The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is one of my favorite recent anime franchises to crop up in the last ten years. Nagaru Tanigawa’s story about a potential god surrounded by paranormal characters amidst a high school setting has made for one of the most entertaining concepts in recent memory.
The franchise first began life as a series of novels before conquering every form of media available. Personally, the anime is my personal preference, though an argument can be made for any one of Haruhi’s various media ventures.
Like every other form of media, the manga follows the same basic plot layed out in the novels aside from a few minor differences. As such, one of the drawbacks to following the franchise in all its forms is the redundancy that begins to filter through fan’s initial enjoyment. Despite this, the books are enjoyable for Kyon’s first person satire while others flock to the anime for as a source of seeing the stories realized in motion. This leaves the manga in a difficult position, as its still pictures that tell the same basic story with only a fraction of the charm.
As Volume 7 opens, the SOS brigade are in the midst of a battle with the computer club over an earlier altercation in which Haruhi blackmailed the president into handing over his computer. The two groups engage in an online game with the SOS Brigade being the clear underdogs.
Following that, the rest of the volume adapts the popular “Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” arc that see’s the entire world altered following Haruhi vanishing. Only Kyon seems to remember the world as it used to be, and tries desperately to remind his former SOS members of who they are. Many of the characters undergo bizarre shifts in their personality and a former menace reappears, all to Kyon’s dismay.
The arc leads into volume 8, with Kyon feeling depressed and unsure of what to do. He begins interrogating his former club members to no avail and decides to donate his energy to finding Haruhi. After much effort, Kyon unites the SOS Brigade and the cause of the temporal shift is made clear.
In a manga in which the story is adapted from another source of media, the determining factor of its appeal is the art. Unfortunately it’s unremarkable. It’s not bad by any means but rather it looks unpolished and bland. It’s not enough to draw in new fans or sustain those already familiar with the franchise.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya manga feels more like an attempt to milk the franchise for all its worth. Don’t get me wrong; had the manga come first, I wouldn’t deem it quite so inferior as it would have at least provided the source material for the story. Unfortunately though, it lacks the appeal to rise to the level of its predecessors.