Shiny Shelf


The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, volume 1

By Mags L Halliday on 03 November 2008

Kyon is your regular teenager. He used to want to believe in aliens, time travellers and espers – like a Japanese Mulder Jnr. But he’s going to High School and has accepted such things aren’t real and that life is going to be pretty dull and routine from now on. Until the girl behind him in home form, announces herself. “Haruhi Suzumiya. East Middle School. I have no interest in ordinary humans. If you’re an alien, time traveller or ESPer, come see me. That is all.”

The introduction to the world of Haruhi is the same in all the various formats: Kyon foolishly starts talking to Haruhi and gets drawn into a world where aliens, time travellers and ESPers really do exist. And Haruhi doesn’t realise they are surrounding her and making sure her life remains interesting in case she, an unconscious world-shifter, changes reality. The thing about Haruhi is that she is deeply annoying yet you end up liking her. Maybe it’s Kyon’s somewhat weary, long-suffering yet affectionate narration.

‘Haruhi’ is something of a cult series: from the YouTube-ing of the closing credit sequence to its performance by jailmates. It gets spoofed in other series and, after various fan translations, is gradually becoming available in English. The DVD series came out earlier this year in the UK, and the manga series from Yen Press is published now. The translated light novel – the original source from which the cult has sprung – is due at the start of next year. Season 2 of the anime is much anticipated, long delayed, and said to be taken from the light novel and manga storyline ‘The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya’.

It’s hard to review the first volume of the ‘Melancholy’ manga cold: I wanted to read it because it’s the source of the anime which I’ve already watched far too often, and in the absence of new ‘Haruhi’ anime I want to get to the as-yet un-adapted storylines. The story in the first book does unfold in a different order but is substantially the same: Kyon gets dragged into Haruhi’s world. Literally. The artwork is slightly cuter than I expected, and some of Kyon’s thoughts are slightly toned compared to the DVD version. Haruhi seems more sane to start with, but quickly becomes the hyperactive maniac I was expecting. The harem genre elements (one everyman male surrounded by cute girls) also seem, at least in the first issue, rather less obvious and there is slightly more emphasis on the potential Kyon/Haruhi romance instead.

Essentially, if you already know and love ‘Haruhi’, you’ll enjoy the manga (and, based on the preview chapter included here, the light novel). If you don’t already know it, it’s as good a place to start as any.


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