SPIRIT OF THE DECADE: The Overhype of Suzumiya Haruhi
If one is going to define the last decade, it won’t be the following things.
- The Eva remake
- Macross Frontier (Yes, I know it’s been 10-odd years since Kawamori even bothered with Macross)
- Gurren Lagann (Though it should be)
- All the great shows in the last 2 or so years, showing what the Japanese really can do if they tried hard enough and have good material to work with
- Ken Akamatsu and Negima, which should have been the biggest thing since Eva. No seriously.
Ironically, none of these will be remembered by many in the years to come, simply because there was a much bigger thing on the horizon.
It just had to be Haruhi. Yes, that’s the thing that makes this decade of Japanese animation stand out. I’m not too sure why, either, but I have a few hunches.
Like Eva before it, Haruhi has a massive fanbase that’s international. People marvel at the technical perfection of animation, the oh-so-witty references (some you need a list to actually notice, even if you are an expert in the reference’s chosen field!) to all things science, science-fiction, animation, among other things. People praise it for deconstructing animé tropes while parodying them. Everyone says Haruhi’s the best character since Asuka or something.
There’s just so much praise that even valid criticism is drowned out by the sheer tidal wave of praise.
It’s Eva for the 21st century. And to be honest, I thought Nadesico did the whole thing a lot better. But then again, not many remember Nadesico, or have even watched it.
Kyoto Animation, unfortunately, has fallen out of favor with the fans for making Endless Eight (If you believe the “outrage” of course. They’re still watching and paying for the DVDs.). However, until Haruhi, KyoAni was just another animation studio, most fondly remembered for making Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid and Fumoffu!. But when Haruhi came around, KyoAni suddenly became the rock star of the animation world. Now, when anyone talks about KyoAni, they talk about Haruhi. Not about the Kanon remake, AIR or Clannad, or even K-ON or Lucky Star or even their work on the Full Metal Panic series. It’ll forever be Haruhi, Haruhi, Haruhi.
3. Everyone talks about it.
This is related to the Overhype issue. Since it’s fans love it so much, it’s bound to get people talking. Positively or negatively, people are going to have an opinion about it. It’s almost as if we’ve returned to the Eva days.
4. Vim and vigour
No matter how you look at the show, you cannot deny that it has a certain exuberance. It’s energetic, rather dynamic, and for some people who have seen it, it’s almost akin to a religious experience. Even I have to admit there’s a certain magical quality to the show that can turn even grizzled, jaded viewers into squealing little kids again. Though if you ask me, the new Mazinger Z remake does just that for me. As is religion.
5. THAT DANCE
Yeah, that dance. It’s an international icon now, even if it’s not being done. People actually recognize it.
6. The introduction of moé as a business model
The Japanese are really quick to notice what makes money. Those of you who bought stuff with either Haruhi’s, Mikuru’s, or Yuki’s face on it, you know what I’m getting at.
It ushered the way into using moé as a business model.
Sadly, it’s also led to the hyper-production of moé shows that have little to no substance to them. K-ON being the prime example. (No, even having good music won’t save a show from having no story.)
However, if you’re bored with long-winded explanations, here’s the short version: Haruhi is this century’s Eva. Yeah, that’s about right.
Entry filed under: SPIRIT OF THE DECADE.