Monday, September 1, 2008

Haruhi’s World

By Carmen Vivas

There are a variety of animes that base their series in high schools. However, “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” or “Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu,” as it is called in Japanese, has a refreshing and interesting twist in its story. The lead female character, Haruhi Suzumiya, announces on the first day of school to her teacher and classmates that she has no interest in dealing with “ordinary humans,” after all what’s the fun in that! She will only deal with you if you are an alien, time traveler, or “esper.”Otherwise, there is really no chance that you will be her friend or, if you are male, anything more intimate than that. However, she soon finds herself connecting with a male classmate, Kyon, who, albeit unknowingly, inspires her to form her club, S.O.S. Brigade, that exists solely to have fun. Although Haruhi’s idea of fun is usually not shared by Kyon, or the other three members she dragged (one of them literally) into joining, it is impossible for Haruhi not to get what she wants.

The anime because of some of the fantasy qualities could have become too over the top. However, since the story is told from Kyon’s point of view, his sharp, sarcastic wit saves the anime from this danger. His annoyed interpretations of what he witnesses gives relief to the sometimes over the top events that occur in this anime. Another character that lends to some comedy due to chronic seriousness is Yuki Nagato, who was in the clubroom Haruhi took over and was part of the literature club that no longer existed so is shanghaied into joining the S.O.S. Brigade. Throughout the series, no matter what occurs, her expression never changes. For the moe (turn-on) aspect as Haruhi herself calls it she kidnaps an adorable student named Mikuru Asahina and orders her to also join the club. That Mikuru is so weak-willed and unable to fight of Haruhi, sometimes literally when Haruhi is forcibly changing her clothing to something that is more “Lolita-like,” causes for an added kind of hilarity in the series.

Another unique quality of this anime is the order that it is shown. While most animes are chronological, this anime was originally shown in Japan out of sequence. For example, the first episode is episode 11. But the special DVD box set released by Bandai Entertainment gives you the both DVDs: one that has the chronological order of the show, and a second DVD that has the order it was originally shown (my preference). The special DVD box set also includes other goodies such as CDs that have the opening and end songs, pillowcase, armband, iron on and pencil board. The anime also pokes fun occasionally at manga on occasion. The design of the characters is very similar to animes such as Clannad, Lucky Star and Kanon as Kyoto Animation was responsible for animation production with all of these and many more. It has the classic big hair and huge eyes and colors that you do not usually see on people in real life without hair dye or contacts. During some of the fight scenes, the colors are beautiful and dazzling, becoming just one more hook to catch viewers.

Overall, if you love comedy, sarcasm, and a hilarious end dance sequence, this show is a definite watch. Fantasy, moe, comedy, fighting, and a hint of romance are all found within this amazingly packaged anime. This is one of the best that I’ve seen and hopefully another season will not only be out in Japan within the next year, but will also, hopefully, be licensed and distributed in the U.S. as well. If you enjoy watching anime and are curious to know why this anime was such huge success and won awards in Japan, definitely pick it up.

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