Haruhi Suzumiya is the central character of a series of Light Novels by Nagaru Tanigawa featuring illustrations by Noizi Ito. A first year high school student (equivalent to 10th grade/sophomore year in the USA), she is considered beautiful, athletic, intelligent, and extremely eccentric. Haruhi has come to the conclusion that ordinary humans are, as a whole, utterly boring, and that she would rather hang out with aliens, time travelers, espers, and the like. In her quest to find them, she promptly joins all the clubs in school in a day... and quits them all just as rapidly. One day, her classmate Kyon (the Narrator) unwittingly gives Haruhi an idea: if there aren't any decent clubs, why not make one of your own? Haruhi instantly switches from an irritated, sociopathic, pompous brat to an irritating, sociopathic Genki Girl who vows to allow nothing to stand in her way. She conscripts Kyon to help her set up the club: the SOS Brigade, whose mission is to find aliens, time travellers, and espers, and have fun with them. Kyon quickly learns an explosive secret that must be kept from Haruhi at all costs, the details of which must be seen to be believed.
The story is notable for having no definite genre — it convincingly uses comedy, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance and Slice of Life in one of the most typical anime settings: an ordinary high school, all the while with well-developed characters. The SOS Brigade is made up of five members that represent a spectrum of anime character types, both in their identities as high school students and their secret identities...
A "counterpoint series", which is unrelated except for the (authorized) use of the Haruhi name, also exists, called There Is No Haruhi In My Classroom.
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu) (JP June 2003/EN May 2009)
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Tameiki) (JP September 2003/EN October 2009)
- The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Taikutsu) (JP December 2003/EN July 2010)
- The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Shōshitsu) (JP July 2004/EN November 2010)
- The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Bōsō) (JP October 2004/EN June 2011)
- The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Dōyō) (JP March 2005/EN November 2011)
- The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Inbō) (JP August 2005/EN June 2012)
- The Indignation of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Fungai) (JP May 2006/EN November 2012)
- The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Bunretsu) (JP April 2007/EN June 2013)
- The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (First) (Suzumiya Haruhi no Kyōgaku (Zen)) (JP May 2011/EN November 2013)
- The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (Last) (Suzumiya Haruhi no Kyōgaku (Go)) (JP May 2011/EN November 2013)note
There are two additional short stories: "Rainy Day", which was released with The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya, and "Random Numbers", which was released in 2013 with the second artbook. After a very long hiatus, another short story was made for the 30th anniversary of Sneaker Bunko— "Seven Mysteries Overtime", seen in the special magazine The Sneaker Legend.
All the novels so far are available in English from your local online bookseller, and previews of the first three can be read at the English novel/manga website. A preview of the 10th novel can be found here.
An anime series based on parts of the novels was released in 2006, titled after the first novel. Cries for a second season seemingly went unanswered until mid-2009, when several brand-new episodes popped up in the middle of a supposed re-run of the first season (this time done in chronological order). These new episodes constitute the "second season", and are interspersed among the old episodes according to where they chronologically belong in the plot. An English dub of the series was produced by Bandai Entertainment, showcasing five of the most well-known names in ADR acting.
Novel four (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya) received a movie adaptation. (Trailer) The movie was also licensed by Bandai Entertainment. Following Bandai Entertainment's closure, the series is now licensed by Funimation.
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (first season, six episodes)
- "The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya" (from Boredom; first season, one episode)
- "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody" (from Boredom; second season, one episode)
- "Mystérique Sign" (from Boredom; first season, one episode)
- "Remote Island Syndrome" (from Boredom; first season, two episodes)
- "Endless Eight" (from Rampage; second season, eight episodes)
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya (second season, five episodes)
- "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00" (from Wavering; first season, one episode)
- "Live Alive" (from Wavering; first season, one episode)
- "The Day of Sagittarius" (from Rampage; first season, one episode)
- "Someday in the Rain" (an anime original written by Tanigawa himself; first season, one episode)
- The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (theatrical film)
Both seasons were formerly on Crunchyroll, and the series was picked up by Funimation after Crunchyroll's rights expired. Funimation is releasing an "Ultimate Collectors Edition" DVD set of the full series, including episodes of Haruhi-chan, ~Nyoron Churuya-chan, and a fair chunk of Disappearance of Nagato Yuki Episodes. They have also been licensed the movie, though it isn't a part of the aforementioned collection.
The series has spawned the following Spin Offs:
- A manga adaptation by Gaku Tsugano (there was an earlier adaptation by Makoto Mizuno that was discontinued/disowned after one volume)
- Haruhi-chan: A self-parody gag manga and its anime adaptation.
- Nyoron Churuya-san: Another gag manga and its anime adaptation.
- The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: A manga featuring Yuki Nagato as main character of a romantic Slice of Life comedy. It received an animated adaptation in 2015.
- The Intrigue of Itsuki Koizumi: A manga about Koizumi.
- The Celebration of Haruhi Suzumiya: An anthology manga penned and illustrated by various third-party creators.
- The Misfortune of Kyon & Koizumi: A third-party anthology with stories about Kyon and Koizumi.
As you might be able to tell from the length of this page, the anime in its first season became a smash hit both domestically and internationally, where it's been compared to similar ensemble absurdist comedies like Monty Python's Flying Circus. It spawned unthinkable levels of praise, with resulting amounts of Hype Backlash, a globe-spanning Cash Cow Franchise, with fans from Japan to America to Britain to Russia to Palestine, probably the largest body of backlash in the history of all anime, and made Kyoto Animation a household name.
The books vary between several short stories and one novel, and have their differences from the anime. Usually because of the time limit the anime has, it compresses Kyon's narration process as well as the romantic focus and the character insight one would usually get from the novels, at the cost of saving comedy and the plot. While the plot alone is interesting, it leaves many actions and motives to the interpretation of the reader (often triggered by Kyon being an Unreliable Narrator), which makes you think about it long after you finish the book. However, the realistic Character Development of the Brigade members is also impressive.
If you check out the impressively big character sheet, please beware of spoilers, even if you've finished the anime.
There is also a rather substantial collection of Fan Work known collectively as Suzumiya Haruhi no Seitenkan (The Gender-Flip of Haruhi Suzumiya), which posits what would happen if all the characters in the series exchanged genders. It's worth checking out, but prepare to be confounded.