English Title: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Original Title: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu
Author: Nagaru Tanigawa
Publisher: Yen Press/Little Brown
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Summary: (From the back of the book) “Meet Haruhi – a cute, determined girl, starting high school in a city where nothing exciting happens and absolutely no one understands her.
Meet Kyon – a sarcastic guy who sits behind Haruhi in homeroom and the only boy Haruhi has ever opened up to. His fate is now tied to hers.
Meet the S.O.S. Brigade – an after-school club organized by Haruhi and Kyon with a mission to seek out the extraordinary. Oh, and their second mission? Keeping Haruhi happy…because even though she doesn’t know it, Haruhi has the power to destroy the universe.”
Review: I’m pretty sure every anime fan out there or anyone who hangs out with anime fans has heard of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It became quite popular among anime fans about two or three years ago. Not quite sure how it happened, but it did. It also spread around the “Hare Hare Yukai” ending dance as well, which got anime fans all over the world to get together and dance the ending theme…that wasn’t really originally intended for people to dance.
Personally, with my slight obsession with light novels and my strong dislike for the MoHS (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) anime (despite I bought all the limited edition sets), I was pretty psyched about the fact the original Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, the books that basically started its popularity, were being licensed and had to pick up a copy. And I must say, I was quite pleased.
I had picked up the paperback edition and I must applaud Yen Press/Little Brown. Their goal for changing the cover was to appeal to a far wider audience. And I honestly believe the cover hits that audience well. It reminds me of a handful of teenage book covers that I personally find extremely unappealing. Not only that, you most likely wouldn’t even know it had anything to do with anime/manga (manga as in terms of the illustration style) until you thoroughly flipped through it. So bravo, person who designed the cover! You did a fantastic job! (By the way, the hardcover edition of the novel retains the original artwork of the Japanese edition.)
The story itself is actually pretty unique. While I have seen other stories where one of the main characters happens to bring everyone who has what they want together specifically, everyone eventually finds out. However, in this case, Haruhi brings together her wish of aliens, time travelers and espers (or psychics)…but is basically completely clueless about it. She runs about with Kyon in tow (the narrator of the story), trying to find these supposed things of fiction…when they’re right under her nose. And she’s completely unaware of it. Obviously, it doesn’t help that she is what you could consider a “god” and could rewrite the universe as she pleases. In which she’s completely unaware about.
All the characters have some sort of individual appeal to them that makes them all equally as interesting. Haruhi Suzumiya and her crazy, dictator ways. Yuki Nagato and her mysterious quietness. Mikuru Asahina and her big boobs and extreme moe appeal. Koizumi and his pretty boy looks and charming (?) smile (who would fit well inside of a yaoi-themed story). And Kyon being the relatively normal guy who gets sucked into Haruhi’s crazy schemes and our narrator. Who frankly reminds me much more of a healthy, normal guy in the original novel than the anime.
The writing style is pretty good and generally easy and fast to read, other than a few lesser known words used here and there by Kyon to describe Haruhi’s insane schemes. It’s certainly not unique in terms of a light novel, but it’s well written and flows far better than some of the other light novels I’ve read. I highly enjoyed some of Kyon’s thoughts, especially when he shared something far more in common with the average guy that made it easier to relate to.
Honestly, this book held almost no surprises for me. Not because it was predictable, but because the anime adaption is almost spot on and I had watched the entire anime series before reading it. The six episodes of the main storyline are contained within this book. And personally, I think even though they were the same thing, the novel was far more interesting and kept my attention longer. The only surprises I had were parts of Kyon’s internal monologues, when he would mention a somewhat perverse thought, which were excluding in the anime.
If you have not watched the anime yet, I highly recommend picking up this book first before watching it. If you have and whether or not you liked it, I suggest you pick up this book. Just because you didn’t like the anime doesn’t mean that you’re not going to like the novel (which happened to be the case with it- I didn’t like the anime, but liked the novel). If you’re looking for an interesting read and have no interest in anime and manga, pick this up. If you hate reading…don’t pick it up then.
And for all Haruhi Suzumiya fans, this novel is a MUST. So buy it. Through Amazon.com. At the bookstore. Wherever it may be sold. It’s certainly worth it.
Overall Rating: 8/10
– Interesting storyline
– Appealing characters
– Good writing
– A cover that reaches out to its target audience well
– FAR better than the anime adaption (and do keep in mind that this is not one of those “original VS. adaption” kind of things – I like what I like.)