Haruhi Episode 14 Review
See you some other day.
Why I watched it:
How it works:
The finale deserves no special mention in my review except for being the review which I post last. The special significance of the finale is simply that - it ends. And because it ends, people expect it to be good. Artists want to make it good. The audience expects to cry at the loss of their favourite show. And yet I can't think as to how this is beyond simple fatalism in the minds of people, myself included, who seem to think that just because something is over this does not mean we will not feel similar things down the line.
How does it work? You may think I'm spoiling things. I am. Because this is an obligation that I have to share with you in the process of fully understanding works of artistic merit. The beginning was not special beyond starting what would happen, and the ending is not special beyond making it close. While I agree that these particular points in time are important in that the beginning must entice the audience to watch the thing, and the ending must make the audience feel the entire journey was worthwhile, the same could be said of every other point in time in the series.
If I do not feel, in the course of a fourteen-episode run, that episodes two to thirteen were as interesting to watch as the first and the fourteenth episode, then whatever feelings we have towards the supposedly special quality of the first and fourteenth episode will be immediately lost to us - and I know of some people that will defend such shows on the merits of such special episodes and not on the work as a whole.
So if you feel some special significance to the ending of a show, as I did, then it would do you some good to cast off those shackles and understand that if every piece of the puzzle of the art, that is, every episode of a show through the series, is not worth watching, then the special pieces that are considered exceptional above the merits of an otherwise bad show are perhaps not worth watching at all if you have to slog through the trouble of those that are not up to snuff.
The same tropes that could be considered special to an ending can also be applied to episodes that aren't endings. The examples of good endings can be applied to good writing in general (such as the universe turning itself asunder), and the examples of bad endings can be applied to bad writing (like a cliffhanger, which is annoying at any point in the story).
So I will describe what happens in this episode the same as any other, instead of continuing this line of reasoning, which would be enough to fill its own article though I have spent hours researching this subject and I am tired of it and frankly it was a mistake to get into anime at all. The next time you will see me I will be in Club Fed where I will enjoy a short and sweet life as the prison bitch.
Now then, we start off with Kyon going to school and talking to his friend Taniguchi, who is barely important to this show and yet is a fun little distraction from the grave. Then why talk about it? Well, twat, I happen to like Taniguchi, the same way you like pepper. It's almost impossible to get enough of it, yet you only like it because it's a meme sauce. I also like his twink friend, and I also like Kyon. Together, these are their stories.
But the anime is about Haruhi, and I'm not going to get into my spiel about how Kyon is even more important to the anime than Haruhi is (save that for the conclusion review), and right now Haruhi is pissed. As to what reason is never properly explained. Before she was upset over her insignificance in the world, and now she's upset because it's apparently hot. So she changes into a bunny outfit, kicks Kyon out, and continues to be pissed. So maybe it's because of hormones, but not because of her period, seeing as you'd have to be stupid to wear a crotchtight outfit when you're ejecting meat chunks from your twat (I have no experience in this field).
The whole business with Haruhi kicking out Kyon shows an interesting bit of development between the two characters. At the beginning of the anime, Kyon was one of the first characters to get out of the clasroom when Haruhi decided to take her shirt off. But now he's actually completely nonchalant over it - as if he accepted her strange behaviour as a fact of life and not something to be fearful of. And Haruhi kicking Kyon out, where Kyon mentioned that she didn't care if boys saw her change, shows that she actually does care about Kyon, and is somebody who she would be embarrassed to show her naked body to. I find that fascinating, honestly, how such simple scenes can have that much depth to them.
An ordinary day passes, then Kyon falls asleep. At home. In his bed. Let's not overcomplicate things by being vague - Kyon fell asleep, IN HIS BED, AT HOME. I just wanted to make that clear. And then he ends up in a dream, which was actually reality much like the reality in the fiction is the fiction in the reality, where he and Haruhi have to survive in this really fucked up closed space she created. Of course she isn't aware of what she has done. That would male for a complicated second season.
The Gang (without Mikuru, who simply apologised) makes contact with Kyon - Itsuki appears as a ball of period juice, and Yuki hacks into a text prompt. Their advice is simple: the world is fucked up and Haruhi fucked it up because she has a crush on Kyon. Yikes - what a burden it is to be loved by God. So Kyon has to kiss her, and he does. It's a little bit more dramatic than that, so why not watch the episode wink wink wink wink I'm going to keep winking until you do it because it's actually really sweet.
Kyon wakes up - and surprise, it was real, seeing as his dumb pickup line about ponytails turning him on rolled a natural 20 and got Haruhi to wear one. It looks good on her, says Kyon. And then The Gang throws a party. Not really though - but they did bail out on the weekend meeting, presumably to give the two more time to fuck, which won't happen seeing as they're still both blissfully ignorant of their feelings for eachother.
And then the series ends. Go home everybody - it's over, and in a tidy six hours too. At least it was better than the six hours I spent on Space Station 13.
What I felt:
You may think I'm dissing this series because of the boring way I describe the finale. Well, what the fuck else am I supposed to do, just leave a blank spot in my "list of things what happened in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" Wikipedia draft? Of course it's a boring description - just take a look at the Mass Effect checklist: 1. Fuck Saren. That was it. And it's not so much for the concept of it more so than the action-packed rooting-shooting fuck-you-counsel-I-make-my-own-rules roleplaying adventure of Cosmo Shepard and her band of scaly fucks. It was never about the ending. Spoiler: Saren gets fucked, as well as the magic space counsel and the two sequels. But it's what happens during it which matters, including the aforementing rooting-shooting journey.
I actually liked the episode. A lot, actually. It made a lot of the journey, even the shitty parts, to be worthwhile. It takes all the characters they've developed over the series, all of the little nerdy moments, all of the science-fiction concepts they dealt with, all of the philosophy and what other bullshit they threw into the series, and culminated it all into Kyon and Haruhi's Magic First Kiss Patent Pending. It took the really sweet episodes we got from episode 08 [the one with the cave] onwards, and combined all of that romantic tension into one big moment of sweetness. The happy drugs get inserted into my brain, and I feel a little satisfied with having seen the apex of Haruhi's and Kyon's friendship.
It's a bit like seeing your dog finally get laid. Kyon got a kiss, in his typical practical, nonchalant way, and Haruhi just accepted it. It was realistic, born out of the characters individual motivations, and because of this it wasn't trite it all. It was a natural conclusion to a series, and though some people may have expected it, it is less about what you expect and more about what you experience when you expectations are either met or trashed.
Yes, I was dead expecting the two to slap lips together (facial lips), and I was expecting the entire thing to work out for the two, given the existence of a second season (which I probably won't be reviewing anytime soon, seeing as I don't like reviewing DLC). It's a bit like knowing that you're either going to have to kill your son or nuke the Commonwealth in Fallout 4 - you fully expect it to happen, and yet this information doesn't distract you from the series because you want to see how you get to that point, much like the Nuka Cola inventor selling weapon blueprints for immortality. You're welcome, Fallout fans.
It is instead in the execution, which I am beating like your dad does to your mom, to make you care about what is happening. I could go over an arbitrary checklist of elements of the episode which made me "feel" something for it (unique music, the quality of the animation, the silliness of the characters), but the moment I distill my discussions to a checklist of "this show must meet these elements in order to be good" is the moment I lose all humanity in my criticisms.
This is the difference between a critic and a reviewer: a critic puts things into context by slapping them in the context of other works, drawing on his own personal experiences in order to help the audience learn about why a work is of quality based on his worldview of similar works of varying quality. A reviewer does what their name implies - they review. A reviewer goes over a checklist of things that a work contains, such as the plot, graphics, music, controls, presentation, sex scenes, and decides whether or not they are good based on current cultural assumptions related to the work. A reviewer may say that Paper Mario had rudimentary game mechanics and graphics because they don't appreciate why they were so influential to role-playing games. A critic would explain why the influences mattered to the cultural body of video games, and why it is important to look back on it and understand what it did well, and judge its quality based on what we have learned since its inception and how it compared to the works it has inspired.
I had previously said in my episode 12 review [the one with the festival] that I had the privilege to be able to review anime based on the present day because I'm ignorant of how influential certain works, such as this show, were to Japanese animation, and to other works as a whole. When it comes to anime, I can make criticisms based on my body of knowledge of video games primarily, but beyond that, I'm stuck just reviewing things they have done right universally. I'm stuck reviewing the foundations as they stand and not what they built in the decade since this anime was created, and though I think that offers a unique perspective on an anime, I am also aware of the limitations of not being able to put things into a historical context. In come cases, failing to do so just isn't doing an anime justice.
And, despite that, I am still not going to make a checklist of things I liked in this episode which I can look at and say "this is why this episode is good". If you want to know why it is good, imagine kissing your high school crush. You are welcome.
What I learned:
It was never really about the ending at all. The ending can be good. If it is good, it will make the journey worthwhile. But then, this supposes that it was really about the journey and not about the end. It's just like I expressed before; it was never really about the ending at all. It is instead about the journey and how it relates to the ending. Perhaps a simple observation, but one worth sharing.
I remember this anon on /v/, and I'm only bringing up this board so much because I spent three days of my life there and I feel a little like Marco Polo, who said that most video games only had romance in the context of fulfilling an arbitrary set of actions in order to get a kiss or a sex scene before the final battle, remarking on how generic that setup was. I agree with him somewhat, though it falls apart in assuming that the payoff isn't as worthwhile as the setup. I think that this anime is willing to prove him wrong, seeing as the hero's last kiss is a trope that the writers were aware of, and made it novel by using a dream and Kyon's typical ignorant personality in order to make it meaningful.
Despite being Kyon, I still don't feel anything sexual for Haruhi. Maybe part of the show's popularity is that a lot of people wanted to fuck Haruhi. Perhaps it's a historical thing where her design and personality were novel for the time period, a bit like those furry fucks like Holo are novel today. Or maybe it's because she's just "one of the boys", and men prefer women who act like men yet aren't actually men. That might be part of the popularity of Panty and Stocking too, though I found that example more like two realistically cunty girls going about their business for our entertainment.
Maybe you don't need to go into a series with the expectation of romance to get something out of it. Maybe a platonic relationship is all that matters. Maybe we've all fallen into the trap of protagonists being entitled to hook up in order to make the audience feel something. And maybe the makers of Haruhi are aware of this, and tried to subvert it, just like it subverted so many things before.
Keep moving forward. Froghand.
Today's page was updated on September 1, 2016.
Please don't mind the dissertations.