I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but now feels to be the best time to complete it. As my many avatars, posts, research, translations, imports, and news attest, I am a immense fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya series. But why this series? Aren’t there better series that can be used as examples of why anime is great, much less ones that would appeal to a broader audience? I’ll get back to the former and yes to the latter. I can’t deny that Haruhi is not technically the greatest series. In fact it has quite a few flaws in comparison to other series but it holds much more significance to me. This is why I’m a Haruhi fanatic.
When I was in university, I discovered that I was a fan of the Super Sentai series when I was reliving part of my childhood. That led into the Kamen Rider series and the beginning of an appreciation for the Japanese culture itself. I saw a banner ad for something strange on a forum that I was a member of and decided to see what it was about. That turned out to be discussion about a series that aired the prior year and had spawned multiple threads throughout the airing. Not wanting to be classified as an anime fan, I was hesitant to try watching it but something told me to give it a chance. That was my first glimpse of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
I don’t need to go into detail about the broadcast order, but at the end of episode 10 I was enthralled. I had to finish the series that night! It was something special that I immensely enjoyed seeing. Then, to my delight, I discovered that it was being released in the US in Limited Edition formats. I immediately picked up the first volume and planned to get the other three as well. I read that the series was based off of novels and tried giving the second one a read as it hadn’t been animated. That failed as it wasn’t enough to catch my interest. I tried to watch Kanon and RomeoxJuliet, but neither of those interested me like Haruhi and such I fell away from anime.
Having shown my best friend some Tokusatsu shows (including the comedic re-make of Sailor Moon), I decided to give Haruhi a chance and show it to him. Of course he was the only one I showed it to who liked it. The series sparked many conversations with him about the series and life. No other show to this day has been in my mindset as much as the 2006 version of Haruhi thanks to our conversations. It was during these conversations about the various elements and the future of the franchise where I started to become a Koizumi fan and go away from liking Kyon and Nagato.
So then 2009 came and I graduated from university. Of course later that month the first new episode Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody aired and the excitement was felt around the net. I couldn’t fully enjoy it as I had two more exams to take for my post-graduate career (and did very well on both), but I could enjoy the next one: Endless Eight. After the exams, I was lost. I had no job and no plans for the future besides getting a doctorate. As sad and sappy as it sounds, Endless Eight was the one thing I could count on every week to provide some stability in my life. Eventually something came along and the loops ended.
During the loops, I took the time to sit down and give the novels another chance. The immense quality in Disappearance moved me and had me finishing the series (even going back and re-reading the others) in less than a week. I could finally understand why fans were upset at Endless Eight. The season ended and we found out about the movie, which led to a few posts on AnimeSuki about the trailer premiere on 12/18/2009. From then on, I started being able to find news before some other people and started to spread it. Now I enjoy my term of endearment: Koizumimegax as one to always be there with the information.
So why is Haruhi the one series that I can’t get enough of? I can’t consciously say that it’s one thing in particular. The series just amazed me completely from the first episode. The immense quality of the animation combined with great character interaction with a twisting and turning storyline made it something I couldn’t get sick of. Add in the fact that you could watch it different ways and come out with new views on the franchise was incredibly new. And all of this was after the big discussions of it during the time it was airing.
The only character in the entire franchise that I don’t care for is Yuki. Everyone else (and I mean everyone, including the Tamera brothers for example) tend to be likeable, but the immense overload of Yuki has been trying to say the least. Of course Koizumi has and will be my favorite character, but all of the SOS Brigade has likeable characteristics. Haruhi ranges from a child-like personality to a deep contemplative person, Kyon has one of the best narrative voices I’ve read, Yuki has a personality you can apply anything but emotional to, and Mikuru allows for many humorous moments. Separate they’re decent characters, but the interplay between all five brings about many wonderful moments like in Sigh I when they ask about the literature funds.
Tanigawa has created a universe that remains consistent and hides so much at the same time. So many things are hinted at, yet they come together at the perfect time. What’s also great is that he hasn’t gone to the same extent that Kazuma Kamachi has gone to in introducing so many characters yet not having enough space to focus on the important people. There’s just the right amount of mystery and solving in the same story to satisfy yet keep you wanting for more. Just look at the end of Disappearance and the fans all asking “When is Kyon going back?!”
I know that Haruhi isn’t the best show or franchise technically. There’s little action at times and there are plenty of flaws with all of the characters. The 2006 animation hasn’t held it’s wonder due to the way it was animated, and Kadokawa seems content on keeping it as a cash-cow on reserve. Yet there’s something special when all of the elements combine to form something that you have to see. Even the worst arc had people talking about it constantly.
So as we approach the final days before the next story is published and the fandom goes crazy again, it’s been nice to reflect on how I’ve arrived at this place. The Haruhi Suzumiya series has amazed me both as a fan and as a critic at how well it’s put together. There’s so much joy that I’ve invested in this franchise and I believe that it’ll be one that I’ll be sticking with long after its finished. Sorry for the ramble, but I’ve wanted to put this down for so long. Now I just need to finish my CD collection.