Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing, Sigh, again?

Welcome back to week 11 of our Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing! For the first time since July 19th, we finally get a week without a single Endless Eight episode! The bad news: we’re in Sigh territory. Since AT-X is airing the series throughout the summer, Yumeka, Goggen, and I thought it’d be fun to re-watch the series alongside the Japanese fans. This week, the station aired Sigh II and Sigh III, so that’s what we’ll be covering this week. As always, we watch the episodes and write our impressions separately. Any overlap in thought is pure coincidence unless we’ve developed mind-sharing powers in the past week. (Yumeka – Haruhi, Goggen – Mio, ultimatemegax – Koizumi)

The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya II

We begin in media res! No time to sum up what happened, let’s get our model guns, camera, and head onto the train! I really like the lighting in this episode. The sunlight flows naturally as the train is moving and the change from afternoon to dusk in the clubroom for Kyon/Koizumi is very nicely handled. The outdoors portions are also fantastically done. As for the plot, again, we’re in the middle of a set-up episode. What set Sigh away from the other novels is the lack of interesting details before we hit the WTF point Tanigawa typically uses. One thing I do have to note is the attention to detail the key animator for the second CM did to match the original 2006 episode. Other than the visual aspects, meh. At least Kousaki delivered with another wonderful score.

Part 2 of Sigh starts literally right where the previous one left off (just as Mikuru was about to talk). Also like the last one, things are just getting warmed up as no strange phenomena have happened yet. This episode shows how the commercials in the movie were filmed (and how Haruhi got the props she needed). It’s amusing to see how she turns on the charm to get the store owners to give her what she wants – are these guys really so nice that they’d give a random person one of their products for free just because they said they’d offer some unofficial advertising? Or did Haruhi somehow use her powers to influence them? Who knows? But yeah, nothing really significant happens in this episode other than lots of smiles from Haruhi and wails from Mikuru.

In the second part of Sigh, the production gets going on Haruhi’s movie, and by the end of the episode there’s even a tiny bit of footage shot. The problem here is the same as with the previous episode – the overall story just takes forever to get to the point, so the first few episodes are rather dull. It’s not that I don’t enjoy some of the conversations that take place, it’s just that nothing interesting has actually happened in the story yet. I wonder if some of this may also be a little hard to follow for first time viewers who didn’t read the book. What does Kyon mean when he wonders if Haruhi’s all too appropriate casting for the movie is his fault? He’s thinking of what happened in the prologue, obviously, but in the anime that scene has been moved to a later episode, so it’s a plot point that could easily be lost on a casual viewer. I am also not very fond of Mikuru’s waitress outfit.

The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya III

Much like the third episode of Melancholy, the third part of Sigh breaks away from a string of seemingly harmless antics to bring up strange happenings caused by Haruhi’s powers. In this case, it’s the famous “Mikuru Beam” that was one of the first noticeable things fans saw upon watching the series back in 2006. They’re finally able to see it explained here, as well as the reason Yuki randomly tackled Mikuru during the movie. We also start to see drama unfold in this episode that we hadn’t seen before, with Kyon finally reprimanding Haruhi for her treatment of Mikuru during the shoot. While it’s pretty mild here and they reconcile soon after, it’s only a taste of what’s to come. As usual, KyoAni added nice touches to the story via detailed backgrounds, showing families at the park gathering to watch the SOS Brigade filming. It was also great seeing Tsuruya, Taniguchi, and Kunikida again. They have good humorous interactions with the brigade members that we wouldn’t see otherwise.

It’s around the halfway point of Sigh that the Mikuru Beam is fired and everything changes. Here, we get to the issue, the problem the characters need to overcome. Even so, it is only the first sign of trouble that is presented here, giving us a taste of where the story might be going, like the first clue uncovered in a mystery plot. As a result, this episode immediately becomes more interesting than the two preceding it, though there are still a lot of scenes with the characters more or less just standing around talking. One thing that has always amused me is the idea that the tiny blue contact lens Nagato shows Kyon and Koizumi is supposed to have fit Mikuru’s huge anime girl eye. Some necessary cartoon logic resulting from the character design, I suppose. Also of note is the fact that this is the last episode to feature “Super Driver”.

Continuing on from last time, we finally reach the first big point in Sigh: the Mikuru Beam! Again, I have to point out the attention to detail by the director/storyboarder Ishihara to have Kyon’s movements mirror what was filmed in the original Episode 00 piece. The story really starts to pick up in action after that scene as the usual sci-fi portions take over and start to make the ordinary extraordinary again. After those portions, there’s really nothing special occurring in this episode beyond reactions to the Mikuru Beam. Again, it just shows how bad Sigh, the novel, is as a source.

Point to note: usually I watch the episodes on Monday, write my thoughts, and screencap on Wednesday while editing in Goggen’s and Yumeka’s thoughts. Sigh is such a drain that it threw my entire schedule off because I had difficulties thinking of things to say. Endless Eight at least offered the opportunity to be creative, but Sigh just drags for me. This week’s coincidences happened to be focused around difficulties watching the episodes. Next week: we finish this arc with two exciting episodes!

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