Bandai’s Spinoff releases of Haruhi!

Originally announced in August 2008, the premiere of The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya was more notable for pulling a “nice boat” and putting up a fake video before the real video was shown the following day (February 14th, 2009). These shorts were updated with two episodes a week until May 15th when the final episode was uploaded by itself. Each set was accompanied by another short, Nyoron~Churuya-san, for a total of 13 weeks. Bandai announced their license of the series on May 19th, 2010 and released the show on two half-season sets on October 5th, 2010 (BE Online store)/March 22nd, 2011 (Regular Release) and February 8th, 2011(BE Online store)/August 2nd, 2011 (Regular Release). Photobucket Album (The screencaptures are in the 720×480 format used to store video on a DVD)

As usual for a Bandai release, the only contents are changed cover art and the discs inside. On the first volume there are 13 Haruhi-chan and 6 Churuya-san episodes and the second volume contains 12/7 episodes respectively for 25/13 total.

Haruhi-chan is a fun parody of the main series to highlight how ridiculous the premise could get. As opposed to the regular story, the normality that we’re used to is dropped in favor of seeing how comedic Haruhi’s, Yuki’s, and Tsuruya’s powers can be. The manga highlights in each chapter how Kyon is supposed to be the straight man in the series, and that aspect is carried over greatly. It’s difficult to describe outside of saying “It’s just funny” to those who haven’t seen it. The dialogue is constantly witty for any situation and the return of Asakura (as a miniature version named “Achakura”) carries over just how absurd the story is supposed to be.

Churuya-san uses the same formula and brings new variations on that formula in every episode. The main point of sad things happening to Churuya-san somehow remain hilarious even though the gag plays out the same. Takemoto wisely intersperses bits where either Churuya-san has something good happen or the gag ends with Ashakura to bring some variety into the series. The series itself would not be nearly as funny if it was not combined with Haruhi-chan as it needs something livelier to be in contrast of.

It’s easily visible how this is not Kyoto Animation’s most visually intensive work, but their consistency at carrying over the tone is something to be admired. It’s easily understandable because they were in the middle of animating Clannad ~After Story~, a very visually impressive show. It help add to the “parody” feeling. Both the original JP and ENG casts carry over and do incredible jobs, especially in Churuya-san. Being able to keep the monotone voice throughout the series is incredibly impressive. My copies didn’t have the mono audio problems that plagued many of the part I releases.

Included on both discs were all of the video extras included in the JP release. There are commercials featuring Minoru Shiraishi (Taniguchi/Kimidori/various roles) in his “Oniguchi” role and as Taniguchi himself, the preview video that played in stores around Japan to promote the first JP volume, Bandai’s ASOS Brigade videos released in May 2010 to promote this release, the series on Crunchyroll, and the paper version released by Yen Press. On the second disc, there are more commercials and the bonus video included on the third JP Volume’s LE release disc featuring Shiraishi going to various places and getting into trouble with another demon. All have subtitles.

In conclusion, this is a very good release from Bandai. The video isn’t necessary for a BD-quality release while the audio for both JP and ENG is up to the quality that is to be expected from the main series. The inclusion of the video extras is (as always with Haruhi releases) outstanding and to be admired. If you are a fan of Haruhi, it is worth it to get these two sets (especially when they’re on clearance sale on Bandai’s own website!).

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