The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi Episodes 11-14 (Broadcast Order): The Bittersweet Ending

That's right Taniguchi and Kunikida, Tsuruya-san is better than Mikuru.
That’s right Taniguchi and Kunikida, Tsuruya-san is better than Mikuru.

It’s now on to the final part of this strange journey into what was at the time of airing one of my favorite shows of all time. The second season put a bit of a dent into it, but the memories of the feelings caused by something linger longer than the actual events themselves. Or something along those lines anyway. This last set of episodes includes two filler episodes where Yuki does awesome stuff and the concert scene that was the greatest in anime until White Album 2 was a thing before the final two episodes of the main story. And ponytails. So on with the show.

tmohs10aThe first episode is the episode titled The Day of Sagittarius, which sees the SOS-dan take on the computer club in a rigged space warfare game. The first thing that struck me was the CG ships. There’s a lot of Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V action going on there, yet it looks better than Mouretsu Space Pirates. Kyoto Animation 1-0 Satelight.

The setup for this episode begins with everyone who speaks apart from Mikuru acting like an asshole. Kyon wants to be praised for all the stuff he does for Haruhi, Itsuki mocks him for it, the computer club president wants his dumb duel and Haruhi lands a drop kick on the side of his head for simply being there before they all talk shit to each other. Challenge accepted with the PC that Haruhi extorted from the computer club on the line with the SOS-dan receiving 4 laptops if they win.

After Itsuki spends time shipping Haruhi x Kyon, there’s a training montage:

Awesome mouse skills.
Awesome mouse skills.

This is going to go well. Haruhi has them train with stupid tactics for several days until the time comes for the final battle. The computer club cheats with scouting mode turned on until Yuki makes them play by the rules like a boss and has changes the game to make both sides equal. From there it’s a formality and the SOS-dan possesses some new PCs and Yuki looks like she’s interested in games. We knew that already:

tdyn07aOne last thing about this episode. The game itself that they are playing has a rather catchy tune, even in 8-bit and more orchestral in the final battle itself. However, my favorite version is the Tokyo Orchestral version here.

On to the next episode which has the big concert scene in it. As much as I would just link to a clip of it, there’s more in that episode than that particular scene. It’s part of a school festival arc and though this may never top Hyouka‘s, it’s bound to be the best part of the show.

It’s starts off with a couple points of interest. Kyon is still a lustful teenager with his specifically dedicating time to spend going to see Mikuru at the yakisoba stand. Also, Itsuki performing Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern are Dead and not understanding comedy, but having no problems since the young girls in the audience are lusting after him. As Kyon leaves his friends behind after visiting Mikuru’s class’s yakisoba room for 5 minutes he heads to the concert hall to catch some sleep.

Before the defining scene of this episode, I think there’s a great level of appreciation put into the acts before Haruhi, Yuki and the 2 Rock Club members perform. There’s a concert band which is okay, and a pair of acts that are awful but a few people like because they are in on the jokes. There’s also ones of people watching too.

tmohs11bSo the concert itself was as good as I remembered it, but the animation during “Lost My Music” was totally mailed in. The rest of the episode is pretty pedestrian and hints at a deep relationship between Kyon and Haruhi, until the latter just drags him away on another overly ambitious adventure.

Finally, we are back to the main story in the penultimate episode. What was wrong with believing Asakura would relocate to Canada? Isn’t that where all of the awesome people live? Since they are investigating Ryouko for the first part of this episode, Haruhi asks a bunch of questions to the apartment manager of the building where Ryouko lived. At one point as the conversation is going nowhere, he wonders if Haruhi would become a detective. No, that would be the lazier, better version of you in Hyouka, Kyon. Another thing I noticed before the philosophical point of the series was revealed was that there was a lot of things walking and turning around corners here.

tmohs12a So what this series is about is a desire make one’s life interesting by filling it with interesting people to make up for one’s own thought that they are boring. I can relate to this, but there are really an exceptionally small number of interesting people in the world on a global scale. One simply has to make the best of it over the course of their own life. Or let’s just get another interpretation of what this series is about:

tmohs12bItsuki explains “Anthropic principle” to Kyon as they travel to fight a disturbance in the world created by Haruhi. So we have our other idea behind this series, the world exists as it is because Haruhi wants it to be that way. Since she’s a teenage girl filled with internal conflict, that world happens to be very unstable. I just don’t think the gravity of the situation was really felt by any of the characters. Kyon just casually accepts the news that his and the rest of humanity’s entire existence is at the whim of the girl who makes his life hell. What an asshole and don’t try to bail it out with your Legend of Galactic Heroes level historical narration either, Kyon.

On to the final episode now, which begins with Kyon continuing to act like an irresponsible asshole responsible for saving the world. In fact, he’s pretty much an asshole for the first half of this episode by lying to Taniguchi then trying to look at the perverted pics of Mikuru while in the same damn room, then he has the audacity to not give a shit about Haruhi changing in the clubroom while he is there. Just blow it all up.

tmohs13aHaruhi and Kyon wake up in an enclosed space and Kyon gets fed the hints for resolving the situation by Itsuki and then Yuki before the giant monster shows up. The monster that starts destroying shit makes Haruhi extremely happy. The ending ends up being really rushed and of course there’s that terrible ponytail line and kiss at the end.

tmohs13bSo that’s that for re-watching this show from 9 years ago. As far as the broadcast order goes, I think I’ve come around to it actually working out with the final episodes here. That middle portion was pretty dumb and the island arc might be among the worst things Kyoto Animation has done that isn’t related to Munto or a Key adaptation. At the same time, it still feels like a show that was poorly paced while having the correct number of episodes. The ending to the 6th episode of the main story would feel rushed whether it was the 14th, 6th, 7th or 28th damn episode of however format you would want to watch it in.

In the end, I have to come to the conclusion that this show isn’t really as good as I remember it. It’s not that 9/10 epoch creating anime that I thought it was 9 years ago. It’s still pretty fun when it wants to be, but there’s just key qualities missing that while allowing this to be popular at the time will prevent it from being a classic series.

In the aftermath of this series, KyoAni and the director Ishihara Tatsuya would spend the next couple years making Key adaptations and foisting Yamakan upon the world before hitting their best run of form with the K-On! series, Nichijou and Hyouka in succession, though one of those stands out as a completely unjust commercial failure. Now the studio is producing Hibike! Euphonium that is airing this season along with film adaptations of their other works. There will not be another season of Full Metal Panic.

As for the Haruhi franchise, the 2nd season would air in 2009 mixed in with episodes from this season in chronological order. The Endless Eight arc, featuring the same episode with slight variations each time eight times, about destroyed all good will the series had with the non-hardcore element of its fan base. While some of this goodwill was brought back by the alternate universe film The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, the franchise was as soon as out of the collective consciousness of fans as Hirano Aya’s career. Yet, the light novels kept being churned out for another couple of years after that, while a spinoff manga based on the Disappearance universe is now airing with the same cast of characters in a straight romantic comedy, which happened to inspire this re-watch. But it happens to be a Satelight anime now.

I would be so mad at Satelight right now if it weren’t for White Album 2.