Archive for the 'Ascaloth' Category

[Ascaloth] Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (2009), Episode 24: Suzumiya Haruhi no Tameiki V

A turn of the body, a glimpse of an armband with the words "Ultra Director" of it, and a face bearing a shit-eating grin, were the first real glimpses of the titular character of the 2006 hit series, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu. It was the last moments of the pilot episode of the 2006 broadcast of the series, The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00, taken just after the group soon to be known as the SOS Brigade have completed their in-house project for their school’s cultural festival. For the past month, the Sighs arc have covered the erstwhile unseen behind-the-scenes events of the production of the student amateur movie, and this week, the new material of the 2009 broadcast comes to an end as the wild and wacky events of the Sighs arc draws to a close with Sighs V.

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (2009), Episode 24: Suzumiya Haruhi no Tameiki V.

And the secret of Yuki’s ventriloquism scene is revealed; much like the infamous Mikuru Beam scene before it, it was no cinematic trick at all, but a fluke result of Haruhi’s imagination running away with her unconscious reality-warping powers. And not only does the cat actually end up talking for real, it comes with a dry wit and a pseudo-philosophical bent to rival Itsuki’s as part of the package as well.

You know the cast have cracked when they start philosophizing with a cat.

Though the dire situation arising from the spat between Kyon and Haruhi has been averted, this still leaves the tricky fact that Haruhi’s imagination is still continuing to fuel the strange phenomena that has been appearing since the start of the production. With the appearance of the talking cat being the tipping point, the situation may not be as unthinkable as the end of the world which was on the brink of happening the previous time, but it is dire enough that it may well have become necessary to intervene.

Though the question is; intervene how? As the source of all the strange phenomena apparently stems simply from Haruhi’s runaway imagination, the obvious solution is to rein that imagination in. Which is perhaps easier said than done; for although "it was all a dream" might be a sufficient solution, it’s so stale a trop that it seems unlikely that Haruhi would accept such a trite ending to her pet project, even as amateurish as the product is already turning out to be.

For our first song, we will be singing Fuwa Fuwa Time….

Where did these guys come from?

Oh, ho. So this is when Kyon obtained the discount coupon he cashed in at the yakisoba cafe in Live Alive.

Things seem to be going relatively smoothly on the surface within the SOS Brigade, but perhaps all is not as it seems. The existence of the three factions within the Brigade has long been common knowledge, but this is pretty much the first time we’re made aware of the possible conflicts between the three factions, behind the eyes of the center of their universe, Haruhi, as well as the closest satellite in orbit to that center, none other than Kyon himself. Whose philosophy is the right one? Was the world really created three years ago by Haruhi herself, or has it always existed in this state since whatever beginning it might have had, immeasurable billions of years ago? Either way, what implications does this have for the very existence of the conflicting factions as personified by the three extraordinary members of the Brigade?

And, this is but only the viewpoints we have heard from the three sides, as heard through Kyon’s perspective himself. What guarantee is there that any of them, if there is even one among the three that qualifies that is, are telling the truth? The Time Travellers say they believe that the world has always been this way, and Haruhi is but an anomaly in the timestream; who can confirm that their mouthpiece Mikuru truly does believe that, or if she’s lying outright, or even if she has any real knowledge about her faction’s true beliefs and motivations?

The mysterious Organization initially stated their majority belief as being that Haruhi is a Goddess who created the world, and all its attendant curiosities (such as themselves) a mere three years ago; but if Itsuki’s contradiction a mere several months later is any indication, how do we know they’re stating the truth as they know it either, and how much or little do they really know about the situation anyway?

If any faction is closest to the truth of this particular universe, one might think the intelligent data lifeform known as the Integrated Data Sentient Entity would be it; yet, as their TFI terminal Yuki honestly stated; their "self-evolution" theory is what they say they believe in, but how can we confirm for certain the truth in their statements when in all likelihood, we humans probably can’t even begin to comprehend the Cthulhu-ian perspective of these aliens? And if we can’t even begin to comprehend, how are we even to start sifting out whatever ulterior motivations that the IDSE may have?

Pew pew pew

Haruhi has always had a track record of somehow missing the very things she’s looking for right under her nose due to her "common sense", but it strikes me that throughout the Sighs arc, Haruhi is either absent, conveniently distracted, or even entirely oblivious whenever one of the numerous strange phenomena happens, even if she’s supposedly the cause of them all. It’s not as if the SOS Brigade have the ability to go out of their way to keep everything a secret from Haruhi after all, which makes one wonder; is Haruhi really just so unlucky in a queer way as to never seem to find what she’s looking for, or is there an external force out there which is preventing her from realizing something’s up? Yuki mentioned that the external force is "us" as in the other members of the SOS Brigade, but clearly there’s only so much Kyon and Co. could do; are there hidden resources in play on the part of the three faction representatives, or is it something else altogether?

It also strikes me how three times in a row, each time Haruhi sticks a contact into Mikuru, the latter somehow ends up almost ending Kyon right there and then if not for either Yuki, or plain blind luck. If all the strange phenomena, the variants of the Mikuru Beam included, are the result of Haruhi’s runaway imagination, what does that suggest about Haruhi’s subconscious perception of Mikuru?

Om nom nom nom

Well, I suppose there’s probably at least one good use for Haruhi’s imagination-supercharged reality-warping powers. Perhaps Kyon could have "suggested" that she bring back other extinct species, like the dodo, the Tasmanian wolf, and such. Maybe she can even be provoked to bring back the dinosaurs….who would probably prompty proceed to rampage through all of human civilization. Erm….yeah. Scratch that last idea.

Dude, you look like a host who’s had a tough time with a lady customer tonight.

Fine details and subplot don’t matter? The ending not even confirmed? Perhaps even leaving stories incomplete? Hmmm….there’s been some talk about Haruhi being perfect for the position of Sunrise Director recently, but I don’t think that’s quite the case, although she’s certainly almost there. She just lacks one final ingredient; if only she’ll throw Kyon into the movie as well to engender some unwarranted homoeroticism for the fangirls, she’ll be all set. ;)

It’s very telling that whenever Itsuki talks of Haruhi in some sort of positive light or glowing term, he almost immediately gets a dark look from Kyon, and is forced to backtrack or recover. Normally I’d say it’s just a one-time fluke, but the fact that this happened 15,532 times before in Endless Eight makes me think this might not be quite the case. Perhaps, Itsuki isn’t just following Haruhi around with a smiling face simply because he’s just playing a role?

Continuing on from the train of thought about the three factions revolving around Suzumiya Haruhi, what kind of conflictory relationship do the three factions really have in relation to each other, as well as to Haruhi? What does it mean that the Time Travellers saw fit to warn Kyon, our window perspective into this world, about the duplicity of the Organization, and in turn, the Organization saw fit to respond in likewise by informing Kyon about the nature of the "honey trap" laid out for him by the Time Travellers? Assuming that both accusations are true, what does it say about the motives of both factions that they saw fit to attempt to sabotage each other in their efforts to get Kyon’s ear? More tellingly, what does it say about themselves that they saw fit to resort to such tactics to begin with? And not to forget, where does the IDSE lie in all this? Are they really just bystanding observers, watching as the other factions having a go at each other behind the scenes? Or are they even more active than they appear, their manipulations actually even more insidious than mere duplicity and honey-trapping?

Whatever the case may be, it’s very telling that even the usually unflappable, flawlessly FABULOUS Itsuki can actually be brought to a point where he would drop the facade just a little, and show his true fatigue at the cloak-and-dagger stuff pervading the secret part of the double life he’s leading. It just makes you think, who are these people? The only thing that can be said about them in common is; they all have the goal at least of maintaining the status quo around their common point of interest, Suzumiya Haruhi. That is what they’ll all work towards, at least.

With that said, the endless task of maintaining the status quo revolves at the moment around the question of; how to make Haruhi accept that her fictional world and reality are separate, and thus put at end to the strange phenomena her over-active imagination is causing? From the looks of things, they have finally managed to finish the filming while achieving exactly just that, so we’ll see in a moment just how they accomplished it.


But it isn’t Haruhi without mysteries, and to draw an entire Sighs arc full of mysteries to a close, we are left with one last mystery; if Kyon fell asleep, who was the one who finished editing the movie, even if it was with the most cheapo of visual effects? Yuki’s epic h4x does indeed seem to be the most likely candidate, but one can’t really rule out the possibility that it’s just one last hurrah from Haruhi’s imaginative subconscious, the very same source of all the hilarity which has been ensuing for the past 4 episodes.

And the answer to what seemed like an increasingly dire situation; the utterly mundane solution of having the Ultra Director narrate the standard disclaimer of all fictional film works. Sometimes, I think the Haruhi franchise is really a showcase of how the most mundane things have a profound psychological impact on all of us, even if it’s nigh invisible most of the time. Perhaps the Haruhiverse is but the titular character’s materialization of what we really all have; a rich inner world where anything and indeed everything can happen?

And with Sighs at an end, we are brought back to the time just after the last moments of the Melancholy arc, where it was only Kyon and Haruhi alone on that particular outing, and also where Kyon tried to out the true identities of the other Brigade members to the Chief. In vain, of course, for such a ridiculous notion couldn’t pass even the warped common sense of the girl known as Suzumiya Haruhi, who still believes she’s stuck in a mundane, uninteresting world despite her desire for something more, a lot more. However, it does explain why Yuki, Mikuru and Itsuki eventually got tagged with the suspiciously apt roles in the movie project much later on, and why Kyon was wondering whether such a coincidence was his fault.

And with that, the new material of the 2009 broadcast is at an end, with the showcase being Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, the Sighs arc, and not least of all, the infamous Endless Eight. How was it all at the very end, though perhaps 4 more episodes remain until the broadcast actually ends for real? The 2006 pilot broadcast was a ground-breaking hit that truly set a standard back in the day, and indeed, it would always be a tall order if even possible for any sequel to really come within reach of that sky-high bar. In that respect, the 2009 broadcast was probably not even trying to do the impossible; instead, it was a filling in of what holes the 2006 broadcast had with the erstwhile missing context material, as well as perhaps simply having a little fun of their own, as evidenced by Endless Eight.

Was this new broadcast a failure? Many might say that, but somehow I don’t really think so. Is it a success? Not to the extend of its first iteration, that’s for sure. Was Endless Eight a fiasco? Perhaps to many, but I saw the humour in it all the same even if it tested even my patience. Could it have been better? Perhaps. Will there ever be a Disappearance? Who knows, but I think it’s quite probably it will come….in the form of a movie. It would work well in that format after all, plus it will get KyoAni out of having to animate such material as Intrigues and Snow Mountain Syndrome until, say, 3 years later.

But ultimately, did I have fun? Oh yeah; with the old episodes, with the new material, even with Endless Eight. In the end, it’s still Haruhi, with all the fun and the headaches that come along with it. And you know, I’ll settle for that just fine. And really, that’s all that matters.

やれやtれ。 Ascaloth of RIUVA, signing out!

[Ascaloth] Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (2009), Episode 23: Suzumiya Haruhi no Tameiki IV

The Haruhi Express rolls ever on and on, picking up several temporary passengers in its wake as the non-entity Kunikida, "wawawa" Taniguchi, and the all-time cult favourite Tsuruya joins in on the shits and giggles, even if only for a while. But even as the Ultra Director continues to throw her weight around in the production process, she has not long left to remain oblivious of the discord her horrid behaviour has sown in her Brigade members; be it the pretty face who’s doomed to serve as her dress-up doll, or the yes-man who has to maintain his FABULOUS veneer at all costs, or even the silent follower who suffered 15,532 iterations of the same two weeks at her subconscious whim. Yet, it falls to the one who has the most emotional investment in the capricious Goddess to set Her straight, even if he denies it in vain.

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (2009), Episode 23: Suzumiya Haruhi no Tameiki IV.

Awww, that was not nearly enough LOL from LOL-tan from me. Truth be told, Tsuruya’s laughter most definitely has a mysterious charm to it; the Mikuru 00 laughter scene that cemented her status as the dark horse favourite of the Haruhi franchise is certainly no fluke at this point. I am hoping that I’ll get to see that particular moments "behind the scenes" when the time comes, in fact. Can’t get enough of LOL-tan’s laughing. ^_^

Oooo laaaa laaaaa. Now why did this not make it into Mikuru 00? :(

Can’t get enuff lovin’, oooooh yeeeeah…..

"What did you….inject into me this time?"

….riiiiight. I get a feeling I’m going to have some wonderful dreams tonight. Anyway, let’s move on. ^_^

Sometimes, Itsuki says something that makes me wonder if his FABULOUS facade is not really as hard an act to keep up as it might appear. Since his "part-time job" is to deal with the literally giant monstrosities of Haruhi’s subconscious, perhaps he’s not entirely bullshitting whenever he says he much prefers dealing with whatever crazy shit Haruhi can cook up in the real world, or as far as they can tell. Giant-slaying missions probably aren’t all that easy even with esper powers after all, so dealing with the Brigade Chief in person might actually be a cakewalk in comparison.

"The world is too heavy for my two shoulders."

Really? Weren’t you the one who said the world sure isn’t worth much these days? ^_^

You know, it beats me why I’ve never really noticed until now, but Haruhi really comes up with a lot of bull on the spot. Does her many natural (or God-given, who knows?) talents include one for bullshitting on the fly, or does she simply get loads of inspiration from other sources, fictional or otherwise?

….hmmm. A talent for bullshitting on the fly. Fuck, that sounds like me. -_-

Considering that Haruhi has probably been at her most capricious ever in the Sighs arc, I’m surprised that it took Kyon as long as he did to start getting really pissed. Even the most apathetic minion has a boiling point though, and sometimes that boiling point is reached surprisingly quickly….

"What kind of evil do I have to do to live in this kind of house?"

I’m fairly interested in the answer to this question myself, actually. ^_^

On another note…..Tsuru-chan. Hmmm. That does have something of a nice ring to it. I wonder if it’ll catch on amidst the many nicknames that Tsuruya already has amongst her fans, however….

Back during the 2006 broadcast, a scene where the SOS Brigade gets completely smashed was left out of the Lone Island Syndrome arc, apparently due to Japanese broadcast laws about the depiction of minors and alcoholic drinks. This brought up some discussion about whether the same would happen with this scene….and while Tsuruya spiked Mikuru’s dirnk with tequila in the novel, KyoAni turned it into amazake here instead. Quite a smart way to circumvent the laws, but it just makes Mikuru look even sadder than she already is, and that’s saying a lot. Are people of the future really this intolerant of even the bit amount of alcohol that amazake does contain?

Kyon said that Koizumi was going to get a lot of death threats for this. For some reason, I felt that much the same could be said of Mikuru herself, if the fangirls at Itsuki’s rendition of Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are any indication.

Oh yes that scowl! I’ve waited so long to see it again! ^_^

"Director, this is a bit much for me."

Because Mikuru-chan isn’t your type, if you mean what I think you’re meaning?

Drunk Mikuru was great. Still can’t hold a candle to drunk Nagisa though. ^_^

And the capriciousness of Haruhi finally and inevitably comes to a head, as she crosses the line that snaps Kyon’s already-frayed nerves, leading to pretty much the most emotionally-intense sequence ever in the series, past or present. The girl has always been a capricious one, but this is Haruhi at her worst, at her most sociopathic, at her greatest embodiment of the dark side of her infamous personality. This, too, was Kyon at his touchiest and most critical, but it almost seems as if nothing less is required to contain Haruhi’s insatiable caprice.

Even back in 2006, it was clearly shown that the time Haruhi spent with Kyon and the SOS Brigade had softened and developed her from a near-sociopathic megalomaniac to a merely eccentric, even lovable still-a-megalomaniac; this, then, is probably the turning point for that change in her character. Come to think of it, this affords an even more powerful context to the already-sublime introspection sequence for Haruhi in Live Alive, when Kyon filled in the blanks in Haruhi’s stream of thought by mentioning that she never really Petted the Dog until that moment. This was her Kick the Dog moment that served as the most direct context to the former, so….wow.

I take my words back. Drunk Mikuru is at least as awesome as Drunk Nagisa. Now excuse me while I go have a cold shower.

I think the source of Tsuruya’s popularity is simply that there is a charm to her personality, that shines through even when she is more serious and less genki. She’s like a more tolerable version of Haruhi, and in fact, she resembles what a real-life Genki Girl would be like; you may get exhausted being dragged along with her antics, but you definitely won’t get bored.

What would I do if I gained Haruhi’s reality-warping powers for a day? Hmmm….the possibilities are endless. I could start listing the things I’ll do with that power….if not for the fact that I realized pretty quickly that I’ll never get to the end of that list. ^_^"

It’s not just Haruhi; Itsuki seems to be a pretty high-level bullshitter as well, if the fact that he can come up with one theory and then proceed to throw out a contradictory one mere months later is any indication. It makes one wonder whether Itsuki really knows a lot less about the situation than he’s letting on; out of his mouth, which is truth and which is just made-up bullshit? On the other hand, one can easily empathize with what is really a simple motivation on his part; merely to keep the world the way he remembers and loves it. If I’m not wrong, this is pretty much the one time we see more to Itsuki’s character than his usual FABULOUS veneer.

For some reason, I was thinking that with Haruhi’s powers, she should be able to make the day depressingly stormy and overcast to suit the depressive mood she’s feeling inside. It would have been pretty neat if she actually did that, that’s for sure.

Are we all Kyons, who secretly wish for a Haruhi to drag us out of our comfort zone to really live life? I brought that question up 15,532 several times during the Endless Eight arc, and now it seems as if Kyon himself has finally wised up as to why he’s made a habit of visiting the clubroom, despite seemingly always exasperated by Haruhi’s crazy stunts. It was hilarious how he wised up, not smoothly and naturally, but rather figuratively kicking and screaming, as if he didn’t want to be dragged away from his childish cynical attitude towards everything. For some reason, I feel as if that’s how most of us would actually end up maturing; kicking and screaming our way out of immaturity. :p


An inexplicably cute deredere at first….

….and then the return of that self-confident grin. Now that’s the Suzumiya Haruhi I remember. ^_^

I think I might have said the phrase "Ending the world is one thing" a couple too many times recently, but….I’ll say it again. Ending the world is one thing, but able to make the sakura bloom out of season on a mere subconscious whim….what can someone who can consciously manipulate the power do with it? What kind of world would result from a Goddess who has the power and knows about it?

Individual sakura petals gracing the background. Now that’s the KyoAni I remember. ^_^

One of the greatest crises in the short history of the SOS Brigade have been averted, albeit not without some unforeseen circumstances. Nevertheless, now that the worst feelings of its principal members have more or less been worked out, the shoot can go on, as it always must. Now, comes the origin story of the cat which appeared with Imouto in the OP, and which "talked" in Mikuru 00 through Yuki’s inexplicable skill with ventriloquism. However, if the Mikuru Beam was "real" in a sense, is there anything else in the movie we can take for granted any more?

Ascaloth, out.