Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing: Melancholy III/IV

This is the second in our on-going re-viewing of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime. The cable station AT-X is broadcasting two episodes a week of theHaruhi Suzumiya anime, so Yumeka, Goggen, and myself have decided to tag along week-by-week and submit our thoughts on re-watching the episodes. (Yumeka; Haruhi, Goggen; Mio, ultimatemegax; Koizumi)

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III

And so, the exposition begins. Whenever I re-watch part III, I tend to let out a “Here we go…” before bracing myself as “Bouken Desho Desho” ends and Yuki starts talking. I can’t help but picture a first time viewer trying to keep up with it all but ending up being left behind in the dust a few seconds in. This is, of course, the episode that finally explains to us the unique concept of the series (a concept I still consider brilliant) as each of the other three Brigade members inform Kyon of their respective roles and how they relate to Haruhi. Regardless of which viewpoint you may subscribe to, by the end of Itsuki’s speech it is at the very least understood that Haruhi can unknowingly alter the world. Further details and implications are revealed later, but this reveal in itself is pretty mind blowing after two episodes of simple high school comedy antics. If I am to make a negative point against this episode, it would be about the “Mikuru molestation” scene. I didn’t object to the Computer Club incident last week because I found it funny, and it was just a means to an end for Haruhi – here, however, there seems to be little reason for it and her “playing” with Mikuru goes a bit too far, to the point of making me uncomfortable as a viewer.

Melancholy III is where your average high school life comes to an end. I love this episode as it provides all the necessary information for any fan and yet leaves you wanting more and more. Time traveling? “Classified Information.” Esper powers? “When the time is right.” The beginning bonds of the SOS Brigade are also formed. We see the unifying touches between Kyon/Mikuru and Kyon/Nagato during their trips on the Brigade’s outing and the meeting between Kyon and Koizumi. I can’t forget to mention that my favorite character finally appears. Yep, this is certainly a great episode. I also need to acknowledge Kousaki’s OST choices in this episode. The piece that plays during Kyon and Mikuru’s conversation is so sweet and touching.

Melancholy III is where the uniqueness of the Haruhi series as something more than just a school comedy really comes out. To go from the antics of the previous two episodes to hardcore sci-fi with Yuki’s long-winded speech at the beginning of this episode, is quite a jolt to the viewer…but not a bad one 🙂 After that, some may start to think “This show is weird,” especially if they were turned off by the events of the previous episode, while others may see it positivity as “Wow, never saw that coming!” Even after that, the story continues to stick to its fun, light tone as the SOS Brigade go on their first city-wide search for mysteries, developing the characters a bit more as Kyon interacts with them, especially Mikuru, who follows up Yuki’s startling revelation with one of her own. Once Itsuki reveals his identity to Kyon at the end of the episode, the basic premise of the series has pretty much been established. But of course, there’s still so much more to reveal…

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV

And here’s the turning point of Melancholy. I like to mention that Tanigawa typically uses the same technique of detailing situations and characters before having a really big surprising moment and this is a great twist. Having Asakura turn out to be a radical alien was a wonderful use of the “honorable” class rep character. It’s a bit too foreshadowed by her earlier appearances around the OP though. I love Sugita’s change in tone for the two letters in Kyon’s shoe locker. His adoration of Mikuru is so excellently carried out while he’s on his way to meet her adult self. If you’re a Haruhi fan, this episode is easily on the top of your “favorites” list. Again, the OST by Kousaki is amazingly composed and executed in this episode.

Even with the heavy amount of sci-fi talk in Melancholy III, the show continued to retain its light tone…until Melancholy IV, where we see that the series isn’t afraid to have violent imagery at times, as the scene where Yuki gets impaled by Asakura’s spears shows. While we only heard about the sci-fi elements in the last episode, we, along with Kyon, finally get to witness them in this episode. I’ve always liked the ambiguous way that Haruhi author Nagaru Tanigawa presents the humanoid interfaces; we know that they’re serious about their agenda, but we’re only given bits and pieces of what they really are and why they’re doing what they do, which is how I’d imagine a human view of aliens to be. That air believable mystery may lessen if we did learn everything about them. And to continue the string of sci-fi events, Kyon meets adult Mikuru and we get our very first time-traveling inkling, albeit, an odd one about the star-shaped mole on her breast and her “Snow White” hint.

There’s a lot to like about this episode. The appearance of adult Mikuru, which confirms her status as a time traveller, the conversation between Kyon and Haruhi at the beginning, and even something as inconsequential as the elegant way the transition to the main title was done for lack of the full opening sequence. But the standout moment is, without a doubt – do I even need to say it? – Ryouko Asakura showing her true nature. Instant mood shift. Not only for this episode, but for Melancholy as a whole. Things calm down afterwards, sure, but in that moment you know “stuff just got real”. And with adult Mikuru’s ominous warning, there’s a certain sense of dread that lingers in your mind – you know something bad is going to go down soon. I love this kind of low-key tension.

And so that wraps up our second week of re-viewing The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Next week finishes off the Melancholy arc (my personal favorite).

2 thoughts on “Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing: Melancholy III/IV

  1. I completely agree about the Mikuru you-know-what scene. It’s funny how everyone talks about how jarring the blackmail and the drink-spiking scenes are, but this scene is far, far worse (considering she is actually trying to get the other guys to do exactly what she was accusing the computer club of) and hardly ever gets a mention. I noticed they actually added the “any further and you’ll be breaking laws”-line (in the dub they chage it to “you’ve ALREADY broken SEVERAL laws” LOL) and Haruhi’s “what laws?” line. Seemingly to make her less psycho than in the book, but it seems pretty inconsistent with what she had said in the computer club scene.

    • The other issue is that you’re somewhat desensitized to seeing Mikuru being molested by this time. You also see Kyon trying to stop her and Koizumi prove how much he respects Haruhi at the same time. Not the most flattering scene, but it does help develop characters. Just goes to show how much Haruhi changes throughout the series.

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