Anime Philosophy: The Cynicism of Haruhi Suzumiya

Updated on May 27, 2018
Bubblegum Senpai profile image

Nigel, AKA Bubblegum Senpai was voted most likely to die due to accident involving a cuddle pillow. Haruhi Suzumiya for Life.

An image of the ever cynical narrator of our story.
An image of the ever cynical narrator of our story. | Source

I know I've already done an Anime Philosophy on The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya before. However, I wanted to go a little bit deeper into philosophy, and this does indeed give me the opportunity to do so.

The stories in the Haruhi series - eleven in total - are narrated by a young student, who seems to have forgotten his real name after spending too much time going by his nickname bestowed upon him by his aunt: Kyon.

“… she went, ‘Oh Kyon. You’ve grown so big,’ which was an unwelcome twist on my name”

Kyon is actually not a Japanese name, but a Greek one, literally meaning 'dog.' it is also the root for the word kynikos - meaning 'doggish.' Kynikos is translated into contemporary English as a more familiar term: cynical, which in it's modern context, aptly describes our much beloved narrator.

"Diogenes Looking for an Honest Man" by JHW Tischbein
"Diogenes Looking for an Honest Man" by JHW Tischbein

Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes of Sinope was a philosopher of Athens and Corinth. Having been exiled from his hometown of Sinope, he held no citizenship and instead referred to himself as a "Cosmopolitan" - a citizen of the world.

Most of what we know about Diogenes stems from anecdotes and stories from other ancient Greek historians. But most of them surround similar themes: a rejection of authority as expressed physically through dramatic actions. Much similar to the guerrilla theatre artists of today.

One anecdote has him stumbling through the crowded marketplace in Athens with a lamp in broad daylight claiming to be searching for "an honest man." Another holds that he held a brief conversation with Alexander the Great. Alexander, who was very fond of philosophy - having been tutored by Aristotle - was excited to meet Diogenes in Corinth. Alexander offered to use his authority to do one favor for Diogenes, to which Diogenes replied "Yes, you could stand out of my sunlight."

Diogenes, who was given the nickname "Diogenes the Dog" for his praise of a dog's virtue is often cited as the founder of cynical philosophy - a rejection of authority and values for the sake of authority and values. In Haruhi, while our "dog" Kyon does not necessarily reject Haruhi's authority outright, we do often see him trying to talk sense into our authoritarian heroine, keeping her authority from going to far. He also does this in action, as he protests Haruhi's treatment of Mikuru Asahina - the time travelling beauty - in the novel "The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya."

Diogenes, who seemed to be a physical embodiment of common sense, and Kyon, who is often the "straight man" trying to talk common sense into the others is also seemingly the only person who even question Haruhi's authority. In ancient Athens, the dictates of the Emperor were absolute. Likewise, in the S.O.S. Brigade Haruhi's edicts are absolute, and none of her subjects dare question her.

Conclusion: The Dog Succeeding the Dog?

Kyon is a very likely parallel for Diogenes, knowing Tanigawa's penchant for peppering his novels with lessons in science, philosophy, and metaphysics, and the points where these studies may collide. Even in the latest novel - not yet available in North America - one of the characters goes into great length to describe Gnosticism, a theme comparable to the actual storyline of the novel. It would not be surprising if the name Kyon is intentional on the part of the author, although, then again, I cannot actually say the message the author is trying to convey, I can only critique his work and give my own personal interpretation of it. Sometimes it's best to let the story speak for itself.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Bubblegum Senpai profile imageAUTHOR

      Nigel Kirk 

      8 years ago from Calgary, AB, CAN

      @SkipM Sorry about the late response, but I think you may be on to something... each character is very unique, and Tanigawa-senpai takes great pains to deliberately point out the qualities that divide and unite the cast. as for who they are speaking to, I imagine Kyon as a bit of a chorus, whereas they are speaking to Kyon, but Kyon then conveys this to us.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      also forgot to add: in relation to these ways of conveying reason, to whom are these characters speaking? kyon or the audience, maybe both?


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a little off topic as it is not about Kyon, but as a comparison of characters to Greek philosophies; i started to think about and compare the following:

      Nagato - Logos; by default, as the emotionless and (mostly) impartial girl who offers only the most of scientific facts.

      Asahina - Pathos; obviously, the emotionally (and physically) tormented girl who cries about everything.

      Koizumi - Ethos; also by default since i believe that Nagato would qualify better as Logos than Ethos and Koizumi seems to hold a very strict ethical standard in comparison to normal students. also, Nagato is a machine (for all practical purposes) and would seemingly be immune to ethical qualities rather than defined programming.

      i'd like to hear your thoughts on these ideas!



    • Bubblegum Senpai profile imageAUTHOR

      Nigel Kirk 

      8 years ago from Calgary, AB, CAN

      Yeah. It seems like a stretch, until you read some some of Koizumi's Monologues in the novels.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      relating Kyon's name to the word "cynical" blew my mind.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)