FANBOY GENOCIDE Part One: The First Episode of Haruhi

You all had to know this would happen eventually. After watching me get pissed at various kinds of fans, you must have figured eventually I’d start singling them out for the slaughter. So, while these posts will only happen every once in a while, this is a series called Fanboy Genocide dedicated to groups with opinions that have significantly pissed me off on forums and chats, and hopefully correcting their ways.

So, I’ve pretty much got no more bitching to do about people who hate Haruhi and Luzky Star because they all fall into a couple of groups. The first is a group of those who should never have watched the shows in the first place and only ended up doing so thanks to the rampant popularity. The second group is trolls. However, one commonly expressed notion from people who loved Haruhi as a whole is a complaint that the first episode is stupid, boring, poorly made, pointless, etc. Well congratulations, enough of you have bitched about it and now I have to kill you all. (no, not literally.)

The part about it that bothers me the most is that these people DO like the rest of the series. Haruhi as a whole is a good amount of quite blatant parody. One of the show’s stong points is molding together all these cliche plots and putting a twist on them to seem like the show itself is realistic and believable in contrast to it’s own unbelievable elements. It’s most evident in the characters: an alien, an esper, and a time traveler – classics of sci-fi stories and moe anime alike. There is the silent girl and the clumsy girl and the tsundere – and even the yaoi-bait and loli. It takes on the ever-popular mystery genres, epic space-battles, philosophical, sci-fi, good ol’ school comedy – there’s a little bit of it all in the mix. Half of the fun in Haruhi is just how it puts it’s own twist on everything relating to anime culture.

So then we have the first episode, a blatant parody of the magical girl genre with a sci-fi overtone and some rom-com stylings. Haruhi’s movie brilliant rips on all sorts of anime cliche, with Kyon to really pour salt into the wound with his crushing monologue. I felt like I was watching every silly anime I’d ever seen thrown together and cranked up to eleven. The episode even does the great job of introducing us to different characteristics of all the characters before we’ve even met them. Yuki is stoic throughout, Koizumi has to move constantly and use his hands to talk, Mikuru constantly looks like she’s having a heart attack, and we get to hear Kyon’s hilarious monologue against it all. This just gets more fun when we rewatch it knowing all of the characters and see all the things we know and love about them.

But way more than all of that, the episode is directed and animated so incredibly well that I would have loved to see a show just made of these silly films. I could almost call the episode a masterpiece. Characters accidentally show up on screen holding the cue cards for others and we watch Mikuru’s eyes as she blatantly reads off of them. When Yuki, the villain, is supposed to disappear, we see her just walking infinitely down the road. The camera pans up to the sky CONSTANTLY. Someone gets injured when they try to use firecrackres for special effect. The camera abruptly cuts for Mikuru’s undressing session. When Yuki’s cat accidentally talks, she hits it on the head and just says ‘that was ventriloquism’. After the bad guys are knocked into the water we still see them. The special effects are ass-drawn thunderbolts from Microsoft Paint. The camera even goes in and out of focus during action scenes. Even the voice actors manage to play a chracter who can’t act. EVERY SINGLE THING that could POSSIBLY be done wrong in the making of a short film goes wrong to the point that you have to remind yourself – this is anime! The effort put into perfectly replicating how a shitty live action movie would look is astounding and makes for one of the most constantly hilarious and impressive episodes of anime ever. It just gets better and better the more you watch it, too.

If you didn’t like the first episode of haruhi, you must have either missed the joke, misunderstood the show, or have no fucking idea what good animation is (I still can’t believe some people thought this episode was poorly animated. Did they only see the obviously joke laser beams and miss all of the ungodly fluidity?!) It’s easily one of the greatest first episodes of anime ever and certainly among the most memorable.

Your thoughts?

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14 thoughts on “FANBOY GENOCIDE Part One: The First Episode of Haruhi

  1. I think people complaining about the first episode just missed the joke. All of the bad animation, acting and so on can throw people for a loop, until they understand that it was set up to be like that on purpose. And if people don’t get it, they’d understandably be horrified by it. But that’s why getting it makes the show that much more better.

  2. Oh the first episode was incredible. And I must say, it was a better viewing than reading through one whole light novel devoted to that movie and its production.

    Putting it in front of the main sequence, and fucking with the chronology altogether is inspired and ballsy storytelling IMO. It made the whole thing different in an awesome way, like how Pulp Fiction as a film really did a number on me and I’m still blown away by it.

  3. I always assumed that the group of people who didn’t like the first episode or couldn’t even finish it but liked the rest of the series was small. I suppose one could consider it not funny or dragging out a joke, since the true punchline wasn’t delivered until the end, but I don’t see how someone could misconstrue the blatantly bad camera pans- those don’t happen by accident. Maybe it was the narration… it takes a little while to get really over the top.

    It would be interesting to survey the people who didn’t like Haruhi to see what they do like, and draw generalizations from that.

  4. I’m pretty sure they all missed the joke because I clearly remember that it was the first episode that got me hooked on the show. Like you said, the series uses a rather unique form of parody – tossing together so many cliche elements that it almost feels original, and then adding its own spin – and I found that the first ep was a great example of this. Long story short, it was one of the best parts of the show, and I’m sure I must have watched it more than once because of that.

  5. there’s a reason why, when in the DVD they re-ordered the eps to be chronological, that they left #1 right where it was. It’s a brilliant way to start a series. I’m not sure how you could misconstrue the jokes. They were called out — it’s not like anything was particularly subtle about it.

  6. When I first watched that episode after it ended I immediately thought, “This is either the most brilliant thing I’ve seen in a long time, or it’s a pile of crap.” Obviously those seem to be the only two positions anyone seems to take on the episode, but just having a thought like that made it the former for me.

  7. I was pretty shocked when I saw the first episode. I remember staring it and thinking “Is this supposed to be television animation quality? This shit looks like Disney!” And then the first comment I read about the pilot was that it looks like crap. I was thoroughly puzzled since the extremely professional way of making the video they made look unprofessional really left quite an impression on me. I still have trouble understanding how one does not see just how brilliantly awesome the animation is so it makes me wonder if the people who complain about it ever took the time to actually watch or if they just tried to rush through as many first episodes as possible and didn’t really pay attention.

    Anyway, I think it’s understandable if people say they don’t like the pilot because they simply don’t like the style of it. Some people prefer a more conventional way of starting a series, or like it when shows pull daring stunts but thought the timing was off in the Haruhi pilot or something. It’s okay for people to think the joke wasn’t funny, but what I don’t get is how people just utterly miss the joke. So the only acceptable conclusion for me is that they weren’t looking.

    Or well, there are people – perfectly smart people, no less, I know a few myself – who just watch two minutes of a new show and then judge if they like the series or not. After that point they just don’t give the show a chance no matter how good it gets because they’ve already made up their minds and they’re not really watching anymore, just barely seeing the stuff that happens, and that’s when they finish it just so they can say they gave it a fair chance (even when they didn’t), and it sucked anyway.

  8. Disagreement time!

    I do not hate this episode. I think this is a good episode but not a great introduction. I enjoyed it, and there was no question of missing the jokes – which were signposted massively from the offset. But I’ve seen a fair few “cliché amateur movie-making” parodies, and this one didn’t strike me as exceptional. It’s about 5 minutes too long and repeats its jokes too often.

    On second viewing I found it miles funnier, the added ironies and broader familiarity with the cast make this much much better than it is standing-alone. Without that earned context I don’t think this is something truly special, just a competent pisstake with a few teasers.

    Just because it’s stunning on repeat viewing doesn’t make that first experience better than it was. And because I think Haruhi as a whole really is special, I’d say that first experience of the series was probably the least enjoyable part of my time with the show.

  9. Home Movies already poked fun at amateur filmmaking from every angle imaginable.

    And I also agree with coburn:

    “It’s about 5 minutes too long and repeats its jokes too often.”

  10. Pingback: Top 10 First Episodes of Anime « Euphoric Field

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