Title: The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya aka Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yūutsu
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 25 ONA
Dates: 13 Feb 2009 – 15 May 2009
Synopsis: Relieving Haruhi’s boredom is a full time job for the SOS-dan. Much time, effort and, in Mikuru’s case, health and sanity have been sacrificed to satisfy the ever-eccentric girl. This is a collection of stories that showcases the lengths Kyon, Yuki, Itsuki and Mikuru go to save the world from annihilation.
Animation: CGI for the first four episodes. Look at Lucky Star for the rest.
Music: Bouncy and effective.
Comedy: Gimmicky but highly amusing.
Now this is what Lucky Star should have been.
Haruhi-chan is a series of slapstick gags 2 to 8 minutes long that doesn’t focus on the mundanities of life but the exuberance of the world of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya(1,2). It’s a parody of a parody which pretty much turns it into another moe anime pandering to an ever-faithful niche but is ultimately redeemed by the fact that it’s hilarious. This is not something everyone who liked the original Haruhi would enjoy, but it’s for those of you who enjoy the idea of Yuki creating her own dating sim, Asakura Ryoko coming back to life as a miniature version of herself (and subsequently becoming Yuki’s pet) and Kyon finally confessing his love for Itsuki.
A good deal of the The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s success comes from the fact that while many of its elements are typical, perhaps even derivative, the show presents itself as a serious narrative largely devoid of the immature ornamentation common in the genre. Characters are presented for what they are without the excessive use of teared up puppy eyes, pink bubbly backgrounds and bishounen sparkles to hammer down their quirks. Haruhi-chan uses the rosy cheeked chibi designs of Lucky Star for the characters, and it liberally uses bright, flashy visual cues that screams “hey, look at me!” In essence, the anime subverts what its parent production attempted to accomplish, but it works well due to the fact that the show’s character chemistry is so rich for this kind of gag format.
Since this is a collection of comedic shorts, stuff like character development and plot are herded through the back door and summarily shot. The show relies on the audience’s previous knowledge of the characters and presents fantasy scenarios that explore the extreme “what ifs” the original show could not possibly cover. The largest strength of the show is the varying length of each episode. This allows the anime to quickly hit a joke and then stop before it gets old… most of the time. Also, unlike Lucky Star, there is actually a gag in each scene, which means no more awkward moments of reflection when a scene seemingly cuts off without a punchline.
Some may bemoan the fact that Kyoto Animation has yet again cashed out on the franchise with an admittedly gimmicky marketing device, but I would contest that the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-chan is a solid experience that deserves its place. After all, due to its narrowed focus on comedy, I found it even funnier than the original anime.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Shadowmage