There’s still a lot to be said for the good old-fashioned medium of words stamped onto slices of dead trees. I honestly believe certain stories work better in one medium than another; Haruhi Suzumiya is I think a case in point. The TV show’s shuffled broadcast order never significantly improved the experience because I’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation for it. The translation of the light novel on the other hand seems to keep an ordered chronology as nature, and Nagaru Tanigawa, intended and is more satisfying for that.
The prose reads smoothly and I’m pretty impressed with the presentation too (my only regret is not getting the hardback version. I’m anal about such things). What makes an even bigger difference than its adherence to the timeline, or the fact that it retains Noizi Ito’s original illustrations, is the first-person narrative approach that the novel takes. Unlike the TV broadcast order, which came across as little more than a cool gimmick, this detail makes the world of difference.
My first thought on the notorious Endless Eight portion of the new series of Haruhi Suzumiya was “thank God I’m not watching this too!” and proceeded to skim-read the blog posts, which is probably more fun than actually watching the episodes themselves. It reminded me how something that’s popular can divide the fans so strongly and produce the old shitstorm of hype, bitching and RAEG that springs up every time. In some ways it’s as predictable as the “The new season sucks!” posts that ironically crop up every season but the observations are interesting.
What do you mean “the first season was better…”?!
Haruhi Suzumiya is a texbook example of how these things happen although I’m a bit spoilt for choice of other examples. Naruto is an obvious one although it’s the stereotypical Narutard that upsets most people, probably even more so than the filler episodes. To a lesser degree you get a mirror image of this carry-on with notoriously bad shows but the general pattern is the same: a wave of opinion for A New Thing creates a reflex reaction in the opposite direction, forming another retort of the initial enthusiasm and so on. Like the old fave “Toilet Tennis: look left” and “Toilet Tennis: look right” scrawled on the opposite walls of a toilet cubicle, this is Backlash Tennis.
It’s funny watching the “Where’s my Haruhi sequel?!” dorama unfold from a distance and not really being fussed one way or the other. If my finances were a little healthier I’d have bought the DVDs of the first season already but since 1. I still think Mushishi is more awesome* and 2. my Tokyo trip is my priority at the moment they’ll have to wait. While I’m not as affected by the absence of Haruhi’s second appearance as most people I did begin to take a passing interest in the chibi-fied, ONA incarnation, Suzumiya-chan Haruhi no Yuutsu. Eventually.
I honestly believe there’s a lot of potential in ONAs: not just the fifteen minute slabs of win that make up Eve no Jikan and the idea of Crunchyroll ‘going straight’ but the general freedom of expression and distribution that the format offers. I can’t comment on CR’s integrity in the past, though, and truthfully the ONA issue would warrant a post of its own. In any case the launch of the Haruhi spin-off that I’m guessing is supposed to stop the fans lynching the studio staff fill the gap before the second season bypassed all that and went straight to Youtube; even in the current climate I was pleasantly surprised at that.