The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Review

Fun, entertaining, and endlessly enjoyable: that is the best description of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Rarely do I have such an enjoyable time watching a television series. Without knowing anything about the series, I randomly stumbled upon the entire series one day and started watching it. 
After watching several episodes, I later discovered that it is one of the most popular and highly regarded anime of this generation. Without giving too much away, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a fun high-school comedy drama with a twist that makes it rise above all other shows in the genre. It follows the adventures of the eccentric Haruhi Suzumiya, a girl that is interested in aliens, time-travelers, and Espers (people with extrasensory perception), and the member. If you want to have the maximum experience, watch the first two episodes before reading onward, although be aware, it is not intended for viewers younger than 14. Below is a playlist with the first few episodes in the correct order. Also, the series is unfortunately not available for legal streaming on any site in the United States, and DVDs are unfortunately rare as well.
What is revealed in the second episode is that Haruhi Suzumiya actually has the power to alter reality know to her will. However, Haruhi does not even realize that she has this power, therefore she believes herself to be a normal, albeit eccentric, human. Haruhi is easily bored because she finds everything that is not abnormal to be dull and disinterring, and she when Haruhi is bored, she has the potential to destroy the entire world, which is why the supporting cast of characters try to keep reality together by both making Haruhi happy and preventing her from learning the truth about her powers.
One important fact that any potential viewers should note is that the episodes originally aired out of order; however, watching the episodes in chronological order is generally the best way to watch the series. For whatever absurd reason the first official first episode shows the cheap movie the characters made for a school project and for those watching it as the first episode, it is incredibly confusing. What makes things even more confusing is that to watch the series in chronological order, you watch episodes from the two different seasons.

The Good: Lovable characters, Excellent animation, New take on old tropes, Meta-humor, All-Star English dub cast, Wacky and funny throughout, Original concept, Energetic soundtrack, Endlessly fun and entertaining, Superb opening and ending songs, Epic rock band scene, Intriguing mystery and concepts,

The Bad: "Endless Eight" story arc can be annoying at times,

Plot: 9.6/10- One key element of the plot’s success is how it takes familiar tropes, and then puts a twist on them to make it new and fresh. One episode might be a twist on a classic murder mystery, while another might be about the gang trying to prevent Haruhi from destroying the universe.
Another strong element is the execution of the concept. It also takes a concept that could easily blowup in the writers’ face if not handled well, and it makes it work, with just enough complexity. Depending on how much the viewer wants to analyze the series, it can either be a simple and fun story, or something more complex. Also, not spoil too much, there are various sci-if and fantasy concepts spread through the series, and if you are a fan of those genres, there is a lot of content that is likely to appeal to you.
One controversial aspect of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is the "Endless Eight" eight episode story arc, but that is a topic that will be discuss more in detail this weekend in its own post.

Characterization: 9.4/10- Many of the characters in the series are intentionally stereotypes, which are then given a twist to make them different from the norm. Another key aspect of the cast is how funny and entertaining the interaction between the characters is throughout the series. Please note, that if you want to know as little as possible about the characters, skip this section, since it contains information revealed in the first three episodes.

Haruhi Suzumiya
Haruhi is unknowingly has the power to reshape and bend the universe to her will. How does did she receive this power or why is unknown, and do not expect to have your questions answered. As for the character herself, she is one energetic girl, although she does not reach the energy levels of a genki type character that bounces off the walls. Despite being the titular character, she is more of the central focus of the story, rather than being the main character. She is the only character not in on the fact that she controls the universe, but at the same time, she is a lot of fun to watch.

Kyon is the true star of the series since the events take place mostly from his perspective. He does a lot of inner monologuing throughout the series, and his snarky wit and sarcastic quips as he complains about the absurdity that Haruhi puts him through is always entertaining. Being the main character, he does receive some solid development, and he is just a generally likable character.

Mikuru Asahina
Mikuru is the archetypal cute moe fanservice character. Actually, might as well be the definition of moe, at least pre-K-On! definition of moe. In anime terminology, moe (pronounced Moe-A) refers to a character that is considered cute and lovable, yet often attractive, although an exact definition does not exists. Other than the fact that Mikuru is a time-traveler from the future, what makes Mikuru different than other moe characters is that she directly referred as being moe to create some hilarious meta-humor. 

Yuki Nagato
Yuki is the quiet and emotionless Rei Ayanami type archetype, aka “soulless doll.” She is an artificially created entity created by aliens to monitor Haruhi. Yuki is given a lot of development in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya film, and that is where the character shines the most, although she has her moments in the series as well. 

Itsuki Koizumi
Itsuki Koizumi is the archetypal bishounen male character and an Esper, aka someone that has Extrasensory perception or ESP. He is a suave type of guy, and his character is the most mysterious of the cast. 

Acting: 9.7/10- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya features one of the best English dubs to date. Of course, the Japanese dub is as reliably strong as always, but the English features standout performances from voice actors like Crispin Freeman, Johnny Yong Bosch, and Wendee Lee, with Freeman really knocking it out of the park. Either way you go, there is no wrong answer. 

Art Style: 9.3/10- Haruhi was my introduction to Kyoto Animation, which is still among my favorite studios to this day.
All of the typical high school setting was executed with the usual high quality that you expect from KyoAni, and the first season was only their fourth full series! The only noteworthy flaw is the fanservice, and while not too over-the-top, with most of it being played for laughs, it is still present.
Soundtrack: 8.5/10- The series features several fun and energetic themes that perfectly compliment the setting of the series. However, one notable aspect of the soundtrack is the songs "God Knows" and "Lost My Music," which are featured in the famous rock band episode. There are two versions, one is the original Japanese and the other is sung by Wendee Lee, the voice of Haruhi, both of which are excellent.

Humor: 9.5/10- Even though The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is not always a humor filled comedy, since it is not a pure comedy anime, it is still often hilarious depending on the episode, and the humor is never misplaced as to undermine the dramatic elements.
Additionally, I am not sure if I have ever smiled so much while watching any series. It was so ridiculously fun and entertaining throughout for me personally.  
Opening/Ending: 9.8/10- All of the openings and endings of the series are memorable, but it is the first ending, "Hare Hare Yukai," and second opening, “Super Driver,” that standout the most. "Hare Hare Yukai" is notable for starting the trend of having characters dance in the ending credits, while “Super Drive” is incredibly fast pace and addictive.

Non-Otaku Appeal: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is much an anime made for the Otaku audience. It features many references, many of which I did not even get on my initial viewing, and it is reliant on the audience’s familiarity of tropes. 

Entertainment Value: 9.9/10- With the exception of the “Endless Eight” story arc, Haruhi is just about the most fun anime ever made. Of course, entertainment is subjective, but to me, this is how you make a fun anime that still has substance.

Overall: 9.6/10- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is made of pure fun and entertainment. Few other shows have so much energy along with such unique storylines, likable characters, and surprisingly intellectual plot elements. While not perfect due a few flaws, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a must-watch show for any and all anime fans. 

Closing comments: One year since watching it, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a very important anime for me as a fan of the medium. It opened the door to one of my favorite genres, the slice-of-life drama/comedy. Before this series, it was a genre that I generally ignored, which is one of the many reasons The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is one of my favorite anime.

Recommended for: Otaku, Comedy fans, Sci-Fi fans, High-School genre fans, 

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