In April 2006 the anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya first premiered with one of the strangest first episodes: a student-made movie called The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00. Ever since that episode Mikuru Asahina has been seen as the mascot of moe by anime fans since Haruhi pointed out her purpose in the next episode. As with Koizumi, I feel Mikuru is vastly under-rated as a character but she ends up being number 5 on my list! I’ll give a spoiler warning. There will be some novel spoilers in white text later in this post, so be cautious.
Last year I also did an analysis of her character on Cartoon Leap, so I’ll be lazy and copy over some points from there as I did with Koizumi.
Mikuru suffers from an intense lack of self-esteem in herself, which I feel is only emphasized because everyone around her has some sense of importance. Haruhi can change the world, Kyon has done so many things to maintain the stability of the world, Yuki can freely manipulate data at a whim, and Koizumi is part of the Shonuen Esper Sentai. Mikuru thought she was meant to come back to the present day and simply watch for strange things around Haruhi Suzumiya, but instead she got captured for a reason she doesn’t quite understand.
The first thing that comes to mind when people think about Mikuru is her immense timidness. Honestly, I think that’s completely natural for a person in her situation. She admitted that her role was only to watch Haruhi and yet she’s forced to play an active role in something she cannot change. While we, as viewers/readers, know that she survives and becomes a stronger character Mikuru herself has no way of knowing what will happen (ironic given her classification).
While Kyon has many tricks up his sleeve with Koizumi, Yuki, and Haruhi, Mikuru cannot depend on any of them. Koizumi and herself have opposing beliefs and are only together due to Haruhi. Yuki is an immense power who looks at her as something incredibly small. Haruhi either cannot know something or will cause her emotional stress. Her only people that can assist her are Kyon and Tsuruya-san.
It’s difficult to talk about Mikuru and why I like her without going into novel spoilers. A lot of my favorite stories would be featured in a new season and as such it’s stressful to think about them and yet be unable to mention them. In lue of a spoiler tag, I’ll be featuring some small spoilers in white text. If you have not read all 9 books, I ask that you don’t highlight the next paragraph. When commenting, please do not use any novel spoilers as I would like people to have the choice to be spoiled about the next 7 novels. Let’s just say it’s Classified Information
My favorite short story and novel in the series is The Melancholy of Mikuru Asahina and The Intrigue of Haruhi Suzumiya respectively. Both stories focus on the purpose that Mikuru serves in the present and how truly powerless she is in the role. If she’s able to do anything, it proves meaningless as her presence is wiped out; in order to accomplish anything in this timeline, she’s required to use Kyon to do so.
To be honest, the character of Mikuru Asahina is difficult to discuss because there are two versions: young and adult. For every emotional flaw that the high school version begins with, the adult version has overcome it and is almost a different character due to that experience. Young Mikuru is afraid of her looks while the adult version has no problems dressing in a sultry manner (and even showing Kyon her mole). The young version is limited due to the brainwashing and hypnosis that she underwent before coming back while the adult version doesn’t have the problems to that extent.
Asahina (big) is almost a new character with how much she’s grown from her younger counterpart. She’s still caring towards Kyon and Nagato while remaining somewhat clumsy. She forgot her shoes at Nagato’s apartment and didn’t bring winter clothing during the Disappearance story, yet she doesn’t over-react like she would have done before.
Mikuru tends to be the girl most often forgotten when the series is mentioned. I like to think that it’s due to the anime so far featuring stories that focus more on Haruhi and Nagato than Mikuru (with the exception of Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody) that gives more focus to those two plus Kyon. Her high-pitched squeal and whining can also annoy fans too much.
I like Mikuru for a lot of the same reasons I’m a fan of Saten. She’s the one person without any power surrounded by a person who can change the world, another person who can manpulate data, a super-powered member of a giant organization, and the person who’s able to control all the others (including herself). She’s just there to study when she gets roped into various adventures that threaten her life. Many other would have cracked by the end of the movie, but Mikuru is as cheerful as ever going into the events of Disappearance. I also feel sorry for her as she is in the same situation as Koizumi: always around the one you like, but never able to take advantage of it.
I’m really hoping that we get to see more of Mikuru (small) gaining confidence in herself in the future. There’s a limit to how much you can take before you eventually grow into a stronger person. It would be amazing to see the younger version begin the transition into her older self through her final year and provide that needed bit of character development that Haruhi and Nagato have gotten. She has a lot of potential to be a good character that others can begin to admire.