Kyon is your ordinary high school freshman who has long given up on his childhood dreams of encountering the fantastic and supernatural…or so he thought. From the very first day of school, his classmate–the beautiful but eccentric Haruhi Suzumiya–makes it very clear that her only desire is to meet aliens, time travelers, and psychics! A chance conversation between the two inspires Haruhi to form the SOS Brigade, a school club created for the sole purpose of getting these supernatural beings together. The initial members consist of the mute bookworm Yuki Nagato, the timid but voluptuous Mikuru Asahina, and the polite and ever-smiling Itsuki Koizumi. By the end of this first volume, Kyon quickly finds out that these seemingly "helpless victims" of Haruhi's are actually members of secret organizations–both futuristic and alien–keeping watch over Haruhi as she is the pinnacle of some major calamity on the horizon…
“The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is a series well known in the community, once a flagship series, due to it’s crazy plot and characters. As far as the manga goes, it fell short of expectations. Before anyone gets upset by this (as I’m sure some will), It is easy to appreciate the wacky themes of Suzumiya and the challenging concepts that are played around with. I really do think the idea is good but the task too big for the author. “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is littered with random events and occurrences with a handful of useful arcs within. This manga simply has
too much going on to follow any logic.
"The Melancholy of Suzumiya" is a missed masterpiece.
What I mean by that is that it had the potential to truly be a masterpiece and, if correctly executed, could have scored near full marks but that’s not the reality. My review really plays around the idea that this series is NOT a total failure, it isn’t as bad as many other manga with the same ratings but has earned it’s scored in other ways.
This was probably one of the biggest issues. After reading around 20 or 30 chapters, the “arcs” begin to follow a same formula; something mysterious happens, big build up, turns out to be nothing. I’ll admit that the first few times I almost thought that it was impressive to build up tension like that, but to have nothing happen all the time except for crazy speculation of unusual activity satisfied by a boring conclusion. In manga that has an alien, esper and time traveller as main characters, how it it so hard to find a mystery? That’s a mystery in it’s own. Because of how repetitive the series is it became hard to feel excited at tension as it would always feel as though that moment was irrelevant. A lack of surprises turned this manga into more of a boring Slice of Life.
Okay yes it is manga, which is of course a form of entertainment and is fictional. But that doesn’t make “anime logic” just. Had the author not tried to describe every alien concept or unusual idea, I might have let it slide. But what was really distracting is the contradictory logic given that should allow the manga to function, but instead creates more questions than it answers. Strange events occur often and the justification for it is some long winded, overly complicated verbal diarrhoea that makes no sense to the characters, let alone the reader. This ends up making it painful at times to read the dialogue and also REALLY drags out the manga. It doesn’t even clarify anything. I’d have been more happy to have things left unexplained rather than making up logic as things go along, and contradicting it later on.
POOR BATTLE SCENES :(
This made me a sad boy. A super sad boy. Of course this criticism only refers to the manga but the few battles scenes that occurred were simply too hard to understand what was going on. It isn’t the worst I’ve seen, after all the panels are well drawn, but it was the lack of description that made it difficult. The abilities that people possessed were never explored or explained so when fights occur I had no idea what was going on; maybe aliens shooting lasers with sonic speed? I don't know. Had these been easier to understand, they’d have been a nice bonus to the manga, but the inability to show a clear battle, or at least explain what's going on, really did disappoint and even become a distraction in critical moments.
FAILURE TO CONCLUDE ANYTHING
Something really frustrating about this manga is how open the ending feels. Usually there is some indication of what would happen to allow speculation but the bizarre nature of “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ”does not allow this. Many characters are even more mysterious at the end than they were when they were introduced. To be specific (while avoiding spoilers) implications are made about Koizumi but no definite answers are given. Trying to understand this manga is like trying to decrypt another language that you don’t speak; pointless. With no clear understanding of characters or logic, I finished reading the manga being able to explain to others as little as when I started reading it.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned the progressive improvement throughout the later stages of the manga. “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” really becomes more likeable and enjoyable towards the end for certain. However, the final few chapters were… well pretty crap. The conclusion to “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is pretty bad and doesn’t seem finished. There are more questions created than answers. More or less the whole thing is speculation. New stories in the closing arc but never explored. IT MUST BE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE SERIES MAY NOT BE FINISHED, but after so many years after serialisation I believe it is.
Okay that may be a little harsh since I managed to finish the manga. Sure I complained A LOT whilst doing so but it only bored me to sleep a couple times, so that can’t be so bad? (seriously I did fall asleep once reading long, illogical paragraphs). Not every part of this manga is boring; actually there were times when I would read 5 or 6 chapters at a time. Generally however, chapters feel long and as though nothing in the chapter really mattered. There are some very obvious instances of the author simply filling spaces so that the chapter had enough pages to be published. As the reader you will notice these moments, and it’s not enjoyable when it takes more effect to read than it did to write/draw. But that doesn’t mean everything is “filler” but a lot is.
WHAT WAS AWESOME...
“The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” HAS GREAT CHARACTERS
I really want to emphasise how great the characters are (even if I don't like them all). Sure I just bashed the uncertainty of the characters but they are in the least consistent. Suzumiya herself is self-entitled to the extent that it’s painful, HOWEVER I am yet to see another character so frustrating to see but yet so true to their character and entertaining. Her personality, though disgusting, is intriguing rather that repulsive; Suzumiya is a great character. Kyon, our main character, is so simple yet well done. No minute with him is boring despite his mediocrity and generic personality. But what I think there really is to appreciate with “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is that the side characters are entertaining and usually have depth. Many of my favoured characters are the side characters (like Tsuruya and Sasaki) who are enigmatic ,like everyone other character, but unique in other ways. I really do feel as though this series has few weak characters, though they certainly aren’t perfect.
..AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT (or lack of)
To make the characters even better, the series sees a number of characters change their behaviour as more mystery unravel (well as much as “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” unravels anyway). Every significant character has some form of development, but in ways that don't break their character. No one receives a total, unrealistic transformation. In the end, every character is true to themselves but yet think or act differently because of what they have learned. It really did make it easy to enjoy seeing the same characters being the same and not undergoing some “bs anime logic” transformation.
SUZUMIYA CAN BE ENJOYABLE..
With all the nonsense words and dead end arcs, reading “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is often boring. I’m sure we all know the frustration of building up to a big moment before reaching a big anticlimax. “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is filled with these moment. HOWEVER there were many times I laughed and enjoyed the manga. I loved most of the chapters that followed Yuki and the later chapters of the manga are really easy to enjoy. Often I laughed at the small jokes made throughout and reading this manga felt fun. The “Editor in Chief” and “Disappearance of Suzumiya” arcs are two that I found particularly strong and enjoyable.
Other things worth mentioning...
* I like the art, I do think that it's usually pretty nice to look at (besides the battle scenes).
* Familiar settings (like the club-room) didn't feel boring or repetitive but somehow felt comfortable.
*After thinking about this manga for sometime, the plot is so unclear that I'd be able to summarise it. Is there even a plot?
I do believe that “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” truly had the potential to be great. I refer to it as “a missed masterpiece” for this reason. But it’s flaws and lack of clarity are so obvious that it makes it a bad read. To me, it looks like the writer thought of a challenging plot and tried it, but the end result was the failure of a great idea. Reading “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” was an experience different to any other manga I’ve read however. Sometimes I enjoyed this a lot, other times I wanted to stop. The characters were great and left an impression, but the sloppy and subpar plot just ruined it, it truly was a shambles. I hardly finding myself thinking about the manga now (several weeks after finishing) and when I do, I complain. I’m glad I had the chance to see what the “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” hype is about and to meet those characters BUT I wouldn’t do it again. Hell if I knew what i was in for I wouldn't have done it to start with. “The Melancholy of Suzumiya ” is not worth the time it takes and I would not recommend reading. If you’re really interested in the franchise I’d suggest watching the anime (because its much shorter than 105 chapters).
I have said numerous times that Haruhi is the greatest anime/light novel series ever, so I decided to read the manga. Going in, I expected copious amounts of Adaptation Decay and I was most certainly right. However, while most fans find that the re-ordering of events ruins the storyline or makes it impossible to read, that is the precise reason why I decided to read it. And not only that, but the amount of filler. And not just any kind of filler, but well-written, enjoyable filler, not like that Naruto crap that I wish never happened (except for the one with Mizuki, but I digress).
Many people absolutely hate the art. I don't. I find the art to be, while slightly different, well done and, once again, another take on Haruhi. The way I feel about this manga is similar to the way I feel about the third Harry Potter movie. It was a good movie, just not a good Harry Potter movie. I view this series as a fresh look at the Haruhi Mythos, and as a completey separate work, as opposed to "an adaptation of the hit light novel series," because Adaptation Decay is simply what makes each adaptation its own work.
It's a hard thing talking about Haruhi Suzumiya since there are just so many versions of it that I could possibly not know which is the more definitive way to go. People will probably yell at me telling me to read the light novels, but unfortunately those are not available for me to read and I have to settle with what I can get my hands on...which is quite clearly the manga. From a clearly deductive standpoint, I've heard people say that the light novels and anime are quite similar. Having watched the anime and read the manga, the events themselves were spot on exact
a part from the order. That doesn't bother me because the different order of events only apply to filler. So in the end, it really does not matter. The manga flows very well and I never had the feeling that some things should have happened after or before. It all made sense.
The strength of Haruhi Suzumiya is the story and characters. It can be quite hard to remember that at it's heart, the story is a high school drama. However, it disguises itself so well with creative time travel mysteries and characters that you can't help but enjoy yourself immensely while reading it, just wondering what exactly is going to happen next? The time travel mechanics are very well developed and many of the main cast such as Asahina, Haruhi, Nagato, and Koizumi are very well developed over time. They can at times be annoying and/or self centered, but their charming personality and features keep you constantly entertained.
However, this manga isn't without its share of problems. The first one being the main protagonist Kyon. For a manga with such a varied interesting cast of characters, its quite baffling that the main protagonist is quite literally bare bones boring. He's a normal guy who is very nice and with a good sense of duty. He barely goes through any development throughout the story and he almost always does what's right. That might of been partially what the author was going for by including a normal student among a bunch of supernatural students, but there is no reason what so ever for making Kyon uninteresting. Normal I could handle, but boring with no character arc is just unacceptable. Maybe this changes in the later volumes after 15 (still waiting for the rest of the English releases), but I highly doubt it.
The manga also tends to ramble on for quite a long time in order to explain itself. The author feels the need to explain everything including it's sometimes complex plot points, to character motivations in the form of many inner monologues. It does hurt the enjoyment factor quite a bit. This is a visual medium after all, a bit of subtly would be nice. Some of the best moments in the manga were subtle character changes that were expressed only through drawing. Unfortunately you can count those moments on one hand. The art also is pretty good but nothing great. The artist however definitely got much better since the first volume and I find myself liking it more and more.
Overall, the manga version of 'The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya' is just as enjoyable as the anime was, perhaps even more so due to the thankful reduction of the Endless Eight arc. It hits all the key story points accurately and I had fun reading it. Once again, I haven't read the light novels but I doubt it is much different than what I got (I could definitely be wrong). The writer is after all the same in both the light novels and manga.