The Trust of Haruhi Suzumiya: Day of Sagittarius and Character Development

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“You’re going to feign ignorance? No, it’s possible that you don’t realize how much Suzumiya trusts you and you, in turn, trust her…Neither of you may express it in words, but the two of you are connected by an almost ideal bond of trust.”

-Itsuki Koizumi, The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya– Day of Sagittarius

In order for one to trust another, they must not only have confidence in the other person, but also have enough self-worth and confidence to figuratively let themselves go. One cannot simply proclaim their trust in another, especially in fiction. It has to be established, nuanced, and well-developed in order to be believable.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting a franchise you may not have thought of in a little while: Haruhi Suzumiya.

In Day of Sagittarius, a short story in the collection titled The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi and her eccentric group of extraordinary characters, The SOS Brigade, are challenged by the leader of the Computer Club. Bitter from his last encounter with Haruhi, he seeks vengeance and the return of his (now Haruhi’s) computer by way of a video game challenge. The game: Day of Sagittarius III, not-so-coincidentally developed by the Computer Club themselves.

Kyon attributes Haruhi’s eagerness to accept the challenge, in spite of the fact that the odds are obviously stacked against them,as her way of dealing with the tedium of life. With minimal fuss, he allies himself with Haruhi, only stepping in when she offers up Yuki or Mikuru as prizes. However, there’s a small difference in his participation this time, and it has everything to do with the otherworldly abilities of his companions. Following the lively events of the baseball tournament, and the movie-making excursion, Kyon orders Yuki and Koizumi to play completely by the rules: no manipulating time or space, no supernatural powers.

This leads to the quote by Koizumi above, and the impact of it is powerful. Koizumi outlines to Kyon that he envies the bond of trust between Haruhi and Kyon.When Kyon tries to bluster his way out of this Koizumi states that, while Kyon trusts that Haruhi has grown and will not subconsciously attempt to destroy the world if she loses, Haruhi trusts Kyon to lead them to victory.

“Why didn’t I have a response for him? Because Koizumi’s speculation more or less hit the nail on the head? I’ll let the experts handle the question of whether or not I trust her, but it’s true that I don’t expect a rampage to break out in Haruhi’s mental world. It’s a good thing when you consider what’s happened over the past six months. Many things have happened during the period between the founding of the SOS Brigade and the movie filming. Personally, I would say that I’ve matured a bit over the past few months, so I’m sure that the same could be said for Haruhi, who essentially had the same experiences I did. Or else she’d be a true idiot in every sense of the word. Beyond help.”

-Kyon, in response to Koizumi, The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya– Day of Sagittarius

When watching the series, Day of Sagittarius came early. So early, in fact, that this entire scene was erased from my personal memory as if it had never existed in the first place. Upon reading The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya, I was so struck by how well-done this scene was, I had to revisit the DVDs and prove that it had been animated as well. How could I have missed such a clever and nuanced summation of not only Kyon and Haruhi’s relationship, but Koizumi’s character development as well?

The answer is simple, and belies how much more cleverly the light novels have been arranged.

As readers, we bring with us all that we have read before, including Kyon’s first encounter with Haruhi’s destructive powers and how he gets out of it, as well as the baseball game where Yuki alters physics in order for them to win, and appease Haruhi in the process. Most importantly, readers bring with them the events of the near future, described in the fourth novel, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Without spoiling the plot, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya establishes Kyon as a willing participant in Haruhi’s life. One could have assumed this through his development in the previous three novels; however, the fourth shows Kyon actively choosing to be a part of Haruhi’s world and her schemes. He is no longer being dragged around against his will, he is now with Haruhi of his own volition, and the difference between the two is staggering. It now colors their every interaction. We also see Koizumi’s thoughts differently, having witnessed him, and his more overt jealousy, in Disappearance.  In spite of the fact that Day of Sagittarius chronologically occurs before Disappearance, we bring our experiences and Kyon’s choice from Disappearance while reading Day of Sagittarius.

In ordering his novels as such, Nagaru Tanigawa is not only ordering us, as readers, to pay close attention to his words (this was why Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody was placed so high in the order of short story collections) but demanding that we bring with us our previous encounters with his characters, even if they are out of order chronologically. What could be written off as collections of light and fluffy short stories (The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya, and The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya) involving the same characters as the plot-driven novels (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya) suddenly become not only key plot points, but also staples of character development within an overarching narrative. This is done so subtly that the reader may not realize it until it’s pointed out directly by another character, in this case Koizumi.

Not only is Tanigawa building trust between his characters, he’s also building trust between himself as an author and us as an audience. We may not realize initially, but these subtle hints to pay attention through the order in which he chooses to dispense his stories weave a bond of trust between us that’s crucial to the reading of the narrative. We are putting our confidence in him to tell the story of these characters that we have grown to love, and to tell it well. With striking moments like this one in Day of Sagittarius, he reaffirms that confidence beautifully.

8 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Haruhi Suzumiya

8 responses to “The Trust of Haruhi Suzumiya: Day of Sagittarius and Character Development

  1. Great post! The Day of Sagittarius is one of my favorite stories in the series, but for slightly different reasons. It’s where Yuki displays her emerging humanity by expressing interest in computers. The anime plays it up in a more moe bent (scenes of Yuki holding the mouse the wrong way, etc), but the book is just as good. In the book, her skill at operating the computer is present early on (as opposed to coming off as a shock in the anime), like she has more initiative.

    Either way, I love how she still asked permission for Kyon to do things her own way, because she believes in him, too. If she didn’t, then she would have done things on her own from the start. The best part is her openness to visit the Computer Club every now and then. It really feels like she’s become a real character in her own right.

    Oh, and I think Nagaru Tanigawa is a guy, based on the Wikipedia entry.

    • Yes, that was my mistake. I don’t know why I thought he was a she…sorry about the error.

      It’s odd because, as I stated in the article, I hadn’t really thought much about this episode one way or the other upon initially viewing it. I liked it, but it wasn’t in my favorites, which is why I was surprised to read such a fantastic scene in the light novels and, upon rewatching the episode, in the anime as well.

      Yuki’s character development is fantastic in this story, and I love that it comes *after* Disappearance in the novels for the exact same reasons that I noted the development for Kyon’s character. Since we bring with us the story of Disappearance, and the end result of Yuki’s story there, we now go back and watch her character transform. In fact, Rampage as a whole develops Yuki’s character more than anything else, showing us both the small, nuanced changes in her behavior in Endless Eight and Day of Sagittarius, along with the aftermath of her and Kyon’s development in Snowy Mountain Syndrome, which is set after Disappearance.

      Snowy Mountain Syndrome seems especially important, not only for furthering and building on Yuki’s established character from Disappearance, but also for sowing the seeds of future conflict, while strengthening the SOS Brigade’s group dynamic.

      This really is a fantastic series. ^ ^

  2. I don’t think I can ever truly express just how much I love the Kyon-Haruhi relationship. It has to be one of the best fictional relationships ever made. Every minute spent together, every bickering conversation, I love all of it. Both you and Koyumi are absolutely dead on with the whole “trust” thing.

    He might complain about her 24/7, but Kyon will always have Haruhi’s back. I remember in the mystery island arc, Koyumi had a similar conversation with Kyon. I can’t recall it exactly, but it was something along the lines of “Oh, so you trust her enough to know that she would never mean anyone harm”. It was something like that, and it stuck with me.

    The Haruhi-Kyon relationship alone is enough to justify having the Suzumiyah series as one of my favorite series of all time, and yet there is still so much more in the stories! I love them!

    In conclusion, the Light Novels are truly magnificent. I am not sure if I have finished them (can’t seem to recall…), but regardless, I must reread them someday soon.

    Sorry for the fanboyism, thanks for the post, it was a great read!

    • I have read all of the light novels with the exception of the last one; however, I burned through them so quickly when they were initially being translated that I have forgotten many details in the story development. Going back and re-reading these stories as I’ve been collecting the volumes has been a real treat!

      In order to respond to this I went back and skimmed over Remote Island Syndrome and I’d encourage anyone who has read Disappearance and loves the series to do the same. It is a fantastic look at Koizumi’s character in particular.

      He has a conversation with Kyon about why he offered up the remote island location, but doesn’t give away the fact that he, and The Agency, have set up a situation. Kyon later muses to himself that, although Haruhi may provide a hurricane to trap them in the house, he doesn’t believe her to be violent or crazy enough to wish murder upon someone. He later, when telling Koizumi how he figured out that Koizumi was behind the “murder” reiterates that Haruhi doesn’t wish death upon anyone and that, more importantly, this fact should be obvious from watching Haruhi, This implies that Kyon has not only been observing Haruhi, but already trusts her to a great extent.

      On the other hand we have Koizumi, newly-appointed Deputy Brigade Chief, who trusted Haruhi so little that he set up a closed circle murder mystery to ensure that she didn’t wish for someone’s death, or create a closed space out of boredom. Knowing what we now know about Koizumi’s character, that he harbors an affection for Haruhi, it’s especially interesting to note that he doesn’t trust her.

      No apologies necessary. This post was an exercise in rampant fangirlism on my part. ^ ^ I should apologize for the wall of text in response.

  3. Thanks for an excellent post about my favorite anime/novel series =)

    I never thought about the affect of Tanigawa ordering the novels the way he does, especially in terms of “trust” like you described. I prefer things chronologically, so it actually bothers me a bit that he put them out of order…maybe because it could hinder the series’ universal appeal for readers who aren’t as committed to following through with an already complex series written out of chronology (I can understand why the original 2006 TV airing was out of order though). But after reading your post, I can appreciate the novels’ lack of chronology a little more…so thanks ^_^ The novels have been in chronological order since volumes 7-8 so perhaps there’s a meaning behind that, too.

    As someone who’s read all the Haruhi novels to date (and even helped make fan translations of volumes 10 and 11), I can say that the relationships and character development for Haruhi, Kyon, Itsuki, and the rest only get better and better. I know only die-hard fans of the series would bother to read the novels, so it would be a real shame if they don’t make a new Haruhi anime for everyone to experience the rest of the stories in the series.

    • No thanks necessary, I enjoyed writing it, and am glad you enjoyed reading it!

      I’ve actually really enjoyed everything being out of order chronologically; however, I have never minded a story skipping around as long as it puts together an interesting and coherent narrative, which Haruhi Suzumiya does in spades.

      Thanks for noting that the novels have been in chronological order since volumes seven and eight. I hadn’t remembered that from my initial read-through (see the above comment response) along with many other things, which is why I’m really looking forward to digesting this series a lot slower and actually owning the novels so I can go back and pinpoint the character and plot development at my leisure. If I had to hazard a guess as to why he ordered the novels chronologically from volumes seven and eight onward, it would be due to the fact that (from my limited memory of burning through the light novels in a day) Snowy Mountain Syndrome in volume five foreshadows the meat of an overarching conflict/storyline. Volumes one through six are to develop the characters sufficiently and sow the seeds, while volumes seven through eleven tell a larger story involving the characters that we as readers have grown to love.

      I certainly hope that they do end up animating the rest of the series, especially having seen the accomplishments in tone and atmosphere in Disappearance, which add volumes to everyone’s characters, especially Yuki’s. It would be a shame to see such a great story not be animated for whatever reason. Either way, I’ll be buying and re-reading the novels. ^ ^

      Thank you so much for your translation efforts, by the way. ^ ^

  4. I said it before, but I have a huge soft spot for these deep readings of a text. I think this is where I convince you to start reading Naregoto?

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