Ok. There's rarely a time when I give a series all 10/10s. I usually find something that I don't necessarily like or agree with, and I'm ok with that. But this one really fit me. It's only 14 episodes long, but if you by the 2nd season, it's considerably longer. (The events of season 2 take place within the same school year, and you actually watch a lot of the episodes in between episodes of season one to see the entire thing.) It sounds confusing, because it is. The only thing is, it doesn't take away from the series in the least bit.
Before you watch it, I will suggest this, watch it in the original broadcast order. To me, anyway, the ending seemed stronger that way. I'll clarify. The series was broadcast in one order, but chronologically, the episodes are not the same order. Thus if you watch the American release of the DVD, you will end up watching the episodes out of the sequence they were originally broadcast in. If you watch it chronologically, the ending is not as strong as if you watch it in the broadcast order. Does that make sense?
Now onto what I thought of the series. The thing I like best about it, was that it was over the top, without being over the top. No one wields swords that can chop buildings in half with a single swing. There are no over top explosions or overly comical punches that launch the main character several hundred feet in the air, or anything like that. Within the confines of the plot, the action is zany, but not unrealistic. The plot however, takes a major step away from reality in a way that only enhances the story. It's believable and unbelievable at the same time.
At the heart of it all you have Kyon. He is by far my favorite male protagonist when it comes to anime. He's not clueless, nor stupid, nor unbelievably heroic or altruistic. In fact, he seems to be absolutely believable as an everyday teenage boy. He's a little more intelligent than most, but not unbelievably so. He learns to understand his own feelings gradually, and while he's aware of his own sexuality he's not too shy about it, nor too forward about it. If I would say anything, I would say that Kyon is typical in the sense of he acts much like people you see everyday, but he's got a certain savvy that makes him endearing to watch.
Haruhi, on the other hand, is a force of nature. I don't mean that literally. What I mean is, that she is driven and unfortunately for Kyon, whatever she has in mind usually involves him in one way or another. She's forceful, intelligent, creative and sassy. Some might say over the top, but I don't. I've known people like that, and when I come to think of it, I typically remember that kind of person with a smile in my heart. She is genuinely unafraid to speak her mind or be different, and it makes for a lot of comedy when people who aren't that way get taken along for the ride. Just being near her brings about positive change to her friends, even though they don't know it at the time.
The other characters add to the story, but this is really about Kyon and Haruhi. Its interesting that the only one that seems to have any chance of reigning her in is Kyon. Their relationship unfolds in a way that makes for really good story telling. My suggestion to anyone watching this is to put your belief aside when it comes to the premise, and sit back and enjoy the ride.