Haruhi Episode 12 Review

It's just like Katawa Shoujo.

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Why I watched it:

It is less about why and more about how I felt after.

How it works:

Kyon finds himself at the cultural fair, home alone on a Friday night (God you're pathetic), bumming around looking for things to do. His classmates are being good little soldiers by participating, and he lucked out by getting the rest of his class to hand out surveys like you would see on Neopets. Two of his friends bum around with him, and attend a maid cafe run by Mikuru and her cutie-pie friend, getting their dicks out and eating discount fried soba (it really is discount this time).

After the neckbeard excursion, Kyon peels off and decides to take a nap in the orchestra theater, whose audience consists of bored old saps and somebody's grandmother. Rest in peace the members of the band club, who were actually pretty good and yet nobody liked. Same for the blues brothers and the metal freaks - they must be letting anybody into the cultural festival these days.

A good fucking thing too, seeing as ENOZ let in Haruhi and Yuki, who happen to be really incredibly good at singing and guitar, and then bust out a better song than even the Panty and Stocking soundtrack can manage - which is bloody impressive considering how often I spammed "technodildo" over the mic. Unlike the other non-starters in the series, this scene actually matters. A lot actually. Well, I can't spoil it for you, no, but I can tell you what happens after: one of the most significant scenes in the entire anime.

The band finishes up, Haruhi and Kyon talk to each other, then ENOZ, and then she runs away. Kyon eats lunch, walks to Haruhi, not reading into it too much, and then stands aghast to her in a shot framed like an Ai Ai Gasa. She lies down, he stands up - a symbol for how they are only close to each other in ways that neither can express. And Kyon kneels down, and for the first time in the series, are literally eye-to-eye. And the culmination of a series worth of playing around with characters is afoot.

And whatever tender feelings they shared between them disappear, as Haruhi rattles on to Kyon about all her plans for the new year. I guess the symbolism is true; one character is unwilling to express how they feel, and the other is unable to because she's always concerned about other things. And this is the deepest that the series has been thus far, and so it is special.


What I felt:

It was not so much for the rock and roll music or the sight of cute bunny girls that got my dander up, but the small talk afterwards between Haruhi and Kyon which gave me the most care. The song was quality. Haruhi is a great singer. And yet she was not satisfied, and you could tell in the aftermath. It is interesting to see how the school eccentric has just as many doubts about herself as the rest of us, and how Kyon can understand them after getting to know her.

And in the contrast between what Kyon wanted in the series, Mikuru being on his mind on a constant basis, the idea that he could grow to be fond of a girl who has caused him nothing but grief, is unthinkable to him. Don't read into it. And he's only telling this to himself, a justification for what he wanted - the looks - and what he consciously thought - that Haruhi was a pain - trying to fight a war between what he never knew he wanted, and what was right in front of him.

The Melancholy doesn't just apply to Haruhi, being someone who can do great things and yet never be satisfied with them, but also to Kyon, being somebody who hold strong values and finds himself upset whenever somebody contradicts them. The passive reflection that two are forced to come to terms with, the reflection that is only possible in the company of a like-minded individual, embodies most of the series. And though it has taken a long time to get here, it is here, and it will always be.

What I learned:

A lot of people would be more impressed with the songs than they would be with the resulting character dynamics, and its in this that I realise why this anime was so successful - it has the spectacle for those who aren't into development, but also has an additional layer of relying on the character interactions in order to drive most of the spectacle home. It's style and substance rolled into one, and I cannot fault people for thinking this is one of their favourite anime. Of course I don't have the same depth of experience as them, as this is one of the only anime I've watched and given any real thought to.

I still do not know why this series was so culturally relevant though, beyond its deconstruction. Perhaps its a historical thing, for instance, why people wonder why Goldeneye N64 was so important to video games despite having the frame rate of a calculator display and the gameplay mechanics of a man made of ice fighting enemies with foam bullets. It was important because it did the whole "first-person shooter on consoles" meme first, and sent waves through the gaming scene by saying "maybe shooter games aren't just limited to PCs", as well as having a great degree of freedom for players to move around in and complete objectives with some degree of stealth - unprecedented for its time (as well as having the first sniper rifle in a video game).

It was a deathly important game, and a person who doesn't have the experience to understand why it was so important wouldn't be able to appreciate it. And I can now understand my limitations with mediums I'm not as familiar with, which would be all of them, because it's only through seeing things with a historical lens that you can understand the sheer impact that certain works of art have on the world. I am very fortunate at this time not to be able to appreciate this anime for what it has done for anime, but only able to appreciate it for how it stands on its own.

This is a burden that I don't have to carry, and I am privileged to have the objective sense to be able to judge things on their own merits and not how they were in a certain period of time.

More salt than soba - Froghand.

Today's page was updated on August 30, 2016!

She was actually really cute in that maid outfit.

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