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Anime Review 23: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Desert Punk, and Serial Experiments Lain

Updated on September 25, 2011

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Um, this shot makes me think of that part in the movie "A Knight's Tale". Hm...
Um, this shot makes me think of that part in the movie "A Knight's Tale". Hm...

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I wanted to review this show because I'd only seen one episode but the hype for it seemed to permeate the internet and anime magazines throughout my time in high school. Haruhi is very popular all over the world. However, Slice of Life schoolgirl shows frankly bore me to tears so I mostly ignored this show, seeing it as another nuisance while moving on to my favorite gun-toting, alcohol chugging badasses. I guess like Haruhi I was bored with normal humans, at least in fiction. However, this show after the first few episodes shifts genres and becomes anything but ordinary.

I have to say I like this show but I don't like Haruhi. She sexually harasses a female student repeatedly and the show treats this as funny, and she blackmails another student with false allegations of sexual harassment just to steal a computer from the computer club. She also seems, well, like another stuck-up girl who thinks the world revolves around her. The trouble is, it actually does.

Haruhi it turns out is not a typical girl. She has the powers to change reality to her liking, but no one who finds this out tells her because they're afraid that she'll become bored and remake reality, ending the world as they know it. So they simply all try to keep her happy. The problem with this is that Haruhi is so bored by reality that she desperately seeks to interact with espers (people with psychic powers), time travelers, and/or aliens. And she isn't interested in ordinary humans. So when her powers cause 3 of her friends to become just the thing she seeks out, they're afraid to tell her about it. In this, it seems like Haruhi is more of a plot device than character.

I liked Yuki the most, and Kyon somewhat. Even though it's clear that Haruhi has his testicles on a leash and his subservience to her (you're often left wondering why the hell he doesn't just walk away) gets a little annoying, he's mostly an ordinary and likable person. He often acts as a stand-in for the audience when things stop making sense.

Speaking of things not making sense, the order of this show is kind of weird. There are 3 orders the shows can go in and only one of them makes sense because it's chronological. So when I was trying to stream these episodes online I ran into a few instances where one site's "episode 4" would be another site's "11" and so on. Eventually I ended up watching more episodes than I needed to just to get the story figured out in my head because I had watched a few episodes out of order and boy does that make this show even more of a trip than it already is.

It should be called "Haruhi Suzumiya is a crazy bitch who threatens the world with extinction if they don't meet her demands for weird shit to happen, but herself doesn't know about her own god-like powers. And Jesus help us all if she ever does.", but I guess that's too long of a title.

Desert Punk

Our tiny, faceless, badass hero.
Our tiny, faceless, badass hero.

Desert Punk

This is the kind of show I like normally. It involves sort of bounty hunters/repo men who work in a harsh desert environment and are paid to extort money from people who've taken out loans and not paid them back in time. The Desert Punk is almost a legend in his neck of the woods (er, desert?) and everyone tells tales about his demonic-seeming abilities. He uses tricks that make it appear that he's flying or that there are multiple copies of him, for example. His main weakness seems to be women, which I guess is understandable because harsh, rugged environments tend to cause a dearth of available ladies. (Just look at Alaska.) However, this weakness gets him in trouble more than once, it seems that a lady with a sob story who seems vulnerable can make him do just about anything.

This show is great for fans of action shows with vulgar humor and abstract craziness along with some pretty cool fight scenes. The setting reminded me of Trigun, the plot reminded me of Cowboy Bebop, and the main character is a pint-sized badass with a fiesty attitude, sort of like Edward from Fullmetal Alchemist. The show has a good blend of serious action and comic relief like the above shows, but without as much angst as Trigun or Fullmetal Alchemist. I thought it was very funny and often exciting to watch.

Serial Experiments Lain

She's so happy, see? She's cuddling up with her teddy!
She's so happy, see? She's cuddling up with her teddy!

Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain is like many Japanese horror movies I've seen; technology becomes a killer. In this, children and teenagers and adults interact on this mmo game world called The Wired. What seems to be happening is that the Wired is malfunctioning and interacting with the real world in ways that cause accidental deaths and suicides and seems to create in people an inability to tell the difference between reality and the virtual world. Really, as a horror story I found it to be original, modern, and the kind of thing that grips you emotionally. It made me almost afraid of little children entirely, seriously, there's some creepy kids in here.


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    • Chris Qu profile image

      Chris Qu 6 years ago

      I loved Haruhi -- and I thought the movie was even better than the show. I didn't care for Desert Punk, and dropped it after about 10 episodes. I haven't seen Serial Experiments Lain, but perhaps I'll look into it.

    • meow48 profile image

      meow48 6 years ago from usa

      i will check these out sometime.... thanks

    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      I love Haruhi! Lol just had to say that.