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She is a refreshing change from the overly manufactured feeling cliched norm you tend to see in most animes. If I had to describe her in simplest terms, she sort of fits a rudimentary ideal "girl next door" type character. While she is fairly sweet, cute, innocent, and a bit naive, she is also caring, intelligent, and not overly clingy or dependent either. The balance of her character is more ideal and average to at least my understanding of western culture. She is a strong enough person on her own in both character and abilities that she does not need to constantly depend on her other friends or boyfriend, but not enough of a strong willed self centered hot head to avoid calling help when or if she needs it. Sure she has her flaws but they are not character or story breaking flaws like I tend to way too often seen in many animes. I am talking about the kind of flaws that make it hard to or impossible to identify with her or connect her understanding to an average citizen. Everyone has their good and bad qualities but few of us have either so significant as to make us abandon our morals somewhere in a story over what seems like nothing or put us over the top to be a hero over things that would not feel so absolute a motivator to do so as some animes imply. It is quite nice to see a character like Haruhi with far more appeal to the greater populace than the norm in a anime for a change.
She exudes qualities most of us might tend to look for in a potentional significant other or a potential best friend. There are no over the top tragic character flaws within her either though she has soemwhat of a troublesome past that causes her some greif and plenty of good memories to balance her out. This actually sets her up quite nicely for her role as the anime and story progresses over the course of the series so that by then end and last scenes she has a perfect vantage point perspective to play her role.