The Rampage of Haruhi Suzimiya

Monday, 30 April 2012

A quick note on this for any new blog readers: Haruhi Suzimiya is a Japanese schoolgirl unaware of her ability to alter reality. She runs a school club, the SOS Brigade, whose members are secretly dedicated to preventing her unconscious desires rewriting the world.

The Rampage of Haruhi Suzimiya
Nagaru Tanigawa
(Little Brown, 2011)

The next volume of Haruhi Suzimiya short stories is a mixed bag.

The first story, Endless Eight, made me groan. Anyone who has watched season 2 of the anime will understand the fear at “Summer’s almost over…”. Thankfully, the short story doesn’t have the same structure and was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. The big problem was with my own over-awareness of the plot. Suzimiya wants to have a fun-filled summer holiday, and the rest of the SOS brigade have to make it happen.

The next story, Day of Sagittarius 3, was my least favourite. I struggle to engage with stories that involve descriptions of battles – either actual ones or cyberfights – and this was no different. There’s too little emotional content, and too much dry description.

The final story, Snowy Mountain Syndrome, is exactly what I want in Haruhi. Mirroring their summer expedition to a Remote Island, the Brigade go to a ski lodge and get caught in a blizzard. This story delighted for several reasons, one of which is that it was the only one not yet adapted into anime. It was the most playful, and saucy, and made me remember why I started reading Haruhi to start with.

The Boredom and Disappearence of Haruhi Suzumiya

Monday, 14 March 2011

A trip to London by the other half brought me many many Haruhi updates, including the manga and the light novels.

A quick recap, as these are part of an ongoing series…
Kyon starts at North High and is drawn – well, dragged - into the SOS Brigade, an after-school club created by the hyper-active Haruhi Suzumiya to hunt for time-travellers, ESPers and aliens. The other three members of the club are Mikuru, Koizumi and Yuki. They reveal themselves to Kyon as a time-traveller, an ESPer and an alien respectively. Haruhi can never find out as she’s unknowingly able to change reality… Kyon has to keep their secrets whilst also keeping Haruhi amused otherwise she might rewrite the world. Again.

The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
Nagaru Tanigawa
(Little Brown, 2010)
This is a collection of short stories from the various magazines the Haruhi stories first appeared in. They vary in interest, based both on the story material itself and their place in the wider ongoing plot.

  • The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya results in her entering the SOS Brigade into a baseball tournament. This works a lot better in the anime than on the page, in part because seeing Haruhi hit a home run is more enjoyable than reading about it.
  • Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody is the big one in term of the ongoing story, with Kyon travelling in time and unintentionally seeding the idea of going to North High into a young Suzumiya’s head.
  • Mysterique Sign is another one that leaves me cold, as the anime episode did. It’s a competent enough story but it feels slight.
  • Remote Island Syndrome is one of my favourites. Koizumi arranges for the SOS Brigade to visit his uncle on a remote island. They’re cut off by a storm, and then someone is murdered… This is the most Scooby-Doo the gang gets, with unmaskings, oddball adult characters and a lovely moment when Haruhi shuts up.
    • This isn’t an essential one of the novels for the ongoing storyline, apart for Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, and I admit I skimmed it a bit because next on the pile was…

      The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
      Nagaru Tanigawa
      (Little Brown, 2010)

      I was perhaps a little too keen to get to this one, as it’s the light novel the film is based on. I’ve been very very good and not watched any fansubs of the film. (So if the offical R1 version could appear on DVD soon, please…)

      Kyon isn’t looking forward to spending Christmas Eve – a day for romantic miracles – with Haruhi and the rest of the SOS Brigade. Then he wakes up in a whole where Haruhi never arrived at North High, and Mikuru, Koizumi and Yuki don’t know him. Oh, and the alien/human interface who tried to kill him in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is back in class.

      This is where things get complicated. Kyon has to unpick what’s going on, work out what the cyberghost of Yuki meant with a brief enigmatic message and work out both how to undo things and if he even wants to go back to his old reality.

      My main issue with the books is that sometimes the translation may be too dry: I suspect even the cynical Kyon is more emotional about the dilemma he faces than comes over in these versions. A lot of that suspicion comes from having seen so much of the anime, where Kyon gets more inflection through both the drawings and the voice actors (both Japanese and English).

      For Haruhi fans, these are the fountainhead. The source of everything that has come after. But sometimes I wish they were a little less formal.

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