Maybe Haruhi should have given herself the main role... ;)
I really have to learn to watch episodes before commenting on anything about them.
I really do. ^_^;;;
The impression that I took from the still pictures of this episode that I combed through over on 2Chan was that Haruhi's facial appearance in this episode would continue to feature bewildering deformed looks, and/or lots of broken lines and poor line definition in general. It gave me the impression that this episode was moving farther away from the 2006 Haruhi art model instead of closer to it.
That impression, needless to say, was wholly inaccurate... and boy, am I glad about that! :D
This pretty much is 2006 Haruhi art style. Very much contrary to what some contributors over on Anime Suki's Haruhi subforum have stated, it looks to me like the 2006 Haruhi art style has returned. Who knows, maybe even the frequent critiques of the more recent moeblob style has finally reached KyoAni's eyes, and upon reading it so much, they decided to switch to the older style. I guess that expressing nerd rage in a whine stick way while enduring butt hurt can actually be productive after all. ;)
Folks, this is what fan feedback is all about:
It's about rewarding good content with reaffirming and reinforcing praise, both as a show of thanks to the makers of that content and to help ensure that you get more of the same, and...
It's about punishing poor content with corrective and constructive critique, both as a show of disapproval to the makers of the content and to help steer the show (if possible at all) in a direction that's more to your liking.
No entertainment company is an island unto itself. They're not deaf, dumb, and blind. If they get enough bad feedback, they'll usually take notice, and they will at least attempt to make amends. Kyoto Animation is no different, and it's very pleasing to me to see that maybe, just maybe, they really have listened to the the plethora of artwork critiques, and have made art adjustments in response to it. Well, enough of this meta-commentary for now... unto the episode review! 8)
We begin with the imposing trio of that tall more-mirthful-than-mistletoe chap of Itsuki Koizumi standing next to the perpetually perturbed Hunchback-of-North-High Kyon, and the ever vibrant vivacious vixen Haruhi Suzumiya! This opening visual alone foreshadows the frenzied flight of fitful fibrillating fun that we're in for this week, readers of my Triple_R Queen of Queens minutia review!
This Week's Sake Shot Glass Challenge!: Take a shot for every time Mikuru pops up on screen, and appears to be suffering in some fashion. :D
And we certainly don't have to wait long to see her suffering this week, do we?! ^_^;
Haruhi: Yuki, use your magic and attack Mikuru-chan!
Aaahhh... a Director and a military commander all in one! How can somebody not love Haruhi?! :D
Well, Kyon doesn't seem to be loving her much. With eyes so slanted that it makes me wonder how Kyon is even able to see anything, and with an obvious jealousy over not having an acting role of his own, we behold Kyon put on a stirring (albeit short) performance as a traffic cop issuing a "No! Stop!" command! Makes me wonder why Kyon never bothers to simply call the cops on Haruhi. In fact, given Haruhi and her Brigade's rollicking riotous retreat! sequence shortly after the Super Driver opening, I think I'd find it even more comically side-splitting to watch the fine men and women in uniform of the TV show "COPS!" chase after a Haruhi caught red-handed committing a crime. :D
However, I doubt that even such an hot and intense pursuit as that could leave Mikuru looking like she does at 00:19! Man oh man, Asahina, with uncontrollable shakes like that, you need to see a doctor, and fast! ^_^;
Maybe the good Dr. Casey wouldn't mind checking you out... any comments from the stalwart surgeon on such an idea, I wonder? ;)
Alas, it looks like Yuki is about to blow Mikuru away with the power of magic... except, thankfully, there's this little thing holding her back relating to how Haruhi needs to be kept in the dark about the true nature of Yuki, Koizumi, and Asahina at all times. It's really nice to see this anime finally get back to that important sci-fi subterfuge angle that's been pretty much missing the entire year up until now. This episode consistently and strikingly plays up the secretive charm of that overarching plot element. It really serves as an adept accentuation of the more pure comedy elements of the episode.
Speaking of comedy elements, Haruhi's look and voice acting of displeasure at 00:29 gave me a pleasant little chuckle. There's no question that Haruhi is in full-blown chaotic mischief making master mode for this episode, and I can't wait to see more of it as this episode continues to unfold!
Cue the opening credits!!! A satellite Super Driver will now send us streaking skyward into an outer space of unimaginable unctuous euphoria! Here we go...! ;D
Shortly after the opening sequence, we see Haruhi make the "Rock on!" signal, while talking about how she wants to film Mikuru next to pigeons outside of a temple. Somehow, I very much doubt that Haurhi's rambunctious raucous rocking is going to be particularly appreciated at a serene shrine, ha ha!
Now we see black pigeons descending upon Mikuru, perhaps symbolizing the gradual pecking away at Mikuru's decency and joy that Haruhi does on a day by day basis. But merely pecking away is not good enough for Haruhi, as she channels Lara Croft to take aim at Mikuru with both of her guns, and fires them off with such rapid flare that even a John Wayne gunslinger would feel compelled to tip his hat in admiration towards Haruhi. The pigeons than scatter while Mikuru whines. All-in-all, 3:03 to 3:06 is amazingly animated in both its quickness and smoothness and impeccably placed sound effects and voice acting bits. This synchronization is so terrific that even Hecate of Shakugan no Shana couldn't help but to feel full and satisfied by it! ;)
Then we get a gut-busting guttural grunt from a Shrine Priest... gut-busting in how funny it is! :D We then see the Ranma 1/2-esque character race out, about to put a Miroku-level shellacking to the demonic Director! ;)
3:15 to 3:25 then presents us with another flawlessly frolicking flowing of frames that is both exciting to the extreme, and hilarious to the heavens above! One of my favorite ten second sequences in all of anime... ever!.
That entire sequence made me think of a scene from El Hazard: the Magnificent World where Fire Priestess Shayla Shayla's unexpected assault caused Katsuhiko Jinnai to yell his bugrom forces into"Retreat!" from Mount Muldoon much like what Haruhi has been caused to do here.... although the SOS Brigade are quite a bit faster, and in fact downright Ranma 1/2-esque, in their withdraw than the giant cicadas known as bugrom are. ;) So, a rather neat fusion of Haruhi, El Hazard, and Ranma 1/2 here, for me.
Over at the restaurant, Mikuru appears to be traumatized by the entire event, and hence crying into her noodles. Poor girl. :(
For once, Haruhi actually takes pity on the lovely Asahina, but misdiagnoses her as simply not eating enough. Perhaps in addition to checking out Mikuru, Anime Suki's own Dr. Casey could also take Haruhi under his wing and teach her a thing or two about how to read patients. ;) Still, Kyon must think that Asahina doesn't need to be diagnosed at all, as he foresees a future with Asahina as Miss Universe herself.
LOL! Kyon certainly doesn't leave us in any doubt of what he thinks of Mikuru's looks, does he?
Loads of great facial expressions from Haruhi here. Many of her classic 2006 looks are back. For one, she has her curved at the bottom (and sometimes at the upper corners) triangular smiles back, and from 5:00 to 5:02, she has her classic annoyed look back. It looks like this...
It brings back a lot of great memories for me to see a fuller range of highly expressive and instantly recognizable emotions from Haruhi. It also kind of brings the anime much more to life for me. So good... so good like a lying on a lush green lawn on a bright summer day of clear blue skies and tranquil clouds... to see the return of what, to me, was a central element of Haruhi 2006. :)
Anyway, I found it cute how Haruhi kind of read Kyon's thoughts through his own expressions, but seemed to take them as perverted instead of malicious. ^_^; This offers up an intriguing possibility on Haruhi's character that contradicts what her eight trips over eight weeks to the "masses" swimming poll would lead you to believe - and that is that Haruhi perhaps doesn't like to be ogled. Not by Kyon, anyway.... hhmmm... I'll leave it to others to speculate on what this may mean.
Love Kyon's voice acting when he narrated "Baka!" over Koizumi's troublesome question. Kyon's anger was genuinely well-placed here, as you never should give Haruhi ideas... and Itsuki did exactly that with his question, hehe!
At 5:15, we see Haruhi make that bird beak-esque movement with her lips that I haven't seen since...
Haruhi 2006 is back, baby! :D :D :D
Austin Powers voice: Yeah, baby, Yeah! It's shagadelic! Meeoowwww...!!
Koizumi's reward for helping give us back more classic Haruhi? Why, he gets more screen time, of course! Unlike most fabulous actors, though, Itsuki doesn't seem too enthused by the idea, ha ha!
Haruhi: You need to beat a ton of minions before going after the boss.
Apparently, Haruhi now wants to be a video game designer. I don't know about you, but I'd love to first play a game made by her, and then watch the Angry Video Game Nerd review it! HA HA HA HA!!!
And who better to be evil minions than two characters actually inept enough for the role... Taniguchi and Kunikida, come on down, to the Thug is Right!
Haruhi then talks about how she wants to put Mikuru through extensive suffering, before reaching a happy ending and achieving an impacting final catharsis. Reminds me of what another famous anime Director did to a certain immigrant worker to Japan... he he he he... ;)
I wonder where Haruhi gets her love of guns and firing them from, hhmmmm? ;) I wonder who Mikuru's father may be... ;) It's all starting to make sense now, isn't it, Excel Saga and Haruhi Suzumiya fans! :D
However, perhaps my suspicions are not valid in this case, as Haruhi decides that she's going to have Mikuru drop the guns from here on out. On the other hand, Haruhi herself is still spinning one around threateningly...
She shoots a gun off into the air, and yells "action!"... with out first giving Yuki or Mikuru the slightest idea of what they're supposed to do other than "face off". LOL, Haruhi makes George Lucas' blue screen dependency look good by comaprison! ^_^;
A displeased Haruhi starts pounding her megaphone against Mikuru, bringing back memories to me of pro wrestling manager "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart. I guess that makes Haruhi the Mouth of the East, he he!
Haruhi also proceeds to lambast and lecture Mikuru to fittingly disturbing music, as we see glimpses of Haruhi seemingly start to believe in the possibilities of Zero-esque magical eyes. Makes you wonder if Haruhi knows more than she's letting on. Anyway, at least now we have a rationale behind the contact lens, however. On the other hand, can anybody save Mikuru from Haruhi's relentless abuse?! And the answer, of course, is...
... G.I. Kyon, a real Japanese hero... G.I. Kyon!!! :D
Kyon summons forth his inner Kamina once more! This time not to end the fans' misery, but rather Mikuru's! In the best "gar saves moe!" moment this side of Akasaka kicking the yamainu's ass in order to save Rika in Higurashi Kai, we see Kyon actually grapple Haruhi into submission!!!
Sean Connery: You're the man now, Kyon! (paraphrased ;) )
Outstanding voice acting for both Haruhi and Kyon here. Nice to see that Kyon's muscle definition as displayed during swimming poll scenes in the unmentionable arc has some real strength behind it, as he appears to actually be stronger than uber-athlete Haruhi!
I like how Haruhi handles it. She doesn't whine, or cry, or get upset, or bite and claw at Kyon, or explicitly admit defeat, or anything like that... she calmly maneuvers around the situation entirely by intellectually defending herself and explaining her reasoning. Great touch.
We then have another instance of foreshadowing in this episode as Kyon's narration continually points out how Mikuru couldn't - she couldn't possibly, could she? - actually generate a real life Mikuru Beam? Well.... I guess we'll just have to wait and find out, hehe. ;)
Haruhi finally provides some actual directing by displaying to Mikuru how she should look while emitting the Mikuru Beam.
Very solid use of extras to enhance Kyon's "I could feel the stares of the families around us burning into me" narration.
Love the sequence from 9:43 to 10:27
That entire minute or so of animation is purely flawless. Actually flawless!
From Haruhi's teeth-gritting exaggerated shout of "Mikuru BEEAAAMMM!!!", to the hazy video footage of Mikuru shooting it off, to all of Kyon's stunned facial expressions, to Yuki's AWESOME
death-defying rescuing movements and motions through out the entire scene, to the way the Mikuru Beam actually looked and sliced through things and caused things to burn, to Yuki's breathtaking Batman impersonation, to Haruhi's racing wildly out to the screening area to yell "Cut! Cut!", to Koizumi's sincerely concerned face as he rubbed the edge of the cut to his cue card... ABSOLUTELY FANTERIFFABULOUS!!!
Another top moment in all of anime history for me. And the background music for the scene...
To go back to El Hazard, it reminds me of the climatic fight against Galus there, and how you had just one rampageous intense moment after another after another all in a believable (that's the key charm) and gradually building in drama and suspense manner. Here again, I see familiarities between El Hazard and Haruhi - familiarities that help to make both animes two of my five all-time favorites.
And... at this juncture, I'm starting to realize just how overly long this blog entry is becoming. Also, aside from one facial expression for Haruhi that I really didn't like (at/around 16:28), I can't recall anything from this episode that I didn't like. It was a truly excellent and thoroughly enjoyable episode. And, while I disliked that one facial expression, I did love the perverted 'zooming in!' Kyon ogling Mikuru's breasts leading to jealous/upset Haruhi that built up to it! ;D
Also, aside from Tsuruya's triumphantly tremendous return (YAY!!!), I've already touched the highlights.
As such, I'll go through a few more observations quickly...
1) I adored Haruhi's expressionism through out the episode as a whole. Beyond what I've already picked up, I really like how decidedly villainous she looks from 18:30 to 18:38. What an evil open grin she has there! :D And her dialogue that went with it (as well as just before and after those 8 seconds) was such great slave-driving evil overlord megalomanical richness! I also liked her little purse-twirling cheerful-humming skipping off into the night... LOL!
2) I very much liked the art work, animation, voice work, and overall feel for the three-way discussion between Yuki, Itsuki, and Kyon in the aftermath of the Mikuru Beam firing off. What I found... not necessarily odd, but quite... debatable... about the scene, though, was how Nagato kept talking to Kyon's narration. Apparently, Kyon's "narration" gets through to more people than just Haruhi. This may make for a good topic of discussion over on Anime Suki.
3) Exquisite use of lighting and shading through out the episode. This is particularly notable for Kyon and Koizumi's one-on-one conversation starting around 18:50 or 18:51.
4) Haruhi's angry director routine during the last five minutes of the episode was another sensational moment... reflecting how no Hollywood sensation would want to work for Haruhi, he he! I do like the idea, though, of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton being put under Haruhi's dictatorial directorial thumb... ha ha!
5) Awesome use of the three main supporting case members - Tsuruya, and T&K. It was great to see those three characters put to some good use again.
Phew... I guess that I'm finally finished.
Thankfully, however, this anime isn't! I can't wait for the next episode! ^_^
Overall, an awe-inspiring 10/10 for an episode that probably ranks in my top 5 Haruhi episodes of all time, and perhaps even amongst my 20 or so favorite anime episodes of all time. I really, really liked it.
As always, any feedback and comments are most welcomed.
Oh, and since I felt like Haruhi was channeling him about half the time in this episode, and since I found this episode to be "magnificent" (hint, hint ;) ), I'm going to grace this episode of Haruhi with the Jinnai Seal of Approval (taken from Deviant Art - all credit to its makers)!!! :D :D :D
- Newfoundland, Canada
- I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.