“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.