The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
dance
Scene from the 1st season ED dance sequence.
Original Light Novels Nagaru Tanigawa
Director/Artist Tatsuya Ishihara
Format Anime (TV), Anime (Movie)
Made By Kyoto Animation
Episode Length half hour
# of Episodes 28 (over two seasons) + 1 feature-length movie
# of Volumes 10 light novels


Genre

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Recommended Dub

SOS Brigade Logo

Short Outline

This series revolves around a High School girl by the name of Haruhi Suzumiya. She is determined to discover the paranormal and announces this to everyone. She does this while maintaining a cold demeanor and makes sure to point out that her interests remain only in the paranormal and nothing else. Kyon, the protagonist and narrator of the series, has recently given up his fantasies about anything paranormal knowing that they do not exist; however, he finds that all too quickly he is drawn into Haruhi's schemes to search for these nonexistent beings.

Main Description

It is important to note that this show was not aired in chronological order, so if you begin watching it and get confused, don't worry: that's normal. Do yourself a favor and keep watching it in broadcast order. One of the many things people love about this show is the way it was presented. The non-chronological progression of the story line builds to a bigger climax and is part of what makes it all so great. The chronological "end" of the story airs somewhere in the middle of the season and is not billed as the finale, so it will seem like a disappointing end. If you really, really must watch it in chronological order, do so after viewing it in broadcast order.

Characters

Haruhi Suzumiya

Haruhi.jpg

Haruhi Suzumiya is a beautiful, intelligent, energetic, quick-tempered, overconfident girl with a competitive streak as wide as her ego is large. When she wants something, she doesn't ask for it--she takes it, consequences be damned. She thinks "normal things" are terminally boring, and she openly declares her intentions to find and have fun with aliens, time travelers, and espers. After meeting Kyon, she is inspired to create the SOS Brigade, which is effectively her plaything and her only source of entertainment.

Yuki Nagato

Yukinagato.jpg

Yuki Nagato is an unusual girl with an affinity for books and silence. She rarely shows any emotions or desires--except for a desire to read more books. She was the one remaining member of the high school's Literary Club, but when Haruhi formed the SOS Brigade, Haruhi took both the Literary Club's meeting room and member and made them her own. Nagato, ever unruffled, became a member of the SOS Brigade.

Mikuru Asahina

Mikurua.jpg

Mikuru Asahina is a meek girl with an extremely attractive body and absolutely no competence at anything except for brewing tea, wearing costumes, and looking painfully cute. After creating the SOS Brigade, Haruhi abducted her from the Calligraphy Club and made her the Brigade's "lolita mascot." Ever since then, Haruhi has continued to abuse Asahina's attractive qualities in an attempt to draw attention to the SOS Brigade.

Itsuki Koizumi

Koizumii.jpg

This smug looking fellow is Koizumi, an annoyingly congenial transfer student that Haruhi added to the SOS Brigade "because he is a mysterious transfer student." His personality could best be described as "sycophantic" and "unbearably easygoing." He always agrees with whatever Haruhi says, and he never objects when Haruhi misbehaves.

Kyon

Kyon.jpg

The last and second most important character after Haruhi Suzumiya is Kyon. He is an archetypal "average guy," and he reacts to Haruhi and the rest of the SOS Brigade like you or I would. He narrates the story, constantly objects to Haruhi's misbehaviors, and does his best to do the right thing. He often speaks for reason and sanity when things get weird. He inspired Haruhi to create the SOS Brigade, and though he constantly complains about it, he consistently completes the menial tasks that keep everything running smoothly. Kyon's real name is unknown, so he's called Kyon, a nickname he's not fond of, throughout the series.

Most importantly, Kyon is Haruhi's best (and only?) friend. And maybe, just maybe, she's the reason that he puts up with so much crap.

So what? Why should I watch this show?

The show combines comedic light-hearted action with underlying dramatic tones and science-fiction themes. Let's just say Kyon and Haruhi go from one bizarre situation to the next. How the surreal interacts with the otherwise mundane struggles of a high school club is the meat of the series, and I leave the details to the watcher. Watch the first five episodes. I think you'll like it.

For fans of the technical aspects of anime, the show's animation, voice acting, music, and sound effects are of exceedingly high quality. Many times, viewers on these forums have remarked that the production company must have sold themselves to some dark force in order to routinely finish the episodes. Those dark forces must have gotten the short end of the deal, as the Japanese DVDs show corrections to glitches that even the most alert fans may have missed during broadcast. The episodes, and the DVDs, are that well done.

Why the first five episodes?

While the first two episodes will suffice to introduce the characters, hint at the strangeness, and entertain you thoroughly, the next three will give you a heavy dose of what makes this series a true classic, and when I say classic, I don't use the word lightly. Haruhi Suzumiya will be considered a classic.

Sequels And Movies

The second season of Haruhi Suzumiya, which included the 14 episodes from the first season, aired in 2009 in chronological order. Eight of the new episodes comprised the "Endless Eight" arc.

The movie we all thought would be a third season, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, hit Japanese theaters in February 2010 and a few American theaters in the spring of that year.

Spinoffs

There have been two official spinoff web-animes broadcast on the Kadokawa anime channel on Youtube: The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san, the former based off of an official parody manga and the latter based off of a ridiculously popular fancomic. Both are purely gag-based (Haruhi-chan is somewhat similar in tone to Lucky Star, Churuya-san is much more unique) and directed strictly at fans of the main show.

Official subs are posted to Youtube, but unfortunately older episodes are removed with time.


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Personal Opinions

Grenadier

Snappy Dialogue. Witty parodies. Interesting story. Moe overload may drive some away.

Golden315

I personally found this show to be very well done. The first and most obvious thing that you notice about this show is the superb animation quality. I mean seriously whoever said that they sold their souls to a dark force to produce this thing every week was right. Of course we all know that being pretty isn't what makes a show. The method that they took in airing the shows was a masterful idea. Taking the chronological path of the novel and splicing up the parts to add mystery and an atmosphere. There is more I could say but really I'm just wasting your time here, just go watch it now. Nothing is perfect and everyone won't like this show but do yourself a favor and at least try this gem.

Nate RFB

Haruhi came out of nowhere took the world by storm, and perhaps that's one of the reasons I liked it so much. I had absolutely no expectations of it and the final result was outstanding. Its satire was genuinely funny and the character archetypes it poked fun at felt oddly real and meaningful. By all rights I should hate someone like Haruhi Suzumiya, who is bossy, bitchy, and (literally) makes the world revolve around her. Someone like Yuki, who is as much of a Rei Ayanami clone as they come, should have been another "ho-hum, another one of those characters." But Haruhi was someone I would have wanted to follow; her bossiness was like a flag or a rallying call that was hilarious to see others get caught up in. Yuki's deadpan, almost subtle portrayal would also work. And Kyon, who has no super powers and is just a normal guy, is somehow the most badass anime character ever almost entirely because of his sarcasm. Bizarre! And, this isn't getting into the airing order of the episodes, which was a great idea on the part of Kyoto Animation. The presentation enables the viewer to see events, enjoy them at face value, and then revisit them later when previous events elude to future ones already transpired. It gives further enjoyment and validity to episodes you've already seen; watching later episodes makes earlier ones better! It's not fair to say it's the Pulp Fiction or Memento of anime, but it's a concept that I haven't seen executed this well in an animated form. Top it all off with probably the best animation seen in anime television since they transitioned to digital, and a story that has nothing but enormous potential for growth, and you'll see why this show grew such a cult following. A lot of people fell into the trap into believing this was some sort of be-all end-all of anime, and honestly despite the praise I lay on it here that really isn't the case. It's just a fun show that is most certainly worth watching for any anime fan, and nothing more.

Totalizator

Haruhi is certainly a one-of-a-kind show, with excellent animation, great music and rarely seen in anime sarcastic, non-hyperactive, intelligent humor. What I liked about it the most was the great attention to detail, which makes watching the show rewarding even if you see it for the third or fourth time (and if you like it you will probably want to see it at least twice, to see it in both chronological and aired order). Haruhi is an excellent show and I highly recommend it to any anime fan that hasn't seen it yet.

helopticor

Good characters, good plot, good design (art-wise, music-wise, and original airing order-wise). If you can get past the moé schoolgirl tropes, you will probably enjoy the first season very much. One of my top 5 shows.

Redcrimson

Haruhi is almost literally a cult phenomenon. KyoAni's visuals are breathtaking, bringing the charming cast to life with artful precision. The writing is snappy, the humor is witty, and the story is intriguing. Add in the usual moé character tropes and it's easy to see what makes Haruhi so popular. Love it or hate it, there's no denying Haruhi's place among the indelible triumphs of the industry.

Robert Denby

This really is a clever show, starting out with a baffling amateur film, going into standard romantic comedy shtick albeit with a very off-kilter and off-putting title character, then becoming heady science fiction, and careening in between comedy, romance, and sci-fi much of the time. It also has some of the most consistently good animation I've seen from a Japanese show, with nice subtle bits of character animation.

Kyon is a fantastic lead, and having to deal with all these crazy shenanigans must remind some of you of hanging out with weaboos at some point in your lives. Yuki's a great character as well. Seeing her arc over the course of the series and especially the movie (the latter of which she takes a lot of the spotlight in) is a real treat, and playing her solely for laughs in "The Day of Sagittarius" was a genius move.

The first season is consistently strong, entertaining stuff, though I personally didn't care that much for "Remote Island Syndrome", even though it did have a killer parody at the end that I won't give away. Watching the show for the first time is a real treat, even if you know what's coming. Just be sure to watch it in broadcast order.

Only very recently did I take the plunge and watch season two, having avoided it for a good two years because of how much everybody loathed it. The six 'proper' episodes aren't as good as the ones we got in season one, but are still enjoyable. "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody" is great, delving into Haruhi's past, but the five-episode arc "The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya", which details the making of the amateur movie we saw in Episode 0, is somewhat overlong and makes a couple of not-so-welcome departures from the light novel when it comes to making Haruhi's character more... I dunno... likable. Not bad, just a little underwhelming.

Now then, I did watch the Endless Eight, all of it, in one marathon sitting. This was an idea that could have been executed infinitely better if they had actually put real differences in the script and style of each installment, but the differences were so minute that I barely noticed them at all. It was a weirdly mind-numbing experience, very unlike anything else that I think I've ever watched, and I don't think I'll ever watch it again (as someone on the forum responded, "Now you know how Yuki felt."). I didn't hate it, didn't think it was brilliant, but I grudgingly admire that someone had the gall to put this on air, and I would kill to know what was going on behind-the-scenes at KyoAni when they put this idea into motion.

Now the movie, "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya", was a different experience entirely. I honestly can't believe how good it was, and how different it was from what I expected it to be. "Disappearance" is a complete and total 180 from the rest of the franchise. Almost no humor outside the first 15 minutes, a slow pace, tense atmosphere, and subtle with an emotionally-compelling story. Fantastically designed too, with a very subdued color palette and an eye for simple but evocative visuals. It was great to see Yuki take so much of the spotlight, especially since I always thought there could be more to her character than getting Kyon out of stuff. The story plays like some strange mash-up of ideas from "Somewhere in Time" and "The Last Temptation of Christ". Actually, this movie could've easily been called "The Last Temptation of Kyon". You absolutely must stay for the end credits.

My only major complaint that I haven't addressed with this franchise is Mikiru. She is very blatantly in the show just for fanservice and doesn't do much of anything outside of getting put into skimpy outfits. If you're trying to get someone into this show, or if you haven't seen the show and are planning to watch it, just be warned that yes, this does have the incredibly annoying anime cliche of the purely fanservice-based character.

PotU

Skip the show and just watch Haruhi-chan and Churuya-san, it's not a very good despite all the hype. If you're still watching it though, skip episode 3-7 of Endless Eight.

StandardVC10

The first season is very good as a whole, but I took a long time to realize this. The first episodes of the broadcast order didn't give me much of a reason to be interested in Haruhi, and Kyon made a better narrator than character in the story. It only started picking up and making sense for me after four or five episodes, possibly even six. I would have hated to watch this as it aired, since not many of the episodes stand on their own - either ending with unfinished stories, or full of moments that seem like non sequiturs until I could think about the entire series.

I put down all those words about pacing and delivery because they're both why I didn't like the show, and a key thing that made it unique and interesting. A lot of the rest is really strong as well. The visuals are well done and things like faces and hair never become distracting. The main cast eventually all become worthwhile characters that I enjoyed rooting for, with the possible exception of Mikuru who is pretty much just a single note. In some episodes, the tone becomes fairly serious, but it escalates from hijinks in a way that never seems overbearing or forced. In the end, I enjoyed it, but I can also see where a lot of people who didn't like it might be coming from.

If you're willing to go all in and watch the rest of Haruhi, I guarantee that the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya will not disappoint - if nothing else, it is absolutely gorgeous.

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