On the official American Haruhi Suzumiya website, there is a hidden link where you can actually vote on four different English renditions of Mikuru. (The original Japanese audio is included for comparison.) The scene being played, of course, is one of the many “costume assault/rape” scenes where Haruhi forces Mikuru into various otaku fetish getups. The scenes, of course, are played for laughs in the show, and this is clear in the original Japanese audio through the music more than anything else.
It apparently hid it well enough that it only hit me now, as I listened to these musicless auditions in a language I understand, just how…actually disturbing the words and the scene actually can be. It’s not called “costume rape” for nothing, it seems. Take away the music and the comedic patina and that’s what the audition sounds like, the prelude to an assault, as filtered through porn. It was actually painful to listen to, which is both a compliment to the voice actresses and a question to raise at the writers of the show and what kind of subtext was going through their heads. (And it’s not just because I have a dirty mind! 🙂 I really do think, stripped of its comedy context, a lot of people would hear the same thing.)
Come to think of it, Kyon in one particularly nasty harassment, wonders out loud “this is supposed to be a comedy?” while acknowledging how turned on he is at the same time. I suppose this is their way of tipping their hat at this dilemma, though without really resolving it (or perhaps coming down on the comedy side, what with lines like “If I become ruined for marriage, will you still take me?”, which is simultaneously appalling and hilarious.) Yet more evidence that however charming a character in an anime, Haruhi may not be the greatest person to have around in real life–she behaves, for one thing, an awful lot like real cult leaders do, dragging poor hapless saps into her schemes for causes only understood to her. 🙂