Has any series fallen off the map harder than The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? Once the darling of the anime community, the series has had a few follow-ups (including the wonderful Disappearance film), but especially since the disastrous Endless Eight arc in season two, the show has fallen on hard times – in the west at least. People don’t talk about it much anymore, and when they do, it’s not often with admiration (though it remains popular in Japan). Newer anime viewers don’t know the series, and might not even recognize the characters, ending song, and memes so associated with it.
Maybe you’re not terribly familiar with the series. If you aren’t, I can’t recommend it more highly – it’s fun and experimental and smart. The series follows a student named Kyon who gets mixed up with the rude, arrogant title character, whom he later finds out is a god (a fact that she doesn’t realize herself). Soon, a cast of otherworldly characters assemble around her. Always reaching for more and wanting to find meaning in existence, Haruhi crafts the universe as she see fits to make it more interesting, but as she does so, it sometimes leads to destruction and even the possibility of apocalypse.
I’ve often associated myself with Kyon, especially when I was younger. Relatively level-headed, full of sarcasm, and frequently exasperated, I think a lot of us can see ourselves in him. But lately, I’ve seen a lot more Haruhi in myself, and especially as I’ve returned to blogging.
I love blogging – it excites me. So does social media, which is why I’ve invested so much time in Tumblr and Instagram. But it’s not so much the writing or the posting that I like to do, it’s the connections I make through these ministries. It’s the same type of excitement I feel when I meet up with college students from my church through our discipleship ministry.
But there are other parts of my life I don’t get as excited about, that I don’t see as “ministry.” I compartmentalize those pieces, seeing them in a more functional manner than with the rose-colored glasses I have for college ministry or for the Beneath the Tangles collection of platforms. When I go home, for instance, I try to be the best husband and father I can be, and I love my family, but I don’t arrive with a sense of excitement, feeling it’s my honor to minister to my family.
In TMoHS, Haruhi frequently becomes tired of the mundane. She hates school. She hates clubs. She hates normal life. She wants excitement in everything she does. Unfortunately, she gets overly excited, and then depressed when real life doesn’t match her imagination, thus leading to the unpleasant possibilities that world will be overwritten or that you might become stuck in an endless time loop. These cataclysmic events are halted when Haruhi becomes content with her world, mostly by finding friendship and security with Kyon.
Though I understand the desire to grow and push boundaries, I’ve also come to realize that doing so because I’m dissatisfied can actually cause ruin. I put all my energy into shiny things and forget the value of the gold that I see on a daily basis. But more often, even if some sort of personal apocalypse isn’t impending, I still suffer consequences. When I take things around me for granted and as mundane, and don’t approach them with the excitement and consideration they deserve, the people on the receiving end might miss out, but far more profoundly, I’m the one who loses out on something valuable and extraordinary, which has been, remarkably, right before my very eyes.