NOTE: This review is based on the 2006 airing of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Do not confuse this with the 2009 Rebroadcasting of Season 1 that was aired with new episode thrown in
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: February 14, 2014. Review #78: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006)
Before I begin, there is something I would like to say even though this is somewhat completely pointless to this review. On January 23, 2014. Justin Carmical (known to many as JewWario) committed suicide. Justin Carmical was known on YouTube for doing Let’s Plays on Japanese imported games. I read other sources and found that he collects manga and does enjoy some old-school anime. I don’t know what led Mr. Carmical to commit suicide but all I can do is send my condolences to his family, friends, and his fans. This is the least I can do.
Justin Carmical (JewWario)
Changing subject, It is February and widely considered to be the Month of Love. I honestly can’t relate to that at this time since I am actually single. If I look at a certain point of view that involves either my family or my faith. I guess I don’t have a problem with it. If we are talking about Valentine’s Day, I guess I could celebrate somehow. Come to think of it, what does Valentine’s Day have anything to do with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? Nothing.
On the first day of high school, a beautiful girl named Haruhi Suzumiya introduces herself as having "no interest in ordinary humans". She asks for any aliens, time travelers, or espers to join her. Watching her weird behavior is Kyon who sits in front of Haruhi and is the only person who talks to her. When Kyon comments about Haruhi's joining every club in school and then quitting he unwittingly gives Haruhi an idea to start her own club. Thereafter Kyon and several others find themselves dragged, literally, into the Spreading excitement all Over the world with Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade (the S.O.S. Brigade for short). Wait, what?
To be technical, this is a Kyoto Animation production and they have had their fair share of popularity over the years before and since with popular animes such as Air, Clannad, Nichijou, and even K-On! The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is without a doubt their biggest hit. When it comes to slice of life anime, they sometimes get pretty animation but that’s pretty much it… With Haruhi Suzumiya, the animation was not put to waste. The animation is energetic, always moving most of the time and for 2006, the animation looked pretty damn good. It is also fun to look at as well. Kyoto Animation does not disappoint with Haruhi Suzumiya.
The music by Satoru Kousaki may not stand out to some outside of the anime but I believe it fits the show greatly. This might not be one of the most standing out soundtracks in Anime, but The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya does have some tunes that fit the show greatly and it stands out to fans of the series. If there is something I liked in the music department, it would be the use of classical music that was used in a couple of episodes. Gustav Mahler’s 8th Symphony was used in the show and it really made the scene it was used on quite awesome. That specific classical piece was not the only one, there was some other classical stuff used in the show, one on Tchaikovsky and one on Shostakovich. The classical music usage is the more interesting aspect of The Soundtrack of Haruhi Suzumiya. But the highlights of the music are the opening and closing themes. Bouken Desho Desho is a catchy opening that suits the show well and there's the famous closing that is catchy as hell "Hare Hare Yukai", it is one of the most popular closing themes in an anime and I think it is because it is so damn catchy. But the special music video version with the entire dance is a lot better than the visuals in the closing theme, but it's still a catchy theme. The music’s great and it fits the show greatly.
In regards to voice acting, the Japanese cast does have a great bunch. Aya Hirano is terrific as Haruhi and she makes Haruhi’s eccentric attitude all the more believable, Tomokazu Sugita is great as Kyon but I think he was a bit over-the-top. Yuko Goto is very likely known for playing Miss Asahina, *ahem* Mikuru Asahina. Minori Chihara (similar to Goto-san’s case) is very likely known for her role as Yuki Nagato. Daisuke Ono is terrific as Koizumi Itsuki. The extras are decent and they play their roles alright. As for the English Dub, Wendee Lee is an interesting choice for Haruhi. She actually is able to play a high school girl and not leave the performance sounding awkward. Over the years, Wendee Lee has proven that she is a talented voice actress, my only tick with her role as Haruhi is that it does lack a little eccentricity but only slightly. If there is a voice actor that does make the Dub worth listening, it would be Crispin Freeman as Kyon. Kyon has a certain personality that makes him not a stereotypical average high school student character, Sugita-san was a little over-the-top on this, but Crispin Freeman nails this little character trait of Kyon. Stephanie Sheh plays the shy Mikuru Asahina quite well and Michelle Ruff is great as Yuki Nagato. Johnny Yong Bosch is an interesting choice for Koizumi Itsuki and I don’t think the performance is bad, but I think Ono-san nailed Koizumi on this one. The extras in the dub are decent. It’s pretty much the same outcome with the Japanese cast. The extras play the roles alright.
The characters are going to be interesting to talk about… First and foremost, there is Haruhi Suzumiya. She gets the right to be the center of attention since she really makes the show fun...Haruhi really is a fun character. Surprisingly, Kyon is not as bland as you would think… He has his quirks that make him stand out. Time Lord Mikuru Asahina does have the cliched shy character archetype, but at least that is excused because of “classified information”. She sure knows not to give away “Spoilers” such as revealing to all who The Doctor’s name really is. Seriously, people… Miss Asahina should have her own TARDIS. She views Haruhi as a distortion in Space and Time. Yuki Nagato is the bookish quiet one and that is kind of a cliched trope as well, but it makes sense since she is an alien…She views Haruhi as the potential for Evolution (uh…okay).. Then there’s Koizumi Itsuki… The Esper. He is quite talkative but at least he’s not that bad. He views Haruhi as a God. Uh… I think Koizumi should have said “Goddess” and am I the only one that's getting a little tired of the "God" jokes made towards this show? Characters like Tsuruya, Taniguchi, and Kunikida are great as supporting characters. Even Ryoko Asakura was alright for the screentime she got. If there is one flaw with the characters. It is that they are underdeveloped in some areas, but that was only until 14 more episodes were on the way after this “first season” was finished. The characters really do make the show a fun watch.
Which leads me to the show’s history… The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an adaptation of the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels series and for some odd reason, the broadcasting of Haruhi Suzumiya involved airing the episodes out of order. Here’s the rundown.
In the non-linear broadcasting order…
The “00” episode with the “Home Movie” starts the show off.
the first two parts of “Melancholy”
“Melancholy” Part 3
Remote Island Syndrome (Part 1)
Remote Island Syndrome (Part 2)
Someday in the Rain
“Melancholy” Part 4
Day of Sagittarius
The Last two parts of “Melancholy”
Did you get all that? That was exactly how it was broadcasted back in 2006. A Confusing way of airing the show, yet that “00” episode being aired first would make it clear that this was going to be that kind of show. It was the intended experience back then but lately… it’s a little different now. There is also the “Chronological” order that I believe most fans are accustomed to...and allow me to tell you what I thought of them since this season wasn’t long and yet I think it would be fun to talk about…
The six-part story arc “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” is the meat of the entire package, it has the whole story that you need to know about this show, and it may slow down at times, but there is a good reason for it. The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya is a fun episode if anyone likes sports, especially Baseball. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s still a fun one-shot episode. Mysterique Sign may be a speed bump in the series but I guess it was an ok episode. The two part episode “Remote Island Syndrome” is pretty much a “detective” episode but not terrible, there is some interesting visuals in that one as well as a pretty good parody of a video game. The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00… Do I need to explain that one? Live Alive has a particularly impressive moment with Haruhi. The “God Knows” scene is great and was one of my favorite episodes, that was until “The Day of Sagittarius” came along. This episode was awesome. The Day of Sagittarius is noted for its homages to Space Opera animes such as Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers in the US), and even Mobile Suit Gundam. This episode also used classical pieces as well during the “game” scenes and this of course was paying homage to the Space Opera anime Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Most Americans wouldn’t know because it was never brought here. Another thing I liked about the Day of Sagittarius is that even though it was paying homage to these Space Opera animes, they didn’t insult those who liked them. Even if Gundam was censored up high in Space. Which brings me to the concluding episode “Someday in the Rain”... I fucking hate this episode. Think about it, 13 episodes of randomness, fun, and awesomeness led up to an episode that is none of that. It is the most boring episode of the whole bunch. It is disappointing because it is not a very fun episode at all… There isn’t much story, there is hardly any good laughs in it, and there is even 2 to 3 minutes wasted on Yuki reading a book. Yeah, it’s that bad. I don’t want to give too much away, but even if I did, you probably already heard how bad this episode was. Whether you want to watch this in Chronological order or out of order, Most of this anime is a lot of fun. The vibe that I get from this anime is that if you are currently in high school, this would be a great one to watch with fellow classmates after school. It is like a party and all guests are invited to this after school party.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was available by Bandai Entertainment but since they went under, this anime is sadly out of print. I do hope it gets rescued someday. The light novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito are available by Yen Press. A manga adaptation written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Makoto Mizuno only lasted one volume and has not been released stateside. The manga series written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated Gaku Tsugano is available by Yen Press. A spinoff manga called The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya is available by Yen Press. a second spinoff called Nyoron Churuya-san has not been released stateside. The anime web series adaptations of Haruhi-chan and Churuya-san were available from Bandai Entertainment and is out of print. Another manga spinoff called The Disappearance of Yuki-chan Nagato has not been released stateside as well as The Intrigue of Koizumi Itsuki. All the video games based on the series are only released in Japan.
With all that said, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an anime that is straight-up fun. The plot is whacky and fun, the animation is great for 2006, the characters are memorable despite developmental issues in certain areas, and the soundtrack is great for this science fantasy slice of comedy.
I give The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya a 9 out of 10, it is EXCELLENT!
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