After reading through the Haruhi light novels, there is one character who has yet to be animated who has jumped up onto my favorite characters list. Since my list is for characters who have actually appeared in an anime, I can’t rank her yet so this is an “extra” analysis of her character. Let’s just say that there’ll be some competition at the top of the list (not from Koizumi though). Introduced in the ninth novel of the franchise, The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya, this character won over many on both sides of the Pacific and was the most anticipated character in the new novels. I’m running out of non-spoilerish things to say, so here is a post about the girl who’s on the cover of The Astonishment of Haruhi Suzumiya (Final)!
Sasaki is one of, if not the most, levelheaded person in the entire franchise. When offered the chance to take the power to make any desire of hers come true, she refuses it as she claims “it will change [her] into something that [she] isn’t.” Even our narrator would be tempted to use that power for his own purposes, but Sasaki turns that opportunity down without any objections. Given that we see how close Kyouko Tachibana has gotten to her within the month and a half since we saw her last, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to believe she’s mentioned it once…twice…in every conversation perhaps? It is incredibly admirable how not only does she refuse to take it, she continues to encourage Kyon to help Haruhi during this difficult time.
One thing that does not carry over well in an English translation (and I’m quite sure we had a difficult time keeping it as well) is that Sasaki acts differently than what a girl is supposed to in Japanese society. Her use of the first person pronoun “boku” (and not in a cutesy way) challenges her status as a woman in that culture. We don’t see her chatter about the normal “girlish” things, nor do we see her speak much with her own gender. The only scene where she’s only with girls is when Kyon meets her at the station for the second time, and that’s with Kuyou and Kyouko Tachibana, two members of the Fake SOS-Brigade. I hope we get to see how she interacts at the class reunion.
She’s much more mature than her classmates, especially Kyon, and looks to enjoy the benefits of being underage while she can. I found her conversation with Kyon in Rainy Day about the benefits of middle schoolers quite interesting. Technically they were nearly adults in 6 months as higher education is not mandatory in Japan, so looking at the positives of being undervalued in society, contrasting to Kyon complaining about the monotonous schoolwork was a great decision by Tanigawa. It truly shows in her “subconcious” Closed Space being open and stable.
One aspect that is shown incredibly well throughout the trilogy and short story is her intelligence. Matching Kyon and Koizumi in random philosophical interludes, she shows why she was accepted into a private high school (and likely university) by reading situations with the Fake SOS Brigade well and providing us with information that the highly-emotional Kyon would not be able to discover. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to calculate the events that would happen Friday afternoon. I would have liked to see her reaction to the instance when her traveling companions disappeared that afternoon.
One theme that is highly present throughout novels 9, 10, and 11 is parallels. While we had previously been shown a different alien, time traveler, and esper, there was no comparison for Haruhi until Sasaki came along. Their personalities are quite different, but their outward appearance is remarkably similar. Each differs from society’s norms, each is highly intelligent, and each attracts a lot of male attention, but they are truly different people once you get to know them better. Haruhi thrives on being rash and outwardly challenging; Sasaki logically evaluates the benefits of each outcome before pursuing one. One of my favorite lines to translate from novel 11 was “What would happen if Haruhi and Sasaki seriously joined forces?” because the two of them unified for a goal would guarantee a desired outcome.
Why do I like Sasaki so much when I can’t put a voice to her face? It’s because she’s an extremely logical character and I truly enjoy reading those types. She remains witty, engaging, and an absolute pleasure to read. At the same time, she’s the character who gave me the most trouble dialogue-wise. Since I couldn’t find an equivalent to her voice from anything that I had read/seen from Japan, my first works with her were utterly literal translations. Gradually, I started to get her voice in my head and could begin to phrase her dialogue, though it’s not up to my current standards.
This is my own opinion, and runs contrary to a lot of the Japanese fandom, but I enjoy Sasaki’s character because she’s not lusting after Kyon. These two share a close friendship, but won’t move past that at all. It’s absolutely refreshing to see a female character interact with a male lead so closely and yet have no hints of romantic tension. One could argue her omission of the confession Wednesday evening, but you could also make the argument that she’s a self-reliant person who doesn’t want to have anyone shoulder her burden. She’s just a close friend, and that’s perfect for her.
One of the biggest highlights that new animations of Haruhi Suzumiya will bring would be the introduction of Sasaki. As soon as we finish Astonishment/Surprise, Sasaki will have a full ranking on my top ten list of characters. Until then, she’s just an extra, though a well beloved extra.
PS. Here’s a lovely image from Puyo of Sasaki. Perhaps she’ll appear in one of his three Haruhi-related manga!