The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an enigmatic anime. There are many things to love about it, but in a few small places it almost seems to intentionally drive the viewer to hating it. Haruhi is unusual in that its protagonist (unreliable narrator Kyon) and main character (hyperactive sociopathic antagonist Haruhi) are different characters, with Haruhi's slapstick sociopathy providing much of the show's comedy. They are joined by the stoic yet loveable Rei Ayanami Expy Yuki, effeminate new transfer student Itsuki, and the huge ball of unfortunate implications that is Mikuru Asahina. This is where my problem with Haruhi comes in. Mikuru, despite supposedly being 18, is sexualised in an altogether inappropriate manner, a fact which is compounded by the constant molestation jokes which are made involving her and Haruhi. These factors are completely at odds with the rest of the series tonally, and wind up being nothing but offputting to the viewer. This is a great shame, as otherwise the series is outstanding in many ways. The writing is witty, the stories inventively take mundane situations and put Urban Fantasy twists on them, the soundtrack is varied and enjoyable, the animation is wonderfully expressive, and the Japanese dub contains some of the finest voice acting I have ever heard. The only other thing one can criticise Haruhi for is the confusing episode order, which one ultimately has to look up to ensure they are watching it chronologically. (Also, just skip episodes 2 through 7 of the Endless Eight arc. They add nothing.) The movie 'The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya' is highly worthy of note, focusing primarily on character development for Kyon and Yuki. Over the course of just under 3 hours, it tells a story reminiscent of It's a Wonderful Life, with the quality of the animation, the wit of the narration, and the fantastic use of music all ramped Up to Eleven in comparison to the already high standards of the TV series. My only issue was that it relied too heavily on continuity from the TV series to be accessible to newcomers. Even if you hated the TV series, give it a try, if you're open minded there's a good chance you'll love it.
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