The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu?) is the title of the 2006 television anime about a girl who, unbeknownst to her, possesses the power to change reality. The story is based on a series of novels, the first of which bears the same title. The anime adaptation, directed by Tatsuya Ishihara and produced by Kyoto Animation, shares the first novel's plotline, presented in six self-contained episodes, with seven episodes based on chapters from the second, third, fifth, and sixth novels woven amongst them. The ninth episode, "Someday in the Rain", was a new story written specifically for the anime by Nagaru Tanigawa, the author of the novels. The fourteen episode series premiered in Japan on April 2, 2006 and aired until July 2, 2006. Notably, these episodes were not originally broadcast in chronological order. A re-broadcast of the series has begun in April 2009. Following a comment by Teletama, one of the broadcasting stations, that the 2009 broadcast would be 28-episode long, it is believed that the re-broadcast will be followed by the second season that had been announced in July 2007. This has not yet been formally confirmed by Kadokawa, however.
Soon after the show aired, Kadokawa Shoten received various offers from companies in regards to licensing the anime, manga, and novels. On December 22, 2006, the website asosbrigade.com revealed that the anime version of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was licensed for North American distribution by Kadokawa Pictures USA, who sublicensed production and distribution to Bandai Entertainment. The series spans four DVDs released in 2007 on May 29, July 3, September 25, and November 6, respectively.
Plot and characters
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya follows the high school life of Haruhi Suzumiya, a young and very active high school girl, and those who are caught up in her antics. While Haruhi is the central character to the plot, the story is told from the point of view of Kyon, one of Haruhi's classmates.
Kyon is an ordinary first year high school student who has recently given up his fantasies of espers, time travelers, and aliens as he left middle school. When he chooses to speak to Haruhi, he unwittingly sets off a chain of events which drag him into surreal situations; he is drawn further into a world eerily like the fantasies he had just managed to outgrow, with Haruhi at its center.
Searching for a group that interests her, Haruhi joins and quits every club in the school, finding only dissatisfaction. Kyon makes a snide remark about her actions and accidentally provides Haruhi the inspiration to create a club of her own. To help start the club, Haruhi forcefully drafts Kyon, who only stays in the club to protect other helpless victims of Haruhi's "voluntary arrests". As the story progresses, Kyon finds that each of these supposedly "helpless victims" has a specific reason to be there.
The first of these new members is Yuki Nagato, a silent bibliophile who usually wants to simply be left alone to read. Without Haruhi knowing, Yuki is in fact a "humanoid interface," or an artificial human, created by the extraterrestrial Integrated Data Entity. The next member is the shy and timid Mikuru Asahina, who is one year above Haruhi; she is actually a time traveler. The final member of the SOS Brigade is Itsuki Koizumi, who is almost always smiling and more than willing to give in to Haruhi's strange demands. He turns out to be one of many espers in an organization known as the Agency.
Except for Kyon, the members of the club are secret agents of various organizations who are sent to observe Haruhi. They gradually explain that Haruhi has superhuman control over every aspect of the universe—an ability which she is unaware of. Whenever Haruhi becomes bored or otherwise dissatisfied with reality, she subconsciously creates a new universe—one more to her liking—and attempts to switch over, thus leading to the destruction of the current universe. In order to prevent this, the members of Haruhi's club spend their time attempting to keep their god-like leader entertained, hold her powers in check, and maintain the illusion of a normal life.
The series never clarifies whether the club members gathered around Haruhi by their own free will, her subconscious, or were simply created out of thin air for Haruhi's amusement. The question of their origin is a motif seen throughout the series.
The anime is set in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo, Japan, which happens to be site of the Kwansei Gakuin University, where Nagaru Tanigawa studied. Names of real train stations and baseball teams were altered in the anime; this includes: the Kitaguchi Station seen in the anime which is actually the Hankyu Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station, the Kōyōen Station (光陽園駅?) is named after the real Hankyu Kōyōen Station (甲陽園駅?), only the kanji is different; the rival baseball team featured in episode four, Kamigahara Pirates (上ヶ原パイレーツ?), has the same name of its real life counterpart, Uegahara Pirates of the Kwansei Gakuin University, only the reading of the first kanji (上) is different. North High School where Kyon, Haruhi, and the rest of the SOS Brigade members attend is the real life location of Nishinomiya Kita High School. In addition, several scenes in the anime include faithful portrayals of the scenery in and around Nishinomiya.
The episodes of the anime were aired in an anachronic order: The prologue, seven chapters of the first novel and epilogue, are arranged into six episodes that were kept in order, but arranged in between these were episodes taken from chapters of some of the later novels. The earliest example of this is that episode two is chronologically the first episode. During the previews for the next episode, the viewers are given two different numbers for the following episode (except for episode number twelve); one number from Haruhi, who numbers the episodes according to where they fit chronologically in the plot, and one number from Kyon, who lists the episode numbers in the order in which they aired. Episode twelve happened to be both the twelfth episode aired and the twelfth episode chronologically, which Kyon mentions during its preview. The standard edition DVD release uses "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina" as the first episode, but otherwise follows the chronological order.
The anime had two opening themes; the first was "The Mikuru Legend of Love" (恋のミクル伝説 Koi no Mikuru Densetsu?) in episode one performed by Yuko Goto, and the second, spanning episode two through thirteen, was "It's an Adventure, Right? Right?" (冒険でしょでしょ? Bōken Desho Desho??) performed by Aya Hirano. The main ending theme of the series was "Sunny Sunny Happiness" (ハレ晴レユカイ Hare Hare Yukai?), performed by Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara, and Yuko Goto, which spanned the first thirteen episodes. In the fourteenth episode, the extended version of "It's an Adventure, Right? Right?" was used as the ending theme.
Several songs and musical pieces were included in the anime. Among the insert songs used were "God knows..." and "Lost my music" performed by Aya Hirano in episode twelve. Segments of Symphony No. 4 in F Minor originally composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 7 in C Major, "Leningrad" originally composed by Dmitri Shostakovich, and Daphnis et Chloé originally composed by Maurice Ravel, were used in episode eleven, while Symphony No. 8 in Eb Major, "Symphony of a thousand", originally composed by Gustav Mahler, was used in episode fourteen.
Live concert event
Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisō (涼宮ハルヒの激奏 The Extravaganza of Haruhi Suzumiya?) was a live concert event held at Omiya Sonic City on March 18, 2007 that featured songs from the anime sung by the voice actors. The DVD of the concert was released on July 27, 2007.
The series was extremely popular and has become a cult television series with a large and dedicated fanbase. In December 2006, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the most popular anime in Japan according to Newtype magazine. Similar to Star Trek's fans as Trekkies, fans of the series call themselves "Haruhiists", and the collective fandom is known as Haruhiism (ハルヒ主義 Haruhi shugi?).
DVD sales in Japan have been strong with 70,000 and 90,000 units sold of the first two DVDs respectively as of August 2006. A 2006 online poll of Japan's top 100 favourite animated television series of all time, conducted by TV Asahi, placed the series in fourth place. By the end of 2007, the seventh installment of the series sold 45,000 units. The series has also become somewhat of an internet phenomenon in both Japan, Asia and English-speaking countries. Over 2000 clips of the series and user-created parodies and homages were posted to video sharing websites such as YouTube. The popularity of these clips (and those of other popular Japanese series) led the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) to request that YouTube remove clips claimed to be under the copyright of their members.
The anime won the Animation Kobe Award for TV Feature in 2006. At the Sixth Annual Tokyo Anime Awards, the series won the category "Best TV Anime Series," along with Code Geass and Death Note. Furthermore, Aya Hirano won the "Voice Acting Award." She also was among the "Best Actress in a leading role" nominees from the first Seiyū Awards.
In December 2006, Bandai Entertainment registered the website asosbrigade.com, which was linked to from high-profile anime sites such as Anime News Network during the week of December 18. On December 22, 2006, the website opened with a live action presentation video resembling a fan-made production featuring Haruka Inoue and Akiyo Yamamoto in the roles of Mikuru Asahina and Yuki Nagato, with Haruhi Suzumiya being played by Patricia Ja Lee. The video confirmed (in Japanese) the specifics of the licensing arrangement. After a few days, a subtitled version of the video replaced the original on the site, translating the Japanese licensing announcement into English. The website also linked to a blog on the popular social networking website MySpace, which entered the list of the top 50 most viewed MySpace pages within 24 hours.
On December 25, the website was updated with a Christmas message and a link to a page (in Japanese) allowing users to listen to and vote for clips of voice actresses performing the part of Mikuru in English. This practice continued as similar audition pages for Yuki, Itsuki, Kyon and Haruhi were posted in the days that followed. It was not made clear if the audition results would affect the casting choices at all, but the second audition page claimed that "[the] choices will be noted and taken into consideration." The audition pages have since been taken offline.
On May 30, 2007 the SOS Brigade Invasion Tour was announced for Anime Expo 2007 on June 30. Aya Hirano, Yuko Goto, and Minori Chihara were part of this event, "being flown in directly from Japan." Anime Expo attendees were able to participate in the ASOS Dance Contest held on Friday and the winner would have the chance to dance on stage with the guests of honor. Ever since the event was announced, advance ticket sales for pre-registered attendees have caused AX officials to cut down on the amount of tickets sold due to the overwhelming amount of advanced tickets sold (despite the event being free of charge to attend).
The new season of the anime series was first announced in a full-page advertisement of Asahi Shimbun on July 7, 2007 in Japan. Promotional videos for the new season included a live action sequence inspired by the "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody" chapter from the third novel which depicts Haruhi and Kyon breaking into school grounds with the footage taken from surveillance cameras. On December 18, 2007, the anime's official website, haruhi.tv, was replaced by a fake 404 error with five form input fields. If KNSAK (the initials of the SOS Brigade members' family names, with the exception of Kyon, whose initial is taken from his nickname) was inputted, a fake xterm interface opened with messages by "YUKI.N". At the end of these messages, the enter key could be pressed, which redirected the viewer to an informational page about the new season. As reported by Anime News Network, "the 'disappearance' of the website on December 18 at 4:00 a.m. (Japan Standard Time) is a reference to the pivotal date in The Vanishment of Haruhi Suzumiya, the fourth volume in the light novel series and an apparent indication of which novel plot the anime project will adapt."
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- Official SOS Brigade Australian Division website
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- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia