Disclaimer: The characters of the Haruhi Suzumiya series are created by Tanigawa Nagaru. No disrespect is intended by borrowing them for the presentation of this story.
The Deconstruction of Haruhi Suzumiya
I have a throbbing headache.
That is the only thing that I am currently aware of. Other than the unpleasant sensation welling back and forth, my mind feels peculiarly vacant as if I was a piece of driftwood listlessly floating across the ocean.
I can't find any points of reference. Do I even have a body? Logically, one cannot have a headache without a head but I don't seem to find mine right now.
After what appears to be a while some intermittent noises in the distance draw my attention. Although those sounds anchor my mind into something tangible I can't still see anything. Maybe that's because my eyes are closed?
As I open my eyes the incoming light adds sharp overtones of pain to the dull beat inside my head. I blink.
There is a moment of nauseating dizziness which fortunately subsides soon, leaving me free to observe the barren landscape in front of my eyes. At first it doesn't resemble anything that I would recognize, but after a while small cues in the scenery prompt a readjustment of my mental point of view and I realize that I am lying on my back, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling above me.
"Kyon! Are you ok?"
The sudden exclamation startles me but as I turn my head toward the source of the voice I become even more bewildered.
I can now see that I'm lying on a sort of hard bed or table in a small room with many cabinets on the walls. The word hospital floats to my mind for some reason. Sitting on a chair beside the bed there is a strikingly beautiful girl in a blue sailor uniform which, combined with her apparent age suggests that she is a high school student. Her shoulder length dark hair is tied with a conspicuous yellow band. Her eyes glisten as if she had just cried but in any case she is now looking at me with an expression that wavers somewhere between anxiousness and relief. The scene feels surreal, as if I had somehow woken up in the middle of a shoujo romance story.
I don't seem to be dreaming, the still very tangible headache should prove that.
The girl has now stood up but she's still watching me intensely with her large, expressive eyes. I can't help thinking that this might actually feel rather nice, except for one small but important detail. Who is she? I don't have the slightest idea.
This is embarrassing. I should be saying something but I'm totally at a loss of words, not to mention context. If this was an act, shouldn't there be cameras or an audience? Who is this girl, my sister? Anyway, I don't remember having a sister. Something in the scene or in her appearance gives me an odd idea.
Are you my girlfriend?
Ugh, wrong script. I can see it immediately from her stunned face. My bad, I'm not good at improvising.
"What are you talking about, Kyon? Have you gone totally bonkers?"
Maybe I have? Anyway, who is this Kyon guy?
"It can't be ..."
Although it wouldn't appear to be possible, her eyes widen even further as she suddenly grabs the front of my shirt and leans over me. Her face is really close to mine now. Hey, isn't this proceeding a bit too fast? And besides, I've got a headache.
"Don't play any stupid games with me! Who am I?"
The girl looks genuinely worried now. Miss, I would like to learn the answer to that question as well, considering my current circumstances.
She gasps and releases me, looks around as if searching for something, then runs hastily out of the room.
This is really confusing, and I still don't know who she is. Now that I think about it, I don't seem to remember my own name either. This is not good.
. . .
I am feeling a bit wobbly as I examine the glass cabinet in front of me. Or more accurately, I am examining the reflection of a boy on the cabinet doors. He doesn't appear to be particularly bad looking, one could almost call him handsome in a solemn way. He wears a school uniform and what appears to be a hachimaki without any visible slogan on his head. A cram schooler?
On a closer inspection I realize that the boy isn't wearing a hachimaki after all but a bandage rolled several times around his head. That reminds me of something but what is it? Oh right, I have a throbbing headache. As I raise a hand to my head the boy in the reflection does the same in unison. Sure enough, I can feel a bandage around my head. At the back of the head there appears to be a wound dressing pad held by the bandage. Touching the pad makes burning nails of pain sink into my skull. The boy in the reflection grimaces.
That boy is me, without doubt. Why can't I remember ever having seen that face before?
There is some noise coming from behind.
I turn around and see a middle-aged woman in a nurse's uniform and behind her a girl who looks like a high school student in a sailor suit. I have never seen either of them before but they look at me as if they expected to find me here. Why am I here anyway, and what is this place? I seem to be lost. Then I realize that I have a headache.
So, this must be a school infirmary and I'm being treated for headache. Yes, that makes sense but regrettably it seems to be about the only thing that currently does.
Instead of giving me something for the headache the nurse examines my eyes with a flashlight and checks my reflexes.
"Are you feeling nauseous or tired?"
No, I have a headache.
"Can you see and hear normally?"
I think so.
"Then there isn't anything else that I can do here. It doesn't appear to be too serious. I would still recommend seeing a doctor, especially if you start to feel sick."
"But he didn't recognize me!"
I didn't? Well, I still don't, which is a pity since the girl looks very pretty. But wait, didn't she mean that she actually wants me to recognize her? Huh, what is this? I didn't know that I'm so popular!
"It is most likely just temporary disorientation caused by a slight concussion. Call a doctor if he still feels confused after having rested for a while."
"Let's go then."
The girl grabs my hand and pulls me out of the room. Hey, not so fast!
"Hurry up, I'm not going to let this just be."
Where are we going, and who are you? Are you my girlfriend?
"What makes you think that?"
For starters, we are walking through a school corridor together, holding hands. That's usually a rather obvious sign.
"I'm only holding your hand so that you don't get lost! Don't get any silly ideas!"
The girl looks annoyed but doesn't let go of my hand. Never mind me then, let's see what every other student thinks about it!
. . .
I am being dragged around a school building by a forceful girl whom I don't know. Other students are giving me odd looks. Quite frankly, I would be happier without all this attention, especially since I have a headache. Just as I am about to ask whether she would stop so that I could sit down and rest for a second, we arrive in some room. There is already a boy in the room, stacking some rather peculiar items from his bag to a table.
"Hello! I have just started with the accessories."
"The event is on hold until further notice. Kyon hit his head and is acting weird!"
The boy looks at me, still smiling. What's so funny in here?
"Oh, I thought that the bandage was a part of it. How weird are we talking about?"
"He thinks that I ... he's got bad delusions. We must get him to a doctor."
"How do you feel?"
For some reason the boy is interested in my well-being. I'm fine thank you, except for a headache, and I don't understand all this commotion.
"You don't sound too delusional to me."
Me, delusional? Isn't that like seeing things that don't exist? I don't remember seeing any tentacled monsters lurking around recently.
The girl looks at me, apparently wavering for a moment as if unsure about whether to say something or not.
"Anyway, the nurse said that you should rest but you must still go to a doctor as well."
"I know somebody who is working at a hospital. I think that he might be able to recommend somebody."
"Good, but it must be a brain specialist. You can take care of that, then. Where's Mikuru-chan?"
"She hasn't arrived yet. I think that she's on cleaning duty today."
"Tell her about this when she arrives. Yuki?"
Only now do I notice that there's yet another person in the room. A girl is sitting in a corner, reading a book. She is so quiet and motionless that she almost blends in with the furniture.
"Help Mikuru-chan take care of the provisions so that they don't go to waste. I'm seeing to it that Kyon goes home and gets some rest. Dismissed!"
The girl grabs my hand and heads out of the room. If somebody knows what's going on here it would be really nice if they told me as well!
. . .
I'm walking down the street with a girl. We are wearing school uniforms and it's late afternoon so most likely we are coming back from school. This iconic scene of romantic fiction is tarnished by a small but conspicuous detail. I don't know the girl I'm walking with. How could that happen? I can't think of any explanation but I won't let it spoil the mood if she doesn't notice it.
"You look awfully happy considering the situation. Are you again thinking about something weird or were all those things you said just a retarded joke?"
How should I answer? I don't even know what I have said.
"And you still insist that you don't know who I am? If that is a joke then it's the meanest, most demented one I have ever heard!"
Well, since you asked I must admit that I don't know. The girl stares me angrily.
"If you lie to me I won't forgive it!"
I'm not lying! I'm not even good at telling lies. The girl keeps looking at me for a while, then snorts and turns her head away.
What do you know, looks like ignorance can indeed be bliss!
"You will go to a doctor as soon as Koizumi-kun finds one!"
Huh, what does a doctor have to do with this?
. . .
I wake up from a dreamless sleep and know immediately that something is wrong. I look at a nearby alarm clock. It's half past two at night but there's enough light coming in through the window that I can see the room I am in. Every item around me looks unfamiliar.
Whose room is this? How did I end up in here? My mind feels completely blank except for a nasty headache. Have I been drinking? In any case I should get out immediately before I am found in somebody's house in the middle of the night. There's no way I could just explain myself out of that.
I walk to the door without turning on the lights and open it as quietly as I can. Something brushes my feet and I almost jump from the surprise but then I see that it's just a cat taking advantage of the open door.
Lights seem to be off in the entire house and I sneak across the hallway in the dim light coming through the windows and find something that looks like a front door. I open it carefully, half expecting an alarm going off but nothing happens. I slide out and close the door behind me. Phew, that was close!
The street in front of me doesn't look any more familiar than the house so I choose a direction at random and start walking. Where am I?
. . .
I am walking through an empty street at night. It's dark and I'm freezing. I don't remember ever having seen this neighborhood so I must be lost. Any particular direction doesn't look more familiar than the others so I just keep walking straight ahead, hoping to see something that I could recognize. How did I end up here in the first place?
A car approaches and stops in front of me. Something in the car looks familiar ... oh, it's a police car. An officer steps out.
"Hey, you! We got a report on a person walking around in his underwear and you seem to fit that description. Isn't that so?"
I look down. I'm standing in the headlights barefooted, wearing only pajamas. Is this a nightmare?
"So, young man, have you been sleepwalking?"
I don't know. Maybe.
"What is your name and address?"
My name is ... my name ... this is odd, I can't remember my name ...
"And you can't remember your address either, I guess?"
That's right, I can't think of any address at all. I don't even know which city this is.
"You are not at large from a hospital, are you? With that bandage and all?"
I have a bandage? Oh right, my head hurts but I don't remember being at a hospital ...
"I see. Looks like we'll have to take you to the station until we find out where you came from."
Oddly enough, that sounds like a decent idea. At least I won't freeze to death.
. . .
I'm sitting on a bench at what looks like a police station. I'm barefooted, wearing pajamas and there's an overcoat that smells of tobacco on my shoulders. It looks like there should be an interesting, or possibly a rather disturbing story behind these circumstances but for some reason I don't remember any of it.
A clock on the wall indicates that it's half past three. There aren't any windows in the room but based on my garments I assume that it's nighttime instead of afternoon. What am I doing here at this time of the day?
I look at the door. There is a handsome young man, or rather still a boy smiling to me as if he found this situation somehow amusing.
"I must say that you've done something quite unexpected. It was fortunate that we overheard the call and guessed that it was about you. I was immediately dispatched to find out what was going on."
You look rather young for a plainclothes detective.
The boy looks surprised.
"You don't know who I am?"
No, I don't. Have we met before?
"You don't remember seeing me yesterday?"
Was I here yesterday as well?
"Can you remember anything about what happened after Suzumiya-san took you home?"
Who did what? I don't remember anything like that.
"You don't remember Suzumiya-san either?"
No, should I?
The boy looks genuinely worried for a moment. Who is this Suzumiya-san and what's so important about remembering him?
"This is rather unique. It looks like we are sailing on uncharted waters here. I wonder how this will play out but we might indeed have some interesting times ahead."
The boy regains his composure. I don't see what's worth smiling in this situation.
"Meanwhile, I have taken the liberty to inform your parents about your current whereabouts. Your father will arrive shortly to take you home. If you don't mind I would like to come along and see if I can help you in some way."
I gather that you are not a detective, then?
"No, at least not that kind of one."
Hmm, what is that supposed to mean?
. . .
I am in some room with a boy whom I am supposed to call Koizumi-kun.
"So, this room doesn't look familiar to you?"
No, is it yours?
"I see. That makes sense."
Maybe to you but I'd like to be told the joke as well. The boy takes a serious tone for a while.
"Please listen. I don't know the exact details yet but you seem to be having some sort of amnesia. This is your room but a while ago you were found walking around the city in your pajamas."
What? That's embarrassing!
"Apparently, you didn't recognize your room and decided to get out. The problem we are facing right now is to prevent that from happening again."
Well, I suppose that I could just be tied to the bed.
"I'm glad that you haven't lost your sense of humor! That might indeed be one solution but I had something less drastic in mind."
"I've written your address and name on this notepad, along with the names and phone numbers of people that you can call if you are in a trouble. If you keep it with you all the time you should be able to get along."
But if I have trouble remembering things, will I not forget the notepad as well?
"I've tied it to a chord. If you put it around your neck you shouldn't lose it unless you remove it yourself."
The boy gives the notepad to me and suggests that I should write something in there for myself, so I ask him some details and write them down. Satisfied?
"Then we'll need just one more thing."
The boy takes a marker pen and a sheet of paper and writes something on it, then attaches it to the door with adhesive tape. I read:
All is well. Read the notepad.
"I hope that this will do until morning. I managed to arrange you a reception time to a neurologist at ten o'clock this morning. I'll be there as well but until then it might be a good idea to get some sleep. Good night, or should I say good morning already?"
The boy leaves. I read the sign on the door. Maybe all is well for somebody but right now that person doesn't seem to be me.
. . .
I am taking part in a bizarre pop quiz given by an elderly man in a white coat. For some reason I seem to be the only participant. All the questions seem to be either bleedingly obvious or impossible to answer but I can't find any pattern in what the man is looking for.
"Do you know what is inside this box?"
The man has a small wooden box in his hands. How should I know that without opening the box? The man opens the box and pulls out a red ball.
"What is this?"
It's just an ordinary looking red ball, seemingly made out of plastic. I can't see what's so special about it.
The man looks satisfied and puts the ball back in the box, then makes some notes.
"Which day of the week is it?"
I can't remember right now, they all look alike anyway. Anybody can forget that.
"Can you list the days of the week?"
Of course I can. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday ... The man raises a hand to sign that the answer is satisfactory and writes something down. He seems to be really interested in his notes. I assure you that the feeling is completely one-sided.
"What is the capital of Japan?"
Well, I should probably know that but don't seem to recall it just now. Can I have a three points hint?
The man picks a small wooden box from the table.
"Can you tell me what is inside this box?"
How should I be able to do that? The box is closed and I don't have X-ray vision.
The man opens the box and pulls out a red ball, gesturing like a magician who just conjured a rabbit out of his hat.
"Does this look familiar to you?"
No, it doesn't. It's just an ordinary red ball. I fail to see what makes it special in any way. However, the man looks satisfied as if he had just performed a magic trick. This is very odd.
. . .
I'm sitting in a small room with some other people, listening to a presentation given by an elderly man in a white coat. The decoration of the room and the lingering smell of disinfectant make me think of hospitals. The topic of the presentation seems to belong to the same general category. I don't remember enlisting to a medical school.
"The patient shows symptoms of severe anterograde amnesia affecting his episodic but not semantic memory functions. The blocking of the episodic memory appears to be so complete that it can be diagnosed as a case of retrograde or total amnesia as well."
A smiling boy who sits beside me raises his hand as if wanting to ask a question. Oh well, there's always at least one overachiever in every class. Anyway, I don't see what's so funny here.
"Pardon me for interrupting but if I understood correctly, his common sense is intact and it's just specific knowledge that is missing. So, as an example, if he is hungry he will know that there should be food in the fridge but he can't remember where that fridge is? And even if he is told, he will soon forget it again?"
"That is exactly so. I would assume that he can also deduce that in general fridges can be found in kitchens but if he isn't in a kitchen at that moment, he can't find it other than by accident. All episodic information related to a particular topic is forgotten as soon as the patient concentrates on something else. While the ailment is highly disabling I remain hopeful with the prognosis. Tomography shows that the head trauma is strictly constrained to external tissue and there isn't any detectable damage in the hippocampal area or the medial temporal lobe, indicating psychosomatic factors as the likely cause for the amnesia. This would suggest that a full recovery is possible, eventually."
"Is there anything that can be done to speed up the recovery?"
"There may be some stressful fact that he is unable to process, thus causing a deadlock, but finding out what it is may be hard given the current situation. Making him relive past events might help as well, especially those with a strong emotional investment since that part of his limbic system seems to be working normally. Furthermore, the patient appears to have a naturally dispassionate personality. While this is favorable in the sense that he is not easily disturbed by his condition, it can also mean that it will be hard to find events of sufficient emotional intensity to trigger a recollection."
"I see. Thank you so much for this information."
The boy looks at me and smiles encouragingly. You are wasting your effort, pal. No matter how much you try to cheer me up, there just isn't a way to make me feel interested in all this jargon. The entire discussion sounds completely nonsensical to me. Whom are they talking about and why am I here in the first place?
. . .
I am sitting on a bed, fully clothed. There is a calico cat stretching lazily on my lap, begging to be scratched. According to the alarm clock it's late afternoon. I should probably be somewhere else but I can't think of any particular place that would require my presence. I don't even know where I am at the moment. This looks like a normal room for a high school student but none of the items appear familiar to me.
Am I waiting for somebody? I can't remember and for some reason I can't even bother thinking too hard about it. Anyway, I don't think that I'm in a hurry so I can just relax and keep scratching the cat. If somebody needs me they will probably come looking for me.
Suddenly, the door is kicked open. The cat disappears under the bed, leaving skid marks on my thighs. That hurt! An energetic girl bursts into the room, grinning like a baseball player who just hit a home run.
"Time to wake up, Kyon!"
Are you talking to me? I am awake already. Anyway, who are you and why don't you knock first like normal people?
"Why should I knock when I knew that you are here?"
I can't see how that answers my questions.
"Stop sweating irrelevant details and grab your jacket, I have a taxi waiting outside!"
What is this? Where are we going? Also, I would really like to know who I am going out with.
The girl grabs my collar and pulls me up from the bed. Looks like she is much stronger than one could guess from the outward appearance.
"I am your brigade leader and you are going to school right now! Did I make myself perfectly clear?"
Uh, how about no?
Ignoring my objections this singularly brash girl drags me out of the room. The match isn't even a close call since she seems to have as much determination as I am lacking the same. Oh boy!
. . .
I'm sitting in a taxi with a girl whom I don't know. You can undoubtedly agree that there's something seriously wrong in this picture but I don't know whether it's me, her or the fact that I don't even remember how I ended up here in the first place.
I try to observe my companion discreetly. She is wearing a sailor uniform and looks about the right age for a high school student, and a very good looking one at that as well. Also, she appears to be in a good mood as if eagerly anticipating something. I wonder where I might fit in those plans and whether I should be worried or happy.
"What are you looking at?"
So she noticed anyway. Oh well, I have nothing to lose so I could as well ask her name.
"If you don't remember it then I'm not going to tell!"
Uh, isn't that illogical?
The girl pouts, then after a while turns her head away and speaks reluctantly to her own reflection in the window.
"Now write it down so that I don't have to say it again!"
Write it down where, and why? She pokes something that has apparently been hanging from my neck without me noticing. A notepad? The first page seems to be already full of names and phone numbers. I turn the next page.
What! This explains my current situation but I can't say that I'm too happy to learn about it.
I take out the pencil and look at the girl again. Uh-oh, I have already forgotten her name ... excuse me, how do you write your name?
"Suzu as in cool air, miya as in the Royal Palace."
Lucky save! I write down:
The girl with a yellow headband is Suzumiya-san.
I'm making progress!
The taxi stops in front of a building that looks like a school. Now that it has been mentioned, me and this Suzumiya-san seem to be wearing school uniforms. So, we are apparently going to school but why are we using a taxi and why does it look like it's late afternoon already? Have I been skipping classes?
"Yes, but it doesn't matter, and we are not here because of that. Follow me."
Suzumiya-san pays the taxi and heads into the school building.
As I get in I realize that I'm facing an immediate obstacle. There are several rows of lockers and I don't know which one is mine, if any.
Can you help me here, Suzumiya-san?
"How should I know which one is yours? Just open some in random and take the first pair of uwabaki that fits, most students are already gone."
I refuse to become a shoe thief and thus end up walking in my socks behind Suzumiya-san. Fortunately, the school does indeed appear empty. Instead of classrooms we head to a separate wing and eventually stop in front of some door. The room behind the door appears to be lit so perhaps there are people already inside? The sign over the door is covered with a piece of paper with the handwritten words 'SOS Brigade'. What is this place?
Suzumiya-san slams the door open grinning like the Cheshire cat and pulls me in.
"Ta-da, here we are!"
I look around and this is what I see. It's a small, slightly shabby room with windows on the far side. There is a boy sitting by a table in the middle of the room. He looks suspiciously happy to see us. On the other side of the table there is a cute girl with long brown hair, dressed in a maid costume. Why would somebody wear a maid costume at school? Anyway, as we come in she quickly stands up and greets us warmly. Then, there is yet another girl sitting in the corner, reading a book. She doesn't even turn her head despite our noisy entrance. Is she perhaps deaf? In addition to these three people there are a couple of bookshelves and an assortment of other odd things. This doesn't look like a classroom at all.
"Of course this isn't a classroom, it's the SOS headquarters! Mikuru-chan, bring us some tea!"
The maid gets busy with a tea set while Suzumiya-san guides me to the table. I have an odd feeling that I am joining a well rehearsed play where I am the only one who hasn't been given his lines.
. . .
"This is intriguing."
I look across the table at the smiling boy who speaks to me.
"As long as you are not distracted by any external factors, you can play Othello just as well as usual."
Play what? I notice that I have a round piece of plastic in my hand. One side of it is black and the other white but it doesn't remind me of anything. As I look at the table between us I see a board with several such pieces in a seemingly random order. This is a game I have been playing?
"Of course, the downside is that once you do become distracted, we must go through the rules again before continuing. It is fortunate that the rules for Othello are so simple. I am afraid that we couldn't possibly manage a full game of shogi."
"Enough games already, let's look at some photos, photos!"
This is said by a lively girl sitting on a smaller table with a computer on it. I am given a stack of photos and the others gather around me to have a look at them as well. Well, at least three of them do, since one girl in the corner keeps reading her book. Maybe she's shy?
I browse through the photos. There are people in school uniforms and in casual wear, people in all kinds of odd costumes and some in swimsuits. Why do they want me to look at these photos?
Oh, I see. All these photos are about you. This is you dressed up as a waitress instead of a maid and here's that shy girl in some kind of a witch costume. In this photo you are all having fun on a beach, but who is this boy? I can't see him here.
"Can't you remember, Kyon? That's you!"
I look at the dark-haired girl. Why should she say that?
It can't be. I don't know the boy in the photos and I don't remember ever having been on a beach with these people.
As I look around my attention is drawn to the windows of the room. It is already dark on the outside so I can see clearly the reflections of the five persons in this room, including that mystery boy that I have never seen before ... just like in the photos. I have a really bad feeling about this. Am I mentally challenged or something?
The maid bursts in tears and the dark-haired girl looks annoyed.
"Time for plan 9! Take Kyon out while we change!"
. . .
I am standing in a corridor with some boy. The noises coming through the door next to us suggest that a girl is being molested on the other side. I am deeply concerned but the boy keeps smiling nonchalantly.
"Don't worry about it, the girls are just putting up a bit of an act for us."
What does that mean? That doesn't sound at all like an act, and who are you anyway?
Just as I think that I can't hold myself any more the door opens. Do I even dare to look in?
Whatever it was that I was expecting to see was not ... bunny girls! There are two very real and cute bunny girls greeting us on the door, one looking distressed, sniveling on occasion, and the other grinning menacingly.
"Welcome to the very special private screening of the highly acclaimed first movie of the SOS Brigade, The Adventures of Asahina Mikuru! Come in, come in!"
Uh, exactly what kind of a movie are we talking about here?
"There is no need to worry. Since we are special guests, let's go inside."
The boy smiles encouragingly and guides me in the room. Besides the two bunnies, there is a third girl in a sailor uniform, handling a video projector. We all sit down and I wait in horrified anticipation as the lights are turned off and the movie starts. I'm not quite sure whether I should be fearing or looking forward for the worst ...
Oh, it's just a home video. I feel actually relieved that it isn't anything weird. There is that sad little bunny girl again. Is Asahina Mikuru her role name or her real name? I can't tell.
I have a really hard time trying to follow the plot of the movie. It seems to be about people with some mystic powers but suddenly the characters are advertising an electronics store. Or is it a romantic drama? Anyway, the special effects look rather cheesy.
Did that cat just talk?
When the end credits roll, I feel totally confused. What was it that I just saw?
Somebody turns on the lights. I am sitting in a small room with four other people and everybody seems to be watching me. This is odd.
"So what do you think, Kyon?"
This is asked by a girl in a bunny suit. Did I just step into the movie myself?
Uh, hard to say. Maybe a bit too modern to my tastes?
"It didn't remind you of anything?"
To be honest, I don't think that I have ever seen anything quite like it before.
The girl looks disappointed. What was she expecting, a full review with glowing recommendations?
"Well, it looks like we must roll out plan 10."
"Wahhhh! Please, anything but plan 10!"
The other bunny girl starts trembling on her seat, looking like she would prefer to be somewhere else right now.
"I didn't want it to come to this either but I can't think of anything else. You can do it if you want, Mikuru-chan, it's all for Kyon's sake. Yuki, your turn to take Kyon out."
. . .
I'm standing in a corridor with an unfamiliar girl. The girl is reading a book in front of a closed door. Why am I here and who is this girl? Are we waiting for something? Together?
This is awkward! I would go away but I don't even know where I am right now. I will probably have to ask.
Excuse me, miss ...
The girl raises her head and looks at me with eyes like clear crystals of ice.
Pleased to meet you Nagato-san, my name is ... uh, for some reason I don't seem to remember my name right now. This is really odd.
The girl keeps looking at me without moving at all. She doesn't even blink. Is she waiting for me to say something else? I can't think of anything to say. Oh boy, this is a great way to embarrass myself ...
The girl finally turns her attention back to the book. What did she see? I am still feeling uneasy when the door opens.
"Great, our cameraman has finally arrived!"
Wait, what? There is an elated girl in a sailor uniform standing on the door, wearing a red armband with the words 'ultra director'.
"We are shooting a movie and our regular cameraman is on a sick leave. I'm so glad that you could come in as a substitute on such a short notice!"
I am a cameraman? You must mistake me for somebody else, miss, I don't know anything about making movies!
"Don't worry about it, just follow my orders! Hurry up, it is out of question to fall behind with the production schedule!"
The girl ushers me in the room which indeed seems to contain some kind of a stage. There is a video camera on a tripod that I am apparently supposed to operate. The back end of the room is sequestered away with a movable screen and the floor in front of the screen is covered with tatami. There is a futon on the mats. Uh, what kind of a movie is this supposed to be?
"What does it matter, just record when I say. If you absolutely must know, it's a romantic scene where the two protagonists meet each other for the first time."
In a bed? I'm not sure whether I'm ready for this ...
The girl ignores me and sits on a foldable chair, taking a yellow loudspeaker in her hands.
"Ready ... action!"
Oh boy, I don't seem to have any choice but to start shooting.
On cue, a boy enters the scene from behind the screen, carrying an apparently unconscious girl dressed in a long T-shirt and nothing else! As if that wasn't enough, the girl is also way too cute. I must admit that I feel a bit jealous. Of course, the male lead just has to look like a celebrity poster boy, too. Oh well, I shouldn't be thinking too much about it since I'm here just to shoot the movie anyway.
The boy lays the unconscious girl on the bed and covers her with a blanket. After that he sits down next to the bed and watches the sleeping girl intently.
"Perfect! Mikuru-chan, you should wake up now."
Does the director really need that loudspeaker? You know, this is a really small room.
The sleeping girl slowly opens her eyes.
"Um ... where am I?"
"This is my home."
"You saved me! Thank ... thank you!"
The girl raises herself unsteadily to a sitting position. She doesn't seem to feel too well.
"That's it. Koizumi-kun, kiss her now!"
The boy puts his hands on her shoulders and leans closer. Are they really going to do it? However, the girl looks really wobbly now, almost falling on her back.
"Uwaaaa! I can't do this, my head spins! You made me drink too much sake!"
What did she just say! Why would they do something like that? They are still minors, aren't they?
The boy seems to give up acting and the girl is left alone on the bed, swaying slowly from side to side. The director gets up from her chair and enters the stage. She didn't ask me to cut so should I keep recording or not?
"Perk up, Mikuru-chan! That was just one glass to help you act!"
The director knocks the girl's head with a loudspeaker. This is really bizarre!
"Huh, that was not the proper reaction. When I hit you on the head you straighten yourself and concentrate. Let's try again."
The director hits the girl on the head again, and again. On every hit the girl flinches and lets out a whimper. Why am I here with these weird people? This is simply too painful to watch so I look away from the scene. To my great surprise there is another girl standing next to me. How long has she been here? She is so quiet that I haven't noticed her arrival. Even more disconcertingly, she is observing me in a completely detached, emotionless fashion. For some reason I feel like a bacterium on the preparation glass of a microscope. Who is this girl?
"Hey, cameraman! You are supposed to keep your eyes on the stage!"
I look back and see an angry girl hitting another, very scantily dressed and sad girl on the head with a loudspeaker. I feel bewildered. What is this? There is also a boy sitting next to them, giving me an apologetic smile.
"Suzumiya-san? If I may suggest, it might be better to give up for now. It doesn't seem to be working."
The girl holding the loudspeaker looks like she had just accidentally laced her sushi with toothpaste instead of wasabi. The sad girl bursts in tears. No wonder. You shouldn't hit people on the head, it hurts.
. . .
It's evening. I am walking down the street with a girl.
No, that didn't come out with enough feeling. I am walking down the street with a girl! And not just any ordinary girl but a very pretty one, too!
I should be so lucky but there are two dark clouds looming on my otherwise serene sky, the first one being that I don't know who she is. I can't figure out how such a situation could occur, but we are definitely walking together so there must be something going on. The other worrying thing is that the girl doesn't look too happy. In fact, she looks absolutely surly. I can feel a dark aura of discontent radiating from her.
Uh, did we have a blind date that went from bad to worse?
The girl scowls.
"Does this look like a date to you?"
I don't know what this looks like, why don't you tell me?
The girl keeps walking for a while, then finally speaks up.
"Listen, Kyon. Should I ever find out that all this time you have been making fun at our expense, I will make you wish that you had never known me in the first place. Is that totally clear?"
For a moment I am tempted to tell her that I already don't know her in the first place but come to my senses quickly enough. There's no point in pushing my luck. Whatever it was, it must have been really bad.
I wonder why I can't remember any of it. Oh boy!
. . .
I'm sitting on a bed, fully clothed, absent-mindedly scratching a calico cat on my lap. The cat purrs and pushes its chin against my hand for more scratching. I have a peculiar feeling that something is wrong but I can't tell what it is.
As I raise my eyes I see that I am in a room that I have never seen before. How did I end up here? However, that in itself is not the most unexpected thing. In the middle of the room there is a girl sitting on a chair, reading some thick book. How long has she been there? She's so quiet that I didn't even notice her before looking up. Is this her room and if so, why am I here?
I take another look around me. No, this doesn't look at all like a girl's room. Maybe we are both waiting for the owner of the room back? I should probably ask.
Excuse me, miss ...
The girl doesn't turn her gaze away from the book she is reading. Instead, she raises one hand and points a finger to my chest. What does that mean?
I look down and see that there is a notepad hanging from a chord around my neck. What is this, some sort of prank? I examine the notepad. The first page contains an address and a name that I don't recognize, then after that more names and phone numbers, none of which look familiar to me. I turn the next page. The handwriting is different. I grow increasingly distressed as I read it.
Your name is Kyon.
You have amnesia.
Don't panic. You are taken care of.
Don't go outside on your own.
These are your friends and family:
I scan the descriptions until I find what looks like the correct one.
The quiet short-haired girl is Nagato-san. Don't bother asking.
I look at the girl sitting on the chair. She doesn't seem to move at all. For a fleeting moment it feels like I'm looking at a human sized doll, then she turns the page and the illusion breaks. However, the description in the notepad is so cryptic that it appears completely useless.
Um. Nagato-san? I'm sorry but what is it that I am not supposed to ask?
The girl turns her head in a slow, almost mechanical fashion, and looks directly at me. Her face is pale and spotless like finest porcelain, and her dark eyes have the unfathomable appearance of a dead calm mountain lake in winter. She looks at me, or quite possibly straight through me for a while, then turns back to her book without saying a word. I feel uneasy.
Well, at least that explains the note, doesn't it?
. . .
I'm sitting on a bed, fully clothed, scratching a calico cat on my lap. The cat seems to approve of my efforts but I have a peculiar feeling that I am not alone.
I look up and see an angel. Well, close but not quite. I see a girl with the sweetest, most delicate face and long flowing maroon hair. She's looking at me and suddenly gets nervous for no apparent reason.
"You forgot again, didn't you, Kyon-kun?"
Who is she and what is she talking about? If I had seen that face before, I couldn't forget it in a million years!
"I feel so useless! But it's ok, please read your notepad."
Notepad, which notepad? Oh, I see. I look through the first page which doesn't seem to contain any relevant information, then proceed to the second one. Huh, this can't be ...
Kyon? What kind of a stupid name is that? I browse through the list of descriptions until I find what I'm looking for.
The shy long-haired girl is Asahina-san. Try to avoid upsetting her.
I look at the girl who's already fidgeting on her seat. I'm afraid to even ask what the note means.
"I have been trying to find something that I could tell or show you to help you remember but I can't think of anything that we didn't already try at the club room. I can't still reveal any classified information even if it's assured that you won't remember it afterwards. I'm so sorry that there doesn't appear to be anything that I could do for you but I am sure that you will eventually overcome this adversity. I am absolutely sure of it so please hang in there, Kyon-kun!"
I'm not quite sure that I get what she's saying but that doesn't matter as long as I can listen to her cute voice.
"We have been taking turns, staying with you one at a time so that you don't have to be alone. We'll continue until you get better so don't worry."
Honestly speaking, I am already feeling better since you are here with me.
"Is that so? I'm so glad to hear that!"
Asahina-san gives me a sparkling smile. Suddenly I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Just as I wonder how to proceed from here, there's a knock on the door and some boy steps in the room.
"Oh it's you, Koizumi-kun! Is my time up already?"
What? This is an outrage! Who is this guy and why does he smile so eagerly? I bet that he is here to steal my sweet, sweet Asahina-san!
"Actually, I arrived half an hour earlier than promised. There is a developing situation that will require my presence soon and I realized that it might be advantageous to take Kyon with me."
No, go away and come back in half an hour or even better, stay away. I'm not in a hurry and neither is she. Despite my silent objections, the gracious little angel quickly apologizes and leaves me in the room with that smiling jerk. I feel cheated.
"I am sorry for this sudden intrusion."
You better be!
"However, as I mentioned, there are pressing matters that cannot wait. Please be so kind and follow me."
Where are we going?
"You could call it a field trip. It won't require any effort on your behalf. I would just like to show you something."
There doesn't appear to be anything left for me in this place so I grudgingly agree.
. . .
I am sitting at the back seat of a car, reading a notepad. The car is driven by an elderly man whom I don't recognize. There is another boy with me at the back seat. He seems to be mentioned in the disturbing notepad.
The smiling boy is Koizumi-kun. Ask him if you need something.
For some reason I feel grumpy and unwilling to talk with this Koizumi-kun. Why would that be if he's so helpful? And why is he looking at me so intently? This feels uneasy.
"I was just thinking. Have you ever heard the words 'Carpe Diem'?"
Nope. What is it, a boy choir? Koizumi-kun seems to find the reply highly amusing.
"Not as far as I know, but I am intrigued that you came up with that answer. It is an old Latin aphorism which means 'seize the day'. In other words, it is a maxim that touts the virtue of living on the moment. I would almost go as far as saying that it is something that Suzumiya-san has been trying to teach you for some time, and arguably, right now you are very much living on the moment. Indeed, although it may be involuntary it would be quite hard to live more on the moment than you currently do."
Is there a point to this or do you just abhor silence?
"I am coming to it. As I said, on the surface it might look like you are now living just the way Suzumiya-san would want you to be. As far as I am concerned this should be a desirable condition. However, based on the evidence the very opposite seems to be true."
Which evidence are you talking about and what does it matter what some Suzumiya-san wants?
"I'm afraid that I can't answer that question in a way that you could understand. However, this is exactly the reason for why we are here and you will soon see the answer with your own eyes. We are almost there."
The car pulls over and we get out to the sidewalk. I don't recognize the neighborhood but it appears to be a suburb. Koizumi-kun guides me to a small park that is devoid of people this late in the evening. Or possibly this early in the morning, it's hard to say.
"The next part is a bit awkward. I would need you to close your eyes and hold my hand. This is only for a couple of steps."
Are you serious about this? This is ... I don't know what this is but in any case I don't like it.
"You don't have to do it, but it is the only way to get some answers. Besides, it would be a wasted opportunity to back away at this point since you have already come this far."
I look at this Koizumi-kun and try to see whether he's trying to pull some elaborate prank on me but he appears to be dead serious. Oh well, I must admit that I am starting to be at least a bit curious. Is there a surprise party waiting behind the bushes?
"Quite excellent! Now remember, you don't have to be worried about whatever you will see. It's all right. You are completely safe and it will be over soon enough."
I close my eyes. We hold hands and take a few steps. I almost expect flashlights going off at any second but instead it becomes darker, colder and the distant hum of the city fades out. It's dead silent and even the air feels stale, as if we were in a deep underground cave.
"You can open your eyes now."
I am in a park that looks rather gloomy. All the lights in the neighborhood seem to be turned off. There's a smiling boy standing next to me but otherwise the place looks empty.
"As I said, there is no need to worry. It might be helpful if you think of this as a dream that will vanish before dawn."
I'm not worried. This is just some trick. Who are you, anyway?
"And now, would you turn around?"
I turn around. Now I am worried! What in heavens' name is that thing?
"There's no point in giving any extensive explanations. This is something that happens when things don't go the way Suzumiya-san wants. However, I must admit that this is different from the usual fare. This is the second successive night when the celestials just stand there motionless instead of wreaking havoc. It is as if they felt depressed, or possibly guilty."
"I will now have to leave you alone for a short while. Just stay here and enjoy the show while it lasts, and I will be back as soon as possible. Remember, this is just a dream."
The air around the smiling boy whose name I don't seem to remember starts to glow deep crimson and in front of my stupefied gaze he vanishes into an opaque ball of red light that rises from the ground before zooming at high speed to the giant blue ghost thing looming in the distance. This play has just officially broken the limits of comprehensibility and proceeds at warp speed towards constellation Absurdus!
I give up even trying to understand anything and just watch as several glowing red lights swarm around the blue giant like angry bees. Suddenly, the giant breaks into several pieces and disintegrates in front of my eyes. For a moment absolutely nothing moves, then in a kind of a silent implosion the entire world shatters. I blink. The world is filled with the noises of a nightly city.
I am standing in a small park. I don't recognize the neighborhood. It's either late evening or early morning but the place looks deserted. What did I just see? The recent past feels extremely confusing.
I turn around. There is a smiling boy looking at me as if expecting something. Do we know each other?
"As a matter of fact we do, at least most of the time. Please read the notepad that you have around your neck."
Which notepad? Oh right, why am I carrying this thing?
The boy continues in an apologetic tone.
"To be honest I was secretly hoping that this experience would refresh your memories but you are clearly too intrepid to be swayed by my cheap dog and pony show. Too bad, there doesn't seem to be anything that I can do about it!"
The boy shrugs and flashes me his most charming smile. I don't understand what's in it to be so happy about.
. . .
I am playing a video game. Just as I am about to finish a particularly challenging level, somebody kicks a door open. My concentration is gone and with that my game character meets his gruesome fate. Oh boy!
"You-hou! Sorry for being late!"
An altogether too cheerful girl enters the room. Couldn't you have waited for a few more seconds or at least given a warning before barging in like a SWAT team? I just lost a game because of you.
"Kyon-kun! You have been playing that level for three hours already and died every time when you try to get past the big turtle. It's not funny any more."
I turn around and see another, younger girl sitting on a bed with a calico cat. Who are these girls and what is this, a conspiracy? I know that the level is challenging but I don't remember playing it for hours.
"Just listen to her! I can't understand how you of all people can have such a bright and sensible little sister. She will surely grow up to become a respectable member of the society unlike some other people that I happen to know!"
This looks like a conspiracy all right, I am being tag teamed by these two girls. Anyway, I have a sister? When did that happen?
Which notepad is the little girl talking about. I follow her gaze and notice a notepad hanging from a chord around my neck. What is this?
Huh ... is this some kind of a lame joke?
The girl with a yellow headband is Suzumiya-san. She is not your girlfriend.
Then, further down ...
The little girl is your sister. Be extra nice to her.
Feed the cat.
I get a distinct impression that the 'extra nice' part is written by somebody much younger than the author of the rest of the list. As I look up, the girl who according to the notepad should be Suzumiya-san continues like a homeschool teacher.
"It's time to dust off those cobwebs of your mind. The weather is good so grab your jacket and let's go!"
Let's go where? I don't particularly feel like going out right now. Anyway, if I am being asked out by a girl, she could at least have the decency to be my girlfriend.
"What is this? Would you rather stay inside playing some stupid video game than obey your brigade commander when she gives you a direct order? Let me tell you what, you have exactly ten seconds to get that lazy butt of yours out of this room or there will be stiff penalties!"
I don't remember enlisting to the army. Anyway, this Suzumiya-san doesn't look like somebody whose orders can be simply ignored so I decide to play along for now. Good grief!
. . .
I am sitting in a cafe, drinking mint tea. I have the odd feeling that just a moment ago I was pondering some thorny problem but right now I can't remember what it is. When I look up I'm surprised to see that I am not alone. There is a girl sitting at the same table, staring me with an annoyed look on her face. What is this? I don't know who she is and when she arrived here.
Could this be a blind date and I just forgot her name? Is that what I was trying to remember? Oh boy, looks like I am in a trouble no matter what I do so I can just as well admit it and ask her. I open my mouth but before I can say a word, the girl answers like she already knew what I was going to say.
"No, this is not a date!"
Is she some kind of a psychic?
"I can't understand where you got that obsession but it is annoying for sure. I am here to help you but it doesn't mean that you should start indulging your silly fantasies. Don't try to deny it, I can see it from your face."
Then my face must know something that I don't. I don't think that being chided by what appears to be a high school girl, no matter how pretty, is the kind of fantasy material I would prefer to indulge.
"In any case, since I outrank you, it is me who does the questioning and if you can't answer properly there will be penalties. Do you understand?"
The girl points at me with a straw that she picked from her soft drink. No, I don't understand any of this but given her current mood admitting that might be written off as a suicide, so I just play along and nod.
"First question! What is the name of your brigade?"
Huh? What kind of a question is that? I don't recall ever being in the army.
"Wrong! You are a member of the SOS Brigade and you are bringing dishonor to the entire brigade by forgetting that fact!"
I am quite sure that I would remember if I ever had been a member of some brigade.
"What do the letters S, O and S in the name of the brigade stand for?"
Wait, I know this one! What was it again ... save ... our ... souls?
"Wrong! They stand for the Save the world by Overloading it with fun Suzumiya Haruhi's Brigade!"
That doesn't even make any sense!
"What is the purpose of the SOS Brigade?"
Didn't you just say it? Something about saving the world?
"Wrong! The purpose of the SOS Brigade is to find aliens, time travelers and espers, and have fun with them! You are hopeless!"
Ok, I finally get it. This must be some sort of candid camera show but I can't see the camera team anywhere. I am starting to feel annoyed.
"Last question! Who am I?"
I am just about to answer that I have never seen this crazy governess before but as I look back at her the words die in my mouth. I thought that she was angry but the indescribable expression on her face is something completely different.
I am suddenly overwhelmed by a terrible sensation that I am standing on the brink of abyss and one wrong word will send me hurling to the depths of despair. What is so special about this girl that the question feels like a matter of life and death? What have I missed? I try to think about what she just said but the words slip away from my grasp. My mind is completely empty and she keeps staring at me with those large, dark eyes.
I can't think of anything. I'm afraid to even breathe.
I don't know how long we stare each other over the table. Finally, she seems to give up waiting for an answer and breaks the eye contact with a loud sigh. The rift under my feet mercifully closes. I realize that I am sweating. What was it that just happened?
The girl hastily finishes her soft drink and stands up, thrusting her hand in front of my face. She's holding a receipt.
"Penalty! You pay!"
. . .
I am paying my bill in a cafe. The total sum is surprisingly high and I take a second look at the receipt. Did I really order all this? I am about to ask the waiter but I am interrupted by somebody.
"Just pay it already and follow me!"
There is a girl standing next to me. Where did she pop up from? Does she mistake me for somebody else since at least I have never seen her before? I put the money on the counter and the girl grabs my arm, pulling me out of the cafe. Whoa! Who are you, my girlfriend?
"No, I'm your sister. You couldn't get a girlfriend if your life depended on it!"
Hey, isn't that a bit harsh? Anyway, since when do I have a sister?
"Of course I am not your sister! You shouldn't believe everything that people say."
You are or you aren't, could you decide already? But if you aren't my sister, then does that mean that you are my girlfriend? I feel confused.
The girl ignores me and takes a look around the square, as if looking for some cue before raising her hand.
That way what?
"We are going for a walk and I won't hold your hand through the whole city so start marching!"
I don't seem to have much of a choice, do I?
. . .
I am walking through a park for some reason that I don't seem to recall right now. However, I'm not too worried about my temporary lapse of mind since the atmosphere looks very peaceful and soothing. It doesn't feel like I'm in a hurry, anyway.
The weather is brisk and falling leaves create little whirlpools on the walkway. Pale sunlight sparkles on the surface of the river that flows gently alongside the path. It's a perfectly fine autumn day for a walk in a park but there is just one curious detail that draws my attention.
A girl is walking by my side. I take a quick glance sideways. She doesn't look familiar but she is definitely walking with me instead of being just a random bypasser. Coincidentally, she also looks quite beautiful and has a determined but somewhat distressed expression on her face. Am I having a blind date or something?
"Don't be silly!"
I'm sorry. This is embarrassing but I feel somewhat disoriented.
"Just read the notepad. I'm tired of explaining it over and over again."
Which notepad? Oh, I see. There is an address and a name that I don't recognize, then ...
What? This is shocking! How long has this been going on?
"This is the fourth day. It's Sunday, by the way."
I can't remember any of it. In fact I don't seem to remember anything else, either. Beyond this sunny walkway in a park, everything fades into an impenetrable fog.
I read the notepad again. Most of it doesn't make any sense.
Suzumiya-san? I thank you for looking after me but there is one thing that I don't understand. Why would the only thing worth writing down be that you are not my girlfriend? Do I really make that mistake all the time?
She stops and I feel compelled to do the same. Suddenly it's very quiet around us. She examines my face closely for a while, as if looking for some sign. I'm held captive by those large, dark eyes until she finally turns her head away from me and says something unexpected.
"Would it make any difference?"
Huh? The annoyed tone in her voice is gone and she sounds completely serious, even shy. Anyway, what do you mean by that it wouldn't make any difference? I'd think that there's a rather big difference in whether a boy and a girl are dating or not.
"We already see each other almost daily and do all kinds of interesting things together. Wouldn't it be the same way if we were going out?"
I admit that this certainly looks a lot like a date.
"I may not have said this before but I am really glad that we know each other. I've thought that it should be self-evident but you can be so thickheaded sometimes."
That is supposed to be a compliment?
"And most of the time you don't look too happy to see me. You have been complaining less these last days but on the whole it doesn't appear to be a big improvement."
Is there a particular reason for why I am complaining, then?
"But the thing is ... the thing is that I have finally found some good friends and I am having fun for the first time in my life. I am worried that if I started to go out with somebody then my friends would feel excluded, even betrayed. It just wouldn't feel the same."
I see. I suddenly realize that girls can be surprisingly mature when it comes to relationships. Maybe it's all the romantic fiction that they read that gives them an edge over boys of the same age. For a second I wonder whether this is something I should write down before I forget. Well, that would really ruin the mood so I let it pass.
"There is only a bit over two years of senior high left and still so many things to be done. I want to experience all of it to the fullest so that I won't have any regrets once it's over. And after that ... I believe that after that I will find it quite agreeable to be somebody's girlfriend. Yes, it will certainly be possible."
Without warning, she turns around and hits me with a megawatt smile that could melt entire glaciers.
"So don't you dare to find anybody else in the meanwhile!"
I'm speechless. So that's how it is. For some reason I feel like a total idiot.
. . .
I'm watching the mesmerizing twinkle of sunlight shining through the foliage of cherry trees in a park. It's autumn and the leaves are falling down and dancing in the chilly breeze. I don't know the exact reason but somehow the scene seems to reflect the internal landscape of my mind. It is as if the leaves were memories torn away from their proper place and blown around like confetti before disappearing in the mist.
An old and worn out movie in a projector going haywire, the image becoming jittery before breaking into disjointed frames.
A sudden feeling of loss comes over me but I can't tell what caused it. Did I just forget something important? I try to remember but come up empty and that makes me melancholic.
I feel lonely but I don't seem to be alone. There's a girl standing by my side, though she doesn't look familiar to me. Did she just arrive or has she been standing there for a while already? I can't tell.
When she notices that I'm watching her, she quickly turns her back to me but doesn't walk away. What is this? Do we know each other or not? For a moment neither of us moves. Then, without looking back she speaks to me in a dejected tone.
"I'll take you home. Just follow me and don't ask anything."
Huh? Did I do something wrong?
. . .
I am sitting on a bed in a room that is most likely mine, reading this cursed notepad. There is a girl sitting on a chair by the table. According to the notepad she should be Suzumiya-san who is not my girlfriend. What a stupid thing to write down!
Suzumiya-san is drawing doodles on a paper in an absent-minded fashion, looking rather depressed and unwilling to talk about anything. I can imagine how frustrating it must be to talk with somebody who forgets everything right after it has been said. There really isn't any point to it, is there?
The door opens and a younger girl walks in. I check the notepad. Right, this should be my little sister.
"I was told to ask if you want to eat dinner with us."
"I must go home for the dinner but Yuki will be here in an hour and she might want to."
The little girl turns her attention to me. It's odd to think that I have a sister but I can't remember her if she's not in front of me at the moment.
"Are you feeling any better, Kyon-kun?"
No, I don't think that I am. My sister keeps looking at me as if thinking very hard.
"Say, Kyon-kun, you lost your memory when you hit your head, is that right?"
I hit my head, when? Suzumiya-san answers on my behalf.
"Yes, that's right."
"Do you think that hitting your head again could bring it back?"
I don't know whether that is logical or not but I guess that there isn't any harm in trying. Well, at least any bigger harm than what there already is.
The older girl rummages through a closet and finds a baseball bat. What was her name again? Right. Suzumiya-san wraps a towel around the bat and examines it critically.
"Are you absolutely sure that you are ok with this?"
Go ahead, I give you my permission.
"It's really difficult to know how hard to hit. I don't want to knock you unconscious or worse."
She swings the bat in the air a couple of times, then aims at the back of my head.
"Was that hard enough?"
Nope, do it again.
Ouch! For a moment I can't see anything but twinkling stars.
"Can you remember anything now?"
No, I can't, except that I have a headache!
The little girl who is watching us with her eyes wide open looks intimidated.
"Um ... I ... I will just go and tell that you won't be here for the dinner."
She leaves the room and as her steps fade away a heavy atmosphere of melancholy fills the room. Suzumiya-san drops the bat and and sits down, watching me with a sullen expression on her face. Mine isn't probably any happier.
What's with that look?
"I wonder if you have really been that unhappy with your life."
What do you mean?
"I was thinking that perhaps it's some subliminal thing, that even if you can't remember it right now you might actually prefer not knowing anything and instead just live in carefree ignorance. Knowing you, I wouldn't be too surprised if it was something like that."
Might be. I can't know what I don't know.
I read the useless notepad again. It doesn't give me any answers worth knowing. My attention is drawn to the last line of handwritten text at the end of the list.
Don't bother writing down anything else, you'll just forget what you were looking for.
Are these few pages all that is left of my life? This is a rather sad state of affairs if I may say it myself.
"Can I see the notepad?"
I take the notepad off and give it to Suzumiya-san. Curiously enough, it feels awkward as if I was stripping myself naked. You better give it back after you've read it.
Suzumiya-san reads through the list, then suddenly turns her back to me. What is that reaction? There's nothing interesting in that list. Most of it doesn't even make any sense.
I keep watching the back of this girl who is sitting in my room. Even if she is not my girlfriend, she is still here. Doesn't that mean that she cares about me? Even if she is not my girlfriend I feel strongly that I want to remember her, and I can do that as long as I don't turn my eyes away so I just keep watching.
She finally turns around and looks at me. Her eyes glimmer as if she had just cried. Why would that happen?
She keeps looking at me with those dark eyes. I can't read the complex expression on her face.
After a while she seems to make some decision and takes off her headband. Wait, how am I going to recognize you without it?
"You know, Kyon, I once had this odd dream."
She gathers her hair and ties it into a ponytail. I don't know why she would do that but I must admit that she looks even prettier now.
"I had been having a hard time and was really unhappy with my life but that dream made me realize something important."
She sits down next to me and puts her hand on my shoulder. What is this?
"Yes, I could say that ever since my life has been much more interesting."
What is it that you are about to do?
Are you sure that you're not my girlfriend?
. . .
It was the middle of November, Thursday to be exact. My life had been slightly more peaceful after the Culture Festival and all the related trouble but that would prove to be just a deceptive moment of calm before the next storm hit, and as usual it arrived in the form of the girl who was sitting behind me in the class.
Haruhi had been in her best mood the whole day. I could see that she was positively beaming at full power, and it managed to lull me into a false sense of security when it should have done the exact opposite. My bad. Let me say it right here: I take full responsibility for what happened afterwards. I really should have known better but what has happened stays happened. When I realized what was going on it was already too late.
That moment of reckoning came during the last lesson of the day, when Haruhi apparently couldn't contain her curiosity any more. I felt a mechanical pencil poking my back.
"Say, Kyon, did you find any good ones?"
The sinking feeling in my stomach was so intense that I felt sick. With those words a particular episode from last Monday started to play on my mind's screen.
. . .
"I can't believe that we missed it!"
This angry wail came from nobody else than the self-nominated and utterly peerless leader of the SOS Brigade, Haruhi Suzumiya, whose outlandish ideas had been the bane of my peaceful existence as an ordinary high school student since the last spring. The reason for that happened to be that reality had an uncanny, one could even say supernatural, tendency to bend to her will. That in itself wouldn't necessarily have been so bad if it hadn't been just this particularly troublesome girl.
She had been fiddling with the club room computer and undoubtedly managed to find something weird which had then promptly mutated into something even weirder in her intractable mind. I had no idea what it could be but I was afraid that I very soon would. Unfortunately, I was right as usual.
"Um ... what did we miss? Is it something serious?"
This was asked by the official SOS Brigade mascot Mikuru Asahina whose exquisitely brewed tea I was enjoying at the very moment. She stood there in her maid costume holding a tray against her bosom, her head cocked to the side and looking so genuinely worried that any normal boy would have felt an irresistible urge to consolate her right there and then. That she was also a time traveler from the future was only known by a select few and in any case that particular piece of information didn't have anything to do with the events that were unfolding.
"Halloween! We missed Halloween!"
Wasn't it at the end of October? We were shooting the movie for the Culture Festival back then so we couldn't have celebrated yet another event even if we had wanted to.
"There is always time for things that you find important. Anyway, I refuse to let this opportunity pass. It doesn't matter if it's a bit late as long as proper traditions are observed so we will have our own Halloween event this week!"
Do you mean that we should wear silly costumes and go from door to door asking for candy?
"Of course not, that would be stupid. We will have a special Halloween party right here at SOS headquarters."
"That is an excellent idea!"
Oh no, don't encourage her! The boy sitting on the opposite side of the table and smiling like Haruhi's ideas were the best thing since sliced bread was Itsuki Koizumi, the official mysterious transfer student and Brigade Vice Commander who was also secretly an esper assigned by his organisation to keep an eye on Haruhi's antics but I would like to point out that this didn't have anything to do with the story either.
"Of course it is since it's mine! Let's see, we will need a couple of days for preparations ... are you all free on Thursday? Mikuru-chan? Koizumi-kun? Yuki?"
The last person mentioned was a quiet and impassive girl reading a hardcover book in some foreign language. Yuki Nagato was actually the sole member of the literature club whose club room Haruhi had usurped after founding the SOS Brigade. That she was also an alien interface sent by some universal data entity to observe Haruhi was again completely irrelevant to this whole episode.
"I don't even ask you Kyon since I know that you never have anything better to do."
And that Kyon would be me, the only completely normal person in the room. If you wonder what I was doing in the middle of aliens, time travelers, espers and reality altering girls then I'll readily share the feeling of bafflement with you. For reasons only known by herself, Haruhi had chosen me and that was it!
"So it's decided then, we will have the event on next Thursday. Since there's so much to do we should assign the duties properly. Mikuru-chan, you can help me with the catering!"
"Koizumi-kun, can you take care of the decorations?"
"Should they be specifically themed according to the American Halloween tradition or will any similar items do?"
"You are right, we can't discriminate against any monsters based on their country of origin. Ten points to you! Instead of Halloween this will be the Great Yokai Party of the SOS Brigade!"
Hey, you changed the script already!
"You must learn to be more flexible, Kyon. The change is good because this way we can fit in our own obakemono and the like. Koizumi-kun, feel free to bring anything from other countries as well, like those Mexican day of the dead skeletons, what were they called again?"
"Exactly! Yuki, since you like reading you could find the best ghost stories for us, but only the scariest and most extraordinary will do! Bonus points for finding anything that has happened in our neighborhood!"
Hearing this, Nagato just nodded. Since she was an alien, I wondered how her criteria for scary and extraordinary would match those of the rest of us. Anyway, this seemed to leave me without responsibilities. Was I getting a free ride?
"Of course not, I reserved an absolutely essential task just for you. I would love to do it myself but I will be too busy preparing the snacks so you must provide us with the costumes!"
. . .
After the movie in my mind's eye had run its course I quickly reviewed what had happened after that. I had actually gone to a costume shop on Tuesday and bought materials for three sets but I hadn't been able to choose the last two right there and then, and decided to leave it for a later time. Unfortunately that later time never came since I managed to forget the whole thing! The materials were still in a bag under my bed but even going home to fetch them wouldn't save me now since I was still two costumes short of a full party and couldn't think of any way out of this situation.
As Koizumi had explained after the meeting, Haruhi had deliberately given the task to me because she wanted to see which kinds of costumes I would choose for each member of the brigade, and that she trusted implicitly that I would be able to handle it. I knew from previous experiences that failing to meet her expectations would spell trouble of cosmic proportions.
The mechanical pencil kept poking my ribs. How was I supposed to find a solution if she distracted me like that?
The bell rang, indicating that my time was up. I didn't even get a last wish!
Haruhi must have sensed that something was wrong. She grabbed my collar and pulled.
I felt sullen and didn't yield. Another bad move. Once again I had underestimated the stupid strength of that girl and fell backward with my chair, hitting the back of my head to the corner of her desk. There must have been a sound to it but I couldn't hear any.
. . .
My head hurt. I felt dizzy and irritated.
Haruhi! Why can't you just ask like normal people!
I opened my eyes and was hit by an overwhelming sense of confusion.
I was in the classroom with Haruhi. No, that wasn't it.
I was in the closed space with Haruhi. No, that was't it either.
I was in my own room with Haruhi, her hand still grabbing my collar. My expression of bewilderment was reflected on her face. She seemed to be just as stunned as I was, and that in itself was something extraordinary. Neither of us spoke for a moment.
Uh, why are we in my room?
"Say it again!"
"Say my name!"
What's wrong with you, Haruhi? Are you so fond of hearing your own name?
"That's right, you better not forget it or there will be consequences!"
She took something from the table and danced triumphantly out of the room, humming 'Stairway to Heaven'. At the door she turned back and pointed her finger at me like a gun.
"The party will be held tomorrow after school hours, so don't you dare to forget it either! I won't go so easy on you the next time!"
And then she was gone. I was left alone in my bafflement. What was it that had happened and why had Haruhi tied her hair into a ponytail? The back of my head was still hurting from the hit but for some inexplicable reason it also felt like I had gotten smacked on the face as well. Anyway, the saving grace in the situation seemed to be that the party had been moved to Friday.
Or, at least that was what I thought until I noticed that it was Sunday evening already. Huh? Three whole days had just disappeared in the blink of an eye! Was this some time traveling trick again?
And what did the mysterious sign on my door mean? Which notepad? If this particular story had any plot at all, then there was big enough a hole right in the middle of it for a jumbojet to fly through!
. . .
It was Monday morning and I was walking uphill on my way to school. Somehow it felt quite unfair that I had missed almost the entire weekend. I should at least be given a rebate or something. I was just pondering the mysterious black hole in my recent past when somebody called me by name.
It was Taniguchi catching up from behind. He seemed to be positively surprised to see me.
"So, you are back on your feet? You really scared the whole class senseless last week."
"You certainly did. I would never have thought that there can be so much blood coming from a small head wound. All the girls were screaming like crazy, you should have seen that! It was better than in the movies."
I don't have absolutely any recollection of it.
"Well, no wonder, considering your situation. I have always said that Suzumiya is bad news, maybe you can now see the wisdom in my words? Me and Kunikida were on the duty and had to clean up the blood afterwards so I'd say that you owe us one."
Taniguchi kept jabbering but I failed to pay attention to his words of wisdom as I tried to fit this latest piece of information to the puzzle. I touched the back of my head gingerly and noticed that there was still a sore spot left. Oh well, it was kind of my own fault, wasn't it? Anyway, I didn't forget this time. My thoughts wandered to the things that I was carrying in my school bag.
I had called Nagato yesterday evening and she agreed to bring the same witch costume that she had used before. She could as well have brought her yukata as a costume for the yuki-onna but I was actually glad that I didn't have to suggest it. I don't know what she would have thought about it. Anyway, that was one costume less to worry about.
I took the path of least resistance myself. Ladies and gentlemen, this old bed sheet with two holes for eyes now presents you the ghost of Kyon, take it or leave. Considering that it was late Sunday evening already, that was about the best I could do.
As for the things that I had bought from the costume shop, I must admit that I was actually quite eager to see how they would be received.
A pair of false teeth and some rice powder would bring us count Koizumi the vampire. I was willing to bet that his trademark smile would be more eye-catching than ever!
The kemonomimi set had been a real treasure to find. With her long maroon hair Asahina-san would become the perfect foxgirl! So cute, just thinking of that made me flustered already!
Then, I had something special just for our formidable brigade leader. It was entirely possible that I would sorely regret this later on but I just couldn't resist buying Haruhi a hideous oni mask with fangs and horns. A loincloth would be optional but I was going to present the mask along with that old baseball bat from the club room as a kanabo. Then even she would have to admit that the image was fitting!
On a second thought, when finding out about it she just might make a face even more hideous than the mask. And if she absolutely refused to wear it, then she could come dressed as herself! Just think about it, here we had a girl who could kick you all the way to the next Sunday if she was not happy with you. If that is not scary then I don't know what is!
End of The Deconstruction of Haruhi Suzumiya
Thank you for reading this story, I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did while writing it.
My main motivation in writing this piece of fan fiction was to see whether I can write a concise, self-contained story in the same style as the light novels the story is based on. Thus, it could be categorized as an original flavor extension that happens shortly after the culture festival and doesn't directly conflict with the canon. As my first ever piece of fan fiction, it is certainly not perfect, but I hope to get better in the future!
Concerning the themes in the story, I've felt strongly that Haruhi, and to a degree all the other members of the SOS Brigade, are held as epiphanic prisoners by their self-made masks and wanted to write a piece of fiction where the masks come off. However, that posed an immediate problem if I was to follow the original conventions since Haruhi wouldn't take off her mask in front of Kyon (at least for long enough), and without Kyon there isn't narration. Therefore I had to knock Kyon out for a while. Too bad for him but he could still give his trademark snarky comments on the story, so no hard feelings, okay?
Anterograde amnesia is a rare but real mental disorder and its symptoms are largely consistent with what Kyon was experiencing.
I wrote this story before seeing the Halloween episode of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya, and chose Halloween as the background theme because it was missing from the main series and had a direct synergy with the symbolic part of the story. The story is deliberately written so that there are three alternative interpretations (physiological, psychological and supernatural) for the chain of events and the reasons for what happened. Pick the one you like most.
I couldn't make up my mind on which pieces of gratuitous Japanese should be explained and which could be taken as well known (the range was from the obvious sushi to the obscure oni-ni-kanabo) so I've listed all of them below.
Special thanks go to the members of www haruhisuzumiya net who encouraged me to finish the story.
shoujo (Romantic stories written predominantly) for girls
hachimaki Japanese headband, usually an expression of determination
uwabaki Japanese indoors slippers used at school
shogi Japanese chess
tatami Japanese hard mat made of rice straw
futon Traditional Japanese bedding consisting of a mattress and quilts
sake Japanese rice based alcoholic beverage
sushi Traditional Japanese food made of vinegared rice and various other ingredients, usually seafood
wasabi Spicy paste made of Japanese horseradish
yokai haunt, apparition
obakemono shapeshifting monster
yukata A casual Japanese summer garment, a type of kimono
yuki-onna Literally snow woman, a female ghost of the Japanese folklore, luring unwary travelers to a frigid death during wintertime
kemonomimi Literally animal ears
kanabo The Japanese idiom oni-ni-kanabo, demon with a club means to be strong beyond strong, i.e., invincible