DVD of the Month - July 2007

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Volume 1


No other anime from 2006 made quite as big a splash in Japan (and abroad) as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. But if you’re not already clued in to the mayhem, it might seem a tad puzzling. Haruhi certainly doesn’t look like anything particularly special or innovative. High school comedy with average-looking characters? So what?

What makes Haruhi unique is the show’s impeccable style and ordered-chaos format, placing these all-too-well-known character archetypes in some unexpected situations—the opposite of how things usually go in anime. I’ll give you an example. While the title character is the bossy-but-lovable misfit schoolgirl Haruhi, the show’s main character is really Kyon—a new student whose curiosity sucks him into Haruhi’s wild ride. He’s an innocent bystander, and while he doesn’t actually say much to the other characters, he narrates and gives the viewers his commentary on everything that happens—much like he does in the hilarious and purposely low-budget-looking pseudo first episode/mini-movie, “The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00.”

After the peculiar opening, the show rewinds to the beginning to go over how Kyon met Haruhi and how her SOS Brigade got its start. The club’s purpose is to find, investigate and make friends with aliens, time travelers, telepaths, etc. But unbeknownst to Haruhi, she’s actually the one being investigated—and befriended. All of the members she’s able to corral into joining are more than meets the eye, and they reveal as such to a skeptical Kyon privately in between Haruhi’s enthusiastic and often ill-advised attempts to drum up support for the club. Some of the funniest scenes in the first volume include Haruhi blackmailing the computer club for some high-end gear, making club cutie Mikuru dress up in various revealing sexy outfits to get attention and spending a day around the city investigating mysterious occurrences.

Haruhi’s can-do spirit and brazen anything-goes attitude is just as hilarious to watch as it is to hear Kyon’s begrudging acceptance of it all. When bookended by some of the most infectious anime themes of the last few years, it’s no wonder The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has become such a runaway hit. It’s a must-see, and you’ll need to watch it if you expect to understand half of the anime in-jokes surely to come in the next few years.

—Chris Johnston


  • Available: Now
  • Publisher: Bandai Entertainment
  • Running Time: 100 min.
  • Rating: 13+
© 2006 Nagaru Tanigawa / Noizi Ito / member of SOS