Kyon, your typical high school student, has long given up his belief in the supernatural. However, upon meeting Haruhi Suzumiya, he quickly finds out that it is the supernatural that she is interested in—aliens, time travelers, and espers among other things. When Haruhi laments about the lack of intriguing clubs around school, Kyon inspires Haruhi to form her own club. As a result, the SOS Brigade is formed, a club which specializes in all that is the supernatural.
Much to his chagrin, Kyon, along with the silent bookworm, Yuki Nagato, the shy and timid Mikuru Asahina, and the perpetually smiling Itsuki Koizumi, are recruited as members. The story follows the crazy adventures that these four endure under their whimsical leader, Haruhi. The story is based on the light novels by Nagaru Tanigawa.
The episodes for this series were intentionally not broadcast in chronological order. Hence why at the end of episodes, the next announced episode number did not always match. Usually, Haruhi would announce it only to be corrected by Kyon. This leaves two different options of viewing: chronological order or broadcast order.
I've read many reviews of this show, and they're varied - some people love it, some hate it. Personally, I love this show, and am almost surprised that some people don't. But then again, if you don't like the sheer randomness and wackiness that the show builds on, the anime won't appeal to you.
The setting is as following – a girl (Haruhi Suzumiya) has the power to change reality – a sort of God, in other words. She is unaware of this ability herself. Her wish of meeting espers, aliens and time travelers, combined with the aforementioned power, ends
up in her making a club where said types of beings come together (she’s unaware of them being any more than normal humans, though) – along with a perfectly normal guy named Kyon; the first normal human to get along with her. Her club is called the SOS Brigade (Save the world by Overloading it with fun Suzumiya Haruhi’s Bridage), and we follow them as they partake in various – and humorous – activities.
Story-wise, you can say the anime is episodic in that there's a new event every episode, but there's still ties between the individual episodes, which makes a true chronological order present. However, they were originally aired in a non-chronologic order, to make things even more confusing and random. Personally, I prefer the chronological order over the broadcast order, but I've heard people say otherwise. I'll try to list ups and down as good as possible:
+ You'll get some good character development
+ The end of the series actually come at the end
- References to episodes that you haven't watched yet
- First episode might scare you off (watch it till the end!)
+ Linear story
- The ending is kinda in the middle of the series
- Character development may feel a bit reset after episodes
Decide for yourself =)
To me, the story was really great, and so was the setting. Each episode contained so much - you may feel that you've watched more than one episode's length at the end of an episode. This is partially due to the pacing - it varies from the slow, standard slice-of-life pacing to hyperactive and fast pacing which fits with Haruhi's character.
The animation style of the show is excellent. Kyoto Animation definitely lives up to their reputation - most of the series they've worked on has an excellent animation quality (note: excellent, not necessarily perfect). The characters move so fluidly, the coloring is great, and other details are good too. Haruhi's various hair styles are a plus too. Lighting effects are good too..Their faces lost detail too often, which drags it down.
The soundtrack is so-so. It's not the best, but it's good nevertheless. The OP/ED themes are catchy and good stand-alone songs, and the BGM is decent for this type of show. Voice acting is really good too; they manage to portray Haruhi's hyperactiveness and Kyon's laid-back, sarcastic character very well.
When it comes to the characters, many people drag the score down because of the near-absence of character development. But, hey, guess what folks? It's a 14-episode slice of life/comedy anime. You don't watch these if you want character development. Sometimes you've got to think about what you're rating before you rate it. I don't let low amounts of character development drag down the score for this kind of anime. Though, watching it in broadcast order presents you with some good character development towards the end.
Okay, the characters may be a little unoriginal - the laid-back guy and the hyperactive girl pair is definitely not something unseen. A quiet and shy girl and a moe/loli girl aren't unusual either. But what made the characters in TMoHS as good as they were was the unique way in which they were presented - it kinda made me forget that they're based on character types seen many times before in the world of anime.
The story is told from Kyon's point of view, and he tells the story in a style that just made me burst out in laughter from time to time. Haruhi's hyperactiveness and, as Nagato said, "absence of universally accepted personality traits", makes her really fun to watch, and she gives me a good laugh more than once per episode. What people may find repulsive about her behavior is her constant sexual harassments of poor Mikuru. But I've seen people who hate the show based on only that, which I find stupid. Anyway, you've got to be prepared for a little fanservice from Haruhi's and Mikuru's interactions, if that's the correct term.
All in all, TMoHS is a series which, to me, lived up to most of the hype. Good way of telling a 14-episode story, good animation, decent soundtrack, characters who were portrayed in a way that made them original, and of course, a unique setting. And not to mention, it's highly rewatchable, both for getting to watch it in both orders and because it's just pure fun to watch over and over again.
To 'Not Helpful' voters (and you 'Helpful' voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
It's not easy writing a review for such a well known and extremely successful anime. I'll do my best though.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is, I feel I can safely say, a milestone in Anime history. Much like Evangelion, Suzumiya brings new light and brilliance to something we didn't know could exist. It brings pure genius comedy and an excellent array of characters to keep you hooked.
What's so good about it you ask? Why's this anime good enough to be deemed a milestone. It's simple. Haruhiism. It's a religion named after Haruhi herself. Her character posses such a strong charisma that you can't help
but feel attracted and entertained by her. Her comments throughout the show are comparable with no other characters in any series that I can think of. Kyon along side her completes the two so incredibly well that its near impossible to not want to watch the next episode to see how the two will interact.
Enough rambling, the story is awesome. It's presented to you out of chronological order. That means episode 4 comes after episode 6, and episode 8 comes before 5 (not the actual order of the show). Don't worry though, the episodes are out of order with purpose and intention, and it makes the anime all the more interesting.
The Animation is top notch. There's one episode where a particular character is singing and they have the lyrics/drummer/guitarist sinked perfectly. Beautiful fight scenes (though these are short and infrequent) too.
The sound/music is pretty decent, with the opening and ending pretty catchy. Nothing amazing though.
I only gave the characters a 9/10 because there isn't enough information given about everyone to really get to know the character. Sure each definitely has their own personality, but we don't "know" them by the time the show ends.
10/10 for enjoyment, without a doubt.
If you haven't picked this series up, do it now. It's one of those "must sees" and you will not regret it.
1) I (unfortunately) watched the series twice, both in airing and chronological order, so I can compare them.
2) This is not a praise Haruhi review, but rather a review from someone who truly dislikes and despises the show. I tried to include all reasons behind this; so even if you are a Haruhi fanatic, please try to understand why I rated it so low.
Now onto the review.
MAL is the place where I usually decide the new anime series I want to watch. Unfortunately, this sometimes proves to be disastrous - like the case of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Reading the synopsis, seeing the nice graphics and all the hype around it, I really expected something great, intelligent and unusual. Instead, I got a really big disappointment - manifested by a boredom and annoyance overdose.
From what I've seen, there are usually two approaches of the show that Haruhi fans support. First is the parody one - TMoHS is supposed to be a light comedy not meant to be taken seriously, destined purely for laughter. Second states that TMoHS is a deep, subtle and intelligent show that has a lot of hidden meanings. I honestly disagree with both. TMoHS is nothing more than a series that delivers to fans what fans want - exaggerated, cliche characters, lots of fanservice, predictability and little to none plot and character development.
You can't talk about the story without mentioning the really unusual way in which the episodes are aired - and that is, not chronological. I admit, this is an extremely intelligent, even brilliant idea - to hide the fact that the plot of TMoHS is basically zero. Nopes. Nothing ever happens; it's just a bunch of high school and spare time events that some teenagers go through randomly thrown in. That's why, it really doesn't matter in which order you watch the show, since you won't miss anything.
Now, the whole 'God is amongst us' concept could have been really interestingly developed - if it wasn't for the characters.
In my opinion, characters truly represent the poorest aspect of the show. Leaving aside the fact that there is no development in their personalities at all, they are so poorly made, that it's almost as if they were created to be mocked at. In an elegant way, you could say that they are one-dimensional sketches or exaggerated caricatures. In a non sophisticated, yet same true way, you could just call them crappy. Either way, they cut off all the enjoyment the story could have brought. Because they are so simplistic, the viewer is basically able to predict anything that's about to happen in the following 5 minutes with an accuracy of 95% - unless he's an idiot.
So let's move onto each one of them.
Haruhi is what every teenage girl would want to be - she's beautiful, she's smart, she's talented and athletic. She could be called either a Mary Sue character or a tsundere - I don't care. Because of all her qualities, her life was probably pretty easy, thus leading her to believe she's special. However, she doesn't want to be special only for herself - she wants the world to know how great of a person she is. So far, so good. Then why is she so unlikeable? Well, Haruhi's way of proving she's something else is definitely WRONG.
If there was one adjective I had to pick to describe Haruhi, then I'd probably choose aggressive. Haruhi is aggressive in everything. Her speech is aggressive, her ideas are aggressive, her way of waving her hands is aggressive, but most important of all - her relationships towards other people is aggressive. She has no value of human morals whatsoever, considering everybody her pawns. Therefore, Haruhi thinks she is allowed to do everything just because she's able to. I honestly waited throughout the whole series for someone to slap her, disagree with her or at least spark the tiniest bit sense of reality into her. Unfortunately, there was no positive development at all. Haruhi started out as a perfect, bossy bitch and ended up as an even more bitchy one, receiving several ego boosts as the series advanced due to her talented, almighty nature.
Yuki could as very well be replaced by a broken alarm clock that rings when it shouldn't or by an old, rusted door and there would hardly be any differences. 90% of Yuki's actions are static - she's just, well, there, reading a book. (The climax of Yuki's passiveness is reached during episode 14, when the viewer is shown 5 minutes in which basically all she does is change the page while voices full of references echo on the school corridor. That's 5 freaking minutes of NOTHING. Yet I, as a viewer, should find this utterly amusing.) The rest 10% of Yuki's actions make absolutely no sense. She's just programming computers or fighting cute aliens while being equally cute, silent and moe.
Mikuru's only purpose in this show is to bring fanservice. Lots and lots, if possible. Mikuru has this high-pitched, squeaky scream and this shy personality which enables her to make all fanboys fall for her. She's like a sickening cute, fluffy hamster that starts squealing every time she's touched (and she sure gets touched a lot, mind you.) Every once in a while, she might give you the unpleasant surprise that she's not actually a commercial item and she can exit her tormented animal state too and be human - by speaking.
I haven't read the original novels so I can't tell for sure what role Koizumi plays in them - but to me, it seems as the creator of TMoHS had, at some point, reached a pinch. He had to create a new character. Therefore, his line of reasoning was probably something like this: "Hey, I already have 3 extremely moe and likable female characters. I should make a guy too, so the female audience would be pleased. Yeah, yeah, I should make a guy - as elegant and charming as possible." Thus Koizumi was born.
Basically, unless you're a crazy fangirl or something similar, you'd barely be able to notice Koizumi - I, for once, kept forgetting his name all the time. To be honest, the only time I acknowledged his existence was when he kept staring at Kyon's hair in the middle of a mole fluttering in the ocean breeze. I thought it was the most irrelevant and repulsing thing TMoHS had brought so far.
Koizumi serves as the voice through which the strange events occurring around Haruhi are explained. Translation: his speeches are long, boring and put you to sleep. When he talks, he talks. When he doesn't talk, he still talks.
Kyon is a sword with two edges. On one hand, he's really sarcastic, being quite innovative to the ordinary guy genre - thus proving to be the only aspect that might seem slightly interesting during the series. On the other one, he's extremely unlikable due to the fact that he doesn't take any action at all - unless forced by Haruhi. Kyon was the viewer's last hope of Haruhi redemption - yet he fails miserably, by making her even worse than how she actually started off.
Art and Sound
Art and sound are probably the only positive aspects of the show. TMoHS manages to create a pretty good atmosphere - the movements are flowing easily, the colors are bright and clean, the background music fits in - even though it doesn't stand out as more than ordinary. The OP and ED are either really addictive or annoying to the core - I'm more inclined to the latter. Voices are OK, the actors managing to catch each character's personality - which only adds up to how you, as a viewer, perceive them. Overall, no major problem.
Zero. Zero enjoyment. I can't quite comprehend how a normal, rational person can watch a show where the characters are horrible and the story is predictable - and, at the same time, enjoy it. Haruhi is a mediocre anime for the masses. It was meant to be liked by all those who want to stand out but have no means of doing so. I honestly expect much more from my anime when I watch it. I want to be hooked or at least slightly entertained. Leave aside the fact that I constantly kept staring elsewhere asking myself 'when will this crap be over?'; I couldn't even grin ONCE throughout the series. That's how uninteresting it was.
When rating, I usually consider two aspects. One is enjoyment; the other is the effort that I feel the creators put into the certain anime. Animation-wise, KyoAni really overdid itself. Plot-wise, it was a total wreck.
Therefore, I really cannot rate TMoHS more than 4 out of 10.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya really only falls flat on the character that bitches her way to success and continuously cleans her superiority complexion. Allow me to elaborate.
I mean, normally those kinds of characters are just a means for comedy and we just see them scoffed off for fun. But, actually seeing one have their way was a bit strange and made the anime feel awkward since she was literally a god and had to be pleased or else she could destroy the world she lived in; unintentionally that is.
Just Haruhi alone is almost worse than the Endless Eight was; only because she started out
good and then progressively became worse. It had a fun story, sure, but the story felt a bit plain in the long run; no thanks to the aforesaid arc and Haruhi. For what it is worth, I do remember it having pretty good visuals.
CAUTION: The rest of this review mainly contains spoilers. Read at your own risk. Actually, you know what, once you see an arc where the episodes begin to repeat themselves, just skip to the end of it. There are eight episodes in it and the eighth episode resolves the whole ordeal. Besides that, the rest are vital spoilers; but feel free to skip this arc when you come across it.
But if you are a fan of character development, this anime falls flat after the beginning. Mikuru gets tortured constantly, up to the point where she inadvertently drank a spiked beverage and was told to kiss Itsuki just so that Haruhi would be satisfied with her film; makes sense to have a love scene and all, but she was drunk and had no say in the matter.
Oh, and she probably had the most grief caused throughout that whole movie arc than anyone else, up to the point where Kyon almost punched Haruhi in the face to knock some sense into her until damn Itsuki had to stop him; she was about to finally have some justice served to her. At one point, Haruhi gives Kyon an arbitrary task just so that she could be alone with Mikuru for more torture. In the long run, character development just suffered thanks to Haruhi.
Well, except for Kyon and Mikuru that is. And I admired how the way Kyon was thinking in the anime is a reminder that even the nicest guys can still be perverts, but that does not mean they are bad people on the inside; simply means they are normal and healthy as they have urges like all men do. It sure stays true to a quote that Family Matters brought up once: "If you think it, that is just your imagination. If you do it, then you will suffer dearly" which can be applied to lots of things, such as this.
If I have to be completely honest, though. Well, actually I was being honest. It was thanks to how arrogant Haruhi was that the anime fell flat. After sharing her tale to Kyon about the vastness of the world and how it changed the way she viewed things, I imagined that she would have simply been rude on the outside, but showed a soft side to him whenever they were alone; which I believe was a recurring instance during the first season. But, after the next season, Haruhi became an indefinite tsundere and it ruined the nice nature of the previous season.
Though if you enjoy characters that torture other characters and do not mind that the bitchy character finally has her way, then this anime might be alright. But, in all fairness, outside Haruhi, the story is alright and pretty imaginative. But, nothing out of the ordinary that I would call incredible and unforgettable; besides how Haruhi got away with how mean she was to people. But, in all honesty, when she is not being rude, she is actually one of the more attractive anime characters that I have seen; I give them points on giving her a design that stands out from other female leads.
Should you watch it? Only if you are in a hiatus and have been unable to find anymore good anime in the past while. Otherwise, I would skip this one completely if you are on a roll and have been watching lots of good ones before this.
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