My take on Haruhism

“Yeah, right… What’s a cubit?” – Noah to God in a Bill Cosby sketch

I’ve always had a fascination with religion. Now, I’m not a really religious person, I’ve just been a bit too skeptical for that, but I don’t fault anyone who is. In fact, I tend to find it more a failing with me, rather than a failing with other people.

But it’s lead to me finding religion (in particular Christianity) really interesting and by extension various images of God (or Gods) in anime interesting. Now, I’ll freely admit I’m not a theologian, and I definitely don’t necessarily understand all of the finer points of all religions, but that hasn’t stopped me before.

So anyways, I started thinking about this topic while I was watching Haruhi, so I thought I’d offer my take on that first. (Obligatory Spoiler warning.)

On the Nature of the SOS Brigade

Haruhi is God, right? I mean that’s what the show pretty much lays out there from the start. Now what I finding interesting about Haruhi as God is that she’s almost completely unaware that she is God. In fact, her actions might have somewhat disastrous results, but she’s never the victim of them. In fact, there’s an active conspiracy to keep the truth away from her because who knows what would happen if she ACTUALLY knew that she was God.

What makes this interesting is that almost every person in the SOS Brigade is a direct creation of Haruhi or at the very least is drawn to her. Now it could be said that they’re just scientists hoping to examine the phenomenon that is Haruhi. But from a religious standpoint, they seem more like worshippers. At least one point or another, they all actively work to try to appease her. (Thankfully, they stop short of sacrificing virgins.)

Except for Kyon.

Now when I first started thinking about Kyon and his role, I thought maybe he was a prophet. Kind of like Noah in the Bill Cosby sketch, he was a skeptical prophet, but a prophet nonetheless. But, he just doesn’t seem to have the right amount of religious fear. In fact, even though he knows the truth about Haruhi, he rarely acts on it; sometimes he actually aggravates the problem.

Let’s face it, Kyon might be a lot of things, but he’s definitely not a disciple in the church of Haruhi.

Which left me thinking about how does Kyon fit into this mythology? And more fundamentally, why did Haruhi choose him?

On the Nature of Kyon in the church of Haruhi

One of the things that bothered me the more I thought about this was that even though Haruhi is the one with all of the power, Kyon is the one with all of the knowledge. Like I said, there’s an active conspiracy to keep the truth away from her. So she’s all powerful, but she’s completely ignorant.

On the other hand, Kyon knows what’s going on, and the only one who can really act on it. It could be said that he’s omniscient (in a sense), but is completely powerless. But he’s also the only one who actively opposes Haruhi when she goes too far.

So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, even though everyone says Haruhi chose Kyon, Kyon also chose Haruhi. It was his actions that lead to the creation of the SOS Brigade. It was his actions that stopped the world from being swallowed up in closed space. And he’s the only one who can rein Haruhi in. In the end, Kyon plays the Superego to Haruhi’s inexhaustible Id. In fact, it shouldn’t so much be the church of Haruhi as the church of Haruhi and Kyon.

Because in Haruhi, I fear. But in Kyon, I trust.

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12 Comments

  1. You can almost say that as much as Haruhi is unaware of her divinity, perhaps so is Kyon himself. I would go out on a limb myself to say that there is a divine duality between Kyon and Haruhi similar to the Christian trinity. If you think about it, the only person both Haruhi and Yuki have taken orders from is no one other than Kyon.

    It is also possible that all of these events are just Kyon’s own imaginations in his attempt to fight off his frustration with a dull life. There is a movie Brazil that features a similar protagonist who ultimately had to confine himself into his own imagined world where a fictitious team of secret agents attempt to rescue his helpless self from the reality that he no longer can control. So, perhaps it was all just a state of mind.

  2. @bakaneko – That is an excellent observation and I didn’t really think about that.

    I kind of hope it isn’t just that Kyon is crazy. Although it would explain how he can accept all of these events. But really that’d kind of go against the tone that TMHS has built up so far. I am interested in seeing what they do with a second season of this.

  3. I sorta agree with baka’s second theory. I always thought that Kyon was the center of this universe, and Haruhi was the muse he created in order to fight off the boredom of mundane, normal life. He’s a very passive person, so he feels that if he wants to change the world, he needs some one else to do it for him.

  4. Haruhi is a strange kind of god–she behaves very much like what we might call a “demigod” (especially in her limited knowledge, fickle nature, and capriciousness), but is also apparently the Ground of Being, the Prime Mover on which all reality rests. In all prior religions and mythologies, too, the divinity is always aware of his or her divinity, and often relishes in using it to full advantage (the incarnation of Christ being one very notable exception; see Phiilippians 2). And you’re quite right that Kyon occupies a strange position in the “pantheon” as well, though I would suggest that he is not that far from the (Biblical) prophets as you might think. The prophets were frequently cantankerous, argumentative folks who had no trouble, at least in Jeremiah’s case, railing at God for letting him down and even seemingly “deceiving” them. He does seem to be lacking in fear and awe, but that’s because in large part, the manifestation of God he sees before him plainly is that of a flighty teenage girl. It’s not exactly easy to be all that reverent in that situation! (Then again, one could say the same thing about Jesus in his time–you mean that carpenter’s son is anything more than that?)

    Of course it’s all intended to be fun and games, rather like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, and any close theological analysis would seem to be rather missing the point in a way. 🙂

  5. It’s all fun and games yes, until you realize that it’s all a marketing ploy meant to suck out all those dollars.

    That’s what it is, really.

  6. @drmchsr0

    Isn’t all anime just a marketing ploy? At least Haruhi was entertaining enough to earn those dollars. 😉

  7. @drmchsr0, so I suppose to you Brazil had a bad ending, but I assure you it’s trying to say it’s a triumphant ending instead.

  8. @Scott – Well there’s good and bad with that theory. I mean it’s a good theory and it makes sense with Haruhi being the Kyon that Kyon wants to be. But if that’s the case, then Kyon drops off seriously as far as the coolness of his character. Suddenly he stops being a reaction to the weak-willed, limp and often lifeless heroes of most shounen romance shows, and just becomes another one of those heroes.

    @Mike – Those are all good points. And I’m glad you brought them up. But I do disagree with your last point, I think you can do analysis on seemingly silly series. In fact, it’s arguably just as fun to do it with them as it is with more serious and intellectual shows. I don’t really think the point of doing an analysis is so much to find out what the show says, as much as to find out what the show is saying to the viewer. (Because arguably the audience shouldn’t really figure out what the show is saying and have it really be a good show.)

    Sometimes, I think we get caught up in this trap of believing that comedy isn’t as important as drama. When arguably comedy can tell us as much about the human condition as drama can.

    @DrmChsr0 – Yeah, the whole idea is a marketing ploy. But on the other hand, so are giant transformable mecha or the current trend of moe character designs or really any other gimmick that a show might use. But in this case, it was well integrated into the plot (unlike CC’s bizarre fascination with Pizza Hut) and it’s a gimmick that works. I’m not a socialist. I can appreciate companies employing a useful gimmick if it makes sense in the story.

    But I will have at least one more post about these DVDs (not really about the series) that does criticize a little bit of grandstanding in marketing.

  9. I think by 2008, I’m already losing my Haruhi-ism trying to keep up with new anime.

    /ZING

    To be honest, Haruhi begs for a look from the lens of religion. It’s much more fun to take that perspective when things aren’t as obvious (like, say, Manabi Straight or Aria).

  10. @omo – Out there in the darkness.. I’m losing my Haruhi-ism. Okay.. I just dated myself with that reference.

    That’s true. Although I haven’t really watched either of those two shows yet 🙂

  11. Why is it a Church of Haruhism? Why not a Mosque or a Synagogue? All have the concept of one God, yet is Christianity that is used to base ideas of Haruhi-ism on. Perhaps Westerners have hijacked a fundermentally Japanese concept and poorly tried to fit it into the culture around them.

    I think attempting to link Haruhi-ism to have Kyon and Haruhi form a God-Prophet duality of comprehension too far, in fact, I’m not entirely comfortable with the narrow confines of Monotheism.

    I can’t attest Haruhi as a God from the monotheistic religions, she is not Omnipresent, Omniscience nor Omnipotent because she doesn’t have the ability to control her power.

    In taking a leaf out of Shintoism, how about having Haruhi as one of many Gods but at this point in time, she is the most powerful. Shinto gods can exist in human form and will be Born, Live and Die like normal humans. Practically, this was used to give the Emporer of Japan his divine right to rule. Nagato, Asahina and Asakura are quite godly in their own ways; Nagato for example changes the world through data manipulation. These other Gods must struggle to keep their own secret world in check.

    Kyon is as it appears to be, one reluctant human caught up in the world of gods. TMSH then, is a retelling of an anchient human dream, the ability to touch God and influence the world around him.

  12. @Teeif – To be specific, I’m using Church more in the Catholic sense then in the general Christian sense. I’m pretty sure that Mosque or Synagogue wouldn’t convey the same meaning. But that said, it could be ethnocentricity, or it could just be that I didn’t think about those other religions.

    And I didn’t say they were a God-Prophet duality. I actually said they were two sides of the same God. And I don’t think Omnipotence really requires being conscience of it. But that said, you do raise some interesting points. I’ll admit, I don’t know enough about Shintoism to really argue from that direction. I suppose I could argue a Zeus/Hera type of relationship as well.


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