The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, is anything but melancholy.
This anomalous show breaks the barrier for what people have come to 'expect' from 'school-life' or even 'comedy' anime. The real trick here, is that Haruhi is a Science-Fiction in disguise. That is not to say that this show isn't laugh-your-ass-off funny, because it definitely is.
The smorgasbord of genre's that appear in this show is just ridiculous, but in a good way. Too often a show becomes overly ambitious and tries to include tones that don't fit, or belong. However, Haruhi is hilarious, abstruse, and very, very witty. If other animes are Vanilla, or Chocolate, than Haruhi is Neapolitan.
If there is one weak point to this show, this would be it.
The story intentionally tries to confuse viewers, by skipping around randomly, and leaving cliffhangers up in the air by giving a 'filler' episode at the next airing rather than adding on to the story.
Haruhi is chalk full of filler. This is not at all a bad thing, as the filler is all extraordinarily enjoyable. A few instances of this, is the performance of the band at the school festival, or the video game episode later on: totally unecessary, but just a couple more things to add to this shows enormous roster of 'we did it because we could' hijinks.
Credit must be given for a brave new approach to storytelling, and also, for giving a furtive and blindsiding twist. There isn't a person alive who will be able to totally figure this show out before the twists are spelled out to you.
The actual progression of the story is: 11, 1, 2, 7, 3, 9, 8, 10, 14, 4, 13, 12, 6, 5. This is in episodic order (Example: episode 4 is actually episode 7, and episode 5 is actually episode 3, and episode's 2, 3, 5, 10, and 14 are the only one's that are actually in the 'main' storyline.)
To be honest, you'll be too busy enjoying the hilarity, and over-the-top antics of Haruhi to really notice the problems with the story, anyway. At least by the end you can understand what's happened, and it is a complete experience.
Haruhi is unquestionably beautiful. There is some of the cleanest, most smooth flowing, frame-by-frame animation you'll find. The ever so slight shift of even a few inches, to the few high energy combat scenes, are all ebullient and lifelike.
Characters actually blink, CG is tenably weaved into the movements during the few action-oriented sequences. The Camera in this show is just spectacular. Everything from the discreit panning, to the sudden zooming, all exemplifying an extensive and impassioned effort by the animators.
Atmosphere is set consummately by the shifts in perspective. One moment, we're over the shoulder of a character as our narrator states his surprise at seeing this character. The next moment, to delineate the situation, the angle shifts to show our character in question standing within an eerie golden washed classroom, with the sunset illustrating the odd scene. Slowly, this character makes their way across the classroom, their shadow in persuit as they begin their dialogue. (This is just one of many examples I could provide)
The Intro: Bouken, Desho? Desho!? written by Aki Hata and performed by Aya Hirano (Also the Seiyuu for Haruhi Suzumiya's character) was not only well animated, but extremely catchy, and energetic.
The Ending: Sunny, Sunshiny, Happy also written by Aki Hata and performed by the 3 female protagonists of the show, is an even more dynamic experience. The use of corregraphed dancing for the characters was just priceless.
While all the characters were flawlessly type-casted, the one that really stole the show was Tomokazu Sugita's character, Kyon. The narrative that is given by Kyon throughout Haruhi's short and peculiar run, is easily some of the funniest, sharpest, and easiest to relate to writing out there. His normally polite and easy going exterior is underlined by a powerfully comedic, and not just slightly cynical, inner dialogue. Before we can even think it, Kyon's saying it.
The rhythmic, upbeat tunes that outline the normally zany actions of the show, round out the great soundtrack of this program.
While credit should be given for keeping the cast relatively small for such a short show, there are some slightly irrelevant characters. Ample time is not given to the backstories of any of the characters outside of Kyon and Haruhi, but then again, I suppose they weren't supposed to have any, considering the plot. However, our two main protagonists are two diamonds in the same ruff.
Haruhi herself is just fantastic. She is so out of control, and driven by her own ego and sense of adventure, that the irony of the show is perfect. Snobby and agressive she may be, but from the sequences of trying to forcefully rip off Asahina's clothing, to slamming Kyon's chair back in the middle of class to get his attention, you can't help but love her.
Kyon is such a perfect co-pilot for this show, because he is so totally the polar opposite of Haruhi. As illustrated before, his short and curt approach to things, while having an extremely detailed thought process is comedy gold. He is drug into so much trouble because of our adventurous and temperamental heroine, that you find yourself shaking your head and smiling at his plight.
Our supporting cast is not without some gem's as well. Particularly Yuki Nagato, and Mikuru Asahina. Going into why here, would be doing so with spoilers, so I'll stop there.
Overall Rating: (8.75/10)
Strap yourself in and prepare for a most unparagoned experience, because there is truly nothing quite like this out there.