#12DaysOfAnime – The relationship between Christmas and music has been a thing I’m always fond about. Songs of joy, warmth and good tidings – all of these these sounds come about in this lovely time of the year. In light of the Christmas spirit, allow me to share some of my personal favorites that I play every Christmas season.
Day 30: An Anime I wished never ended and continued on
Just like any other anime series, this anime challenge is at its last “episode” (heh) and somehow it just doesn’t seem fair. There are multiple shows which ended abruptly with open endings which can lead to a sequel or just ended right then and there because of either budget, time, or not much of the source material left.
Day 19: Most Epic Scene Ever
Since I don’t have an abundance of shonen anime series to watch, I am lacking in terms of choices for the “most epic scene ever.” I think I’ll chose something that’s pretty much common and the basis for all sorts of fantasy-set fight/battle scenes.
Sword Art Online is out of the question.
Day 14: Anime that never gets old no matter how many times I watch it.
An anime series that has stood the test of time and could be agreed as such by the entire community is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. This series has been the grounds for all anime series that have come after it. It set the basis for the current style of anime we see today.
This anime series has made a cultural impact predominantly in Japan, Asia and English-speaking countries. Numerous parodies of the dance shown in the anime’s ending theme, Hare Hare Yukai, were popular during its airing time and gave the companies a very hard time to enforce copyright.
That’s quite enough evidence to say that the Haruhi franchise contributed largely to the culture of anime.
When I mentioned “set the basis,” I mean it in the sense that this series has set the standards for your typical slice-of-life, high school-set anime series. Same goes for the entirety of the works that the studio, Kyoto Animation, which they base from the entire Haruhi franchise.
Why is the series good, you might ask? That’s a pretty hard question to answer but let me try to do so in the best way I can.
For starters, the story telling used in the Haruhi franchise is somewhat new and unique. Kyon narrates the story to the viewer and adds in his own internal monologues but doesn’t take away the spotlight from the real main character which is Haruhi Suzumiya. Some people might mistake Kyon as the main character of this series but if you think about it, the story always surrounds the titular character, Haruhi Suzumiya.
Its story is quite unique as well. I don’t think I have seen an anime series where it balances the high school, slice-of-life aspects whilst also mixing in the supernatural phenomenon in the mix. I mean, seriously, the titular character is god and it is Kyon’s (and the other characters) job to make sure that she is not aware of her abilities.
We got really fantastic characters here: an esper, an artificial humanoid interface, a time-traveler, and we have Kyon – a normal guy. All of them ensures that Haruhi is entertained and in blissful ignorance of her god powers. Simple yet something unique at the same time.
Imagine if you were in such a situation – you, as Kyon, would have to keep these fantastic and extraordinary phenomenon in the dark and make sure this blissful ignorant “ojou-sama” doesn’t know that she is god for the sake of the world’s safety.
Another thing to note is the animation quality shown in the entire Haruhi franchise was the highest of its time. Kyoto Animation was known to produce movie-like animation quality and still does so to this day.
The airing order of episodes was completely unorthodox and viewers had different ways to watch them. Its either to watch the series in two major episodic orders: Haruhi’s order (which was the chronological order) or Kyon’s order (which was the broadcast order).
It created somewhat of a confusion and also a sense of appeal since nothing of the sort is common. In Kyon’s order, the first episode would be “The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00” while it would be listed as the eleventh episode in Haruhi’s order.
The ending theme was quite phenomenal as well which, as I mentioned earlier, bred numerous parodies as people were trying to do dance covers. The theme had a catchy, upbeat tune and showed off a full dance sequence. It was quite unique and probably even in our current time.
Because of the Haruhi franchise, there was a rise of popularity when it came to the high school set stories in Japan.
The story might not appeal to people at this time but take note that this franchise is the reason why anime, light novels and manga are written as they are right now. The trend of school-set anime was started by the Haruhi franchise which is probably the reason why despite the absurdity of most anime series, it is still in high school – “because apparently everything happens in high school.”
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a classic, a trend-setter, and is still appreciated till this day despite being released in the early 2000’s. It is, definitely, an anime series that never gets old no matter how many times I or you watch it – you can fight me on this.
Day 12: Favorite Anime Scene
The anime film Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was one of the best of its kind. It solidified and gave way to the popularity of the Haruhi franchise. There were a lot of scenes from this film which could easily be one of my favorites and choosing just one was just too hard.
So after much thought, I think the best favorite scene I saw in this movie was “Kyon’s Choice.”
If you have watched the anime series and this film, then you would know about a character named Yuki Nagato. Her character is an artificial interface made by aliens which is devoid of any emotions and seeks to only complete the task at hand: to observe Haruhi Suzumiya, the supposed-entity or “god” responsible for keeping everything in balance.
In this movie, it is revealed the Nagato altered everybody’s memories and change the world to its normal state. By normal meaning Haruhi is not a god, and everyone else in the series become normal human beings – no special abilities, no out-of-this-world talents, normal.
She did this to give Kyon a choice: whether to accept a world where everyone is normal and lead a normal life, or return to the original world where Kyon is mixed in a group of people that possess supernatural abilities and keep Haruhi’s god powers in check.
Kyon chose the original world.
What’s so good about this scene is Kyon’s internal monologue and the animation sequences while he goes on about his reasoning of why he chose the original world.
Throughout his monologue, he tries to understand why Nagato could’ve altered the world – which is a cliche reason since she is an artificial humanoid interface devoid of feelings. The sole problem of making artificial human interfaces in every media is that they tend to analyze everything but are limited to the prisons of their programming.
In short, the errors which Nagato was warning Kyon about was her bottled-up human emotions. You cannot devoid a human, whether artificial or not, of human emotion. Otherwise, it is not human anymore but an empty shell.
Kyon acknowledges Nagato’s suffering. How she could’ve wanted to express her own emotions but couldn’t because of the limits in her programming. He blames himself for trying to rely on Nagato every time something bad happens. Kyon is stuck in the idea that “Nagato can fix this, so let’s leave it to her” but doesn’t realize Nagato’s side of these decisions he makes.
Kyon understands that Nagato wanted to live in a normal world and understands the reason why he was the only one given by Nagato the choice to revert or maintain the current world – it was because Nagato trusted her to make the right choices.
This puts Kyon in a precarious situation – does he put Nagato’s feelings as a priority? Or does he want to suffer even more in the original world where he does not have any talents and is at the whim of those who do have them?
He acknowledges that he is, as well, tired of being the normal guy – how every situation in the original world was too confusing and too out of hand to be understood by his own normal mind. Kyon weighs in his own woes as well and factors it to his decision.
However, there was a big question to be answered: didn’t he, Kyon, enjoy the original world?
Yes, he goddamned did.
Despite being under constant confusion all the time in the original world, he found everything fun despite being sick, tired and confused.
In this scene, Kyon battles with his alter-ego which weighs in his suffering and how everything is so screwed up in the original world. He considers that Nagato went out of her way to do him a favor yet he still wanted the choice to revert or maintain.
Kyon’s alter-ego weighs in why the normal world which Nagato created is better and asks Kyon the big question, “Wasn’t everything fun?“
To which Kyon finalizes his decision and said strongly that he had fun.
Therefore, he chose the original world.
This scene was a great show of character development of Kyon and Nagato. We fully understand Nagato’s woes and Kyon acknowledges this as well. But Kyon also considers that such a normal life would be… too normal. There’d be no point in everything and he finds it fun – that’s all there is to it.
It was such a turning point for Kyon and Nagato as characters. An emotional scene where Kyon monologues with himself whether to choose a normal life or live the original life where he is confronted with weird sh*t everyday. It may sound selfish but I’ll be damned, he made the right decisions and swore to not repeat the mistakes he made.
I could say Kyon grew to much more aware of Nagato and factor her into every decision he makes rather than the usual thinking where Nagato can handle everything. It goes to show the Nagato, as a character, despite being an artificial being, is capable of human emotion and should be treated as human.
Actually I was considering picking out the “John Smith” scene for this but I don’t know. I felt like this scene weighed in much more than the John Smith scene.
also yuki nagato is best grill
PERSONAL ENTRY – When I was five years old, I had an uncle who was obsessed with the Naruto anime series. Every time my mother left me in his care, we’d spend most of the idle time watching a few episodes of it. I remember him talking excitedly about everything that was happening in an episode, whether it was a fight, a conversation or something that caught his attention.
Even my mother and I had some times when she’d pull out her collection of Voltron episodes. It was a fun time seeing these different robots fighting other robots – the action, the lights, the clashes. They were all something new for me.
I could say that my love for anime is sort of hereditary because of my uncle and my mother who both loved anime during their childhood and teenage years.
The first series that I’ve followed, each episode, was the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It was a time where science fiction piqued my interest. The thought of futuristic technology and concepts were so exciting to me. Every episode I’d wonder about the reasons for each scene in an episode. Pretty deep thinking for a seven year old.
The concept where your classmate was, in fact, god and you had to keep her entertained and if not, she’ll destroy the world? That sold me right in.
Another favorite anime series of mine would be Shakugan no Shana. It awakened my love for fantasy and adventure as Shana would go on to be an achieve Flame Haze – one that would make a difference for her world. How one human can be play a great role in a conflict between greater opposing forces than himself.
I was fascinated by the terms: the Reiji Maigo, the magic used, the different weapons – it filled me with awe and enjoyment.
Fast forward to recent years, I have somewhat limited my viewing of certain anime series. Instead of viewing it for the sheer thrill and excitement, I now delve even deeper. Character developments, story developments and twists, complex concepts and settings – I guess this is what happens when you learn more as you grow.
Nowadays, anime series have been more prevalent on re-occurring themes. Most spend less time on depth and are to shallow for me to enjoy. Instead of the usual twenty-five or more episodes in a season, we’ve now gone to common twelve-episode cour.
A lot of things have changed in the anime industry and people as a whole to have caused these things. It’s stretched itself to even foreign audiences other than Japan.
It’s a sense of happiness yet there’s a feeling of uncertainty – how anime has become bigger than people have expected.
Despite the new tropes and ideas, I still do hope we get to see more Haruhi’s, more Shakugan no Shana’s, more Naruto’s, more Voltron’s – where the entertainment value matters on the audience’s relation to the anime series rather than flashy CGI and the sorts.