I started going to anime conventions during peak Haruhi-ism. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime had first aired – fans were debating in which viewing order was the “right” one to watch it in, conventions had panels about how to do the Hare Hare Yukai, it was a wonderful time. As the years have gone, and in the wake of Endless Eight, and a general lack of Haruhi content, the visibility of the series has kind of faded to the background. However, the novels and the manga were still out there, so I came to the decision that if I wasn’t able to see the whole story animated, I’d read it in manga form and see how it all played out.
The manga adapts pretty much all of the Haruhi novels – going from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya, which was at the time the manga concluded the final work in the series, and honestly, it’s a decent enough finale. The series covers the course of one year in the life of Kyon (last name unknown), and the members of the SOS Brigade – a group that Haruhi started in order to find Aliens, Time Travellers, and Espers:
- Yuki, the sole member of the Literature Club (whose space Haruhi takes over for the brigade) – and who is secretly a space alien.
- Koizumi – a secret Esper from an organization that belives Haruhi has god-like powers she is unaware of (because she does), and hoping to keep Haruhi from overwriting the world.
- Mikiru – a secret time traveller who has travelled from the future to keep Haruhi from erasing their future by accident.
If your response is “Man, that’s awfully convenient” then you agree with Kyon, along with all the other members of the Brigade, who suspect their groups exist because Haruhi created them unintentionally. This leads to questions of why, and how they can keep this high school girl who has godlike powers, doesn’t know she has godlike powers and keeps exercising them unintentionally, and is kind of a chunnibyou-light, from destroying and remaking the world to make it more interesting.
The way this executes is a form of slice-of-life hijinks, occasionally happening with a side of melodrama as various factions seek to control Haruhi’s powers, and the SOS brigade seeks to thwart them while also keeping her ignorant of her powers.
Having read some of the novels and seen the first season and part of the second for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, this was a story I was generally familiar with. The manga generally got this part of the story across well, sort of. There were a few bits in the series where it very much felt like some of the more long-winded, exposition-heavy parts of the story struggled to work properly in the format of a manga. To be clear – these are narrative beats that would have struggled in animation as well, so I can’t fault the manga for this.
Otherwise, because this is the mangaka’s second work, it bears mentioning that there is a definite polish curve over the course of the manga – there’s a lot more refinement in the artist’s work by the end of the series than there is at the start. This does mean there’s something of a hump in the presentation of the narrative that gives it something of a rough start, particularly considering some of that hump is coming with material that audiences would be somewhat familiar with – visually. It’s not bad – it’s just awkward.
I did enjoy reading the manga – definitely enough that I was able to go through all 100+ chapters to complete the series. However, if the adventures of the SOS Brigade don’t grab you early, there really isn’t much for you to keep you going for the whole ride.
The Manga of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is available in physical editions from RightStuf and Amazon, and in Digital Editions from Amazon and Bookwalker. Buying anything from those links will help support the site.
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