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Tanigawa Nagaru

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1970-    ) Japanese author largely in the Light Novel (chapbook) format, whose works bridge the ever-closing gap between fans of literary sf, Manga and Anime in Japanese culture. A graduate in Law from Kwansei Gakuin University, he first published sf with Dengeki Aegis 5 ["Shock! Aegis 5"] (March 2003 Dengeki Moeō; fixup 2004), a light-hearted pastiche of the kind of television shows in which rubber Monsters are kept at bay by teams of super-powered teenagers (see Shōtarō Ishinomori). Like his subsequent school-for-psychics serial Gakkō o Deyō ["Escape from the School"], it foreshadowed later works in using a genre-based excuse for storytelling and situations that effectively packaged Magic Realism for a Young Adult audience.

Tanigawa's most lauded creation is the Haruhi Suzumiya series, whose titular protagonist sets up a genre-influenced school club, hoping to attract creatures from other times, planets or Dimensions. The club is later revealed to comprise, almost exclusively, the aforesaid creatures, who have converged undercover on our world in order to police the actions of Suzumiya herself, who has somehow gained godlike powers that make her imagination real, and hence poses a risk to the fabric of the universe unless her expectations are carefully managed in a discreet and tense Godgame. A postmodern allegory of both authorial ambition and youthful aspiration, the series is the quintessence of the fan-centred otaku culture of the early twenty-first century, and its heroine an idealized sf fan, but also an unattainable love object and a quasi-divine Muse (see Women in SF). In positing an environment where science fiction fans can and do change the world, it mounts an apologia for Fandom akin to that in the earlier Otaku no Video (1991) (see Gainax; Recursive SF). However, it also offers the tantalizing prospect that all is delusion in the style of similar genre experiments by Yukio Mishima.

In its Television anime incarnation, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu (2006 Japan; trans as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 2007), the story was shown out of chronological order (see Postmodernism and SF), being viewable as either a linear narrative or a cut-up character study. Such experimentations reached a controversial breaking point with the "Endless Eight" sequence in the second season (2009), which repeated some, but mercifully not all, of the 15,532 iterations of a Time Loop. Clinging to a summery idyll in the manner of similar recursions in Toki o Kakeru Shōjo, the "Endless Eight" sequence trapped viewers of the television show in a recycled narrative for eight consecutive weeks, with minor changes in setting, costume and dialogue presented as clues to the resolution of the mystery. The subsequent animated feature film, Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoshitsu (2010; trans as The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya 2010) is a further experiment, removing Haruhi entirely from the timeline: a what-if exercise in Alternate History seemingly inspired by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), but with echoes back to Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (1843). [JonC]

Nagaru Tanigawa

born Nishinomiya, Japan: 19 December 1970



Gakkō o Deyō

Haruhi Suzumiya

individual titles

  • Dengeki Aegis 5 ["Shock! Aegis 5"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2004) [fixup: in two volumes: pb/]
  • Zetsubōkei Tojirareta Sekai ["The Despairing Ones: Closed World"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2005) [pb/]
  • Boku no Sekai o Mamoru Hito ["Guardian of My World"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2005) [in three volumes: pb/]
  • Kagerō Meikyū ["Amnesia Labyrinth"] (Tokyo: Ascii Mediaworks, 2009) [graph: art by Natsumi Kohane: pb/Natsumi Kohane]
    • Amnesia Labyrinth (Los Angeles, California: Seven Seas, 2011) [graph: trans of the above: pb/Natsumi Kohane]


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