The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode Mysterique Sign.
The view from 5930 miles away:
OK, so what happens in this episode is there’s this giant cricket which has swallowed the president of the computer club, and it has done that because… well, erm. No, let’s start again. So what happens is there is an alternate space in an apartment which is a bit like a closed space but not the same and then there’s this giant cricket which is a manifestation of… um… no, er, so you see Haruhi draws a new logo for the SOS Brigade and accidentally includes some data and there’s this giant cricket from the dawn of time and hackers or crackers or whatever … um.. and then there’s a girl that isn’t a girl because Nagato wished for her and then this cricket and its friend scarab um.. er…
I give up. Pure sci-fi just isn’t my thing and I don’t think it ever will be. I suspect this will be much more Mike’s kind of thing and will all make perfect sense to him but luckily for me this kind of episode is something Haruhi does mercifully rarely. I don’t get this stuff, and I don’t really want to get it. I would rather be entertained by Haruhi coming up with crazy schemes and dressing Mikuru up in her latest costume. Fortunately the series never abandons the human side of things, and when I say human I mean aspects of the series that are relatable on an emotional level. I don’t wish to exclude Nagato from that, because she’s actually the key to what’s really important about this episode, once you dig beyond all the data cricket from the dawn of time babble.
You see, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya keeps pulling a very clever trick on us. Nagato seems to superficially not have much of a personality. Emotionless beings are a blank and are boring when they are on the side of the good guys, which is why sci-fi often goes out of its way to humanise the emotionless characters. Data in Star Trek: TNG is a prime example. He’s pretty soon trying to be human and behaving all wacky. As an example of the character type done wrong, pick any random Vulcan. Yawwwwwwwwwwn. Sorry about that. To get back to the clever trick, the series keeps questioning the nature of Nagato and whether or not she has feelings. I mentioned last week that it’s no accident she’s the one who ends up with a spinoff series. Kyon says it all at the end of the episode really, when he ponders over Nagato:
“Do you feel lonely when you are alone?”
There’s more to Nagato than meets the eye. And of course the suggestion is that she orchestrated the events of this episode because she was bored in some way. This places her on a par with Haruhi in many ways. Changing the universe around her because she is bored is a very Haruhi thing, and if Nagato is doing it she’s doing so in a much more subtle but perhaps even more dangerous way. Week after week, I’m doing the typing equivalent of biting my lip so as not to give away spoilers, but man is this clever writing in light of what’s coming up. It all adds up to a fabulously rewarding series to re-watch.
While I was sticking my fingers in my ears and going la la la to all the techocricketbabble, I also enjoyed another bit of business this week in terms of human interaction: Kyon vs Koizumi. I can’t be the only one who thinks Koizumi is an insufferable bore, right? No, I think we’re supposed to feel a little uneasy about him, and I just loved Kyon’s narration when Koizumi (as usual) invaded his personal space:
“Don’t act so serious, don’t breathe on me, you’re too close and you’re freaking me out.”
There’s just something about “don’t breathe on me” that sends me off into giggles every time. I bet his breath is minty fresh too, grrrr. In fact, Kyon indirectly sums up the problem with Koizumi near the end of the episode, when he’s doing a bit of soul searching and asking “what the hell am I anyway?” Koizumi does nothing but placate Haruhi, however she behaves. He’s doing it for valid reasons, but he’s a bland sucker upper. As for Kyon:
“I’m the conscience of the SOS Brigade.”
Now that’s more like it. RP
The view from 6,868 miles away:
And the weirdness continues, having shifted away from the standard naming convention to individual titles. Mysterique Sign immediately caught my attention with the name, so I assumed it was a red herring and I’d be left wanting. This would only make sense since the last episode was so good. Thankfully, I was wrong. Mysterique Sign is bizarre and wonderful. The titular Mysterique Sign “looks like a drunken tapeworm” but, like any good glyph since the days of the PC game Thief, such things have power. The sign, a new logo for the SOS Brigade’s website, works in the same mysterious (hint, hint) way that those ominous glyphs did, and the game is afoot!
Which brings me to a great realization: Haruhi is a bit like Sherlock Holmes. While bored, Holmes injects himself with terrible drugs, to Watson’s dismay. Haruhi unwittingly unleashes Godzilla-sized entities on pocket dimension turning them to rubble. I’m sure somewhere in there, we can have a poster: “This is your brains… this is your brains on Boredom…” The SOS Brigade get their first client, the girlfriend of the computer club president, and this is a chance for Haruhi to get away from her boredom and investigate something. However, when she fails to find the missing president in the first place she looks, she gets bored again, so this isn’t a good sign for people trying to stay off Boredom. Of note, the computer club president is not just a random guy, but the same guy who was framed by Haruhi for sexually assaulting Mikuru a few episodes back. Kudos for creating a cohesive world. (Again, I rage: why can’t Doctor Who learn from this! When even a “kids cartoon” can get it right, it seems easy enough! I digress…) I have to say I love the cohesion that keeps this show together. For instance, beyond the computer club president himself, when Haruhi is asking her would-be client about her boyfriend’s potential whereabouts, she suggests Canada, which ties in rather nicely with Ryoko’s disappearance in episode 4. (I’ve been pretty suspect of Canada over the years too, for the record!)
When the group goes back to find the club president without Haruhi, they find themselves in another dimension. Kyon is disappointed with his lack of foreknowledge of what Yuki was planning when he found himself cast into the strange desert so he tries to stop her when she raises her hand the second time. This lead me to another laugh out loud moment. When Yuki goes to point, Kyon just wants to brace himself for whatever she’s about to do, but she was literally just going to point at something behind Kyon. When Kyon turns, a massive swirling mass is right behind him, in a way that probably would have been detected without someone having to point. The odd juxtaposition of a simple, and casual, act of pointing combined with this cosmic horror that is standing behind Kyon is outstanding, funny, and a little bit scary. When it resolves into a camel cricket, I suddenly feel guilty for all the ones I’ve killed in my basement. What if they’ve been here trying to tell me something all these years! Thankfully, none have been brought back to life by a passing scarab, but man, that was funny too! (I went to my basement to see if any were waiting for me with an expectant look of “well?…” but none were there. I’ll be on the lookout.)
To make matters more interesting, it seems the “accessory to the room”, Yuki, may be responsible for the whole affair, having constructed it to stave off Haruhi’s boredom. Kyon suspects, but can’t read Yuki, whose “eyes like liquid helium” reveal nothing. (Some of these lines are the epitome of brilliant and I want to find a way to use them in conversation!) There are some really outstanding lines in the series overall, but this episode really got me with a few of them. Some were simple, like Kyon mentioning that “eight other idiots saw the site…”, meaning anyone who sees the site might be an idiot too, just like him and Haruhi. I also laughed at Kyon’s frustration over who is allowed to knock at the club door and who is not.
Haruhi says the missing club president might have been suffering the May Melancholies and since New Jersey has become Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, complete with missing a plot, I’m going to spend this May afternoon watching another episode. Or two. Might as well see what other mysteries await me! ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Remote Island Syndrome I