Haruhi Suzumiya 05: The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya

August 16, 2011

Nagaru Tanigawa – Yen Press – 2011 – 11+ volumes
this is a novel

Three short stories in this volume, and all of them are more interesting than the ones in The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The first is Endless Eight. Haruhi has a perfect end-of-summer with the brigade members. It’s idyllic enough that not even Kyon complains much. It’s so perfect, in fact, that Haruhi wishes it would last forever. And then it does. The SOS Brigade repeats the last two weeks of summer about 15,000 times, with their memory reset every time, before deja vu hits hard enough to trigger a suspicion that Yuki confirms.

Next is The Day of Sagittarius, when the Computer Club challenges the SOS Brigade to a computer game they’ve designed. The bet: if the SOS Brigade wins, the Computer Club is considered subjugated. If the Computer Club wins, Haruhi has to give them their computer back. The game is ridiculously tipped in the Computer Club’s favor (both because the SOS Brigade isn’t good at it and because it’s rigged), but there are ways around that, of course.

The last story is the promised “the SOS Brigade is stuck in a remote, snowed-in cabin” story, when Asahina’s friend invites them to her family’s ski cabin, and during a freak blizzard, the SOS Brigade wanders into a different cabin and can’t get out.

I liked the stories in this volume quite a bit. Most of them are very character-centric, with Yuki getting rare development in the second story. The first is all about trying to figure out what Haruhi would consider a complete summer, and all the stuff normal high school kids do that makes summer memorable. The third story is strange, since none of the characters really use their powers, and it’s an unknown outside entity that’s controlling everything. Also, this story finally, FINALLY has another hint that there may be a forthcoming romance between Kyon and Haruhi, when Haruhi questions Kyon about why he’s been paying so much attention to Yuki.

A few things I noticed while I was reading this:

One is that Kyon’s narration is often stuff he says aloud. Sometimes it has quotation marks around it, so I assumed when it didn’t, it was just sarcastic commentary. It took two books in a row’s worth of people replying to what I thought was his inner monologue for me to figure out that he was actually saying this stuff. Except, I’m almost positive that sometimes he keeps it to himself. Like his thoughts about Asahina. Or when he makes sarcastic comments about Haruhi’s powers. So how can I know what he’s saying out loud and what he isn’t? Do I just assume all of it is out loud, except when it doesn’t make sense that he’d reveal something?

This also made me realize that Kyon is just as rude as Haruhi, and it made me like him a lot more. His constant stream of pessimism really got on my nerves in the second novel, but after reading more, it’s easier to accept that it is who he is. Now that I know that his pessimism is being aired to the world at all times, he’s pretty funny. I also like that people seem to ignore what he says 80% of the time.

The other, unrelated thing I realized was that… maybe Kyon is the one with the powers? After reading two volumes of short stories, small plots where the other SOS Brigade members have to approach Kyon in a variety of situations, it started making less and less sense that Haruhi was the one that had to stay entertained, since it was clearly Kyon that was having all the supernatural fun. He’s the one that knows all Haruhi’s wishes are real, and gets to have adventures because of it, while Haruhi is being entertained through relatively conventional means. And maybe they just tell Kyon that Haruhi has the powers since they know, deep down, that Kyon likes Haruhi and would want to keep her happy. Kyon admits that he hates being bored, and perhaps the powers stuff only happened recently because Kyon wasn’t creative enough to imagine situations to use it in, and Haruhi is, so he simply follows Haruhi’s suggestions. Or something.

It’s even better that way, because Kyon is so bitter about everything. It would be awesome if he actually was the cause, and they had to lie to him because he would simply stop using his powers, get bored, and destroy the earth or whatever if he thought he was giving himself too much of a headache.

I’m sure the reason for Haruhi having the powers was explained better in the first novel, and I’ve simply forgotten. But everything that I’ve read seems to work from the perspective of Kyon having the powers too, and really, these short stories make a lot more sense that way. Haruhi almost never uses her powers through volumes three and five (only Endless Eight and the Cricket story are related to Haruhi’s powers), and yet Kyon is still running all over the damn place.

Yuki also seems to respond to Kyon’s (I assume) internal musings that a slider should just appear already. I can’t remember if Haruhi mentioned a slider back in the first novel, but Kyon’s the one that keeps bringing them up. If they appear, it’s his fault.

One thing that bothers me a bit is that these are still clearly young adult books. The time traveling and nonlinear storyline are simultaneously too simple and too complex for the way it is written. Like, Kyon still takes a long time to describe things, yet characters will sometimes have philosophical discussions that have some bearing on the plot. This is probably the only young adult novel I’ve read with a plot that hinges on the formulas and equations of Euler (the final story in this volume comes down to mathematical theory). To be fair, Kyon often just begs out of this stuff, and I’m on his side most of the time, but it’s still odd that, for as simple as the writing is, it sometimes gets a bit too existential. Well, I think that may be its main theme, but it’s a difficult thing for a young adult book to verbalize.

But I like it. I like it a lot. I can’t wait for the next book, though I am disappointed that it will be more short stories instead of another novel. Even worse, one of them is the plot to the movie I hated so much in the second novel. But still. I’m quite fond of the characters at this point, and while Haruhi is using her power less and less, they still seem to be getting caught in increasingly interesting situations. Plus, as confusing as it is, I’m also quite interesting in the nonlinear storytelling. It’s good stuff, but I’ve gushed and analyzed enough already. Just read them. Start from the beginning.

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