Yes, I know it’s Monday, but I was busy Friday working on my second part of Anki. Anyway, Today I’m reviewing The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Plot Overview: Cynical Kyon finds himself going to high school surrounded by aliens, espers, time travelers, and one very, very powerful teenage girl, Haruhi Suzumiya. I’m sure everyone has heard of this anime before, as it seems to have taken the otaku subculture by storm, thanks to it’s witty characters, excellent script, and that one dance.
Basically, Kyon meets Haruhi, an eccentric girl who wishes to meet aliens, espers, time travelers, and basically anyone who isn’t “normal” since that bores her. Dragging our poor protagonist into making an unofficial club, the SOS Brigade, of which its sole mission is to find these abnormal characters and have fun with them, she then manages to kidnap (I think Koizumi came willingly, and she apparently inherited Yuki along with the room) a few other students to complete the club. Oddly enough, each member secretly reveals themselves to Kyon to actually be the kinds of people Haruhi is interested in, and that Haruhi herself is probably the most powerful being on earth, though she doesn’t realize it, apparentlyhaving the ability to change reality to match her own worldview. If they aren’t careful, Haruhi might get really bored, and then it’s sayonara for everyone and everything in existence!
Artwork: The artwork for this show is very good. You can tell that a lot of time went into it, from the small details of the clubroom to the computers they use. The beauty of this anime is in the details, and there’s enough here to make everything look spectacular. Each moment and each mood is captured perfectly, the characters always look good, and the show always manages to stay interesting because of the artwork… even endless eight… maybe…
Animation: The animation is also top-notch. The movements are fluid and seldom ackward, managing to make each character look and feel real. At first I was worried about Haruhi, because energetic characters tend come off as overdone sometimes in animation (thinks of Ouran High School Host Club), but Haruhi’s abundant energy seems unique and natural.
On the other hand, Kyon manages to stay subdued, yet interesting, letting his body do most of his talking for him with frequent shoulder shrugs and a deadpan expression. The even more subdued Nagato is animated in a way that keeps her a mystery, yet doesn’t steal from her unique character. She’s given a few quirks, unlike other “silent girl” anime characters.
Beyond the characters, the animation always stays good, never faltering and always keeping appropriate to the tone set by each scene.
Action: To be perfectly honest, there isn’t much action in this show, seeing as how it’s more about characters and solving problems in a more interpersonal way than fighting an external conflict. However, this scene is more than enough to make up for the lack of action!
Music: This category also gets high marks from me, and I’m sure it does from a lot of other reviewers as well. The music isn’t Escaflowne, but the simple background tunes match perfectly, and the openings and endings of each season are very good. The songs are what really draw people to this anime initially, I think. At least, it’s how I found it.
Character Development: Again, very strong in this area. Granted, Koizumi and Mikuru are still a bit of a mystery, but Yuki seems to be developing a lot, as well as Kyon and Haruhi. The other, more background characters seem to get a decent amount as well. If the series continues, I’m certain that we’ll be seeing even more in this area.
Granted, Yuki started out as a blank slate of a character, so she really had nowhere to go but up, and these types of anime characters usually go way up.
Tone: This is a witty, yet light-hearted anime. It manages to be nerdy and full of obscure references that some may not get, yet it remains engaging and almost impossible to hate. At the surface, it seems like just another wacky anime, but it manages to stay exceptionally fresh, and has a large fanbase for a reason.
Pacing: The first season’s episodes were deliberately aired out of order, mixing things up considerably, and the second season had a terribly long arc known as Endless Eight. While the pacing is good (except for Endless Eight), it’s difficult to judge, seeing as how things are out of order.
Dubbing: I can’t really say anything, seeing as how I’ve never bothered to watch it. If you’re learning Japanese (and if you’re reading this blog, I assume you are), then you should really kick the dub habit.
Recommended? Most definitely! Probably more so than any other anime I’ve reviewed thus far, in fact. It’s really, really hard to dislike this show, seeing as how it has such widespread appeal. There’s always something to like in it, even when it doesn’t fit your tastes exactly. At the very least, check out the first season. I can see waiting on the second one, but the first is a must-see.
This is the box set I recommend. It’s only season 1 (season 2 hasn’t been released in America yet), and it’s the highest quality DVD I’ve come across. I didn’t like the other “complete” collection. It was just formatted wrong or something.