Anime Spotlight: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Introduction

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is based on a light novel series written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito. The anime adaptation was produced by Kyoto Animation and was directed by Tatsuya Ishihara.

The anime first aired on Japanese television as a 14 episode series in 2006. The series was later rebroadcast in Japan in 2009, and 14 additional episodes were added to the series for the rebroadcast. When the series first aired in 2006, the episodes were aired in a nonlinear order; however, when the series was rebroadcast in 2009 with the additional 14 episodes, the episodes were shown in chronological order.

There was also one film produced for the franchise called The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Bandai Entertainment held the North American rights for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. However, Bandai Entertainment went out of business in 2013; as of this writing, it appears that no one holds the North American license for the franchise.

About The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Haruhi Suzumiya is the main character of the series. She’s energetic and eccentric, and is viewed by many of her classmates as an oddball. At the beginning of the series, she starts a new school club called the SOS Brigade. Since Haruhi can’t stand boredom, she’s always coming up with things for the SOS Brigade to do. Three years prior to the beginning of the series, Haruhi wished she lived in a world with time travelers, espers, and other interesting things; however, Haruhi doesn’t realize that she has the power to change the environment around her as she pleases.

Even though Haruhi is the main character, the story is actually narrated by her classmate, Kyon. Kyon is basically the “normal” member of the SOS Brigade and the “straight man” of the series; he’s also the first person that Haruhi recruits into the SOS Brigade. Haruhi’s demands of him and the SOS Brigade tend to annoy Kyon, but he’s also bewildered by her. In the series, there are hints dropped that Kyon might have some romantic feelings toward Haruhi.

Yuki Nagato is the next person that Haruhi enlists for the SOS Brigade. She’s rather quiet, but can speak at length if it’s needed. Unknown to Haruhi, Yuki is actually a bibliophile humanoid interface who is responsible for monitoring Haruhi.

Mikuru Asahina is literally dragged into the SOS Brigade by Haruhi. Mikuru is one of the older members of the club, and she’s a soft-spoken girl that Haruhi enjoys dressing up like a doll. Kyon will often look at Mikuru and comment on how she looks, which makes Haruhi jealous. Unknown to Haruhi, Mikuru is a time traveler.

Itsuki Kouzumi is the final member added to the SOS Brigade, and he is the only other male in the group outside of Kyon. He’s a rather carefree guy and is always smiling. Unknown to Haruhi, Itsuki is an esper.

As the series progresses, Kyon learns the truth about Yuki, Mikuru, and Itsuki, as well as about Haruhi’s power.

My Impressions of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

My first exposure to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya came from seeing the first episode of the series on YouTube. I have to admit that by the time I finished the first episode, I didn’t really understand why the series was so popular.

About a couple of years later, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to expose myself to more of the series so I could give it more coverage at BellaOnline’s Anime site. I placed a hold on the first volume of the single disc releases for the series through my local library system and watched it. By the time I finished that disc, I decided that while I still wasn’t a fan of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, I thought it was better than I had originally given it credit for. As of this writing, I have seen the four volumes of the individual discs released by Bandai Entertainment and the “second season” box set.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a decent anime series until you hit the eight-part episode, “Endless Eight,” which deals with the characters being stuck in a time loop. I found these eight episodes to be a very tedious viewing experience. Each episode is a different time in the time loop; unfortunately, there is very little difference between some of the episodes, so it almost feels like you’re watching the exact same episode more than once. To be honest, I probably would hold a little higher opinion of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya if this storyline had been shortened or hadn’t been in the series at all.

Conclusion

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a popular anime series during the time that it was on the air. However, as time has gone by, I’ve been getting the impression that this anime isn’t as major of a title as it was just a few short years ago. Having sat through most of the franchise outside of the film, I think I can see why it didn’t seem to stand the test of time.

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