The final three chronological standard episodes at time of writing – I don’t want a lot for Christmas, except for S3 of Haruhi – are some of the more unusual episodes that Haruhi delved into, showing its willingness to break boundaries of normalcy for the sake of innovation. And that’s just the meta show, but it also really does apply to Haruhi too.
Live Alive is one of the best of the entire show. Not from where it was placed in Season 1, and I don’t think I recognised this upon my first watch of it but coming in the order as it does straight after Sigh, you get a real complete picture of Haruhi’s motivations and character. When I watched it first time around it was all disjointed and so I didn’t really appreciate the significance of Haruhi coming out on stage and doing something for the band, for someone else. Because that is a huge part of Live Alive. Coming from Sigh, Haruhi’s had her faith in being right and untouchable shaken. So doing something for someone else unexpectedly gives her the counter to that, people appreciating her for what she did which is something she isn’t used to which is why she’s so surprised and uncharacteristically modest when the band come by to thank her after the show, as well as up on stage. She’s not in her element and it was really important for the show to do that, to show that she really is a complex person taking in some of the lessons she’s learning. Even if she tries to shake them off and act as her normal self at the end of the episode as she realises the direction she’s taking in front of Kyon.
Added to that, God Knows is one of the best songs to ever come out of an anime, it gives me serious chills seeing Haruhi singing it after what I’ve watched her and everyone else go through, and that’s why it’s achieved the reputation it has, the guitar solos from ‘Yuki’ and Aya Hirano’s singing are excellent and something I regularly come back to whether I’m watching the series or not. I was looking forward to this episode for that alone but found a lot more answers that were promising about how Haruhi’s character can be likeable, something I was very keen to watch for on this rewatch.
The Day Of Sagittarius is very weird in its opening setting, I remember wondering how Haruhi had got them all leading a space fleet. But it turns out it’s just a game. A pretty low-level strategy game, but a strategy game nonetheless. I’m excited. But yes, as a conclusion to their story/rivalry with the Computer Club it works and it has some really nice character moments for Nagato as she, for once, shows an interest in something besides reading. She could probably have used some computer games during the whole Endless Eight saga. Here Haruhi is pugnacious and belligerent, her normal self, as she rises to the Computer Club president’s challenge but I sense things are different. She doesn’t try blackmailing him again and instead tries to offer fair exchange for the bet they’re willing to make. It’s a start, but she’s much kinder to the Computer Club now than she was at the start. Even when they cheat to get the win, she still lets Yuki go to the Computer Club should she want to, where the old Haruhi at the start of the series probably would have declared her ultimate victory, no concessions.
Someday In The Rain… well, if you’ve watched it you’ll know what’s unusual about it, unlike every other episode in the series, it’s not focused on Kyon’s perspective and so we get some material of the other characters acting without Kyon. It also contains minutes that are just Yuki reading alone in the clubroom while noises from outside permeate the old building. The plot is nonexistent, at best it can be describes as ‘Kyon goes and gets a heater that Haruhi blackmailed while the rest of the SOS brigade mess around dressing Mikuru up and down’, it wastes anime time on nothing, and nothing is really gained from it. Yet I can’t bring myself to say it’s bad, because any character interactions between these characters are ones I enjoy because I’m familiar with them, and the final scene of it, the final scene of the series if you watch chronologically, with Haruhi and Kyon sharing an umbrella together, is really nicely done. Also, there’s a feeling surrounding the episode, a feeling of nostalgia and foreboding. Helped with the camera angles, of course. It’s a nice quiet lead-up into Disappearance, which I shall be going to watch again now. Because that will be awesome.