The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya is an anime adaptation of the book series of the same name. It was animated by Kyoto Animation. The series was a very big cultural phenomena in the otaku community. This is one of the biggest influences on the slice of life school romance genre that’s so prevalent in anime these days. This production along with Lucky Star are what brought anime to a much larger community in the west.
The show focuses on the Haruhi Suzumiya, the president of S.O.S Brigade and its members as they embark on a journey to find extraordinary things in the supernatural. Each episode focuses on a strange event and it is up to the team to decide whether it was really supernatural or not. Kyon, the main protagonist, was an enthusiast in all things paranormal and strange and he always wished for them to be real but as he got older, his enthusiasm waned but was rekindled when he joined S.O.S. Brigade and he starts to view things differently. The story adapts many arcs from the light novel faithfully with some aspects tweaked.
The musical score is memorable and it was part of why the series became such a big hit. Hare Hare Yukai was not only a very well-liked song, the dance routine has been recreated in countless conventions by fans of the series and even the Japanese Va’s took part in the dance in concerts. The audio quality and the musical score in the second season dropped and it wasn’t as fun to listen to as it was in the first season. The opening and endings of season 2 were good but nowhere as good as the first season. The drop in quality was presumably due to budget cuts. Character designs were nicely drawn and very expressive in season 1 but in season 2, its more uneven and the facial qualities just looked rough.
The show is fairly long with 2 seasons so far making it about 28 episodes in total. The series is well documented for one of the most infamous arcs in anime history Endless 8, which was just repeated loops over and over each episode. It ended on August 8 which is probably not a coincidence.
To explain what the Endless 8 is, the story was borrowed from the 5th book of the light novels where Haruhi wished for summer not to end, and because she’s a god, her wish is her command and everyone around her is in the same time loop over and over again. In the novel it was mainly pages that described the loop, here you’ll see firsthand how bad it is. The constant repeating “Kyon Kun Denwa”! Will easily get on your nerves. You'll only notice the differences of each episode because of the different camera angles and outfits each character wears. The way it ends comes up with one of the most illogical solutions: by finishing homework it could break out of the loop. It was really so bad that even the production team had to apologize for how terrible this arc was. You could easily skip this part of the show and move to the next episodes without any consequences.
The characters were well nothing really that great and were just “typical” of a slice of life show. Character development especially for Haruhi, is near nonexistent and part of the reason is that many of the later arcs from the light novel has not been animated as of this writing. Yuki Nagato had the best character development as she grows from distant and logical to a much friendlier and nicer character.
The real names of some of the more important characters are not revealed. Some of the characters are really unlikeable as they are abusive and manipulating. Kyon threatens to brutalize people if they annoy him and has no loyalty to his friends. Haruhi is bossy and gropes the other girls. She really loved to keep pushing people's buttons and place them in very uncomfortable situations and the only one really willing to speak up was Kyon. In fact, the only reason why people were really loyal to her in the first place is because it was out of fear and something, I should add is that in mythology gods were very egocentric and cruel beings and so bringing that comparison to her is actually quite fitting. She hardly faces any comeuppance for her actions and she really can’t handle criticism that well and she is actually one of the most idiotic characters in all anime. The most likeable characters were Itsuki Koizuma and Yuki Nagato as they were pretty level headed and quite logical.
The voice acting in the English was serviceable but the Japanese version was way better. The comedy consisted of Haruhi antics and Kyon getting annoyed. Some episodes were just filler and nothing much really happens. There's also a lot of mystery about a group called The Agency. While its known that they are a group of espers, and one of their objectives is to keep an eye on Haruhi, its never really explained who were the other members in the school and what the ultimate end goal of the agency is.
There isn’t a 3rd season to wrap the other plot threads. Other factors playing in was also the backlash of Endless 8 causing the ratings of the show to tank and now with the Kyoto Animation fire, its highly likely it will never get a 3rd season.
The show was overall ok and to be very frank, it is just another slice of life anime only with supernatural stuff in it.
It gets 3 out of 5 stars.
There was even a webseries called the asos brigade produced by Bandai which was focused on the production of the anime and also the community that was also involved in it. Sadly the site is offline and what videos could be found is scarce and incomplete so if anyone has it downloaded on any disc or has the file, I'll be more than happy to have it uploaded online so the otaku community, especially the younger ones, could really learn what it was like in the 2000s era of otaku culture.
The show in its height had so much games, music, audio dramas and other media that eventually the oversaturation and waning popularity because of the endless 8 just killed it.
More factors include the Author being really lazy to write anything to further the plot and Kyoto Animation focusing on creating more original works instead of adaptations and constant scheduling issues and multiple delays.
It is pretty hard finding a copy of the mangas in Japan and physical media in the U.K but way easier in the west now through Funimation taking many of Bandai’s ips. There is going to be a new light novel coming out this November, The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya and maybe this will bring new life and reclaim the popularity it had in the 2000s.