The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an ongoing series of Japanese light novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa, and is one of the most popular franchises in otaku circles – spawning a manga, several spin-offs, three anime series, and a pretty darn good movie, the world of Haruhi Suzumiya is certainly a work I love and adore. Ironically, I learnt of its existence through a negative review and it has become one of my favourite anime. Haruhi offers great, well-developed characters, great humour, and a story with countless possibilities, and interestingly, no direct genre to put it in. It is a slice of life-comedy-science fiction-fantasy-romance-mystery-school drama and any one of those genres can fit in.
Anyway, the anime turns ten next year and because I promised to honour more wonders of Japan on this website, I am here to count down my six favourite moments of Haruhi Suzumiya, mostly from the anime since it comes with visuals. But beforehand, perhaps I should shine a little light on what the heck the story is about.
In short, our protagonist is Kyon (Crispin Freeman), a snarky high school freshman who wants an ordinary school life. That goes out the window when he meets the eccentric Haruhi Suzumiya (Wendee Lee) who seeks supernatural phenomenon. At Kyon’s suggestion, Haruhi forms her own afterschool club named the SOS Brigade to fulfil her pursuits, recruiting Kyon and three others – quiet bookworm Yuki Nagato (Michelle Ruff), shy junior Mikuru Asahina (Stephanie Sheh), and philosophical transfer student Itsuki Koizumi (Johnny Yong Bosch). But just when Kyon thinks he’ll be involved in some club activities, he discovers everyone in the club is actually supernatural – Haruhi is unknowingly a reality warper, Nagato is an alien, Mikuru is from the future, and Koizumi has psychic powers, and they are trying to keep Haruhi’s powers in check so she doesn’t become self aware and reshape the world.
Disclaimer: This list does contain spoilers from across the series, so if you don’t wish to be spoiled by said spoilers, then stop reading this article. These are my own personal opinions, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know the drill. Let’s get on with this!
6. Remote Island Syndrome
Everyone loves a good mystery, and Kyon and Haruhi find themselves involved in a murder mystery on a remote island. The SOS Brigade go on a vacation to said island owned by Koizumi’s associates, but when one is found dead in his room, Haruhi and Kyon go all Sherlock and Watson to figure out how he was murdered. Cleverly written and featuring a couple of surprises, the two-parter is great fun. The best element of the mystery is how the characters deal with the situation, including a moment where the ever-literal Nagato prevents Haruhi from entering a bedroom after specifically telling her not to let anyone in. Another moment of tension is when Haruhi and Kyon venture out into a storm to find the suspect, fall down a cliff, and end up trapped in a cave. While the conclusion is kind of obvious, Remote Island Syndrome is very enjoyable, making fun of clichés and loving every minute of it.
5. Kyon Nearly Punches Haruhi
Haruhi is a good character, but her bratty, selfish ways can really make her a jackass. In the arc “The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya”, the SOS Brigade create a film for the school cultural festival but Haruhi’s bolshie decisions really grind Kyon’s gears. It boils over when she deliberately drugs Mikuru to make her acting more genuine, enraging Kyon to the point he nearly punches her, and has to be restrained by Koizumi. Both characters’ actions really hit home, particularly on Haruhi’s part when she realises her most trusted friend was about to hit her, and while she screams in anger at his “insubordination”, it is obvious she is torn up about how far she pushed Kyon. As expected, it is Kyon who has to apologise, and while Haruhi keeps up her pushy attitude, she mellows out a bit, possibly learning never to go that far again.
4. Yuki Nagato vs. Ryoko Asakura
For the first few episodes, Kyon remains sceptical to the secret supernatural world he lives in. That all changes when Ryoko Asakura (Bridget Hoffman), the kind, sweet, popular class president comes at him with a knife intending to kill him to see how Haruhi will react. It turns out Asakura is an alien like Nagato, but is completely psychotic. Nagato comes to the rescue, engaging Asakura in an awesome reality warping battle which opens Kyon’s eyes to what everything his friends said was true. Asakura’s true motives and origins are quite the surprise, and she is one of anime’s most recognised psychos. Nagato also kicks some ass in the scene, losing her glasses, and begins to show a more humane side to her quiet, robotic personality.