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Errinundra's Beautiful Fighting Girl #133: Taiman Blues: Ladies' Chapter - Mayumi


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Alan45
Village Elder



Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:12 am Reply with quote
@Errinundra

There is a trope from horror stories where someone wakes from a nightmare gets up and goes about his day. Things start to go wrong and it turns out this is a nightmare. Repeat as necessary until the character has no idea what is dream and what is reality. That is pretty much where I would be if I watched anime with multiple interpretations as you have indicated above.

To me, what I see on the screen is the reality of that scene unless it is specifically shown as a dream or hallucination. I find this important because we are frequently dealing in fantasy or science fiction worlds to begin with. Also since everything is drawn and not live action there is already a large degree of abstraction from reality even in non fantasy settings. Adding additional levels of abstraction on top of this is more than my poor feeble brain can handle. Wink
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Touma



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:32 am Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
(I now use PoMo for the sake of those with Freudian eyes).

Thank you. Smile
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:46 pm Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:
...And since I'm already making awesome suggestions, here's another: willag has in the past stated a love of performing mindless, repetitive tasks. So how about getting her to create an index of your reviews in the OP of this thread? It would be great to have a list of all your reviews and links to click on that would take a reader to whichever one is selected. I see that willag inspired this thread in the first place so it would be fitting for her to do this grunt work.


I love lists almost as much as willag. So, if you care to look at the 2nd post of the thread...

Thanks for the kind words, though.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:05 pm Reply with quote
Cool! I have no idea how I managed to miss that big honking index, but there you go.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:42 pm Reply with quote
Speaking of unreliable narrators, I told an untruth in my review of the second season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, where I said that I picked it up "pretty much as soon as it became available from Madman". Not so. Madman released it on 3 November 2010; I've now found my email order with them, dated 12 January 2012. How can you trust anything I say?

That now behind me, I'm continuing with my reviews of the franchise. This is an update of my 1 July 2012 review of the American dubbed version, which contains a link to my earlier, brief review of the Japanese dubbed version (with subtitles, of course). I've added a synopsis, my reasons for watching, a summary to the rating and some notes at the end. I've enlarged the previous image to 720p and added three others, along with an info box containing further speculation. Othewise, the comments section is as I wrote it, over four years ago (some corrected typos excepted). You will see that my thoughts about Kyon were percolating away in my head even then. At some point during that four years I upgraded the rating to excellent.

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya


Kyon: facing a less vibrant future without Haruhi.

Reason for watching: the enormous regard held for the film by the fandom and my appreciation of the first season of the franchise. My first encounter with a fansub predated watching the second season of the TV series, with its Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode that is so essential to appreciating important elements of the film. That deficiency was attended to by the time I watched the dub.

Synopsis: After Haruhi organises a clubroom hotpot Christmas party for the S.O.S. Brigade, Kyon arrives at school to find her seat in class now occupied by the supposedly erased knife-nut, Ryoko Asakura. Worse, the Brigade no longer exists, Nagato and Mikuru are neither alien nor time traveller respectively and both Haruhi and Koizumi have disappeared. Worst of all, it seems that no one even remembers Haruhi Suzumiya. Realising how keenly he misses her, Kyon sets out to discover who has reset the world so he can put things aright.



Comments: Until a fortnight ago (note: this was written in 2012) I had only seen a fansubbed version of the film. (My comments after watching the sub can be read here, though you'll need to scroll down). I've long admired Crispin Freeman's work as Kyon and had been looking forward to completing my Haruhi collection on DVD. I wasn't let down. Just as well, that. With Haruhi missing for most of the film, Kyon has to carry the story pretty much on his own. It's almost as if Crispin Freeman were born for the role: his tone of voice and his dramatic acting have so etched themselves into my consciousness the American dub has become my preferred choice, even if Wendee Lee can be hit and miss as Haruhi.

The film elicits a greater emotional response than the two TV seasons. So much so that at times I felt the sort of manipulation that I had experienced with the Clannad franchise. I prefer it when Tatsuya Ishihara plays with genre conventions, rather than wallows in them. All the same, there are some powerful moments such as the reunion in the Literature Club's room and both of Kyon's unexpected encounters with Asakura, the second of which still disturbs me after several viewings. (In my review of the sub version, I didn't understand what was happening immediately afterwards. I've got that sorted now, I think.) Easily the best moment, however, is the scene where Kyon finally meets the alternative world's Haruhi. I guess all his yearning and worrying was leading to this point. Ishihara and Kyoto Animation have the technique down pat. Who cares? I love it.


Haruhi Suzumiya: "Like a wrestler, looking for someone to fight" - Kyon.

Despite the emotional rewards, the movie is less interesting than either of the two iterations of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, partly because it doesn't play around much with anime conventions the way its predecessors did and also because there's a lot less Haruhi. I see a lot of hate for Haruhi in these forums. It's understandable but I think it's missing the point. Haruhi is a comic, rather than a romantic, creation and carries some pretty sophisticated concepts on behalf of her creators. Her monstrosity is part of the joke. I'll now contradict myself and suggest that she also follows in a long tradition of magical girlfriends. Actually, I'm not really contradicting myself because we all know that the franchise knows its tropes through and through. Don't we? Anyway, the film largely forsakes the gameplaying, time travel excepted, to concentrate on Kyon's emotional ride, which I largely enjoyed. The upside of the more conventional approach is that it avoids the clangers of the TV series. (Endless Eight, anyone?)

Not so enjoyable was Yuki Nagato. The shy, bookworm version irritated me no end. It's not so much the character type but how it seemed so excessively portrayed. Yet another example of a Clannadism working its way into the Haruhi world. Thankfully, there's also great handfuls of the adult Mikuru Asahina whose knowingness is a happy counterweight to the younger version's cluelessness. Kyon, for his part, is the archetypal unreliable narrator. I like the theory I've seen that it's he, not Haruhi, who is god. On one level that is absolutely true. Everything is filtered through his gaze - we only get his version of events. The Haruhi we see is the Haruhi he lets us see. In reality she's a charming young woman. Just ask Koizumi. On second thoughts, you'd be bored to tears. I'd much prefer the monster who so bewitches Kyon.


Yuki Nagato: the quiet girl finally smiles; she can also pull a face like a vampire.

The film is also content to take its time telling the story. Generally I don't mind that until I find that I'm struggling to attend in the latter parts. Like the final movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it feels like it has too many final scenes, even if they each add something important. And, having watched Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody from the second season of Melancholy since I watched the sub version, this time around I wasn't discombobulated by the time travelling. It actually makes sense, although it leaves room for yet another instalment of the tale so Kyon can set to rights one last (very crucial) detail. I particularly like the way the franchise plays with information paradoxes in time travel: ie, Kyon found out about the star shaped mole from the older Mikuru / the younger version found out from him; or, Haruhi went to North Senior High because of Kyon made it seem so enticing to her three years earlier / Kyon told her because, for him, she was already at North Senior High. Wonderful, crazy stuff.

The extras include a segment showing the filming in Sydney of the incidental music for the film. The orchestral parts were played by the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, an Australian professional orchestra that specialises in anime music. You wouldn't think a country of only 22 million could support such a thing. I went to a performance of theirs back in 2006 - I've got the program in front of me: 2 July 2006 to be precise. The special guest was Youmi Kimura who wrote and performed the songs in Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. To be honest, I wasn't all that familiar at the time with the music they were playing.

Rating: very good excellent. As with the TV series, the major appeal of the film lies in the characters. The S.O.S. Brigade continue their entertaining ways, although Yuki’s enhanced moeness is, perhaps, pushed too far. Overall, Disappearance is less adventurous than the series but more emotionally involving. It might not be surprising how much anxiety the absence of Haruhi caused Kyon, but I was surprised how strongly I reacted. The sympathy the series evokes for its principal characters is notable, even if sometimes the urge to exploit dramatic possibilities stretches the credibility of the narrative. It's a bit long and it depends on knowledge of the two TV seasons to fully appreciate some of the gags or the convoluted time travel shenanigans.


Ryoko Asakura: we'll need another instalment to find out where this leads.

2016 addenda: Just some thoughts following this latest viewing.

1) After all this time, watching and re-watching the various parts of the franchise, I can say that the scene where Kyon and Haruhi are re-united outside her school is my favourite of all. From his inner monologue as he waits for her to appear, to her wrestler's aggression when they meet, to her evolving expressions as she faints - catch the momentary look of ecstasy as she realises she has found John Smith - I'm totally enthralled. The scene encapsulates everything about the two characters I find so captivating.

2) Also re-watching the film with my contentious thesis in the forefront of my mind, had me keeping an eye out for the narrative gameplaying of the two TV series. Despite the surface emphasis on Kyon's emotional journey, the nods and winks can be found. Here's just one. More than a ¼ of an hour into the film, before the plot actually kicks in, Kyon reveals his awareness that he is playing a role in a work of fiction.

Kyon wrote:
For a prologue that was way too long. I know, but you really can’t call it anything else. Trust me on that. The story starts here. Actually it starts tomorrow. Maybe it started that night. Wait. Maybe it started… oh… whatever.


He is typically couching it in vague terms, frustrating our desire for narrative certainty. The main PoMo gag of the film is that, in a franchise about a high school girl who may be God, they've gone and removed God from the narrative. More on Grand Narratives later (note the ominous capital letters).

3) In my review I mentioned that the incidental music was provided by the Australian Eminence Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble was founded by the Japanese-Australian virtuoso violinist Hiroaki Yura who was also the orchestra leader. He later popped up as the short-lived producer of Under the Dog.


Last edited by Errinundra on Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:47 pm Reply with quote
Ah, so you did find the time to post the review after all. Excellent. I just recently watched the movie for the first time a few nights ago. I used the dub. I loved it. I know the movie is dangerously close to 3 hours long but it didn't drag for me.

As somebody who has has never bought into Kyon's negativity about Haruhi, the movie was an ecstatic humbling of Kyon where he is not only forced to admit what we all knew - that he loves every chaos-filled second with Haruhi, snarkiness be damned - but is shown actually stepping on his own head, driving his face into the dust of his now demolished jaundiced pose. I figuratively got off the sofa and cheered at the sight. That's right, Kyon, you snarky turd, you LOOOOOOOVE her, you can't LIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE without her, you want to KIIIIIIIIIIIISS her, you want to MAAAAAAARRRRRY her.

That aside, unlike the hard-hearted errinundra, I actually felt for Yuki: both versions. I understood entirely the impulse that drove her to do what she did and I found her "normal" version to be charming. In my interpretation, that normal version vanished when the time plane was corrected so I don't have to worry about her struggling on in a friendless world. I think her character was central to dramatizing why Kyon hesitated before initiating the recovery program. After all, in this new time plane, he could have what he thought he wanted: Haruhi, the rest of the gang (including a Yuki who clearly needed him), but no weirdness. But, in the end, he couldn't do without "his" Haruhi. (By the way, errinundra, you pomo bastard, consider that to be the show's definitive judgment on which intepretation is better: Haruhi as God vs. this is all going on in Kyon's head. The show just told you which version it prefers. Wink )

Yes, the scene where Kyon finally encounters Haruhi v.2 was absolutely magical.

I did wonder why it took Kyon so long to catch on that something was amiss. As somebody who has gone through a lot of weird shit, you would have thought he'd have jumped on the clue bus earlier than he did. But it was also essential that a decent interval of screen time, mapping out Kyon's fear and frustration, be played out to make that "reunion" scene so impactful. I think my second favourite scene was Haruhi v.1 struggling with her cocoon sleeping bag.

Okay, I was initially confused by something that happened during the climax, but I think I have worked it out. However, just to be sure, I want to run through it below. I am spoiler tagging, just to be on the safe side.

spoiler[Okay, so we know that a version of Kyon from the future has to go back to the scene where Ryoko stabs (!) him so that Yuki can be injected successfully. This future Kyon, who we do not see, tells Kyon that he had to wait until he was stabbed to do anything. Initially, this confused me, but I guess the idea is that to avoid a time paradox of actually "meeting" yourself, Future Kyon had to wait until stabbed Kyon was almost unconscious? And I believe everybody else was there so nobody but he could go back in time to do the injection without invoking the time paradox? Do I have that right? I hope so, because that is pretty clever.]
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:33 pm Reply with quote
^
I like your theory (in the blacked out portion), except for this.



If you watch their faces closely, that's school girl Mikuru on the left and grown up Mikuru on the right.

For the record, I don't recall ever saying that Haruhi as God is a figment of Kyon's imagination, in the sense that he's suffering from delusions. I'm more sceptical than that. I'm saying he's a liar; that he's fabricating the entire story. In the nicest possible PoMo way, of course.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:33 am Reply with quote
Good point. Although that you could argue as an official Time Traveller, perhaps Mikura has some sort of technology that allows her to avoid Time Paradox. If that is not the case, then why do you think that scene played out the way it did? Mind you, if it is the case, it does beg the question of why she spoiler[wouldn't have prevented Kyon from getting stabbed.] Feel free to provide your explanation of that scene if you have one.

Oh, and I wasn't trying to suggest that you were saying that Kyon was delusional. When I wrote that this was "going on in his head," I meant in the sense that he was knowingly fantasizing.

And another minor question open to all: in the dub, Kyon uses the alias John Smith, but obviously in the original Japanese, he would have used whatever the Japanese equivalent of John Smith is in English. Anybody know what that Japanese name is? Even if I listened to the sub (which I will on my next rewatch), I don't think my gaijin ears would be able to pluck the name from the audio.
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Touma



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 3:07 pm Reply with quote
@Blood-
Kyon does use the Anglo name John Smith. He says it with a Japanese accent, including adding a vowel sound at the end, but it is John Smith.

Also, a slight problem with the story that I noticed is that Kyon should have gone looking for Taniguchi as soon as he realized that Haruhi was missing and nobody else remembered her.
Kyon knew that Taniguchi want to middle school with Haruhi.
As it was even when he saw Taniguchi the next day he still did not ask him about Haruhi. Kyon did not find out where she was until Kunikida just happened to mention her name.
I wonder if Kyon was supposed to have forgotten about Taniguchi for some reason, or if the author forgot about him.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 4:13 pm Reply with quote
@ Touma - ha, that's funny about Kyon actually using John Smith, even in Japanese.

With respect to your other point, I was wondering why Taniguchi didn't recognize Haruhi's name when Kyon first mentioned it. He was there was he not? That first day when Kyon noticed Haruhi wasn't there? And I believe he said her full name in Taniguchi's presence as well, but I'm not 100% about that.

As for your question, if somebody like Mikuru and Yuki couldn't remember who Haruhi was, then I don't blame him for assuming Taniguchi was in the same boat. Remember, it took him a while to figure out he was in a corrupted time plane.
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12skippy21



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:03 pm Reply with quote
Taniguchi was in the nurses office during lunch on the first day. I believe he says this when Kyon gets the answer he seeks on the third day (and he was off school for the second).
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:57 pm Reply with quote
Ah, so he was't around. Okay, but I stand by my original assertion that I don't find it surprising that Kyon didn't think to seek him out to ask about Haruhi. He was pretty preoccupied and Taniguchi was home sick for one of the days in any case.
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Animegomaniac



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:27 pm Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:

That aside, unlike the hard-hearted errinundra, I actually felt for Yuki: both versions. I understood entirely the impulse that drove her to do what she did and I found her "normal" version to be charming.


Ok, this is going to be complicated. What do you think Yuki did and why do you think she did it? Or, to put into other words, I've always wondered why no one thinks Yuki was always in full control of Ryoko Asaukura and all her actions are not only at Yuki's benefit but also her behest? Here, Ryoko is Yuki's guard dog where previously, she was the element that made Kyon trust Yuki implicitly. Pretty lucky she was able to save him in time. Right? Well, that's what she said...

What keeps Yuki from being an outright villain in Disappearance was that she left a failsafe for Kyon to activate if he didn't like the world Yuki made. She changes everything against his will to give him the world he thinks he wants? Is that it? Well, no, because she kept the incident where they meet in the library even if it doesn't make sense that someone like Kyon needs point out the library exists to the high school library girl. So Kyon still gets her the card even though she now should practically live there rather than her apartment or the clubroom.

Well, it's her cherished memory, right? Probably her only memory she can call her own. So what does she want together with that?

A clue to it is that Kyon getting the SOS Brigade back in the clubroom is the main start of the failsafe. So what I think she really wants is for Kyon to actively make a decision... just not for himself but for her. Kyon makes it about himself because he's Kyon, main character and narrator at large, but there's really no way he'd choose a world with Ryoko Asakura in it... and that's where everything falls apart.

So in the end, there's the ultimate question: Knowing all that, what did Yuki want? It could nothing more than getting Kyon to call her by her first name or, worse, a long elaborate gag with a killer punchline.

That theory hasn't come up yet either? You'd think the three faces of Ryoko would have been something of a red flag rather than red herring...

"What she only wanted to was to grant Kyon's wish of a normal, weirdness free world." If that was true, there'd be no Ryoko involvement.

"Oh, well, how about wanting a chance for Kyon to see her as a girl, perhaps even romantically?" Well, that matches the library memory but fails the failsafe test; She could have scattered them, Haruhi in particular, or wiped them out, Haruhi very much in particular, but instead kept them with Kyon's reach.

"Well, maybe she just wanted to try out being a real person for once?" Then why scatter the SOS brigade as the fulcrum for Kyon's choice?

In the end, we just don't know for sure. I'm fairly certain Yuki set up the whole event to fail from the start, believing in the world as it was but even that doesn't explain the library memory.

I once described Disappearance as a love story without any love in it and I think that's it. Yuki has absolute faith that Kyon will save her so much that she changes the world just so he can change it back. But it's not about love, she can't and he won't... it's not about the SOS brigade as they were taken out of the equation...

Yes, the outer plot can be construed that Yuki turned herself into the Author and she boiled the story down to "Boy meets girl meets book"

But that's the biggest problem of all; Everything circles back to Yuki the enigma because Kyon the narrator never defined her. So I'm sticking with "Cosmic joke" until someone can convince me that she changed the world for any benefit beyond her own amusement.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:36 am Reply with quote
Well, much to Errinundra's disgust, I'm taking the show at its word. The explanation that Kyon gives - and I believe him - is that the accumulated strain of observing Haruhi has caused a build up of errors in Yuki (remember, she remembers every one of the 15,000+ two week stints of the Endless Eight). She is, by the time of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, a malfunctioning, God-like computer. She is not responsible for her actions by that point. Kyon posits, and again, I believe him, that quite understandably, Yuki wonders what it would be like to be a normal girl and be able to smile, but again she would never in a billion years have done this except for her Major Malfunction. Her system errors cause her to change the time plane, but there is enough of the "real" Yuki left that she is able to create an escape hatch.

You say that Disappearance is a love story without any love in it and I think you couldn't possibly be more wrong. The whole movie is suffused with love. Principally, Kyon's tortured recognition that he! loves! every! freakin'! weird! second of being around Haruhi. Heartless bastard Errinundra didn't respond to Yuki's yearning for normalcy and love for Kyon, which is why he is the remorseless contract killer/anime reviewer in real life that he is. You've got Haruhi sleeping beside Kyon's bed for three days in her adorable sleeping bag cocoon, for Pete's sake. There is a lot of love in this movie.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:18 am Reply with quote
I get what you're saying, Animegomaniac. I've also always felt that the "failsafe" Yuki builds into the system is problematic. Yuki is without character and, unless she is a loving Data Integration Thought Entity - and there's no indication that she is - cannot love Kyon. As you say, Blood-, I'm a hard-hearted, heartless (make up your mind!), misunderstanding, disgusted PoMo bastard and remorseless killer who cares not a whit for Pete Kyon, in his heart, loves Haruhi (while simultaneously lusting after Mikuru). That doesn't invalidate Animegomaniac's contention that the film is a love story between Yuki and Kyon, where neither loves the other.

My interpretation is that Yuki Nagato is the "failsafe" in the franchise's narrative mechanics. That is, she has been created by the original author as an escape mechanism whenever plot holes are too deep to climb out of. You could interpret the film as a PoMo gag on her mechanical role. That's not far from Animegomaniac's interpretation that Yuki is playing a "cosmic" gag on the other S.O.S. Brigade members. Either Yuki's scheme is contradictory or the PoMo gag is arcane - even for me. Yuki is the main reason I don't give the film a masterpiece ranking. Happily, the Kyon/Haruhi romance story is so good it carries the day.

Just imagine my reaction to The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan!
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