The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and its follow up film Disappearance

haruhi

  • Trailer: English dubbed version
  • What it’s about: Haruhi Suzimiya is bored. This isn’t an unusual trait for a high-schooler, but her solution is unique: set up a club dedicated to investigating the paranormal and supernatural. Dragged along for the ride is the cynical Kyon, who takes the general weirdness and domineering personality of Haruhi in his stride.
  • Why you should watch it: Haruhi is a cult sensation within anime, and she’s far and away the most popular character for female anime cosplayers. She’s an incredibly strong and well-developed character and anchors the entire show. Kyon, likewise, is one of the best realisations of the “cynical, sarcastic narrating teen male lead” that’s almost omnipresent in the world of Visual Novels. The series itself is easy to pick up and drop whenever, leaning towards episodic content and with a non-linear storyline. It’s funny, it’s addicting, and it’s weird. Finally, even if you don’t enjoy what you see in the series itself, the movie conclusion Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is quite rightly lauded as one of the best anime movies out there today.
  • Caveats: Viewing order for the show is a little contested. See this image for a breakdown of the argument. Pacing-wise, the original broadcast order is fantastic, but it makes some bizarre choices in what to show and when. Particularly with the first episode, which is a home-movie created by the characters and has an entirely different style, storyline and aesthetic than the rest of the show. To anyone who’s already seen the whole show, I should only have to mention the words “Endless Eight”.
  • Themes: The power of imagination is the surface theme but, if you dig even slightly below the surface, there’s a strong urging by the creator to the audience to try to find joy in the “merely real”. You don’t need espers and time travelers for the world to be interesting, and if they did exist, they’d quickly become mundane anyway.
  • Similar works: Robotics;Notes and Angel Beats! both have a somewhat familiar set of characters and share the same premise: weird stuff going on in a high-school environment.
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