I’m continuing my blog series on Kyoto Animation tonight with one of the most popular anime series as of recent history, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The amount of sheer fandom that this show has achieved is somewhat staggering as well as puzzling. You would think that a show of some random girl running around looking for aliens while dragging a group of other students with her would make for a mediocre show at best. However, I guess the people in charge of the show really shocked world and decided to show us that a high school themed show about a guy and girl can seem fresh and funny.
I have tried to figure out how this show grabbed the hearts of so many anime fans to the point of rabid loyalty, but it is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong this show is good I really enjoyed it and I still watch it even now, however, you won’t see me running around with a Haruhi t-shirt on, have a large amount of Yuki figurines, or even better a Mikuru pillowcase on my bed. However, the latter type of fandom is the type of fandom that this show has generated. Now I’m not saying that if you have the above mentioned items your strange or that typical “otaku” guy or girl although the Mikuru pillowcase could raise some eye brows but whatever.
The show features very good animation and the character designs to many people seem somewhat ordinary. I believe they are nice and get the job done, but it’s not how the characters look but how they interact with one another and the environment around them. The monologues that happen inside Kyon’s head are actually very suitable for the show as he tells what he thinks in his head about the events around him. For some reason it really adds to the comedy of the show. Kyon is the guinea pig of Haruhi, she likes him so he’s always caught up in her ideas. Although he never leaves so he must not mind it too much. He helps keep Haruhi in check while at the same time enjoying the costumes that Haruhi throws on Mikuru. Haruhi is very over the top about everything as she runs around like a little dictator demanding things of her servants. However, her blunt attitude can be very annoying to fans, but I didn’t really mind. I thought it was much better than the one dimensional harem girl characters that many people guys seem to love.
Mikuru is as Haruhi puts it the “decoration” of the show. She is the source of every element of fan service the show manages to create minus a few bunny girl costume appearances by Haruhi that I’m sure had several Otaku reaching for tissues to stop the nosebleed. Yuki is the silent type with glasses (see knocking out two archetypes there) while she doesn’t say much, she is interesting with her ability to cast incantations on objects as well as her very serious, and deadly combat abilities. Koizumi is the character who really is the “follower” of Haruhi, kind of like a butler who just smiles as he watches his master have fun but can be serious if pushed. (like the destruction of the earth)
The show is about a girl named Haruhi, who is apparently God that can create and destroy universes at a mere thought, however she doesn’t realize this. She’s looking for aliens, time travelers, and espers, but doesn’t realize that Yuki, Mikuru, and Koizumi are those three beings who are keeping an eye on Haruhi to help ensure that she doesn’t destroy the earth. Kyon really just was in the right place at the right time and he gets caught up in everything. Haruhi was displeased with all the clubs so he gave her the idea to create her own club. So she creates a club to search for aliens and what not that turns into the ever popular SOS Brigade. Besides one incident that happens with her almost destroying the earth without realizing it, that is really the entire story of the series. Sound exciting? I didn’t think so.
The show is made up of fourteen episodes with really only six contributing to the main storyline. Seven of the other episodes are filler pretty much. They are very entertaining and offer many good laughs, but do nothing to advance the story. The last one is the movie that the SOS brigade shoots in the series, it is completely useless and offer nothing to the viewer except maybe a few laughs. Now in regard to the episodes they were not aired in chronological order. Not a huge deal really but it does have its flaws no matter which way you watch the show.
If you watch it in broadcast order (out of order) the first episode is the movie Haruhi makes during the series. This takes up the entire episode and the viewer doesn’t even see Haruhi really except for at the end where she stands up and smiles after watching the movie. It really throws viewers for a loop. In fact I almost didn’t even continue watching because it was just so ridiculous and I was slightly confused. Also if you watch out of order the characters will make many reference to things that have already happened chronologically, but the episode airs later on so you don’t really know what they’re talking about.
If you watch chronologically you fix all the problems of not knowing what is going on and you will understand all the references to other episodes. However, the sixth episode chronologically (14th episode in broadcast order) will seem like the end. Not a big problem but after episode six the remaining episodes are all filler and will not advance the story at all. I recommend watching it both ways but I would watch broadcast order first. Then whenever you watch it chronologically it’s interesting to pick up on all the references you didn’t understand before.
My thoughts on the show lean toward calling it a very good show. The amount of animation going on in the background as well as the coloring and filters that appear really make the animation shine. The character’s personalities make the show interesting and entertaining. While the story is non-existent for more than half the series the events that happen really do show some good comedy. Episode 12 the cultural festival, done by Haruhi (Aya Hirano) was good and offered a nice mix up to the show to actually hear half of a song and one verse of another. (I have the full versions of both of these songs on my i-pod God Knows and Lost My Music) Really and truly this show is plain fun and funny. Now I just pick an episode and watch and I am still entertained by what happens.
In closing thoughts if you have somehow managed to NOT watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya you really should find it and watch it. It is one of my favorites, it’s a light mainly fast paced comedy that is just plain easy to enjoy. The flaw that half of the episodes actually move the main storyline is somewhat overlooked by having funny fillers for the most part, but I really hope in the second season they focus more storyline than extras. I wouldn’t mind them broadcasting episodes in chronological order either. However, those are slight flaws and will hardly destroy your enjoyment of the show. This wraps up my blog post on Haruhi tomorrow I will write about the “sad girls in the snow” show. If you can’t figure it out here’s a hint: