The Masked Tragedy of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The cast of Haruhi Suzumiya
The cast of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”

When roaming the overwhelming world of anime, it’s impossible to miss The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The series entertained everybody, die-hard anime fans and casual watchers, kids and adults. With a quirky cast and wacky adventures, it was hard not to be captivated by the uplifting, energizing spirit that the anime exudes. However, look an inch below the surface, and the entire world of Haruhi Suzumiya is clearly an innocent front, a façade that hides a myriad of more mature issues that the series addresses. One particular message that stood out was the fact that Haruhi was not the eccentric, unfathomable person we’ve come to know her as. She, just as any other human, is prone to err, making rash decisions based on emotions. This is her downfall, the reason that the anime is intended to be a masked tragedy and Haruhi Suzumiya the unfortunate tragic heroine.

Aristotle thought of the earliest concepts of the tragic hero.
Aristotle thought of the earliest concepts of the tragic hero.

It would make sense to define what encompasses a tragic hero. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero must fall from grace by error of judgment or misfortune, not through inherently evil acts that come back to haunt him. The tragic hero must act in a way that is wrong with the error coming from a lack of good judgment or misfortune as opposed to ill-will. Aristotle refers to Oedipus as an example of a tragic hero. By unknowingly killing his father in self-defense and thus equally ignorantly marrying his widowed mother, Oedipus falls victim to unavoidable events that stem from a single event without any way of knowing the conclusion.

Now that the mold of the tragic hero has been shaped, it’s time to fill it with some concrete evidence from the life of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Haruhi Suzumiya was a normal child, as far as canonical works show. Sharp-witted and clever, but normal, until she went to a baseball game in sixth grade. In awe at the size of the crowd, she realizes that she is a minuscule piece of a world unimaginably bigger than her. She understands than in the grand scheme of things, everything she knows of is comparatively uninteresting and the world bores her. This moment of comprehension changes Haruhi and is the primary motivation for her eccentric actions. Believing there to be more entertaining beings outside of her knowing, she tirelessly worked to smoke out anything out of the ordinary. Because of the lack of interesting incidents, our protagonist eventually grows to be the irascible, egoistic girl we are introduced to in the beginning of the series.

The origin of her unconventional mindset is of absolute importance to her downfall. Most basically, her past serves as the spring-board, the memory on which she justifies all of her future actions, the reason she breathes and lives. Had she not experienced her transformative moment, she would have been a regular high school girl living the ignorant life that most high school students live. Haruhi attends North High because she believes it is filled with interesting people. She vandalizes school grounds on the basis that doing so would attract aliens. She is unable to make friends because people are unable to deal with her abnormal behavior. For the entirety of the three years before the series starts, she dedicates her life to finding objects and people of interest, abandoning her social life, need for friends, and indentity in search of the thing of her dreams. Her time in the baseball stadium was the point at which she forgot the childish magic of Christmas, and all the effort she put in afterwards is an endeavor dedicated to reclaiming those lost sentiments.

Haruhi as she realizes the scale of the world.
Haruhi as she realizes the scale of the world.

Plot-wise, her childhood is significant because it is then she gains her powers as the goddess of the world, though unknowingly so. Haruhi Suzumiya is the creator of all things in the universe in which she lives, and anything she desires or believes to be true comes to be so. Though the exact nature of her powers is never fully explained, the various factions involved in keeping Haruhi sane all agree that their powerful, young charge definitely can bend the laws of the universe to her will, and this power sets the stage for her final plunge.

There is only one arc necessary to analyze, the original Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Arc. This is when Haruhi first meets our main protagonist, Kyon. While at first turned off by Haruhi’s peculiar tendencies and cold personality, Kyon eventually finds the courage to strike up a conversation with her. From that moment on, Kyon’s status is irrevocably linked with Haruhi’s and he is known as the only one to be able to tolerate her behavior. It is Kyon who suggests to Haruhi to form a club herself if she finds nothing else on campus engaging. Thus, the SOS Brigade is formed, and Kyon becomes the first recruit. The rest of the arc is filled by explanatory episodes, with each new member revealing a new side to the conundrum that is the founder of the SOS Brigade. Though each member has thoughts of his or her own, it is established that when Haruhi is upset, she creates “closed spaces” or alternate planes of reality that overlap with the real world.

Haruhi and Kyon are the only inhabitants of the new world.
Haruhi and Kyon are the only inhabitants of the new world.

Things start getting inexplicably weirder when Kyon has a brief time of flirting with Asahina Mikuru, his object of affection. Haruhi gets a more than a little jealous, and a closed space that envelops the entire world is brought into existence. This world, however, differs from previous realms in that Kyon and Haruhi are the only people who exist alongside native blue giants made of light. Even the mysterious ESPer transfer student, Itsuki Koizumi, is unable to break into this new world. Though Kyon is understandably disconcerted, his female companion and club leader is overcome with childish wonder and breaks away to investigate the mysterious new beings. Kyon, after many hints from his club mates, kisses Haruhi, persuading her to return them to the old world.

It’s a story many are familiar with, but let’s take a closer look and identify some important factors.

It is absolutely vital that Kyon made the first move with Haruhi in the exact manner that he did, asking a single, sincere question to which his supernaturally obsessed classmate replied to equally seriously. While others ostracize her, Kyon becomes her single source of active interaction. Additionally, it is he that makes the move to talk with her, not the other way around. Kyon becomes the only known source of human conversation in her life by his own will.

As their conversations progress, our protagonist eventually asks Haruhi a question about her romantic life, to which she replies,”Everyone of them was ridiculously square. None of them were aliens, time travellers, or espers.” Haruhi clearly exhibits no romantic interest in anyone participating in the sphere of ordinary. Then again, she has a short fuse for anyone outside of her narrow range of acceptably exotic people, romantically involved or not. For a short period of time, she briefly joins every club on campus, complaining to Kyon that none of them were able to hold her captive. Haruhi indubitably has her priorities set, looking for the strange first and foremost with nothing else coming close. Her dedication from her middle school years has yet to wane.

As previously mentioned, Haruhi creates an enormous closed space after seeing Kyon flirt with Asahina. Also noted was the fact that Haruhi only manipulates space in this way when angered or upset. It’s safe to assume that the most recent case of the appearance of the alternate plane is attributed to Haruhi’s negative emotions when seeing her two club members being close together. We can further delve into this argument by saying this space was only created because it was Kyon that was acting familiar with Asahina. As other episodes show, Haruhi has great interest in being together with Kyon, acting disappointed when not paired with him in hunting for extraterrestrial incidents. Also, as Kyon is the only person to speak to her consistently and with little discrimination, it’s plausible that his existence is important to her. As the other brigade members mention, Kyon’s suggestions are the only ones Haruhi will listen to, showing that Haruhi thinks of him as someone of significance.

Lastly, remember at this point in the anime, the two have known each other for about a month at best.

Why does any of this matter? How do four, obvious, minor details account for Haruhi’s status as a tragic heroine?

The fall of Haruhi is the consequence of a series of events that culminates into this moment
The fall of Haruhi is the consequence of a series of events that culminates into this moment

All of this ties in at the climax, when the blue giants are rampaging around in the closed space occupied by only the world’s creator and Kyon. While Kyon is terrified and confised, she eagerly runs out into the open to get a closer look at the mysterious blue beings. The new closed space is a place that Haruhi is utterly fascinated with. But why include Kyon? The most average person of the average deemed worthy to live together with Haruhi in her new world, the world that she created and finds most interesting because Haruhi finds interest in him. Therein lies her mistake.

The fact that she allows Kyon to exist is akin to Oedipus leaving Polybus, to Macbeth committing that first sin, to Satan’s existence in Paradise Lost. She has proven time and time again that she is working tirelessly to ensure that her life is filled with fascinating objects and people. She has thrown away her friends and her old sense of identity, giving up what little a middle schooler has in life. She has fervently sought the compelling, and she finally found a world, her world, filled with the stuff of her dreams. Yet Haruhi Suzumiya, as iron-willed and determined as she was, folds like a piece of paper in the hands of a preschooler making origami. What she has forfeited her previous life for, she throws it all away once again. For a kiss. In a dream. In a moment of delusion, in a temporary lapse of judgment, Haruhi Suzumiya makes the choice that her normal self would never have succumbed to, and she lets a biological impulse dictate her life for that one moment. For a kiss in a dream. For essentially nothing. Because though Haruhi has shown signs hinting at affection for Kyon, our male lead has never reciprocated the gesture. They had only known each other for a very short time. The kiss, at that point, was nothing but a desperate attempt to save the world. The heroine let a disingenuous incarnation of love derail all the labor she had done. And when the world she creates disappears, her dreams and aspirations disintegrate with it, flying away, smashed to pieces. Because the almighty goddess of the world thought something existed when it was really just the desperate attempts of boy doing what he could, not for her, but for everybody else.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has long been discussed, and the tragic situations that many of the characters experience are often the focus of such conversations. However, Haruhi, due to her her hyperactive, effervescent persona, is often dismissed as the typical energetic, assertive, mood-lifting character, despite the traits that are perfectly calibrated with Aristotle’s original concept of the tragic hero. Having lived her life with her one goal in mind, she tosses aside any miscellaneous baggage unrelated to her mission. Undeterred by social exclusion, our heroine continues to pursue her aspirations, shoving away all else. Until she finally commits her one act, allowing herself to fall victim to her bodily wants, and she abandons everything that defined her as Haruhi Suzumiya. The beauty of this tragedy is not in the distance she fell or the obvious gut-wrenching emotional response by viewers; in fact, the series lacks both these things. Instead, the producers carefully crafted the story to conceal any of the traditional signs of tragedy. It’s significant because it’s subtle, not drastic. Oedipus and Haruhi Suzumiya cannot be compared by the magnitude of depth of their sorrow. Instead, it’s important to see that they both lost everything that was dear to them.

Did the kiss move you? Did it invite some warm, fuzzy feelings into your heart? Some people mention the final scene as the basis for romantic development between the two main characters. It is anything but heart-warming. It’s the fall of the world’s greatest dreamer, the depravity of someone who dared to think outside the box. It’s the scene that represents the tragedy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Edited by Justin, Misagh.

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  1. Elaina Chastain

    I’ve never watched this before, but the way that you explained everything made perfect sense, especially with your choice to include what a tragic hero is. Very good grasp on the concept, connecting it to Haruhi made the idea of what a tragic hero is truly more conceivable. Looks like I have a new show to watch! Great job 🙂

    • Jordan

      Please give it a try. It isn’t perfect but it’s a fun, solid show.
      There’s a link to the dub trailer. 🙂

      • Nilson Thomas Carroll

        I’ll have to check the show out. I remember many years ago, I got a DVD with the first episode on it from NewType magazine, but the show didn’t really stick for me. The article notes out some worthwhile points to the show, so I think that warrants another go : )

        • Jordan

          I personally enjoyed the movie a lot more than the television series… but you kind of need to see season 1 to understand the movie.

    • sakata gintoki

      dont watch it dubs. sounds awful. original haruhi voice is perfect

  2. Castillo

    i just love haruhi determination and drive and also her “i dont give the shit attitude. She is a coool character.

    • Tabitha

      I like Kyon more simply how he says things, being so bland about everything yet having a razor tounge to bring humour to almost any situation, and how he has gets along with Haruhi is priceless

  3. This series is nothing but waste of time. I’ve seen a lot of anime, but I nothing this bad. Why does people like it?

    It’s got no tension, no red thread to follow, not an interesting story, no fan-service to make up for the bad parts, no humour (didn’t make me laugh anyway), and not really any likeable characters.

    This is the first time I’ve been this disappointed in an anime that supposedly should be really good.

    • Austin

      I’m sorry that the anime was a bad experience for you 🙁 but if you’re into that stuff, there’s a lot of ways you can interpret the existence of each character. I’ve rewatched the Haruhi Suzumiya countless times for that purpose. If it’s simply entertainment value, I suppose it’s mediocre; it’s the thought-provoking moments that really let me enjoy this anime . Just something to keep in mind if you ever decide to give this series another chance.

    • In response to why the Haruhi series is so popular, I figure the following might be some reasons:

      – the episode of the song ‘God Knows’, which is highly rated by anime fans for its inclusion of a live performance, which in a way pushes Kyoto Animation into stardom
      – Haruhi starts with a rather explosive statement of bluntly asking for aliens, espers, time travelers right away. This creates an impact of ‘so what will this turn into?’
      – each character got its own setting quite right: Haruhi, the tsundere; Yuki, the Ayanami Rei-clone/quite book girl; Kyon – the main character whose purpose is to ridicule Haruhi’s words; Mikuru, the clumsy, big-breasted maid; Koizumi, the calm volcano about to erupt any time soon.
      – that dance in the ED (just youtube it)
      – the seiyuu are great in this one
      – Haruhi is adopted from a light novel, and this expands the market of turning light novels into anime

      I’m not a Haruhi fan, but I think it does have its cultural impact on the anime industry

      • Jordan

        I’m the same. I can appreciate the franchise for its impact but it was no way near as good as people were hyping it up to be.
        I did really like the movie though.

    • AldoOrosco

      I really did like the series. Personally I liked the series because it addresses reality manipulation in a way that’s unique and interesting. I also like the characters.

      The story is about a girl so powerful that she attracts the attention of aliens, psychics, and time travelers. The thread is that they must be careful to make sure that they don’t do anything that would cause Haruhi to decide to recreate reality again. Everything we see revolves around the time travelers, psychics and aliens attempt to protect their reality.

      The so called love triangle is important because it creates an interesting delimea. Kyon is just friends with Haruhi, but it’s pretty clear Haruhi has a crush on Kyon. Kyon on the other hand really likes the time traveler and the time traveler really likes Kyon as well. The thing is they can never act on their affections for one another because if Haruhi ever found out there’s no telling what she would do.

    • I thought the fate of the world being tried to some brats subconscious kind of added tension? also found that interesting enough at least for the first half of the series.

      not really sure what you mean by red thread? but the romance could have been done in more depth I got the impression the main guy had something for Suzumiya but through the rest of the series he seemed to drool over the time traveller (sorry I suck with names even more when they are not English names) would have liked more consistency there or maybe I misread it or maybe its just a cultural thing? (I dislike 3+ person love triangles especially when they go unresolved)

      I don’t really mind there is little to no ‘fan-service’ not that into it.

      anyway I enjoyed the series right up to the endless eight (dont need to say more on that) after that point I just couldn’t enjoy the show as much not sure if that experience soured it or if the writing had declined in quality.

  4. Breanna

    I think she’s adorable. The episode set in winter when Kyon goes to get the heater from the electrical store across town at the bottom of that god-awful hill is one of my favourites. Very little happens in that episode and it’s beautifully under-stated, but Haruhi at the end of it is just so perfectly kawaii and adorable.

    I have just watched this series again for about the 5th time and it never loses a scrap of its appeal, it’s simply a brilliantly written and very clever show, it’s about my 4th or 5th favourite anime series of all time.

  5. Mont Blanc

    Out of curiosity, did the person who wrote this watch the second season and the movie? Both of those start to take in the more serious aspects of the characters, the plot, and the theories that each character has on Haruhi and her motives.
    I’ll never understand why some people talk about how much they enjoyed the first season but then say they never saw the second or the movie.
    If someone can explain to me why so many people avoid those, please, tell me.
    Is it just because of endless eight?

    • Jordan

      I think the Second Season in general got a bad rap because of the Endless Eight. That being said, I watched the first and last episodes of the Endless Eight and thought it was good to see it that way.
      I also saw the movie and agree that it takes a far more serious look at the characters.
      Perhaps the writer is just mentioning the first season? Although it probably should have been specified if this is the case.

    • Austin

      I did indeed watch the second season and the movie, but neither are really relevant to my topic. I know that that both look into the serious sides of some characters, but neither expand on Haruhi Suzumiya in a way that adds anything meaningful as a tragic heroine.

  6. Mary Awad

    Wow, this is absolutely wonderful. I have never thought of any of this. I probably could never think of any of this! Haruhi as a tragic hero, at first I wasn’t sure but now you convinced me. “It’s the fall of the world’s greatest dreamer…” That’s really incredible. It really is a melancholy. Absolutely fantastic job with this piece. One of the most entertaining, thought-provoking things I’ve read here.

  7. Watching them in the US-released order, I rented the first DVD, and was going, ‘what is this?’

    Seeing her slam Kyon’s head into the desk, drag him around, molest and dress-up Mikuru against her will, blackmail the computer club, I was wondering just how this series was so popular.

    Of course, I could have been like some and said I would not watch more after volume 1, but volume 1 left me with questions. volume 2 confused me as well, but began to crack through some of the questions.

    I think by the time the show got to ‘The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya,’ that I slowly began to warm up to the show. When it started to delve into some more stand-alone episodes, then I began to see something in the series that I liked, with it’s weird and strange vibe reminding me of a decade before when I was first taken in by the strange and weird world of the series ‘Urusei Yatsura.’

    • Haruhi is meant to be that way. She isn’t likable and just seems self righteous and annoying. But as the series progresses, you understand her more and the reasons behind why she acts so brash. So she’s not really a bitch, just on the surface…

    • The fact that she’s brilliant at everything she does, beautiful, vivacious and very willful and potentially god means her behavior is allowed to ‘slide’.

      Very similar to real girls, even more so in japan.

      That’s the way I read her character. I read her character as a representative of every young adolescents girls reality changing powers only times 5. It’s only natural that she would be bossy, a little cruel and manipulative.

  8. This was an incredibly in depth article. I had no idea that the archetype of a tragic heroine even existed, and the fact that you were able to explain it and show how it is used in a plucky, up beat anime is amazing to me. I honestly could have watched this anime and wondered why melancholy was in the title. Excellently done.

  9. Nice post. I grew to like Haruhi more as the show went on.

    • verdell march

      She’s kind of dense and bossy but that’s really fun to watch!

  10. CriticalOtaku

    I’ve only seen a little bit of the show but I never would’ve considered it as being this complex–definitely an interesting read. One question though, since this was bugging me a little as I was reading and it might just be nitpicking, but you mention that Haruhi abandons her identity ‘in search of the thing of her dreams’ but is it necessarily “abandonment” or rather a “re-forming” into a mold that better suits her desires? The fact that she has clear aspirations seems to lend itself to the notion that she has a fairly defined sense of who she is and what she wants. And if all it took was one kiss to change her way of viewing things, maybe it was just an idealized belief of love that she had always felt was lacking in her life–or an acceptance of who she is since everyone else ostracized her while Kyon was the only one willing to move past her peculiarities to get at the person beneath

    • Austin

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Maybe you’ll return to the series for a closer look? In any case, I probably just didn’t make this clear enough in my article, so I apologize for that, but “the thing of her dreams” is actually explicitly stated as supernatural things, or as she lists, “time travelers, aliens, espers, and sliders”. You could argue that her target has shifted, which is another interesting topic of discussion, but even in that case she’s given up looking for whatever she was searching for in the first place. Thanks for pointing that out. I’m always looking to improve my writing, and clarification seems to be one of my weak points.

  11. I will admit I was turned off Haruhi Suzimiya purely because I thought it was just a raunchy teen comedy. But I really like this interpretation. I would have never noticed these tragic elements or the substance. This was well researched and fun to read. Great job!

  12. I loved this show, for precisely the reasons that many people hate it (read: Endless Eight). I would like to see an analysis of the series using some of Wittgenstein’s theories on the creation of meaning. They are useful as aliens, fairies, time-travelers, and so that is what they become. This show is a great primer for the aspiring solipsist.

  13. Whatever

    I think you overestimated the importance of Haruhi in the series. I don’t think it’s tragic at all. It appears tragic if you think of Suzumiya as the protagonist. But if you look at Kyon as the main role (and it is through his perspective we are watching the anime) then we can judge it differently. From a traditional point of view they are a perfect couple. It is his dream that the world is full of paranormal stuff, but he lacks the true power to actually do anything about it, but then meets Haruhi that actually fulfills his dreams. Which is obvious at the chronological end of the seriesm he making the final choice for the world with Haruhi and paranormal and all. And in return, he offers the central stability for Haruhi. Which consciously thinks she wants all that alien time traveling stuff, but subconsciously only wants love (that is why her “decision” is in the dream state) and Kyon is “the chosen one” for her because he can manage both her aspects, acknowledging her completely. And so, the lead male character has emerged victorious, combining his childhood dreams and his actual present life while accepting his role, rising above the ordinary and transcending his ordinary self to become his best. It is so very subtle.

    • Austin

      Hey there! All very cool things you mentioned. The only thing I have to say is that you’re misinterpreting what being a tragic hero means. I’m going by Aristotle’s definition of a dramatic tragic hero, not a tragic hero in the literal sense of the term.

  14. OddballGentleman

    I would like to respectfully disagree with this conclusion. While the argument is solid, I think it is a mistake to describe Haruhi’s choosing to leave the new world as a fall. You bring as proof the cases of Oedipus and Macbeth, but is it really accurate to put these incidents at the same level? Both Oedipus and Macbeth have they’re lives ruined by their falls; the former gouges out his eyes, and the latter is killed by those he wronged. Haruhi, on the other hand, makes a choice between her new world and the old one she left behind. While one can make a strong argument that this decision was made out of weakness, there still isn’t a fall.
    An important aspect of any fall is the fact that the hero’s life get’s worse after the fall. Oedipus goes from being the king to being a blind exile. Haruhi’s life, on the other hand, simply regresses to it’s previous state. Even if you want to argue that there is tragedy in Haruhi not realizing her dream, I would say that the lack of a fall prevents her from truly being a tragic hero as Aristotle describes. I think a more accurate comparison for the tragedy that Haruhi represents is to George Milton in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. Both characters give up their dreams (though under notably different circumstances).
    That said, I appreciate the thought that went into this article, and as I said, your reasoning is solid.

  15. I always knew this serial had something very deep.It was like i understood what the plot tries to send to us,but it couldn’t be expressed in words,only in intuition and feelings.I think it’s pretty rare to combine slice of life,comedy and psychological type anime,and i find it really unique !
    My opinion is that this is one of the best anime series ever made (by it’s kind) and hope for another season,or at least another series like this one…

  16. I think it is far from a tragedy! We all know Haruhi Suzumiya is a God; perhaps the kiss signifies her realising she doesn’t have to bend the will of others and separate realities to be happy. Of course, Kyon didn’t want to kiss her, but I don’t think it was a simple as ‘Oh he kissed me now we’ll get married and I’ll stop looking for espers!’ I think it was ‘Hm. That kiss made me happy. Maybe I don’t have to make my entire life a meaningless search for strange for the sake of strange. Maybe I can mix weird stuff with normal stuff.’ Then she subconsciously decided that, while she would still create weird wacky stuff, it wouldn’t go to the levels of ‘I’m bored today let’s make a parallel universe.’

  17. Gotta agree with Elric – bittersweet, but no tragedy. She realised that being important to someone (or having someone important to you) means more than just being important, period. But you also pointed out the problem of the series- the main development happens in the first book, making subseqent entries rather pointless (although Disappearence was pretty good).

  18. service

    The kiss wasn’t a flaw, sure it may not have been super romantic given that the world was on the line but his feelings came from a place of love, he asks over and over before the kiss what is she to me; ultimately he finally admits to himself what he feels and acts on it, something most anime characters never do unless it’s the final episode; falling in love isn’t normal, it certainly rarely feels that way when it’s happening. while she yearned for the extraordinary through ghosts, espers, time traveler’s and aliens she found it in an ordinary man. now heres a fun question that can give more depth to your tragic heroine theory: is he? I haven’t read or seen everything yet but don’t you think it’s strange that there isn’t a ghost in the group? what powerful catalyst happened three years prior to awaken her power? we’ve already seen kyon die and be reborn in the disappearance of nato. just a thought. also it’d be pretty dope if the time traveler is kyons little sister or daughter, though I doubt it as it would be creepy.

  19. Oswaldonut

    All fair points but i must respectfully disagree. As you see there are some things i feel you overlooked. not only that. But in the context of the series i dont think it fits

    Now i didnt pick up on the significance of the ‘momentary lapse if judgement’ tying in with the climax of the arc. good pick. Id however like to point out somethimg else..Its not her aiming and failing at a dream. (well it is but more on that later) Its her coming to respect another perspective.

    Throughout the shows course she goes from not giving a fuck about anyones opinion. To actually respecting kyons opinion. The climax of the first arc was a clash between her conscious and subconscious desires yes ofc. But it was also a clash between her perspective and kyons. She wanted to change the world. Kyon wanted it to remain. But In true foil fashion this was also the moment Kyon came to respect Haruhis wishes. (He had arguably less of a choice. given the worlds state and all) He didnt agree. but he took it seriously. By the time they were on the feild arguing one of them had to cave. and in a turn of events Kyon stood his ground and kissed her on top of that. This is what i believe was a major reason.

    kyon usually bitches but lets her go. we see it all the time. But when he stands firm she gets taken by surprise. For kyon to do this 180 would have Haruhi on the ropes. She would stop. And she would think. And common sense would win out.

    Now for kyon the kiss was half a desperate attempt to save the world. and half a intuitive feeling of what to do. Haruhi would have seen it as both a romantic advance. And a reason to stay.
    Why a reason to stay? Because by kissing her in the midst of Arguing with her is a clear sign of wanting to make amends. And haruhi could have gone her own way and make a rift and loose that offer. or do what she did. and stay for a chance. ‘a momentary lapse of judgement’ if you will.

    Now I mentioned common sense. And also about her dream failing. Heres the meat of my point. hence why i glossed over these to details to start with. Would not her common sense b to follow her dream furthermore loosing her dream is proof of the tragic heroine.

    Well for starters she doesn’t loose the dream. hell she doesn’t even miss a step shes still trying because she is unaware her ‘dream’ even failed. And secondly. Is it her dream. or a Delusionary coping mechanism for an extistential crisis that becomes a dream.

    Consider what you said earlier. How she finds out how objectivly unimportant she is and how this fuels her dream and the lack of acheiving it makes her tragic/melancholy. I however see it as the other way round. She is Melancholy over not being objectivly important. Fueling her dream…. But can we even. call it a dream. She only developed the intrests due to an attempt to free herself from her melancholy. Her determination and desire for fun is a distraction. A coping mechanism for the revelation that the worlds does not revolve around her (to whuch ironically. it does). it is a delusion she tries to convince herself of to have hope

    It is only when kyon comes into her life that her viewpoint even considers changing. long story short she learns to overcome her fear of not being important by the tempting offer of being important to someone.

    That is why she stayed.

    the rest of the series exentuates how much value she slowly puts on other people. She repeated summer break 15000 times because she wanted kyon to suggest an actuvity for christs sake. She helps people out by the end. She makes a movie about her interests. And now she nay have developed an interest for aliens espers etc in a delusion but its not like those ideas are no longer interesting to her. Shes just not trying to activly find them anymore. After the melancholy arc they rarely if ever hunt for aliens or watever anymore. Ofc sge still has hope about finding something extraordinary. but she finds peace with her exstistential crisis by the end of the series and thats partly what its about. Finding peace with ur fears.

    Furthermore id like to point out that she would never have been happy if her delusions came to pass. If kyon had let her go and her ‘dream’ had been realised. She would have eventually gotten bored with that as well. creating an endless cycle of chaos. Kyon did haruhi quite the favor in trying to show her that objective importance and an ‘interesting’ life isnt all there is to life.
    She would have only wanted bigger and better once supernatural things were common place as it would of only treated the symptom. not the cause of her fear. and deep down haruhi knew this. Hence why not changing the world was her ‘common sense’ stepping in. (with help from kyon ofc)
    Kyon helped her deal with the root cause of her inner conflict. saw her through and stood by her. She came to respect and value him because of it.

    So no i dont believe there is any tragedy at all in the first arc. I believe her decision not to change the world were actuslly seeds to recovery… That was way to long of a comment for 12am in the morning. Peace out

  20. Ricky Pantua

    If you ask me, this anime/novel is the best example of the simulation hypothesis. I’m sure you are familiar with the simulation hypothesis – if not, I would recommend you to read papers written by Nick Bostrom. Kyon-kami is simply someone who is the subject of an ancestor simulation – and everyone on the simulation are nothing more but emulations. I could even say Kyon maybe the programmer or God. And as part of the parameters of the program, Kyon has to be himself unaware of his capacity as the programmer. But certain pre-made software will adjust to what Kyon likes. I just cannot simply wrap my mind on how Haruhi could be the God – well as you have said, Haruhi might be a confused God, but it just makes any sense. And then there is the casual time loop. Plus the existence of Yuki.

    Then what makes this argument more solid is the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. How Disappearance is even possible in the first place, simple – and its the same way how a computer virus would try to take-over certain parts of the software and sometimes even the computer hardware (and since ‘Kyon-the programmer is integrated into the hardware, maybe he himself is the core of the software) – Yuki can easily take out Haruhi’s pre-programmed abilities (if she has the same way how a Trojan horse can hijack ‘ports’ which will enable it to send and receive information to and from the hacker) or she can easily copy some functions the core program can (which is the Kyon-core program). But I can also say Yuki might be inherently program to keep ‘Kyon’ in order as what the ‘programmer’ wants and it can also be true that Yuki might not be aware of this (because it is inherently built in the software or that the software had malfunctioned) and that the being she refers to as the Data Overmind (which is nothing more but an operating software like Windows or Mac).

    My concern here is actually not just about Kyon, but the entirety of the MoHS universe. According to Yuki, around three years ago, there was a burst of data that ultimately created ESPers, time travellers and if I wasn’t mistaken also aliens. I argue that the MoHS universe was created in that timeline, and that, every other memories everyone has had just been ‘implanted’ in them. I say the MoHS universe was in that kind of sense after considering what yuki claims as a ‘data explosion’. Of course, everytime I start my computer, with all of the set parameters (in the case of MoHS – the memories of everyone else, along with the configurations and arrangements of every sub-atomic particle), when I run everything, there should be a surge a data as a constant stream of inputs and outputs flows in and out of the computer.

    If I would be granted to have control of resources equal to that of a star that has an output and the same degree as the Sun, with resources as reach as the entire Solar System, and with the industrial capacity to do such a massive endeavor, I could just build a Matrioska Brain out of hives of Dyson Spheres which will have a maximum computing power – as indicated in the Landauer Limit – it would be around 10 followed with 49 zeroes or 10 trillion trillion trillion trillion hertz or enough computing power to simulate a small galaxy – why not – this is an interesting concept and if this things does not exist in the real world, it can in the computer simulated world.

  21. Could someone please explain to me why both Nagato and Asahina knew to give Kyon the sleeping beauty and snow white hints, if this whole event hadn’t happened before? Also if they both knew to give these hints, why didn’t they just tell Kyon to kiss Haruhi to end the closed space?

  22. Hmmmm, I can see where you are coming from and you articulated your point very well, but I strongly disagree that Haruhi is a tragic figure.

    You went to great lengths to explain why it was tragic for Haruhi to give up on her imagination in return for one kiss from a boy (in a dream)

    Thing is, Haruhi has never known what she has wanted to be happy before this. It explicitly says she gets bored easily and shows she us unhappy for a long time while on her search. She’s gradually becoming more and more jaded with life. Then she meets Kyon and feel excited that someone wants to be part of all the crazy things she wants to do – to share it with someone.

    The reason Haruhi falls for Kyon is because, from her perspective, he’s the only on that (a) accepts her strange personality when no-one else will (b) challenges her. She starts becoming happier with things in general around him. This is why Kyon becomes so important to her and more important in some ways than shaping the world how she wants it. I don’t think this is a tragedy – in fact I feel like you argued for the opposite of what was true.

    Kyon is actually helping her to become happier doing normal – if slightly off the wall – activities. After the first arc, all the things Haruhi wants to do are completely normal things, such as summer vacation stuff, sports, making movies, etc. She doesn’t want to search for Aliens, Espers, time travellers etc anymore.

    BUT THE IMPORTANT BIT IS SHE’S MUCH HAPPIER DOING THESE NORMAL THINGS THAN SHE WAS BEFORE SHE MET KYON. Where the hell is the tragedy is that? She’s just growing up and figuring out than ordinary things can make her just as happy as long as she’s doing things she’s passionate about with people she enjoys spending time with.

  23. I enjoyed reading this article about the character of Haruhi Suzumiya. I never understood the archetype of a tragic hero before. I knew Haruhi’s character was a tragedy, but not like this. When I watched the series. I understood that she returned to the real world from the alternate plane because she knew Kyon wanted to go back, and she wanted to be with him. She still looked for her goals in the real world, but the real tragedy was that those closest to Haruhi needed to keep her ignorant that she already had everything she wanted. Asahina, Nagato, and Koizumi were all she wanted. So, the tragedy was that she had to be kept ignorant. Besides, it’s Haruhi’s own fault they had to do that. She was lonely and bitter and frustrated and sad from losing everything to do with human interaction due to her ideals. So, those feelings fueled her overrealism pessimism w that made her deny everything she saw that fit what she wanted to happen. If she didn’t do that, she could be informed of the truth. So, Haruhi still has every chance possible of achieving her goal in the real world. She just has to change HERSELF, and not the world. Kyon may not marry her but if Asahina really cannot then maybe he will, just like Will Omsford from “The Sword of Shannara” marrying Eritrea because Amberle had to become the new Elcrys. Haruhi could have her ambition, and love, and the world can be safe. If she ever listened to anyone and changed herself. She did not listen to Kyon. She didn’t listen to anyone. So basically, the real tragedy was that it was Haruhi’s own fault that she was failing to accomplish her goal. To pursue an out of the box goal: the best way isn’t to forsake everyone, it’s actually to embrace everyone.

  24. John Smith

    Wow, that was an excellent and well written article Artifice! Saving in the vault. Oh and to prove I’m an SOS brigade member, the ‘Prove you are human’ said type ‘cats’ in form below! Love it.

  25. M.C. Cherif

    Impressive analysis of the character of Haruhi Suzumiya! I liked the comparison with Oedipus and her resemblance to a tragic hero. I thought that is very accurate and it corresponds well to her persona.

  26. I just started this series and am 7 episodes in. I’ll come back to this as I disagree with your premise. Not being argumentative, I actually enjoyed what you wrote. I am just thinking along different lines.

  27. Jan Cedric Torres. Remoto Will Wisher 457

    Kyon loved her through friendship and amazement.
    Her values is carried on some mishap truly is down to earth down to her research.

    His emphasis on carnal aka primal on something supposed to be greater is a risk and a subvertion like all here. No higher morals here. The mistake of value is on her face imply her death of the experience coming with her fears inside coming through thrill.

    She must have suffered impostor syndrome because of her excess talent but she want to rely on other since she asked.

    Your good and your wrong by canon and you must live this work behind you for carry on snapping ideas more even if it’s wrong because it’s possible given the right circumstances.

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