Has it only been two weeks since I was introduced to this show? Five days since I witnessed the first episode? Seems… longer some how. Three years longer. A life time.
It started with an email from Brother Eric. It reads, more or less, like this:
I don’t know how, exactly, buy you have to find a way to watch [The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya] …
I just got done with the first episode, and I haven’t seen anything in the Anime world this frantic and easy to watch since UY – and you know what high praise that is coming from me.
It also has a pretty fantastic end theme song…
See, this is the kinda crap I want to put into a blog…
The second link will take you to a YouTube video of the characters from the animé and, while you might want to go and check it out, I ask that you wait until you have finished the review. In payment for this slight but perhaps unreasonable request, I have embedded the video at the end of this review so that you do not really have to make the effort.
The first link you may click on to your heart’s content. You will note, however, that it’s bad link that goes nowhere. I know I did. It’s a cut-and-paste from the actual email, too, which means that dear Brother Eric sent me a dead link.
I performed my duty as big brother and harassed the ever-loving crap out of him for doing so. Seriously. I turned my mad grammar and spelling skillz (or lack thereof) on him, unleashing terrible grammar and spelling the World Has Never Seen. He was begging for me to stop before I was through with him.
As is right and proper.
But while I was being childish, I was in no way dissing his recommendation. In fact, even with that email, I knew I was going to have to seek it out. For one thing, Eric had been my “gateway”, so to speak, to such fun shows as Tenchi Muyo and Vision of Escaflowne. For another, there had been a point when he looked like he had lost the spark for animé and I just had to see what brought him back.
But then he sent me a second e-mail. Emphasis mine:
Okay, I am officially addicted to this show. I have seen five episodes, and I can’t wait to see the rest. I think this might be my new all-time favorite Anime. Who the heck would ever have thought, watching those old Star-Trek episodes, that the Child-Like-God concept could actually be entertaining and well done?1
That first part, about gaining a new favorite series, threw me for a bit of a loop. Eric’s favorite animé was the aforementioned UY. In full, that would be Urusei Yatsura, which I mentioned at an earlier essay. You don’t state UY is you favorite show.It’s a given. You accept and move on to talk about second and third bests.
What can beat UY?
On this was that whole “Child-Like-God” thing. A bit of research revealed that the title character had a habit of destroying worlds she was bored with, creating new ones to suit her mood. That sounded promising. A sort of It’s a Good Life animé comedy hybrid.
I was so there.
All of this is a long winded forward to the actual review. I want you to understand my mindset before watching the first episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I went in expecting to see a sort of First World, the world Haruhi Suzumiya left to get into the story proper. I expected at the end that everyone and everything in the story to be erased. Humorously, sure, but gone nonetheless. I expected, on top of everything else, to have my mind blown and my ribs shattered from laughter.
What I got was The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00. A cliché piled on cliché story done in true Ed Woods fashion. Scenes missing, put in out of sequence, or simply nonsensical. Bad acting, bad special effects, the works. I can’t tell you how often I squirmed in embarrassment.
As it needs to come in at some point, let’s summarize the episode thusly:
Time Traveling Battle Waitress Mikuru Asahina struggles to make ends meet while protecting the unsuspecting Itsuki Koizumi. Koizumi is an Esper (sort of like an X-man) whose powers can only come out under “special” conditions. His gift is desired by Yuki Nagato, an alien witch.
Put like that, the show doesn’t sound too promising, does it?
God, did I love it. I wouldn’t put it up over UY yet, but it’s a near thing.
See, The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00 is intentionally bad. It is a student film made by Haruhi Suzumiya using members of her club and their friends. She has all of this ambition and energy, but not enough knowledge to pull any of it off. Nor, really awareness of just how off her film is.
So what you have is not Ed Wood but The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Intentional badness, ranging from seeing crew members when you shouldn’t to “actors” breaking out of character to…
You get the idea. I squirmed, because I’d seen films like this. Young people doing their best and failing. I couldn’t help but empathize, but did I get a kick out of it.
This episode alone sold me on the series. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It revealed the world I was entering in only the barest detail (or so I thought). And it didn’t matter. Not in the slightest. I liked it and was ready for the next episode.
Looking back, though, having seen not only the rest of the first DVD but the next volume, I must tell you that, of what I’ve seen, this is the weakest story in the series.
Tomorrow we will speak of the next story, called, oddly enough, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
And now, the mentioned video, so as you might see a small sample of what we’re discussing.
1 Hey, Eric said it, not me. Between you and me, Charlie X and The Squire of Gothos were entertaining and well done enough to forgive their deus ex machina endings. Sure as hell beat any five episodes of the later Trek series…