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Old 09-18-2016, 10:35 PM   #336
Talon87
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Haven't gotten to read any the last three days , but I did take the opportunity just now while eating my very late dinner to go ahead and watch the anime adaptations of Mysterique Sign and the first half of Remote Island Syndrome.

"Rose-tinted lenses," eh? I was quite shocked: while the animation in S1 Haruhi is by no means awful, it's not nearly as great as I remember it being. This wasn't the case when I last checked in on the series (last summer, 2015), so I suppose the series is finally, after enjoying ten long and happy years, starting to show its age. Here's the breakdown:
  • when the animation is 10/10 for 2006, it's anywhere from 9/10 to 10/10 for 2016. That hasn't changed. When it looks great, it looks great.
  • but whereas I thought that that was 30%+ of the time, now it feels like it's only 5-10% of the time
  • and when the animation is 7/10 for 2006 during all of the other "not important" cels, now it's only a 4/10. No longer even average.
  • and like I said, that's like 90-95% of the episode
Thankfully, the solidness of the script, voice acting, and directing are all still present. Those are as great now as they were ten years ago. But the animation ... yeah, I'd be lying to both myself and to you guys if I denied that it no longer holds up in a lot of the cels. Alas.

But "holds up" by 2016 standards, I mean! If you hold it to the standards of the time it was animated in, Haruhi S1 is still a bombshell beauty.

And maybe this only applies to these two episodes. After all, both of these episodes can be thought of as "filler" compared with the "main story" of S1. So perhaps they were afforded a much smaller budget. I already watched the Book 1 episodes last summer (and had a very positive impression of them), so I'm not about to re-watch them all right now. But I don't doubt that this could be one explanation behind what happened tonight.

Now for some spoiler thoughts ...

Mysterique Sign (S1E07 in Kyon order)

Spoiler: show
This story is really helped for the visuals. (Despite what I just had to say! ) It's nice to be able to see the cave cricket. (Though Noizi Ito's drawing in the book is pretty adorable. ) And it's nice to see Itsuki's and Yuki's attacks. Gives a much stronger impression, gives a much better reminder that they're not normal high school students.

Sugita with the vocals + the animators with Itsuki's reactions = really great chemistry. Sugita really knows how to bring Kyon to life.

Remote Island Syndrome, Pt.1 (S1E06 in Kyon order, but also spoilers for S1E08)

Spoiler: show
For a series so well known for its faithfulness to its source material, I was pretty surprised by the number of changes in this episode. None of them were strictly worse. In fact, you could argue for any of them being better, your tastes depending.

The most obvious change is the inclusion of Kyon's sister on the trip. This I already knew. I knew because, when I read the chapter in the book, I was disappointed precisely because she was absent (except from the scene at Kyon's home with the duffel bag). Her inclusion in the episode I have always held to be a total positive, but having just recently read the book chapter I'm more 50-50 to it now. I still am glad to have her along. She's still adorable. But just as I can appreciate KyoAni's decision to squeeze her in for some more screentime, I can appreciate Tanigawa's decision as a writer to have this affair only affect the five main SOS Brigade members. No little sister, no Tsuruya, no Taniguchi, just Haruhi, Mikuru, Yuki, Itsuki, and Kyon.

The second most obvious change was the dropped alcohol. This and all the other changes that follow, I hadn't remembered / realized while reading the book chapter recently. Only after watching the episode did I get the refresher necessary to notice these differences. Well, alcohol: in the book it's there, and in the anime it's not. In the book, what happens after Nights 1 and 2 is that Haruhi and the others get intoxicated on alcoholic beverages served to them and consequently a) forget what they did that night plus b) go to bed early. It saves Tanigawa from having to write out lengthy padding that serves his main plot no purpose, and it also provides a fun little look into the characters' world. Asahina's zonked out with the lowest tolerance, Haruhi's belligerent a yammering drunk, etc. It's also got, for me as a non-drinker, a fun alcohol-free message that follows. Haruhi is so peeved by the hangovers and even more pissed off by the amnesia that she swears to Kyon she will never drink alcohol in her life ever, ever again. I thought that that was kinda cool. A small, seemingly insignificant (but possibly significant down the line) bit o' canon.

Well what does the anime do? The anime decides it can't show minors drinking alcohol, I guess. So it changes it to them drinking normal orange soft drinks ... and then doing a lot of fun activities at night that aren't in the book whatsoever. These activities include:
  • exploring the jungle portion of the island
  • lighting fireworks
  • playing the Ou-sama Game, filling a similar role in Japan to what in America we have with Truth or Dare; Haruhi orders Yuki to turn around and say "I love you", which she adorably does but not adorably enough for Haruhi apparently
  • having a pillow fight the morning of Day 3 (this replaces the scene where Haruhi swears off alcohol in the book)
I thought it was kinda cool, to be honest. I didn't much care for minors drinking alcohol but I enjoyed Haruhi's teetotaling declaration at the end of it. I lose that in the anime, but I gain in its place some adorable moments with the characters, mostly the Ou-sama game scene.

The third change the anime does to the book chapter is, it makes some minor changes to Game Night. In the book, Kyon explains that Haruhi is an amateur at mahjong and that she kept making up hands that don't exist in reality, to his frustration and the others' bemusement. They'd let her get away with it because, well, she's the spoiled princess. ^^; In the anime, this is night-and-day different. They make it seem like Haruhi is legitimately a whiz at mahjong. In both versions she "kicks Kyon's ass," but in the anime version they never correct that she's making up hands as she goes, and thus it comes across as though she's just legitimately that good.

I like both versions. The book version is nice because it shows Haruhi's egotism, her -eriority complex, etc. Haruhi's the sort of person who has a very difficult time admitting when she's wrong, accepting defeat, etc. So it naturally makes sense that if she were presented with a game she had little experience with, like mahjong, that she might childishly and brattishly proclaim "I WIN! " even when she hasn't got a legitimate winning hand. And we get to see that side of her if she's bad at the game to begin with, which Tanigawa establishes that she is. But the KyoAni version makes sense too, and I don't even mean with respect to KyoAni Haruhi. Even Tanigawa Haruhi, largely the same person, is displayed as being a wunderkind who can do it all without trying. Better than anyone on the girl's softball team, better than anyone on the track team, better than him, better than her, better at this, better at that ... Haruhi can do it all and do it all well. She's got good looks, she's got good grades, hell, she can even play the piano and a mean guitar! So it'd be kinda strange for her to suddenly not be good at something, especially when it's something competitive. KyoAni retconning her to be naturally good at mahjong ... well, it makes sense.

The fourth change has to do with the kids' arrival on the island, or (to be more general) the clues which clue Kyon and Haruhi in to what is going on here. One clue was cut from the book, and another clue was written in for TV. The cut clue is, Itsuki's introductions to everything. How he introduces Arakawa and Mori, how he calls their names, etc. But also how he takes the lead when the group is walking up the island trail from the dock to the villa. If it's really his first time here on the island, why is he taking the lead? Well, these clues are hugely pared down in the anime. Does he technically still take the lead in the anime? Well yeah -- for all of like, two seconds. I'm not even kidding, he's barely shown in the lead leading them to the house and then there they are, right in front of it. Alright, then, so what's the made-for-TV change? The made-for-TV change is, they show the host's younger brother, Yutaka, mooring the boot to the dock after they disembark. I didn't even remember this until the anime showed it. Now I remember how they're going to draw attention to it next episode. In the book chapter, which I just finished reading, I have zero memory of this being brought up. IIRC all that's mentioned about Yutaka and the boat is that he moved it from the one side of the island (where they could see it from the villa) to the other side (where they could not). That's it. And iirc that's in the anime too. But the mooring the boat part ... yeah, unless I just wildly missed that bit, or unless it's a tiny insignificant line in the book, I am pretty sure that one's made for TV.

So it's funny. None of these changes really impact the story, and few if any could be argued as being bad. Yet all of these changes were made, when none of the other episodes have had nearly so many changes. I wonder what happened in the board room when they were storyboarding this one? It's not like the changes are bad or anything. It's just that they're there, and so many, when the rest of the show has nearly none.
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