019: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu
AKA: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Aired: Spring 2006, Spring 2009, Feb 2010
Genres: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Slice of Life, School
Date watched: Dec 07 2018 – Dec 18 2018
Series watched: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (14 ep x 23 mins), Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (2009) (14 ep x 24 mins), Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu (1 ep x 162m)
Why I started watching: I formed a small group to watch anime with, and this was a show that I had heard plenty about. I first heard about it from a Mafiascum forum game a long time ago, and it stuck with me as sounding pretty interesting. My watch group consisted of Nak and Satinel. Satinel liked time loops, which this show purpotedly had. Nak had partially watched it, so this was his chance to finish it. I used this as a jumping pad to bamboozle them into watching more stuff with me. Don’t let them know I said that.
For group watching, we ended up watching about 3 episodes a day on average, on days when we were all around. Being spread out over more days than usual was a new experience for me (not counting the shows I was following live that season). Not being able to binge watch meant that I would forget some things between sessions, especially if we didn’t watch on consecutive days, but it also gave more time for events and episodes to sink in. An interesting tradeoff. We watched this in chronological order in the end, not broadcast order. We also watched the complete Endless Eight arc.
The graphics in Haruhi Suzumiya were definitely dated, though still watchable enough, and comparable to the other shows from around that time period that I had watched. While the premise of the show was overall quite interesting, as an anime-only watcher it felt like they either handwaved away a lot of the things, or required you to read the manga as well. Things that felt inconvenient were just ignored, like the reactions of the authorities when Haruhi did something outrageous, as well as some of the resolutions to the more supernatural plotlines where you were just expected to believe that Haruhi, with her strong curiosity and smarts, would not become the slightest bit suspicious as to the chaos she was inadvertently causing.
Most of the other characters in the show felt really flat and one-dimensional as well. Particularly Koizumi, who could have been entirely removed as a character, and it would have barely impacted the show’s plot at all. It felt like his character was not given a chance to shine at all, which is a pity. At least we see some tantalizing glances at future plotlines and machinations with Yuki and Asahina throughout the two seasons of the show. There apparently are also lots of little changes to the clubroom and character appearances as the chronological order shuffles along, which is really interesting to consider that people who originally watched the broadcast order would have had to use those visual clues to figure out where in the timeline a certain episode fit.
A lot of the issue with the show lies in its inconsistency as well, since they have a strong premise for a great story, but sometimes burn episodes showing off unnecessary side stories. Strong stories, like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, and Remote Island Syndrome, are mixed in with weaker stories, like Mysterique Sign, and the Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya. It felt like every episode was a bit of a gamble to watch. Most of the second season was poorly written, with Endless Eight being interesting in theory, but needing more variance than it had to not be considered insulting to the audience’s time, although this post shifted my viewpoint on it significantly with its talk about how you could derive quite a bit of meaning by comparing whether people reacted differently to the same minor event each time. And the K-On! reference in Endless Eight V was cute as well. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya also came across as a bit too long-winded for me, like the anime had suddenly decided to try out slapstick comedy with five episodes left in the second season.
The movie, however, went a long way toward redeeming the Haruhi Suzumiya series in my eyes. The plot was tantalizing and an example of what they should have done more of in the main TV seasons. They threaded the needle and tied together a number of plotlines from the earlier shows, reaching the sort of mind-bending intricacy in a time loop show where it feels satisfying for the viewers to watch it finally peel open, like the layers of an onion. The viewer is left guessing who the villain is until very near the end, and when the reveal and reason is given.. oof. Though even then, while the ending answered quite a number of questions, it left us with a couple of new plot threads and questions about the world that do not get answered.
I was not expecting this show to draw any tears, and it didn’t right until the very end of the movie, when Yuki’s seiyuu, Minori Chihara, who had just graced my song stash with a track from Violet Evergarden, started singing the movie ED. I looked up the translation of the song, Yasashii Boukyaku, realized the implication of the message that she was ruefully lamenting, and collapsed into a pile right then and there. Besides that song, I quite liked all the other OP/ED songs too, but ultimately only the first season’s theme, Boken Desho Desho by Haruhi’s seiyuu, Aya Hirano, stuck with me. A lot of people seemed to like the song that Haruhi sang during the festival as well, but I didn’t really fancy that.
Final Score: 8/10