be true you ruin the entire mysterious atmosphere that you're providing! Don't tell me that you're taking the piss, either. Those scenes where Yuki was losing her shit couldn't be anything but genuine.
So this episode is a little bit like the aforementioned shitty sex life, coming too soon. A premature ejaculation of plot details that were subtly revealed, spent the last three episodes building up a good hard-on, then depositing yellow spunk onto the floor like it was a free resource. A lot of the mystery of the show has been destroyed in a swift instant, and the rest of the series has to play catch-up to try to entertain my curiosity.
What I learned:
Don't blow your wad early. This is true in almost everything.
A deus ex machina, no matter the context, will always feel like a cop-out to the audience. I've yet to see an example of such used effectively for anything except comedic value, and even then it's a stretch to justify that the joke so valuable that it was worth killing the plot for.
I'm guessing that Haruhi is a lesbian, based on her disregard for boys and her parental treatment of Mikuru - literally petting her while sucking her ear. But then again, queer media in Japan is like a geisha flirting with you. You can pretend that they want to serve you, but we all know it's a fantasy that will never be fulfilled. Thanks, Japanese values, for ruining the dreams of a thousand young lesbians looking for a role model. Wait, Haruhi is a shitty role model. Never mind.
I realise it's a shitty thing to assume that somebody is gay based on inconclusive evidence, though I have to wonder why they would put in excessively gay scenes and not even call attention to it from within the media. Even the implication is enough to destroy careers - just look at Oscar Wilde.
Digibro's prediction of "cliche anime characters trying to avoid cliche plots while still finding themselves in cliches" seems to be coming true, seeing as how pretty much every character is an archetype or another. It gets exhausting to try to justify that archetypical characters have a personality of their own, because so far, only Haruhi and Kyon have any sort of developed personality that goes beyond their outward appearances. I miss media like Katawas Shoujo and Cherry Tree High Comedy Club where the characters actually felt real and weren't just puppets acting for our entertainment. I'll have to wait and see if they either develop personalities, or if they excuse this flaw through other means.
It's actually not religious - Froghand.
Today's page was updated on August 22, 2016!
The booty call was shorter than the car ride to get there.