Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu began as a light novel written by Tanigawa Nagaru and illustrated by Ito Noizi. The series quickly became insanely popular and had two anime versions. Is the popularity well deserved or not so much. Let’s take a look at the first anime to find out.
The story begins with a group of students making a really bad movie and then it skips back to the actual beginning. The episodes don’t follow a linear order. They skip around quite a bit. Not that it matters much since the story is pretty unimportant. The important parts are that a girl named Haruhi is obsessed with aliens, espers and time travelers. She forms a brigade to study strange and interesting things. The brigade is mostly composed of people with strange secrets that revolve around the mystery that is Haruhi and one normal guy who’s there to be ordinary and serve as a stand-in for the audience. Storywise, everything becomes pretty clear after a few episodes. There are some interesting ideas but they’re never explored. They barely even go past the surface with any of them. It doesn’t really matter though, since it’s a comedy. Is it funny? Well, some of the humour works well and some of it is horrible. There’s a Phoenix Wright parody that’s very subtle and works really well, but there are also a lot of jokes where sexual harassment is played up as being funny and those are horrible and problematic. Overall, the humour works a little more than not, but it is really mixed.
There are some things that work with the characters, but they’re mostly defined by their relationships to Haruhi and their strange personality traits, for those who have them. They aren’t horribly written but they certainly aren’t compelling.
The art is well done. The backgrounds are nicely detailed and the characters have unique appearances. My only issue with the art is that they use way too much fan-service.
The voice acting is well done. All of the actors employ subtlety well. There actually isn’t too much exaggeration in this. One issue is that Chihara Minori (Yuki) and Sugita Tomokazu (Kyon) both sound bored with their performances. There’s a character reason with Yuki, but that isn’t the case with Kyon. The music is really the strongest element. It’s upbeat and high tempo. For the themes, Hirano Aya does a really good job with the vocals.
The yuri factor is a 5/10. Unfortunately, it’s all a result of the harassment jokes involving Haruhi and Mikuru. Because it’s funny to ignore consent. Wait… what?
My final rating for the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a 6/10. It’s decent but it’s held back by the lackluster characters, harassment jokes, and the fact that the humour only works roughly 60% of the time.