Shows - Review
I watched fansubs of this anime after seeing that it was in the top ten listing at AnimeNewsNetwork.com. I have to admit that, if I were watching this on television, I probably would not have tuned in for the second episode. The first episode is a movie created by the characters in the show and is of low quality. Not until the end do we see that there is perhaps something more to the show. On top of that, the entire series is shown out of sequence. There are six episodes leading to the major revelation of the show which are shown in sequence with additional episodes thrown in throughout. I can see the reasoning for this since, if the show was shown chronologically, it would make for a boring final eight episodes with no climax. Watching this for the second time was much more enjoyable as many more things made sense throughout.
The series revolves around the main character Haruhi Suzumiya as seen through the eyes of her "friend" Kyon. Kyon's true name is not revealed in the show as he goes by his nickname. Kyon narrates the movie in episode one as he does throughout the whole series. Haruhi is an interesting girl in that she finds normal life dull and boring. She states on the first day of class that she has no need for normal humans but if there are any aliens, time travellers or espers around, she'd like to meet them. She joins just about every club at school only to get bored quickly and then quit, usually within a day. She gets the idea to start up her own club when Kyon, in a round about way, suggests that she do so. Kyon, of course, is press ganged into becoming the first member. They take over the Literary Club's room since there is only one member at the time, Yuki Nagato.
Haruhi has a certain idea of how things are to happen which seem to come from manga and television shows. One thing she thinks must happen is that they need eye candy in order to attract new members. She gets Mikaru Asahina, a cute shy girl, for this purpose. Mikaru doesn't want to join at first but seems to change her mind when she sees Yuki. Now her only need is to get the mysterious transfer student to join, who happens to be Itsuki Koizumi.
Haruhi wants to meet aliens, time travellers and espers and has unknowingly comprised a club of just such people except, of course, for Kyon who is an ordinary person. She names the group Sekai wo Ooini Moriagerutame no Suzumiya Haruhi no Dan (or translated as: Spreading Excitement All Over the World with Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade). This name is too long, however, and is shortened to SOS Brigade.
The stories are nothing terribly new but the way that they are told is new and interesting. I like the way that standard plotlines are interwoven into the story and explained away. For instance, the SOS Brigade travel to a remote island for a short vacation and end up in a classic murder mystery. As Kyon tells the viewers, these things never happen in real life and yet, they happen to the SOS Brigade thanks to Haruhi.
This is a good story about youth and our place in the world. It also has enough sci-fi to keep me interested. I think that this show also does well in exploring the philosophical ideas that basically ask: how do we know that the world we awake in is the same one we left before our sleep? How would we know the difference?
I enjoyed the opening and ending themes though they aren't great. I thought the ending theme animation was interesting how they had the characters dancing to the theme music and you can just see Haruhi getting the SOS Brigade (even the guys) to do this.
I thought that the animation was great, except for the first episode which was done that way on purpose. There was a wide range of settings and the outdoors, lighted settings are very colorful whereas the closed space/night settings gave just the right mood. When in closed space, you feel by the coloring that you are in a realm that cuts you off from everything else, kind of like a dreary, foggy day where you can only see so far.
I would not suggest this for younger kids since there is a lot of fan service and exploitation (though not too bad). The ideas behind the show are philosophically deep and even some older kids may have a hard time understanding them. I allowed my 13 year-old daughter to watch them but, since they were subbed, she had a hard time keeping up, especially during the long-winded "explanation" scenes and the narrative over speech scenes.
Episode 14, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI (or 6 chronologically). Kyon and Haruhi are surrounded by the giants destroying closed space when Kyon is trying to tell Haruhi that he likes her. He says something to the effect that he misses the pony tails that she used to wear and that pony tails turn him on. She asks him, "are you retarded?" just before he kisses her.
Episode 4, The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya (or episode 7 chronologically). The team is doing horribly when Yuki puts the bat into homing mode and everyone gets a hit. The scene where Haruhi is trying to signal for a squeeze play is funny too.
Episode 12, Live Alive the only episode that matches chronologically. I enjoyed the ENOZ performance and the way that Haruhi handled herself which shows that she isn't just a freak but actually just a young girl who is somewhat unsure of her place in the world she lives.
I am looking forward to watching the English dubs.
Last Updated: 1/25/2007
Other Reviews by Craig Burns
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