The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006) Review

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is based upon a series of light novels and manga created by Nagaru Tanigawa, and produced by Kyoto Animation and licensed in North America by Bandai Entertainment (for now).

The story is told from the perspective of our main character Kyon. We don’t know much about Kyon at the beginning of the show and what we do learn doesn’t make him out of the ordinary. However it’s the relationships that he builds in the story that make this anime interesting.

Kyon while trying to live a normal life of a Japanese high school student (oppressed and overworked) gets his life is turned upside down by the new girl in his class Haruhi Suzumiya. While he finds her attractive he doesn’t think much about her until she forces him to join her after school club: The SOS Brigade (At my high school we just joined the band and tried not to walk in on drug deals in the school bathroom). Along with the other members; Yuki Nagato a silent book worm (or is she?), Mikuru Asahina an attractive but she girl (or is she?) and Itsuku Koizumi the happy and scatterbrained transfer student (or is he?) the try to have adventures to stop Suzumiya from getting into trouble…or destroying the world.

While this plot may seem like the traditional Scooby-Doo clone, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya hides it’s true nature.

While Kyon thinks he’s just apart of a slightly energetic girls club, the three other members tell him she’s something completely different. The three, an alien robot from another plan of existence, a time traveler from the future and an esper tell Kyon that Suzumiya is a godlike creature, and that she is responsible for the three of them being in the same place. They also inform him that he is the key to keeping the world safe from Suzumiya.

The four have to try and keep her entertained so she doesn’t do something that could destroy the world that they live in. While this may sound like the beginning of an epic journey leading to a romantic ending, like so many other anime, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya goes in a different direction and moves in an episodic format with the group getting into different adventures from making a student film to playing baseball with college students to fighting giant crickets in a computer (yes this all happens in the span of a 14 episode series, I’m not f#cking with you) and the strange thing is, it’s entertaining throughout.

The stories and writing are interesting and at points down right funny. While the jumping themes may make people disoriented, that to a degree is the point of the show. With the title character being a god who is going through highschool things might get a little odd. Even the order of the episodes are disorienting.

In Japan, the episodes were shown out of order giving the view no clear idea of the time frame that these adventures are happening. The DVD release puts the series in chronological order aside from on episode (Episode 00 making it even more confusing) first despite the fact it happens in between episode 10 and 11. I watched the show in chronological order (1 through 10 then 00 then 11 to 14) and for the most part it made sense despite the stories skipping large parts of the school year.

Despite the confusion the series does its storytelling quite well. The main character Kyon spends time in the episodes narrating the events of the show, despite this characters seem to answer the things that are brought up in the monologue. This leaves the view wondering if what we here is being said out loud, and if it is, why is no one pointing it out?

The soundtrack of the show also is interesting, with large parts of the story featuring an upbeat ska soundtrack. However at times the show plays out of place tension filled music. While the scene might be two characters explaining what happening in the plot, it sound’s like a Hitchcock film gearing up to the murder in a shower scene.

I can’t recommend this series enough, it’s episodes give a good verity and keep the view interested throughout. Also its few number of episodes don’t let the show linger for to long.

While there is an extended series that was released in 2009, I’d have a hard time watching it; cause the series is fine with just 14 episodes. While the 14 more episodes might show more of the groups actions, I don’t think we need to see them.

A P.S. about anime in general: While I’m not the biggest Otaku in the world, I still enjoy anime. Despite the popularity of anime in North America, in Canada there isn’t a whole lot of anime on television (any more) due to this people either have to buy the shows on DVD or find it online. While the price of anime is an issue I hope to write about at a later date, let’s just say that I didn’t pay to watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

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