Examining Kyon’s legs

In anime, one of the key questions we should always ask ourselves when viewing adapted works is: does this anime adaptation add value to the experience?

This question brings with itself a whole subset of questions. What can we do with anime? How far can we stray from the original? Can we add in various details, should we leave some out? Is it truly for the better?

I have a vague memory of some CEO or what have you not proclaiming that anime serves as advertisement for the manga it adapts. He is right, a lot of times. It’s difficult for a straightforward adaptation to trump the manga. Why would I watch the advertisement when I can read the original?

It is not quite the same with light novels, for obvious reasons. The advertising prospect comes naturally, but anime is given a chance to shine here. As we all know, the amount of adaptations of light novels have increased over the years. Some very recent ones that spring to mind are Index, Katanagatari, OreImo. These three adaptations display varying ways of portraying a light novel.

The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi is a straightforward adaptation but adds more to the experience. At key moments in the story will the directorial staff indulge in their own creative touches. What struck to me as the more powerful but subtle motive is Kyon’s legs.

Heavy spoilers to commence…

Kyon’s legs are fundamental

There are a few moments where we literally zoom in on the foundation of our main character. At the beginning, when he walks towards the clubroom. During his downfall, when he fails to find class 1-9. During his uplift, when he finds Haruhi. And once again at the ending, when he walks towards the clubroom. There are several more examples but these are probably the important ones. In any case, they all fall synonym to Kyon’s state of mind. None of this emphasis can be found in the novels…

…although they do tell you just how masochistic Kyon really is…

…and they do play a little bit with who’s wearing the pants and who’s wearing the shorts.

Replacing your foundation

The penultimate climax where Kyon’s mirror image aptly restrains his other self with just his feet, hands tucked away. This mirror-Kyon is rather cynical but he’s laughing at the end.

There’s a passage in Haruhi where Koizumi states that Haruhi has an unexpectedly normal mind. What he means is that she believes still in the law of gravity or the sunrise and set, the things we take for granted, which is why both of these keep occurring (don’t cite me on this, I lost the passage).

Kyon is throwing away his mundaneness and chooses for abnormality. He wants to believe in Santa Claus and chooses to do so. He defeats the constrain of his common sense, throws it off his feet and stands magnificently on his own. He comes to term with his own beliefs.

Pray to your god…

…on bare feet.

7 thoughts on “Examining Kyon’s legs

  1. This is quite possibly the most bizarre post I’ve seen in months but I have to say that you have a point. One of the beauties of the film medium is how directors can use the most subtle, everyday motifs to tell entire tales one level beneath the plot and unconsciously affect our viewing experience. It’s the kind of thing that you only see when your prof points it out in class. The most amazing thing about these motives is that they don’t have to be upfront like symbols in SHAFT shows; they can hide in the background and do their job without anyone realizing it.

    Bravo for finding this.

    • I think that accounts for everything pertaining to art. At first, I thought that adding those subtle elements reinforced that literary feeling. But it can be applied to everything from literature to film to music. That is why this movie is great, it’s more than a churned out production for the sake of creating money. It’s art.

      • This post didn’t really surprise me actually. It’s a good thing you’ve noticed. But what I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t surprise me, because KyoAni has always been a studio that doesn’t solely adapt a medium into animation.

        They always added their own thing into an animation, without disrespecting its original content. I personally think the anime of K-on is even superiour to the manga. They did not invent anything or spoilt the manga with their own interpretation.

        The relationship between the club members (eg. Azusa and Yui) were always present in the manga, but not as well-executed as in the anime. I really need to praise them for that.

        • It doesn’t surprise me, but the execution sometimes leaves me doubting. Personally speaking, it works in Air TV, fails in Kanon and fails in Clannad. I’d like to say it works in both of their FMP iterations but after having read the manga I’m doubting that KyoAni added anything of value, other than stellar animation and perfect pacing. But I’d be asking for too much, really.

          This is actually the second time I’ve spotted visual metaphors in a KyoAni work. The first time was Endless Eight. I already love Endless Eight and now it’s pretty clear that it was a practice run for this movie. I’m hoping it’s something they’ll implement in their future works.

          (there might’ve been some in Kanon but I block Kanon out of my head)

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