Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I wrote this ages ago and put it up on my other blog, ersby, but I'm having a bit of a clear out over there, so I thought I'd bring this one over rather than just delete it.

The first series of this anime (quick synopsis: a teenage schoolgirl is a god, but she doesn't know it. Her school friends: an esper; a time traveller; a super-intelligent alien; and an ordinary school boy, are given the task of keeping her occupied so she doesn't accidentally summon up a monster to destroy the world because she's a bit bored) had its episodes in the wrong order. Pretty annoying, frankly, as I watched one episode wondering where this guy had suddenly come from and why was he friends with everyone, only to watch his introduction the following week.

Anyway, the second series has been equally brave/stupid. This time it is a set of episodes, all called "Endless Eight" in which the same story is played out each time. Different animation teams and directors mean that the style and voice acting is different, but apart from a few minor details, the events play out the same way each time.

This means that the smallest details suddenly become very important and meaningful. An aspect that would pass you by if you saw it just the once suddenly becomes fascinating. Why does that guy pick up and read the list of things to do in the coffee shop? Which bits are important for the conclusion of the story and which aren't? Which bits are pointing us to clues, and which are just the director trying to find a new way to portray a certain scene? That they should carry this out for all eight episodes is a remarkable act of courage.

At the moment I've just watched the seventh of the endless eight, which means this story arc should be ending any time soon. There's a strong doubt in my mind that the finish can do justice to the superb build up, but I live in hope. And taking the philosophy of the journey not the destination being important, this is already a great success.

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