My Problem With Haruhi

Why do people want you to come back?

For those of you who have seen the talkshow I did, you’d be aware that I used to be a KyoAni fanboy, but after revisiting their stuff, none of them held up besides Clannad and arguably the Haruhi movie. Air…well even when I liked it, I didn’t like the show very much after Yukito turned into a crow. Kanon, I still love Mai’s arc, but the rest of the series can go burn. Lucky Star…calling the characters one-note jokes is insulting to the notes that are actually funny. K-ON turned to crap after Azusa joined the group. I’ve never seen the Full Metal Panic series, Munto, or Nichijou (besides one or two episodes of the latter), but I heard the former is beloved. And then we have Haruhi. Oh Haruhi. Why do people want more of you? Did they forget the horrors of the second season? Or the fact that you’re not very relevant anymore?

First of all, I do get the appeal of Haruhi somewhat. When I first saw it, I really liked it as well. I watched the dub, so of course I watched it in chronological order, but I was taken in mostly due to Crispin Freeman’s sexy Kyon voice and his hilariously sarcastic humor, particularly with that Magical Mikuru episode. I didn’t give a crap about that “out of order” thing that was supposedly one of the reasons that made Haruhi so great. I didn’t even get why that gimmick was even used if you were going to release the episodes in actual order anyway, but that’s not my call. Afterwards, I read the first nine novels on BakaTsuki and was quite taken with them, particularly Kyon’s narration and how he used metaphors related to things I didn’t have any knowledge about. That was a fun time.

When I found out that there was a second season airing, I was hyped and eagerly digested the new episodes. Well, not really. I bailed out after two episodes of Endless Eight and never came back till it ended. And then I watched the movie arc. And then I sighed. And then years passed. And then I disliked everything KyoAni did except Clannad. And then I saw the movie, which I liked. And then I found out the tenth novel was coming. And then I downloaded it. And there it lays unread in my computer, because I have long since stopped caring about the franchise.

By this point in time, many other shows have copied Haruhi’s formula and have actually improved on it in various ways that Haruhi would just look like an uninspired product now if it ever got that third season the fans so desperately want. And unlike something like Evangelion or Love Hina, those copies actually did capture what made Haruhi work so well, so I don’t buy the argument that there’s something special about Haruhi. What is so special about this franchise as of now besides the fact that it’s riding on nostalgia and had that gimmick in the first season? Yes, I liked the Haruhi movie, but that was mostly because of the animation, the fact that Disappearance is my favorite Haruhi novel, and that it was a solid movie. But overall, there’s just nothing more to gain from this series. It’s not like KyoAni is going to stop doing their beautiful animation any time soon, so you can’t want the series for that.

I mean if you love the characters, fine. But they’ve all been improved on too. I don’t see what’s so special about Kyon that Tomoya Okazaki doesn’t have besides different voice actors AND after seeing Daria, I keep on thinking Kyon is an inferior version of her. Koizumi’s character type has been improved on as well with Satoshi Fukube from Hyouka and Daru from Steins Gate (okay, Daru is stretching a bit, but still). Haruhi is definitely more unique, but she’s not a very interesting character, and the author hasn’t figured out what to do with her after she changed into a nicer person. Mikuru is just a moeblob voiced by a woman who I prefer doing darker roles that match her real personality. Nagato…okay, you guys win that round. The other characters, I never saw what made them so appealing, even when I liked the franchise. No, Tsuruya’s fang and laugh do not make her an interesting character.

Story-wise, I’m not exactly excited to tune in either. I read up to nine novels and nothing really interesting happens after Disappearance. Well, I tell a lie. Novels 7, 9, and 10 have some interesting plot progressions I guess. But not enough to make me want to see them animated. And nothing that really lived up to Disappearance. The only reason I cared about what was going on was because it was these characters that were doing these things, which makes for a decent read, but nothing to get excited about. Besides, from what I gathered, people wouldn’t have paid attention to Haruhi nearly as much if it wasn’t for that first season’s gimmick. You do realize that gimmick isn’t going to work a second time, right? It’s not like Baccano where the gimmick was worked into the anime. The gimmick was something KyoAni did because…fuck if I know. But if they use that gimmick again for a third season of Haruhi (which will probably be made), then I’ll watch, but I doubt I’ll care.

Now you could say it’s the combination of Haruhi’s elements that make it work, because that’s what I say when I look at my favorite anime. And you could say that nothing has achieved Haruhi’s level of element combination, even if its individual elements have been improved on. Perhaps. But it’s not doing it for me. When that hiatus ended and the tenth novel came out, my first words upon reading the thing was “I do not care”. My reaction upon revisiting Haruhi, and the rest of the KyoAni stuff I used to like, was I do not care (except for Clannad and the Haruhi movie of course). Because the failing of Haruhi is that any attempts to do more with the franchise is like making a Three Stooges movie at this point in time. Its magic has long since expired. And Snooki will find a way to ruin the experience. Probably by doing the Hare Hare Yukai dance with the rest of the Jersey Shore cast.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Stingers

  • Also, there aren’t any future action scenes in the upcoming Haruhi novels either, unless KyoAni goes anime-original or I’m forgetting something.
  • I still think it’s cool that Yuuko Gotou is a tough woman who can do a moe voice.
  • How are you going to get Aya Hirano back for this show anyways?
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11 responses to “My Problem With Haruhi

  1. arguably the Haruhi movie

    I didn’t even like Haruhi much back when it was cool to and I first saw it, but the movie was *amazing*. Why’s this just arguably so?

    • The movie was ridiculously good. Literally breathtaking. I was really surprised by just how awesome it was.

      As for the series – it’s one of my very favorites, but I can see why some viewers would dislike it or grow tired of it. I still really enjoy it, though. As you mention above – it’s not one single element, but the combination that makes the show special.

      • I’ll still watch Haruhi or anything else by KyoAni (that isn’t a 4-koma adaptation) if it comes out. But I stand by my opinion that if more Haruhi came out now, it wouldn’t be special.

      • I’d probably agree with you on that point. I think it’s comparable to the new Evangelion movies – they aren’t “special” in any genre-breaking sense. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good!

  2. I was the same. I loved the first season, waited for season 2…I actually love Bamboo Rhpasody but then Endless Eight crushed the love.
    I think Haruhi is popular because of how KyoAni’s little touches made the anime stand out especially when it first came out. Also, some people find the Endless Eight arc interesting. I dunno why though. XD
    I think the one thing that makes people go back and watch the first season is because of all the elements (story, characters and animation) that was of a superb quality compared to anime of today. XD

    • The point of my article is that if more Haruhi came out now, it wouldn’t capture nor improve on what people liked about the first season at this point in time. I didn’t care much for the first season when I revisited it, but I did get its appeal.

      • I know. I’m saying that it still works even if it comes out now because of the balanced elements and KyoAni little touches.
        Haruhi still stands out than most anime of the past years.

  3. Haruhi has been my most favorite series since 2007 – I’ve watched the anime many times (yes, even Endless Eight) and have read all the novels a few times. KyoAni has also been my favorite studio for a few years now. I just adore their style – from every strand of hair on a character’s head that moves when they do, every subtle change in expression, always making something going on in the background of scenes that focus on something else – that kind of care they put into what they do makes me care about what I’m watching even more. They’re a quality over quantity studio, which is why they don’t produce multiple series a year, or even a season. I can’t imagine Haruhi and K-ON being as successful as they were if KyoAni didn’t produce them. It’s true that they stick closely to slice-of-life/moe shows, and I would like to see them go beyond their comfort zone and make a series of an opposing genre. But I certainly don’t blame them for sticking with the style that’s made them so successful. Most people agree that they put a lot of effort and quality into their work, so it mostly boils down to whether you like the genre they focus on and the kind of style they follow.

    Back on Haruhi though, I personally think the future stories get better and better, and I would love to see them animated. You’re right that a third season probably wouldn’t fully restore the series to the glory it had in 2006, but I definitely think a lot of people would tune in and start becoming interested again. By the way, I’m one of the people who worked on the fan translations of novels 10-11. The final chapter of novel 11 in particular (the one I translated and edited) was very exciting, at least for me.

    Well, I could go on and on about why I like Haruhi so much (which I did here if you’re interested: http://animeyume.com/blog/2012/05/18/remembering-love-haruhiism/) and I’m sorry the series hasn’t been able to keep your interest over the years, despite the fact that you’ve read the novels (most people who complain about the series have only watched the anime). I’ve watched a ton of anime over the past few years but Haruhi’s story and characters continue to be special to me.

  4. Pingback: Flowers of Evil: Episode 9 – How Can Something So Slow Be So Fast? | Standing On My Neck

  5. The Melancholy was about Kyon finding about Haruhi’s powers. In The Sigh, he had the deal with those powers. In The Disappearance, he’s faced with a world without her and her powers, and eventually decides to return to his original one. I think that’s enough for a “complete” story.

    I liked the first season and the movie, but not the second season. If someone asked me how to watch Haruhi, I’d tell them to watch the first season in broadcast order, watch Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, then watch the movie.

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