Monday, April 03, 2006
Suzumiya Harhui no Yuutsu 1: Wow.
There are a lot of series that start by throwing you into the middle of the action, leaving you to squint at the screen and try to figure out who's who and what the hell is going on. Episode one of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu definitely takes that approach, but in the most unique way I've ever seen. The "play within the play" is as old as Shakespeare, but Haruhi dispenses with setup completely and just dumps you directly into a student-produced video about a bunny girl/mahou shoujo and her battle with an evil magical girl...alien. And when I say student-produced, it LOOKS student-produced, and I don't mean film school students who would know what they were doing. Actually, today's high school students could probably do better than this with iMovie--this movie has bad lighting, bad effects, bad music, everyone looking like they're reading off cue cards (which appear onscreen at one point), and really, really bad acting. If you got a bunch of fans together to shoot their own mahou shoujo series, and gave them a few beers before they edited it, it would probably look something like this.
Does it work? Is it funny? Hell yes, it works. I watched this raw, and I missed at least 95% of the narration, but I was still laughing out loud. Kyoto Animation did a truly brilliant job mimicking an amateur movie, but that alone wouldn't be all that funny--it's the cheezy mahou shoujo/sentai lines and poses, the skeptical sounding narration, the Paniponi-like glitches where people show up onscreen that shouldn't, the girl cracking up delivering her lines, the heroine looking embarrassed the whole time--all that is what makes this hysterical. Maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I'm just the perfect target for it, but I loved it and I can't understand Japanese worth a damn. Once this is subbed I'll probably soil myself laughing, because it was pretty funny even watching it with less comprehension than a Japanese two-year old would have.
I can't think of another first episode where the main character barely appears at all and you're just tossed into the middle of a play within a play--I can see it being confusing and turning some people off, but if you watch it for what it is, it's just awesome. Next ep we should actually find out what's going on, but I hope it stays as insane, if that's possible. The ED is addictive as hell--I saved the audio and I've had it on endless loop in iTunes for the last hour. And although she doesn't appear in the student movie (she's the director) and doesn't get any screentime at all until sixty seconds before the ED credits, Haruhi's character seems awesome--she looks like she has even more insane delusional energy than Taishi from Comic Party. With the difference that Haruhi has a power Taishi doesn't...but I'm sure the next few episodes will get into that...
Final thought: I definitely get the feeling this will be one of those series that makes me face towards Kyoto and thank Kami-sama I'm an anime fan.