2 things before you read this review:
1) I (unfortunately) watched the series twice, both in airing and chronological order, so I can compare them.
2) This is not a praise Haruhi review, but rather a review from someone who truly dislikes and despises the show. I tried to include all reasons behind this; so even if you are a Haruhi fanatic, please try to understand why I rated it so low.
Now onto the review.
MAL is the place where I usually decide the new anime series I want to watch. Unfortunately, this sometimes proves to be disastrous - like the case of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Reading the synopsis, seeing the nice graphics and all the hype around it, I really expected something great, intelligent and unusual. Instead, I got a really big disappointment - manifested by a boredom and annoyance overdose.
From what I've seen, there are usually two approaches of the show that Haruhi fans support. First is the parody one - TMoHS is supposed to be a light comedy not meant to be taken seriously, destined purely for laughter. Second states that TMoHS is a deep, subtle and intelligent show that has a lot of hidden meanings. I honestly disagree with both. TMoHS is nothing more than a series that delivers to fans what fans want - exaggerated, cliche characters, lots of fanservice, predictability and little to none plot and character development.
You can't talk about the story without mentioning the really unusual way in which the episodes are aired - and that is, not chronological. I admit, this is an extremely intelligent, even brilliant idea - to hide the fact that the plot of TMoHS is basically zero. Nopes. Nothing ever happens; it's just a bunch of high school and spare time events that some teenagers go through randomly thrown in. That's why, it really doesn't matter in which order you watch the show, since you won't miss anything.
Now, the whole 'God is amongst us' concept could have been really interestingly developed - if it wasn't for the characters.
In my opinion, characters truly represent the poorest aspect of the show. Leaving aside the fact that there is no development in their personalities at all, they are so poorly made, that it's almost as if they were created to be mocked at. In an elegant way, you could say that they are one-dimensional sketches or exaggerated caricatures. In a non sophisticated, yet same true way, you could just call them crappy. Either way, they cut off all the enjoyment the story could have brought. Because they are so simplistic, the viewer is basically able to predict anything that's about to happen in the following 5 minutes with an accuracy of 95% - unless he's an idiot.
So let's move onto each one of them.
Haruhi is what every teenage girl would want to be - she's beautiful, she's smart, she's talented and athletic. She could be called either a Mary Sue character or a tsundere - I don't care. Because of all her qualities, her life was probably pretty easy, thus leading her to believe she's special. However, she doesn't want to be special only for herself - she wants the world to know how great of a person she is. So far, so good. Then why is she so unlikeable? Well, Haruhi's way of proving she's something else is definitely WRONG.
If there was one adjective I had to pick to describe Haruhi, then I'd probably choose aggressive. Haruhi is aggressive in everything. Her speech is aggressive, her ideas are aggressive, her way of waving her hands is aggressive, but most important of all - her relationships towards other people is aggressive. She has no value of human morals whatsoever, considering everybody her pawns. Therefore, Haruhi thinks she is allowed to do everything just because she's able to. I honestly waited throughout the whole series for someone to slap her, disagree with her or at least spark the tiniest bit sense of reality into her. Unfortunately, there was no positive development at all. Haruhi started out as a perfect, bossy bitch and ended up as an even more bitchy one, receiving several ego boosts as the series advanced due to her talented, almighty nature.
Yuki could as very well be replaced by a broken alarm clock that rings when it shouldn't or by an old, rusted door and there would hardly be any differences. 90% of Yuki's actions are static - she's just, well, there, reading a book. (The climax of Yuki's passiveness is reached during episode 14, when the viewer is shown 5 minutes in which basically all she does is change the page while voices full of references echo on the school corridor. That's 5 freaking minutes of NOTHING. Yet I, as a viewer, should find this utterly amusing.) The rest 10% of Yuki's actions make absolutely no sense. She's just programming computers or fighting cute aliens while being equally cute, silent and moe.
Mikuru's only purpose in this show is to bring fanservice. Lots and lots, if possible. Mikuru has this high-pitched, squeaky scream and this shy personality which enables her to make all fanboys fall for her. She's like a sickening cute, fluffy hamster that starts squealing every time she's touched (and she sure gets touched a lot, mind you.) Every once in a while, she might give you the unpleasant surprise that she's not actually a commercial item and she can exit her tormented animal state too and be human - by speaking.
I haven't read the original novels so I can't tell for sure what role Koizumi plays in them - but to me, it seems as the creator of TMoHS had, at some point, reached a pinch. He had to create a new character. Therefore, his line of reasoning was probably something like this: "Hey, I already have 3 extremely moe and likable female characters. I should make a guy too, so the female audience would be pleased. Yeah, yeah, I should make a guy - as elegant and charming as possible." Thus Koizumi was born.
Basically, unless you're a crazy fangirl or something similar, you'd barely be able to notice Koizumi - I, for once, kept forgetting his name all the time. To be honest, the only time I acknowledged his existence was when he kept staring at Kyon's hair in the middle of a mole fluttering in the ocean breeze. I thought it was the most irrelevant and repulsing thing TMoHS had brought so far.
Koizumi serves as the voice through which the strange events occurring around Haruhi are explained. Translation: his speeches are long, boring and put you to sleep. When he talks, he talks. When he doesn't talk, he still talks.
Kyon is a sword with two edges. On one hand, he's really sarcastic, being quite innovative to the ordinary guy genre - thus proving to be the only aspect that might seem slightly interesting during the series. On the other one, he's extremely unlikable due to the fact that he doesn't take any action at all - unless forced by Haruhi. Kyon was the viewer's last hope of Haruhi redemption - yet he fails miserably, by making her even worse than how she actually started off.
Art and Sound
Art and sound are probably the only positive aspects of the show. TMoHS manages to create a pretty good atmosphere - the movements are flowing easily, the colors are bright and clean, the background music fits in - even though it doesn't stand out as more than ordinary. The OP and ED are either really addictive or annoying to the core - I'm more inclined to the latter. Voices are OK, the actors managing to catch each character's personality - which only adds up to how you, as a viewer, perceive them. Overall, no major problem.
Zero. Zero enjoyment. I can't quite comprehend how a normal, rational person can watch a show where the characters are horrible and the story is predictable - and, at the same time, enjoy it. Haruhi is a mediocre anime for the masses. It was meant to be liked by all those who want to stand out but have no means of doing so. I honestly expect much more from my anime when I watch it. I want to be hooked or at least slightly entertained. Leave aside the fact that I constantly kept staring elsewhere asking myself 'when will this crap be over?'; I couldn't even grin ONCE throughout the series. That's how uninteresting it was.
When rating, I usually consider two aspects. One is enjoyment; the other is the effort that I feel the creators put into the certain anime. Animation-wise, KyoAni really overdid itself. Plot-wise, it was a total wreck.
Therefore, I really cannot rate TMoHS more than 4 out of 10.