The American release of Tanigawa Nagaru’s Haruhi Suzumiya novels are in the home stretch, with the recent release of The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya. It’s the first of a two-part story, to be concluded in the next and last novel, so I’ll hold off on a full review. There were, however, a few things I found interesting with this one.
The most obvious feature of this novel is that the narrative splits halfway through, and what occurs over the next few days differs significantly between the two versions. Though there is some overlap between the two, the differences aren’t subtle like, say, the “Endless Eight” story arc from a few volumes back. I don’t see any hint as to how these two parallel timelines may relate to each other, except that Kyon, our intrepid narrator, does mention not having encountered a slider yet near the beginning of the book. Is it time for one to finally appear?
Another thing is that every member of the SOS Brigade now has a counterpart, including Haruhi. The newly introduced Sasaki makes an interesting foil for her, though it’s not apparent at first that they have anything in common. Sasaki is far more reserved, formal, and logical-thinking than Haruhi. However, I suspect that Sasaki shares Haruhi’s dissatisfaction with how the world isn’t quite amazing. In a conversation Kyon remembers having with her a couple of years prior, she mentions that “Reality is not constructed the way your favorite movies, TV shows, novels, or comics are. And it’s unsatisfying.” She goes on to explain why fiction and reality can’t operate in the same way (and as a side note, her speech reminds me somewhat of Koizumi’s digressions), and later on she also says “I always want to be rational and logical, no matter the time or place. To accept reality as it is, emotional or sentimental thinking is nothing more than an obstruction.”
She’s so formal, though, that I suspect that this is just a mask, and other people sense this. Kunikida talks to Kyon about her briefly, and comments, “[W]hen people call me strange, I don’t understand it. But she does understand [when people call her ‘strange’], and she fits herself into that frame. I get the sense that she’s very careful not to go past its edges.” Why does she do this? My guess is that she’s had the same realisation of how mundane the world is, and how she’s a tiny part of it, but whereas Haruhi’s reaction is to rebel against the world, completely disregarding what others think, she’s decided to simply accept the world as it is.
Is one approach better than the other? I’d guess that that question will factor heavily in the next book, and I’m looking forward to reading what sort of answer Tanigawa provides.