The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Alt title: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu

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kamenoko's avatar By on Aug 11, 2006

Story

Haruhi is an amalgamation of a startling number of genres: slice-of-life high school, science fiction, a detective story, ecchi fan service, harem, slapstick comedy, and more. What distinguishes Haruhi from other animes which attempt to bridge so many genres, like, say, Elfen Lied, or SaiKano, is that SuzuHaru works. Stated plainly, from start to finish, Haruhi is coherent. There is a steady hand at the rudder, and the director deserves a lot of props. The plot itself deserves special attention, but no detail. Suffice it to say it takes us in directions we do not expect. The title itself is a misnomer, Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi makes one think of drama, and there is hardly any drama here at all. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised at the unique twists this anime takes, and the liberties taken with the genres it both upholds and lampoons.


Animation

is about as faultless as it gets. Comparison-wise it reminds me a lot of the Full Metal Panic series, which shouldn’t surprise me since it was done by the same studio. Scenes are brightly lit when they need to be, extraordinarily detailed. Characters are harem archetypes as far as design is concerned: you have Asahina with her shy face, and large talents, Nagato’s loli cuteness, and Suzumiya’s vivacious, plain-stated beauty. The male characters are boring by comparison, following the harem tradition.


Sound

Voice acting is superb. Kyon’s VA first and foremost, since his has the difficult job of both being a narrator and a leading character at the same time. He has just enough omniscience to guide us along, but at the same time enough naiveté to dethrone him as the voice of God. Suzimiya’s voice actress rises to the level of the title character’s ambition, and the rest do their jobs as well as we have come to expect from Japanese voice actors. The music was very good as well, with two songs, from later in the anime, that are both wonderfully catchy, but not saccharine.


Characters

Did I mention Haruhi is a harem anime? That’s only about half-true, Suzuharu skewers harem comedies mercilessly, the tone of which is stated from the outset with the hilarious Adventures of Mikuru-chan ‘movie’. Many series treat their characters as ivory towers, with clearly defined qualities, a character’s less than appealing traits are usually caused by some childhood trauma such as abuse or parental abandonment (i.e. Evangelion, 90% of anime). This is not true of Suzuharu, Suzumiya herself is a horrible director, and a really, really crappy graphic artist. Asahina cannot utter a sentence without tripping over her own tongue, and Nagato cannot even string three sentences together. But the strongest character in the series should really be its weakest: Kyon. It is through his eyes that we view this anime, and without his eviscerating commentary, Haruhi would not be half as good as it is.


Overall

The thing is, I cannot summarize this anime, I cannot put it into a neat little box, and that is the highest praise I can give to it. The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi defies convenient description; it is a treat; an anime that surpasses the good, and the very good. In five years time we will be discussing this anime in much the same way as we discuss Kino no Tabi, Ghost in the Shell, or a Ghibli movie. This anime is a classic; it’s just too new to be called that. All I can say is: watch it.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
Th3Laugh1ngMan's avatar By on Dec 21, 2015

i was coming into this show thinking it was going to be absolutely retarded but then i realized it wasnt

the meat of this show is the protagonist's commentary on literally everything and it worked pretty well it's very easy to relate to what he says on a daily basis

it was pretty funny

haruhi is retarded

8/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.8/10 overall
RamkoX12X's avatar By on Oct 8, 2013

(Synopsis) Kyon, an average student, starts his first year of high school not expecting the sudden twist in his life that will change everything. He meets Haruhi Suzumiya, an eccentric and curious girl, who has a dream to meet aliens, time travelers, and espers. Haruhi then creates the SOS Brigade with Kyon and manages to grab a couple members for the club. Here we meet, Yuki Nagato, Mikuru Asahina, and Itsuki Koizumi who each have a secret to tell Kyon about themselves and especially about Haruhi Suzumiya. Together, they sought out to find the un-ordinary with Haruhi Suzumiya.

(Review) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a slice of life/fantasy/comedy anime with a rather out of the ordinary plot. With great animation and soundtrack, they both help the anime bring up its witty story and feeling. Each characters has the chance to explaino their background stories which makes character development a great factor of this anime. Each character have very different personalities which makes them interesting and fun to watch.

(Final Thoughts) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya contains a out of the ordinary plot with the addition of well-developed characters and fun episodes make this anime a must watch. I give The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya a 9.3 out of 10. After watching the series, I recommend watching The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which surpasses the series tremendously.

8.5/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
9.3/10 characters
8.9/10 overall
girlinsneakers's avatar By on Sep 13, 2012

Somehow, I find the title Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya quite odd. 

-Melancholy-

n. A deep, pensive, and long-lasting sadness.

adjSad, gloomy, or depressed.

Do any of these fit Haruhi Suzumiya? I wonder. 


Can someone please enlighten me as to the whole point of this series? Is there even a deeper meaning into it, or is it just what it is? Plot? What plot?

Chronological order or not, it was the same. The release version just made Haruhi, the main character, less immature and selfish.

Seeing as it settled itself at 129th, I thought it was worth watching. But all it did was remind me never to rely too much on ranking. I wouldn't say it was a disappointment; maybe because I just wasn't expecting much from it, based on the summary itself and from other reviews.

With all the scientific terms it brought out, the story wasn't that mind-stimulating. Sure, some aspects were, uh, entertaining but I feel like it was lacking something. There just wasn't anything in it for me to think I'd rewatch it again, and the rewatch factor is something that is very important to me.  There were times when I got by one scene after another without really listening; hence, I ended up going back in an effort to understand what the episode was all about. It was just so tedious to watch, to say the least.

So, yeah, Haruhi, I got as bored as you were.  Maybe I'll go and start my own club, too.

There were only two things that kept me watching. First, Kyon. Second, I was hoping for  something big to happen that would change my earlier opinions. But, alas, up to the last episode there were none.  No development in any way, shape, or form, from the whole story line or even from the characters.  

Now, is it strange that I consider School Rumble better than The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya?

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
4/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar By on Jun 30, 2012

Notice: This review covers both seasons, and the movie, and the spin-off series.

Whoever tries to ask around why Haruhi was such a huge phenomenon in the anime community to the point it was treated as a religion, he will encounter a mountain of different opinions, usually contradicting ones, and lots of deep analysis concerning psychology and existentialism. As usual, most of whatever is said is overthinking nonsense, so I will now reveal the truth about what this show is really about.

MOE

First and foremost, Haruhi is a school comedy about cute girls doing cute things. It wasn’t the first show doing that, but it was one of the first ones that took advantage of the fidelity offered by the brand new storing technology of Blu Ray. Earlier moe shows were nowhere near its attention to animation, directing, and music composition, because they couldn’t be. As a production, it didn’t simply have a big budget; it was also given a tremendous amount of attention. Compared to everything else around that time, it was moe overdose. The dancing skit in the end credits, the music concert scene, and the constant praising references it was getting in Lucky Star, mesmerized countless of people who, in the typical fashion of casuals, considered the anime the best series of all times, because the colors were prettier than anything else they had seen in their lives. And if that somehow reminds you of Attack on Titan, it’s because the exact same thing happened again with that show.

I too found the animation gorgeous when I first watched it but I didn’t feel anything about that because I freaking hate moe. By today’s standards all that fidelity doesn’t even mean much anymore, since Blu Rays are commonplace and most of everything that comes out looks awesome. And that is why liking something for the pretty colors makes you a tasteless pleb.

SUPERNATURAL ELEMENTS

Of course looking nice is far from enough to excuse why so many people liked the show. If it was just typical cute girls, doing typical cute things, in a typical school, it would get old very fast and it wouldn’t be so popular for all these years. In fact, the show wasn’t popular during its first half because most of the audience thought it was one of the same stuff they had already seen in Azumanga Daio or Kanon. It was during the second half when people found out there were crazy stuff going on in it. The loved the supernatural elements it had; espers, and time travelers, and aliens, and gods, and reality warping, and lots of other cool ideas. And to top all that, they were thrown in a school setting, which is the laziest idea to use, but also the most successful one because everybody can relate to something they were part of for at least a dozen years of their lives.

I too liked them as ideas but I was never made to love the show because of them, since they were nothing more than gimmicks. They weren’t semi-independent side stories taking place at the same time, they were figments of someone’s imagination, thrown there just for flavoring the moe. The done to death school setting wasn’t helping me give two shits about whatever is going on, and by now it’s obvious how moe has taken over the industry and sapped dry its creativity, since all they are doing is throwing in cute girls and random ideas that go nowhere.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ELEMENTS

At least the show attempts to excuse all these random supernatural ideas as a result of boredom. Haruhi made all that happen because she was fed up with her normal life. Which is something that resonated with a lot of young people. Boredom is a huge first world problem, and if you are a person who feels his life has no color, a show with crazy stuff, and dancing and singing, becomes a major attraction. You will sympathize with how the heroine feels, and cheer for her quest to fill life with excitement. No wonder they considered this show to be amazing.

Unfortunately this illusion breaks very easily, once you realize that in her quest to have fun, Haruhi is manipulating people for her amusement. As much as they try to tell us the world is her creation, and she can do anything she likes with it, it eventually comes down to treating people as nothing but toys. This essentially makes her a bitch who cares only about herself. She is like a spoiled kid who thinks it is the center of the universe and everything happens for its amusement. And since that happens to be exactly what a huge portion of anime fans are like, it is something they considered to be positive instead of negative because it became empowerment fantasy.

NON-LINEAR PLOT

The show does its best to distract the audience from realizing what a bitch Haruhi really is, by having a non-linear plot in the first season. The events were told in a scrambled manner, thus making it feel like the whole thing was a mystery that needed to be solved by the viewer. Everybody was so obsessed with finding hints or how everything was foreshadowed ten episodes ago, to the point they completely overlooked the simple fact that they were cheering for an awful person who was playing with peoples’ very existence for her amusement. This was one of the biggest revelations the second season offered when it told the same events in chronological order. Since by then the mystery was solved, rewatching the events in a linear fashion just couldn’t hide the truth anymore.

INTERNAL MONOLOGUES

Another trick the show used, which was still new at that time and felt very innovating because of that, was to have the whole thing being told in first person narration, from someone who is not Haruhi. Despite her being the iconic character of the anime, the protagonist is actually Kyon, a male teenager who is narrating most of everything through internal monologues. It’s so easy to excuse anything that happens this way since they are simply thoughts. Nobody can question them because nobody is hearing them in-series. Kyon becomes a foil for the viewer, saying anything he likes and feeling supreme and mighty for acting like a teenager who thinks he can explain everything without knowing much. He is also not far away from a harem lead for being surrounded by cute girls with superpowers, who like him even when there is nothing special about him. He even gets to solve the conflict of the whole series by essentially kissing Haruhi, further making it feel like she is a typical datesim girl who needs a man to fix her psychological issues with his D. Just like Haruhi, Kyon is also a very sympathetic character, because he is someone all males wished they were.

MOTIVATION

A positive side of the show is how it motivated many people to become part of something. Whether it was cosplaying, music bands, dancing, travelling to the places the show was based on, or even becoming complete idiots who treat Haruhi as the one true god, it can’t be denied that this show drove away the boredom from the lives of thousands of anime fans, and led to the creation of numerous social groups that brought together thousands of people with similar tastes.

On the negative side, the show helped to spread the plague of moeshit, where people are watching anime for escapism and really cancerous themes. Its success was one of the reasons light novel adaptations became commonplace and keep bombarding us with good ideas that are treated in completely lazy ways and are eventually nothing but harems that promote incest and immoral messages.

LEGACY

The legacy of the franchise itself is also full of bumps, making it a shadow of what it used to be. The infamous Endless Eight arc, where it repeats the exact same events for eight episodes in a row, is seen as a very lazy excuse to prolong the series. The sex scandal with the voice actress of Haruhi also tarnished the image of the show because otakus lose interest if they don’t think their favorite waifu is still virgin. The author not writing any more novels for several years is also seen as him having no idea of how to end a story such as this, further proving how the plot was random ideas with no planning. The movie sequel felt great only because Haruhi was absent to the most part. And the recent spin-off comedy is nothing but low effort milking of a dying fandom.

So as you see, there is nothing actually thought-provoking in this show; it is style over substance like pretty much everything Kyoani makes. Despite the seemingly complex themes, the characters remain pretty archetypical in behavior. They are defined by a generic school uniform, and some minor accessory like yellow ribbons in their hair. It uses smokes and mirrors to make it seem like it is far more than a typical school comedy with cute girls and random cool ideas, and then lets the audience to be fooled into thinking these illusions are art or depth, when in reality they are elaborate trolling.

I know how many will say that the purpose of any fictional story is to immerse the audience into its imaginary world, but there is a line which separates creative brainstorming from sickening autism, and Haruhi crosses that line way too many times. It is so heavy on empowerment fantasy that it doesn’t simply excite those who are bored, it also makes them do really stupid things in their real lives. Down to it, this show is a pretentious moe comedy that fools people with pretty colors, and superficial ideas.

SUGGESTION LIST
Urusei Yatsura 2nd movie (Beautiful Dreamer)
Noein
SE Lain
Higurashi
Tatami Galaxy
Madoka Magica
Steins;Gate

2/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall