I'm not typically a fan of love stories for one reason: Most love stories suck. I mean, I used to think love stories kind of sucked, then I actually fell in love and finally had a clue what the hell I was talking about, and I realized that I had underestimated the level of suckage at work there by several orders of magnitude.
I may be explaining this wrong; it may not be a question of quality, but the fact that a lot of things that are called love stories, really, really are not. Too many self-proclaimed love stories don't actually engage the concept of love at all. Very often it's just two people, who happen to be really attractive, deciding that they like each other somewhat more than they like all of the other really attractive people in the general vicinity. They may have something superficial in common, or something non-superficial in common that is never explored on anything but the most superficial level ("I'm afraid of being alone." "Me too." "Hold me.")
Haruhi and Kyon are united by boredom, and boredom isn't superficial because, if you get too bored, you tend to find yourself thinking a lot. They're both disappointed in the thoroughly non-magical, humdrum condition of the world. Kyon accepts it, if with reservations; his whole character exudes a kind of graceful sense of defeat. Haruhi refuses to accept it, meaning that she has to start reshaping the world, go insane, or do a little of both. Most people can't reshape the world quite as effectively as Haruhi, but that's probably for the best.
For Kyon, Haruhi herself becomes the solution to boredom. No matter how intelligent or how perceptive he is (and he is), he'll never quite figure her out. Not even touching all of that Haruhi-might-be-God stuff, he's as baffled by Haruhi at times as he would be by the arrival of an alien spacecraft, complete with futuristic ray guns and bio-mechanical parts. She's his UFO (Undeniable Female Other).
Haruhi tries to fight boredom head-on, but she never quite succeeds. She thinks that only the existence of supernatural elements could possibly interest her; since the world seems to bore her, she makes the mistake of thinking that she needs something outside of the world to interest her. Like many people, she fails to realize that there are some things in this plain ole', meat-and-potatoes world that she hasn't experienced yet, and they are game-changers; they will leave no dendrite untouched when they systematically blow your mind. Sometimes, people give up on the world before they've given the world a chance to bring it's A-game.
In the moment when Kyon confesses that he likes it when she wears a ponytail, Haruhi unconsciously realizes something: that more than she cares about the existence of spacemen and time travelers, she cares about whether or not this guy- this frustratingly logical guy who regards everything with a cool detachment and never loses his sense of self- would ever lose himself in her. That Kyon, who never participates directly, but provides the wryest of commentary on the participation of everyone else, would fess up to what his personal turn-on was. When he kisses her, the new world that Haruhi was creating evaporates because it's redundant now; because when the person you love loves you back, it's a new world just for you.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has basically taken the position that Evangelion held for years as THE show that everyone talks about. Both deal with a kind of personal apocalypse, only in my view, Haruhi deals with it in a more mature way. While Evangelion was left unfinished, in the sense of being literally unfinished- in the sense that they literally didn't finish painting the cels- Haruhi is finished perfectly. We shouldn't be able to go back to the world before episode 14 (or 6, or 35, whatever the fuck it is), because it's a new world for them now. You can say things remain the same because they haven't acknowledged how they feel, even to themselves, but I think that's belied by Haruhi's ponytail the next day; both because she wanted him to see it, and because of his smile when he does.
Now, I'm not completely naive. I know that the anime made lots of money, therefore it got a second season, etc. That's life-- Kyoto Animation has plenty of bills to pay, I imagine. But it's not at all surprising to me, as it seems to have been for a lot of fans, that half of the second season was basically wasted on a pointless, masturbatory exercise. When you communicate one of the greater truths about life in one season, what is there left to do? The story shows us that, rather than long for a world that will never exist, with the right person we can create our own fascinating, baffling, exasperating, exhilarating world, customized just for us. And in MY world, this show is over.
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