Archive for the “melancholy of haruhi suzumiya” Category

Yuki and Ryoko.

I watched The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya at Anime Festival Asia X.

It was awesome.

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At the World Cosplay Summit Singapore (Round 1) today, at West Coast Plaza for a tangential purpose, I had an entertaining time explaining the concept of a cosplayer cosplaying as a cosplayer.

Konata-as-Haruhi is a pretty common sight at anime-related events these days. I welcome this, because I find such meta-cosplay fascinating.

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Vanishment OST cover.

I've obviously not seen The Vanishment of Haruhi Suzumiya yet, since it's, yanno, not released. (Well, I suppose it's technically released now in Japan, but I am not in Japan. More's the pity.) I have been listening to the soundtrack, though.

It is amazing.

I don't know how much of it is my bias in viewing anything related to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya favourably. And yet, while listening to the soundtrack, I can imagine the whole thing in my head, which I admit is likely to pale in comparison with the actual movie. (I blame this on a lack of imagination.)

The themes behind the tracks flow together very well, and so I cannot quite section them off into distinct segments in a mental timeline, but taking the broad view, I can vaguely picture the performance in five acts:

ACT I: Kyon wakes up, has fun with the SOS Brigade (even though he would never admit it), and things are normal, in its abnormality. It's strange and exciting and tiring to keep up with all the wacky hijinks, but Kyon is used to it. This is normal for him.

ACT II: Kyon wakes up, goes to school as usual, and… something is wrong. Something is just so slightly off about everything, not quite the same sort of normal he is used to, and he heads to class, and why is she there. And perhaps more importantly, why is she not there.

ACT III: Kyon struggles with what he believes to be the truth, and the evidence around him. Is this a dream? Was the life he knew a dream? Is this "normal"? What is normal, anyway?

ACT IV and V: I don't know how many people have read the story in its light novel form (translated or otherwise), so I'll just leave the rest unspoken for fear of spoilers.

Perhaps this is what is meant by a musical narrative.

There's also a bonus collection of Erik Satie's works, which appear to have been further injected into the anime fandom consciousness due to his first Gymnopedie being used in the trailer. I like listening to them (I have a CD or two somewhere of various Gymnopedies, although I can't remember where they are), but honestly my love goes out almost entirely to the first and last tracks: arrangements of "Itsumo no Fuukei", which I consider to be the unofficial theme of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

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Ryouko as imagined in Lucky Star.

I'm not entirely sure why I have to try to come up with some sort of theme titling for posts about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It's invariably "The Something of Someone", and I am not so creative as to come up with a great many versions (possibly 15,498, or even 15,853) of this. And yet, there is the niggling feeling that this is somehow expected of me.

I picked up the second volume of the Haruhi-chan manga a couple of days ago, possibly in the vague intention of having something concrete and non-transient to remind me of the highly amusing incidents therein. I've not had much time to do anything other than a quick skimming, or indeed much time to do anything. I'd say I'm on the depressive cycle of manic-depression, but since I'm not (formally) diagnosed with such, I won't. It's just plain listlessness.

Haruhi-chan has helped in perking me up a little, and I suspect that it's because if I'm reading it, I'm likely not also reading forums or blogs or such: in other words, I'm not interacting with the fandom. This leaves me free to actually enjoy what I'm doing, rather than having to defend my enjoyment of it from the inevitable complaints, flames, and the other hazards of the Internet.

I have, it appears, gone back to basics.

It's always a pleasure to indulge in my hobbies as hobbies, rather than obligations. I know I'll receive all sorts of comments about Remembering to Do This Blog for Fun, which I'm still not sure how to answer: I tend to want to ramble on about whatever is on my mind at the moment, but this only really works in private. Once I have a public blog, I have to watch what I say, because posting these ramblings count as having published them, and now I have to be able to defend what I say. Invariably, the negative comments will get challenged far more than the positive sort, so I try to remain upbeat.

It's tiring, but it's not a matter of choice: if I say something, I must be able to defend it, or retract it as required. To behave otherwise is to shirk the responsibility I have due to the power of merely having a blog. If I claim to be posting my thoughts, I should be actually doing so; anything else would be at least unintentionally misleading, if not outright dishonest. I don't pretend to have a full grasp on the necessary vocabulary for expressing myself, so misunderstandings are inevitable, but that only means I should try even harder to avoid miscommunication.

I knew this when I started this blog, of course. It's something I've come to accept… which, of course, doesn't mean I don't resent it at times.

But I digress. Reading Haruhi-chan has the bonus of being able to see the miscellaneous illustrations the artist has seen fit to use as space-filler, and these are what reminded me of at least part of my love for MoHS: cute girls.

No, really.

I've never made any secret of my appreciation for the fine female form, presumably since I Do Not Get Any in Real Life. I'm well aware that this is escapist fantasizing, and I would never objectify Real Women like this, entirely because I am fully cognizant of the differences between fiction and reality. (I honestly think I'd gouge my own eyes out before I'd treat Real People in the consequence-free manner I could treat Fictional Characters. Not the consequences for me; the consequences for them.) But I will spend an uncomfortably long time staring at a picture of, say, Ryouko Asakura, divorced from the Truth about her personality as displayed in the canon, and simply admire how good she looks.

The same goes for Emiri Kimidori. It's my side character preferences acting up again, I suspect. This may be why I'm looking forward to new chapters of that Yuki Nagato spin-off manga, which hopefully has more of these characters without the plot portcullis slamming down on any further appearances.

All these characters pale, however, against Sonou Mori, the Organization member disguised as a maid. The illustration on page 37 of the second volume of Haruhi-chan (according to the Taiwanese translation copy, anyway) is a fine example of a sexy, sexy lady.

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From Sighs 1.

Schadenfreude is not especially prominent in my personality (l'esprit de l'escalier is), and to be honest I don't really find The Endless Torment Of Mikuru Asahina all that entertaining. Of course, later it turns into comedy through repetition, and Mikuru's superhumanly resilient optimism and cheer makes it seem like all the abuse that is heaped upon her is not that serious. It's okay to laugh along. It's okay.

After all, most people I know seem perfectly content to laugh at Taniguchi's misfortunes. There may be a double standard here.

Despite my tendency to skip past the harrassment of Mikuru's person by Haruhi, fate, or both, I find the music of "Higeki no Heroine" ("Tragic Heroine") to be apropos, in situation and title. Mikuru would have been the heroine in another show, probably shoujo, and "tragedy" seems to be a good descriptor of what appears to be the default template for these characters. Despite the existence of two other possible theme songs for Mikuru, one of which is associated with "non-Haruhi" while the other is "too much Haruhi", when I think of Mikuru, the tango comes to mind immediately.

And the incredibly overwrought solo violin, possibly the World's Smallest, places the situation in the comedic context it is intended to be in. (The orchestral version, here along with two other tracks ("Invitation to the Unexpected" and "Beach Vacation"), makes for a startlingly fun showcase of the lead violin.) The strong melodic line is lyrically tempting:

Oh what a tragedy
For a heroine like me
I don't want to be
In this club especially
What is that costume for?
Why are you locking the door?
Oh how can this be
Kyon-kun, help me!

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Giving a little push.

Possibly the most pathetic sort of blog post is the one that promises future blog posts, without actually containing any substance in itself.

The whole Kyonko thing is, incredibly, still going on. Perhaps not as feverishly as before, but various new fanmade material are being put out in various languages, although primarily Japanese and English. In that time, I've heard all sorts of criticisms about this phenomenon. The most common appear to be the usual screed against fanfiction, fanworks, and fan interpretations in general, claiming that by altering the canon, we are somehow blaspheming against the creator's vision. It's the sort of thing that I can't really counter: I don't agree with that viewpoint, but I can't come up with any sort of reason apart from "just because I disagree". If I tried to pass that off as a valid excuse to change other people's minds, I'd get rightly reamed in debate.

Other arguments against The Genderbending of Haruhi Suzumiya include a more specific distaste for altering the characters' genders, both in the physical and sociological sense. And then there are the simultaneous complaints that we are altering the canon too much, and not altering it enough.

The AnimeSuki thread about the phenomenon is still in existence, although the focus has shifted thanks to the project leaders losing interest in a straight novel conversion. My careful withdrawal from what they are doing right now is something that will have to wait for another post, since I'd rather not end up having to retract what I say in favour of something only marginally more accurate to my meaning.

Which isn't to say that I'm completely out of it, of course. I'm just not working on the Current Hot Project; small little fanfictional efforts are still within the realm of possibility. This is, unfortunately, not going very well, mainly because I appear to have lost the ability to characterize.

To be honest, most of my previous efforts were based on my usual shorthand-simplification method of writing fanfiction: reduce the character to their bold strokes outline, assign them an easily-remembered voice and tone, and things generally work out from there. By this system, Kyonko is the world as written by a tsundere, trying to be cool and aloof like the typical teenager, but protesting against Haruki's antics a little too much. Haruki Suzumiya, for his part, always shouts! Using exclamation marks! He's very excitable! And impatient! He also complains about the shortcomings of others! Repeatedly!

For Mitsuuru Asahina, I took the much-maligned personality of the Generic Spineless Non-Perverted Harem Comedy Male Lead, and gave it to him more or less unchanged, since it seemed appropriate. Itsuko Koizumi gets to copy-and-paste from Wikipedia. Yuuki Nagato is fairly easy to write: any time he has dialogue, I strip it out. Yuuki communicates by staring: "yes" becomes a stare, "no" becomes a stare, "pass the salt" becomes a stare… somehow Kyonko always knows what it means. (Cf Discworld's Librarian, ie "ook".)

I may be exaggerating for effect, but likely far less than you might think. I've been told that I characterize well, which always makes me feel guilty, but I suspect that coming up with subtly-nuanced and complex characters is mostly for the author's benefit, since readers will only remember the vague generalities anyway. (I'm not saying that it's not necessary to come up with complex characters, but that's another blog post in itself.)

The current problem I'm facing (apart from having little motivation to work on the actual novel rewrites, thus keeping myself to fanfiction) is that I kind of need to explain some mind-numbingly complicated theory, which allows me both Itsuko and Yuuki as mouthpieces, but it is highly improbable that Kyonko will let them infodump without snarky commentary. The theory (about multiverses, largely obtained from several science fiction books of varying hardness) is difficult enough to understand without the reader getting distracted by pained attempts at humour. And yet walls of text are also unwelcome, leaving me with the version of writers' block whereby I know what I want to write, but I don't know how to write it.

I have newfound respect for Tanigawa Nagaru for being able to explain stuff like Euler's planar graph formula in a coherent and entertaining manner, even through a layer (or two) of translation.

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Inspired by the Discworld Procrascinators.

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Mikuru in a yukata. Again.

Real Life is working me particularly hard these days. I anticipated this, and posted one of my two-posts-a-week early, but I am left with one more to go. I am afraid this is it.

Unlike many other bloggers of the realm, I don't actually mind the endlessness of the eights that have been the theme of the past few "second season" episodes. I've mentioned before that I wouldn't mind seeing an endless stream of Slice Of Life involving cute anime girls and the sort of comedy I have become used to from the anime I watch. This is what the "Endless Eight" set of episode provide, and my belief has been borne out in practice. I was bored by Sister Princess because the comedy was lacking; I remain enamoured of Lucky Star because the elements were all there. Hidamari Sketch had all this and more, which is why it is one of my favourites.

The continuation of "Endless Eight" to a fourth episode surprised me, because I did not think that it could be done. But I did not think it could have lasted more than one episode either, so I have been just as endlessly surprised by the distinct variations on the same theme. The staff of Kyoto Animation definitely have more imagination than I do.

I have been trying to avoid the… well, not the fandom as such. I do not think these people can be called fans. Former fans, some of them, but not all. Anti-fans seems more like it: jumping into every thread about the series to lambast anyone with a positive mindset for being "sheep" and following "groupthink". This is often aimed at The Fandom, but when people who identify as being in The Fandom complain, we are told that we are over-sensitive. I have never really understood this line of reasoning: if you splatter an area with mud, bystanders may feel annoyed.

After all, I believe that I came by my opinions fairly and independently. But if they are effectively identical to that which is accused of being Groupthink, then there's no real point, is there? How far should I be Different for the sake of being Different?

It is a mystery.

Also, the reason why I'm particularly careful about how I phrase my negative comments is because one of the things I've learned, if only in theory, is that hyperbole and exaggeration seldom apply to the defamation defence of honest opinion. The law of defamation protects reputation and standing, not ego, and it is this thin line I toe.

Of course, I don't expect I'll ever get sued for defamation on my blog, but I doubt many people expected the RIAA or whatnot to sue whatever the latest music-downloader. Best to be safe, and all that.

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The same picture everyone else used.

I admit that I'm not entirely certain what to think about hearing "Koi no Mikuru Densetsu" as played by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

There's something strangely compelling about listening to pop music, as in popular music that is of interest to the teeming masses, as played by an orchestra. Or a full choir chanting something vaguely Latinesque, going "Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine" or "Rex tremendae majestatis" or "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi" and so on to the tune, because apparently Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor is just about the only piece of music in Latin many popular composers are willing to make use of.

That might be a bit unfair, of course. We've got our own example of an alternative, Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ("Veni, creator spiritus, mentes tuorum visita") in the sixth chronological episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and occasionally composers make up their own ("Cum historia mutat valde, Razgriz revelat ipsum primum daemon scelestus est"). But I digress.

Part of it might be the sheer effort required in getting all these people together, in a setting normally expected to be a stuffy, bourgeois concert hall, performing with great pomp and professionalism something that was originally sung (badly) in MIDI by a combat waitress from the future in a bunnysuit. The incongruity makes such an arrangement unlikely, which is why it is so fascinating when it actually happens.

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Yes, I know. Trust me, with Card Captor Sakura, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Discworld, just assume that the news turns up quite punctually in my brain on the dot by some form of MAGIC.

MoHS is an odd fandom to talk about. For one thing, it's quite difficult to spoil the show, or rather discuss the show without spoiling it. Quite apart from the now-famous revelation about Haruhi's powers, the way both anime and light novels skip around in the timeline (in the latter case, bringing a sense of reminiscence on Kyon's part) means that anyone seeking an explanation of some confusing minutiae would likely end up knowing the events of episodes yet to be aired or even created. It has all gone a bit quantum, really.

Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody was everything I expected, which made me happy. I am still basking in what a less prudish (and probably much more experienced) blogger would label the afterglow, but which I have no real term for. Everything is as it should be: god's in her heaven, all's right with the world.

It is probably a lost cause for me to glean any sort of coherent reaction from this, so I'm not going to try.

The reaction on the fandom has been intriguing to watch. I would even say that it was fun to watch the outpourings of positive emotions on various forums and channels in realtime, as the episode aired. I've always been happier being around other happy people, rather than the usual Internet pastime of complaining about more or less everything.

I've kind of fallen out of the whole TVTropes thing, mainly because while reading the articles on that wiki has not exactly lost its charm, I really don't want to deal with the whole rename wars anymore, and I'm reminded of it every time I see a trope page which is obviously named for humour value rather than clarity. Nevertheless, I have read complaints that KyoAni/Kadokawa/whoever is actually responsible is airing the episodes in chronological order without regard to which season they belong in, and this is very confusing or some such. Being that at least some of these people complained back in 2006 that the non-chronological order sucked for being confusing, I think I am justified in linking to this page, just this once.

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