When I first heard of the fire and watched the death toll slowly going up, I felt that I had to say something. So I wrote a long, increasingly drunken blog post, which, on Saturday, I decided not to post. It felt too personal. But every day after I felt that I wouldn’t be happy unless I expressed a few things.
Which is basically the point of this blog: I want to talk about something. So I will cut that long post into smaller ones. I might do two, or three, or more, but no matter how many or how few there are things I need to say about Kyoto Animation, the best anime studio in the world. Sorry, no images. You know where to find them.
For this post I must start with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It came early in my anime-watching life. It was one of the first series I fell in love with (the others being Azumanga and Sailor Moon–the secret’s out!).
I hate to pull a “back in the day” on you, but back in the day, April 2006, no one knew that this series existed. Hell, while they had a good reputation in the industry, most hardly knew that Kyoto Animation existed. There was no hype at all. The only reason I heard about it was because some other bloggers had managed to watch the first episode and had freaked out:
It’s funny … It stars a “combat waitress from the future” … But that’s not what’s really going on …
I was sold and watched it.
People who haven’t seen this franchise yet, I beg you, I absolutely BEG you, to watch the same first episode I did, The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00, I beg you again. The episodes on DVD are not in the order that we watched it. The show did not air in chronological order, mostly.
The reason I’m begging so much is that the Mikuru Asahina episode is the best first episode I have ever seen, not only in anime, but on any TV show, maybe in fiction. No one had ever introduced their show in such a bewildering and delightful fashion.
Through ep00, which is a depiction of a bad, obviously amateur movie (KyoAni depicting the bad light and editing faithfully), we meet all the main characters except the most important one, until the end. Moreover, we have a narrator guiding us through the mess; he’s trying to help us along but he’s also snarking at things he doesn’t like, and is often saying the exact thing we’re thinking (Who changed Mikuru into a T-shirt?). By the end of the craziness this speaker is our friend, and turns out he’s the main character, Kyon. We had learned in a roundabout way that, whatever more happened in further episodes, we could count on Kyon. There’s also some weird light, the evil cute witch girl jumping on Mikuru for apparently no reason, and that cat who ups the weirdness by, well, I won’t say–none intended for that crap movie they were making, oh, and the green-haired girl laughing. All in that jaw-dropping first episode.
No one had seen anything like it. Haruhi Suzumiya became a viral and by episode 3, a mainstream hit. A sensation.
KyoAni kept up the animation quality though the story dipped a couple times before it regrouped and gave us what I call the “Yuki Rocks Trilogy,” and a magnificent final episode (air-date 14, DVD 7, please watch this one last to get the great finale the series deserves (Mahler!)–obviously I am an “air date” man).
Soon every anime fan had heard of Kyoto Animation, and what they were capable of.