Hello, friendos. I didn’t actually finish watching the series I picked on time (everything happened at once because I decided to take on a timed AniList watching challenge and started to neglect other stuff), but I’ll do what I can based on what I know.
If you’re new to the whole OWLS thing, welcome. This is Aria (pseudonym), the owner of this here Spellbook, and OWLS is the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, who do blog tours with the aim of promoting acceptance regardless of sexuality, disability, religion or race. This month’s theme is “believe”:
Kyoto Animation. We all have that one anime we enjoyed from Kyoto Animation. Whether it is pain or joy, Kyoto Animation has brought to life stories that can touch our emotions. For the month of August, we will be honoring Kyoto Animation and all it has done for art, storytelling, and popular culture by discussing some of our favorite Kyoto Animation series. We will discuss what we love about these series and what they taught us. The fire that happened at the studio is indeed a tragedy. We pray for the lives that were lost in this tragedy and the families that are suffering at this time. Fires may be dangerous, but there are flames that burn within us that spark passion, hope, and belief in ourselves.
I decided to join this tour immediately after writing up a post acknowledging the KyoAni fire, so I won’t discuss the incident or the studio itself (although in retrospect, I admit I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how I like the scene in Hyouka where Eru’s hair and green flowers are all over the place) and instead focus on the anime I’ve chosen.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (henceforth referred to by the title character) seems like an obvious choice based on the theme word – if Kyon, the cynical guy he is, chooses not to believe in whatever’s going on, then the world is doomed and if Haruhi learns she’s a god, then the world is doomed too.
I think one of the core things that makes Haruhi Suzumiya attractive is how normalcy defines Kyon just as much as it alienates it from the other members of the SOS-dan, which makes him a perfect candidate for a point of view character and yet also gives the series its distinct flavour of cynical-yet-trying-to-be-erudite. (The fact we never learn his real first name or his surname adds to this – we just know his nickname, given to him by an aunt, is “Kyon”, a detail which simultaneously grounds him and yet acts as an incentive to keep reading the LN series.) Kyon is basically an embodiment of the series as a whole – it’s a series about ordinary high school students in a club, except it’s also a series about supernatural phenomena and how to interact with/avoid them.
The opposite is also true – by contrasting Kyon, epitome of “normal guy thrust into weird happenings”, against the other members, everyone stands out in their own ways. I think that would have been the appeal for most people when it was airing: you could be a normal person who’s surrounded by supernatural beings, if you only look for them and believe they exist.
Haruhi Suzumiya is also one of those series where you can’t guess what happens next (unless you read them LNs!). Between aliens, time travellers and espers, plus the gamut of genres the series encompasses – the mystery of Kimidori (Mysterique Sign) and Remote Island Syndrome, sports (Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya), Koizumi and Kyon’s first journey into enclosed space (Melancholy VI), sheer experimental audacity (Endless Eight) etc. – it’s never boring…probably because Haruhi, as “Super Director” (even above KyoAni and its staff), wished it so.
I’d also presume Haruhi Suzumiya was someone’s introduction to non-linear storytelling as well, thanks to the choice that has to be made between whether to start with Melancholy I or Adventures of Mikuru Asahina…non-linear storytelling isn’t exclusive to anime (note the LNs being adapted from are just as non-linear and occasionally episodic), but for some reason anime gets more non-linear works than other media.
Although it wasn’t the first LN adaption ever, Haruhi Suzumiya introduced people to LNs and a bunch of other things, like flash mobs of Hare Hare Yukai. Essentially, as a series that existed in the early stages of internet fandom, it became a springboard for the anime culture we know today.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how throwing money at a solution doesn’t help issues (which is why I was sceptical of the GoFundMe at first), but if you’re still keen on helping out KyoAni, you can give directly to their bank account, through Rightstuf (thanks Scott!) or purchase their digital prints.
Sidebar: 1) I managed to encapsulate the spirit of the series into a post, specifically by having Haruhi be referred to in the title but focussing on Kyon and meta knowledge in the body of the post. Did you notice that?
I didn’t notice myself until I’d written most of the post.
2) I managed to get a screenshot where all the SOS-dan members are present (intentional) but Kyon is the only one looking at the reader (unintentional).
3) Happy KagePro day!