The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a delightful show that after finishing the marvel that is the series film/holiday special The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya I’m glad I decided to check out. I will try my best to represent the show as it’s always fun to try to describe an atypical show with its own zeal. So, let’s talk about it.
Haruhi Suzumiya is the kind of person you never forget. A firecracker of enthusiasm, Haruhi is eager to confront the extraordinary happenings the world has to offer. The only problem is her complete exasperation of having to deal with true mundane nature of being a high school student. This changes as the main protagonist Kyon grows interested in Haruhi and in trying to understand her lust for interacting with aliens, time-travelers and espers indirectly encourages her to start her own school club to make such contact with the paranormal. The irony then becomes apparent as Kyon discovers the other club members as well as Haruhi are closer to the supernatural they what meets the eye.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya reminds me a lot of the beloved cult-classic American Sitcom Community.
Both are ensemble comedies that are at their best when they allow the character quirks to shine and place the group in fun situations. Kyon is actually a snarky, cynical Jeff Winger type as he tries to “survive” coming to the group’s study/club room and interacts with a troupe inspired cast of characters. While both these shows do offer some interesting bits of continuity, personally I find the best episodes are put into more ridiculous versions of average day occurrences. I’m referring to Community’s paintball wars, and D & D sessions while I mainly recommend Haruhi’s baseball game, art festival, and island retreat episodes. Comedically, Kyon is a great straight man who’s irked narrative is always engaging to listen to, Yuki Nagato is an enjoyable deadpan character, Mikuru Asahina’s timid nature and Koizumi’s calm demeanor are perfect character types to counteract Haruhi’s eccentric behavior.
In terms of more technical aspects, the show can be somewhat hit or miss. The musical scores can be repetitive but does have a personality to it. As for the art work, just like the film the backdrops paint a vivid environment and it does a good job at boarding the more dynamic dramatic scenes in comparison to the typical normal actions. The pacing of episodes can feel off at times, heavy exposition at the start of episodes that it sometimes shortchanges the actual conclusions are activity of the day. Overall Kyoto Animation did a great job adapting it from the source material and did create what I believe is a genuinely entertaining show… until the incident.
The Problem with the Endless Eight
This is such a bizarre turn of events that it still to this day is kind of an unsolved mystery of what exactly happened in the show’s most controversial stretch that according to many fans “ruined the show”. The endless eight refers to the season 2 arc in which to demonstrate how Haruhi has encompassed the world into a “Groundhog Day scenario” 8 entire episodes are practically the same episode albeit animated in different fashions with differences in designs but not much alteration in the plot. While the controversy behind these episodes have led to unfair criticisms of the animators being “lazy” and I do respect the boldness behind the decision… I mean pulling this stunt is just asking to get cancelled.
It seems like a weird case of mistaken identity that this mostly comedic show tried to be a bold dramatic sub text heavy collection of episodes. I can see why this upset people, this aired prior to streaming and binge-watching so you would wait to the end of the week to watch an episode of this show you like to essential get a palate swap of the last episode for multiple weeks on end. It is also a bummer because I’m sure this could work for a long-running show whose has proven the characters prove they can carry even the worst episodes of the show, and that the arc is a blimp in the larger pantheon of the show’s run. This ended up being 8 out of 28 so it really is fair to call it out for not having the fan’s in mind.
The Endless Eight is a scheme that probably is just terribly executed. There is a fan theory that does hold some weight that the team was expecting to cover The Disappearance arc which the movie covered but got caught in deciding to adapt it for the film and having already agreed to the network picking up a certain number of episodes that not to go further into the novels continuity decided to elongate the endless eight arc giving the audience the weight of the shows reputation.
It’s a shame because the endless eight could have worked but it should have considered how the audience would react. Like the acclaimed movie an element of mystery could have been played up. Showing the events and splicing them together and make intentional continuity errors at an exponential rate that makes the audience slowly realize how stranger things are at play. Other series have effectively done similar repetition but alter the perspective to present a refreshing take from another character’s point of view. Maybe playing with the butterfly effect and showing the how minor deviances can create a completely different outcome. Yeah there is a real effective storytelling at play to force the audience to be Dr. Strange and watch the 14,000,605 outcomes to wait until the one where they escape the loop but like how do the fans not hate it?
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya will slightly disappoint me that there was greater potential had they gotten chance to grow: more adventures which members of the group slinter off or complete more wild versions of ordinary events. However, I’m content with both the fun and quirky episodes we did get and the film that showed how genius the show could be across the board. The spin-off series The Melancholy of Haruhi-Chan Suzumiya gives fans a taste of what some of these adventures could be as the shorts in an inconsistent chibi style is just pure full on comedy. While too much for some, the SOS Brigade will also be just like the Community cast in which they’ll make any scenario the encounter an extraordinarily interesting one.
Main image is from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya credit: Kyoto Animation