Anime Review: The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi

Written by Fellistowe

Based on the young men’s novel by the same name, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is a series that took Japan by storm. I doubt anyone could have foreseen just how popular this series would prove to be (the first DVD debuted at no 1 in the charts), but once watching it, it’s easy to see why.

Available on DVD Region 1, from Bandai Entertainment & Kadokowa Pictures

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I have no interest in ordinary humans…

Kyon had resigned himself to an ordinary life at an ordinary high school, until the girl sitting behind him stood up and gave her introduction on the first day:

“From East Middle School, Suzumiya Haruhi.
I have no interest in ordinary humans.
If there are any aliens, time travellers, sliders, or epsers here, come join me.
That is all!”

Kyon, doesn’t quite know how to take this bizarre introduction, and neither do the rest of the class. Regardless, it catches Kyon’s interest, and strangely enough where many others had failed, he finds he (eventually) is able to hold a conversation with this slightly eccentric girl. Inadvertently Kyon proves to inspire Suzumiya to form her own club; a club who’s purpose is to find those aliens, time travellers and espers, and have fun with them.

So begins the SOS Brigade, a club of not so average people, looking to have a bit of fun…

Based on the young men’s novel by the same name, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is a series that took Japan by storm. I doubt anyone could have foreseen just how popular this series would prove to be (the first DVD debuted at no 1 in the charts), but once watching it, it’s easy to see why.

Haruhi is a flame that burns very brightly, and much like an after-image on your eye, it burns a hole in your brain and stays there quite happily.

Haruhi, eccentricity at its best!

The story is told from the viewpoint of the lead protagonist, a High School boy called Kyon (we never learn his surname), when he encounters the eccentric, egotistical whirlwind that goes by the name of Suzumiya Haruhi.

Suzumiya is amazing. She is beautiful. She is athletic. She excels at everything she does. She is also several screws loose, and is more self centred than most galaxies. She does what she wants when she wants and doesn’t care who or what is in the way.

Kyon becomes her reluctant accomplice, and in the process of her never ending quest to find the more “abnormal” amongst us, she draws in an eclectic mix of fellow students into her SOS Brigade (“Sekai o Ooini moriageru tame no Suzumiya Haruhi no dan”, which loosely translates as “Suzumiya Haruhi’s team for livening up the world”).

This mix consist of Mikuru Asahina, a loli icon with big boobs press-ganged into the club by Suzumiya to act as their ‘eye candy’ mascot, Yuki Nagato, sole member of the literary club who’s club room Suzumiya stole, and Itsuki Koizumi, who caught Suzumiya’s eye because he was a ‘mysterious’ transfer student. It’s not long before you realise that maybe it was no accident they were brought together…

A great cast of supporting characters makes Haruhi something special

Kyon and Suzumiya work as a great comedy duo. Whilst Suzumiya provides the energy and madness to drive the story, it is Kyon’s deadpan running commentary of the events unfolding around him that makes this series just so damn funny to watch.
Whilst the world is loosing its head around him, his ironic and satirical observations drive home the comedy effect of the series, when it otherwise could have been lost to madness. As the story progresses we see how the relationship develops between this strange group, but it is always Kyon that provides the stage upon which the story is played.
The animation style is high budget, crisp and clear with no loss of quality throughout, and the distinctive character style of Kyoto Animation, made famous by their beautiful series Air.

 Manic plots, fantastic settings, bizzar twists

 At only 14 episodes long the series feels woefully short, and you can’t help but find yourself crying out for a second series by the time you get to the end. The series does wrap up nicely though, and is open ended enough to easily accommodate any further series (the series is mostly based on the first novel in the Haruhi line, and there are 8 novels produced so far).

This leads me on the 2 of the things The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is famous for.
The first is the episode order. There isn’t any. Suzumiya is the Ultra Director of the series (it actually says so in the opening credits!) and in the episode previews she decides what episode gets shown next, and chronology has nothing to do with it! Whilst slightly perplexing at first, it makes the series an absolute joy to watch; just make sure you have a good memory!
The second is the end credits. This really made Haruhi a fan favourite, and the number of fan homage’s and enactments on the web is legendary. It has to be seen to be believed.

In the end it’s a series you have to be free to make your own mind up about, but you have to see it at least once, if only to see what all the fuss is about.

Dance Dance Revolution!!
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