The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode The Day of Sagittarius.
The view from 5930 miles away:
The computer club guys are after revenge. How foolish of them. Bringing a challenge to Haruhi is like offering a little child free rein in a sweet shop, and of course she agrees in a heartbeat, before she even knows who is challenging her. On first viewing I found this a really fun episode to watch, but the second time around it somehow felt a bit of a slow one, and I found myself echoing Kyon’s thoughts:
“Come on guys, it’s time to move the story along.”
I think that’s because the episode relies on surprising the viewer, and also the impact of doing unusual things, such as showing Haruhi commanding starships in a fantasy sequence. Having said that, there was plenty to interest me, and this is another of those episodes that is fascinating in terms of characterisation. Unfortunately the characterisation that really matters was a bit off this week. Haruhi is back to her abusive self, offering Yuki (or Mikuru – it’s all the same to Haruhi) as a prize. It’s her major character flaw: treating humans as possessions, but we have just come off a run of episodes that should make her think twice about that.
I am also aware that a big factor in this episode’s popularity for a lot of fans is the many references to various sci-fi anime that I have never watched, so they are lost on me. Apparently the censored scene is due to a rights issue, because Haruhi launches something or other from another series. Sci-fi isn’t particularly my bag.
I did enjoy the fantasy sci-fi sequences though (CGI, rather than the traditional animation, surely?) and of particular interest were the crews of each SOS Brigade member’s starship, each perfectly reflecting their personalities. Haruhi gets a bunch of different aliens, Mikuru gets cute cat creatures, Yuki gets a load of Yukis, Kyon’s is virtually unseen but I think it’s just a normal human crew, and most amusingly Koizumi gets something akin to cardboard cut-outs. Were this a Western animation I suppose we might represent his crew with something like stick men. He gets detail-free humanoids with henohenomoheji faces (a generic human face drawn using hiragana characters), cleverly representing the mystery surrounding the workings of his mind, but also how boring he is. Mr Dull gets the dull crew – I love it!
But in the end this is Yuki’s episode, and the most important so far in setting up what’s to come in the Disappearance arc. There have been plenty of hints that she is far more than an emotionless entity, always subtle and easy to miss, although I have tried to flag some of them up as we have gone along. Here, for the first time, it is made clear that her quiet calmness at all times is not an indication that she doesn’t feel anything.
“Is it just me, or are you having fun over there?”
…and she is, of course, while she hammers away on her “Espon” laptop with lightning-fast fingers. Kyon astutely recognises that, and goes up against Haruhi in suggesting Yuki should be allowed to visit the computer club from time to time if she wants. This is another indication of how Haruhi defers to Kyon, and is possibly a little wary of Yuki as well. Interestingly, Haruhi is not the only one who defers to Kyon. I mentioned a couple of previous occasions where she almost seems to be treating him as her superior, once when following only his instruction to open a door in Remote Island Syndrome, and once when gaining his tacit permission to display her damaged hand in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Here is our clearest indication so far, with Yuki at pains to point out that her rewriting of the game is “not disobeying your orders”, but then still turning to Kyon and asking “may I?” before pressing the final key.
“Are you doing this because you want to win?”
Perhaps. Or maybe she’s doing this because she wants to please Kyon, the only person in the world whose opinion seems to matter to her, just like Haruhi. But the true extent of her feelings remains a mystery, for now… RP
The view from 6,868 miles away:
My son and I sat down to watch the penultimate episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya. In total, I’ve enjoyed the series way more than I expected but there were a number of let-downs. I expected more scifi, for one thing. So when this episode opened with some amazing space battle animation, I was both excited and surprised. What happened? How did we get here? Did I put on a different, parallel-universe version of the series? Surely I was watching something from another dimension. OH, sure, this must be a closed space… No?
Before our super-strange-though-increasingly-addictive opening music, there is a space battle raging and Haruhi is going into it full speed ahead. Kyon convinces her to ease up, and she listens. Then the backstory begins. But there’s something of interest first. It’s that she listens to Kyon. In the previous episode, when Kyon is referred to as “your friend” to Haruhi, she seems to ponder that for a moment, then she runs off. Did she want to hear “your boyfriend”? Here, on the cusp of a major space battle of unknown origin, she again listens to him. She is definitely in love with him; of that I’m sure. This, or the final episode, will undoubtedly go into that. But for now… space battles!!!
When the computer club president comes asking for a duel, duel, duel, duel, Kyon is worried that if he doesn’t stop saying duel, Haruhi will… oh ok, there it was, out of the blue. She flies through the air and dropkicks the club president and accepts his challenge. It’s a laugh out loud moment that I loved. Right away, I understood, they were playing a computer game at the beginning of the episode and we were seeing their imagination of what was happening on screen. (This game clearly predates Star Trek Bridge Crew!) I also understood right away that the computer class was going to cheat. Luckily, Haruhi’s team includes an alien/robot/data integration entity and Yuki is able to reprogram the game while playing. It’s an incredibly triumphant moment and leads to some great scenes. Sometimes you can love a thing even if there’s not much to it. This episode didn’t build on a lot, but it does offer some small character insights and a LOT of fun action.
I fully admit, there’s not a lot of allegory here and the Kyon/Haruhi relationship isn’t a focal point, but if you’re paying attention, you pick up on it. There’s an “invisible trust” according to Koizumi, between Kyon and Haruhi and Kyon gives her energy. So while not a key point, there are undertones of the relationship that exists. We are getting more hints about these two. But beyond that, it’s a straight up good story with some amazing visuals, and equally amazing music. Lacking are some of the more memorable comedic lines, but that drop kick made up for a lot. Although I won’t say it’s totally absent. Kyon’s reply to Koizumi is quite comical: “Praise from you wouldn’t make me feel any better!”
I am certain, with a title like Someday in the Rain, this last one will be a nice wrap-up and we will finally see Haruhi and Kyon come together. Oh what the hell… I’ll watch it now. I’m dying to know how it ends. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Someday in the Rain