Unless you’re a newcomer to anime, you probably know the name Haruhi Suzumiya. The first series was widely recognized and soon became a cult classic in both eastern and western fandom. Even back in 2006, when YouTube began to rise in popularity, you could see the famous dance video all over the internet. I, also, seem to have caught a bit of Haruhiism by purchasing most of light novels and manga. So it was awesome to find that MangaUK had released the second season of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya – but is the new season better than the old?
First, a brief recap: Haruhi is fascinated with the weird mysteries of the world and sets up a high school club called the S.O.S brigade to hunt for aliens, time travellers, and espers. The strange thing about this is that most of the members of the club are exactly that and she has no clue about their true identities. Only Kyon (who is forced to join the club) finds out about Yuki Nagato, Mikuru Asahina, and Itsuki Koizumi, and the reason why these weird characters have joined this supernatural club.
When watching the first episode, “Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody,” we are pulled into some interesting back-story which relates how Haruhi Suzumiya came to be so enthusiastic about hunting for unknown beings. It produces some interesting facts that will lead to future situations. The animation done by Kyoto is absolutely stellar, showing some stunning scenery and character emotion; the comical timing is for the most part spot-on. So this must mean that the series is going to be incredible!
Then we come to the hugely infamous “Endless Eight” arc…
This part is basically the same episode repeated eight times and while this mysterious event is figured out on the second timeline, for some reason nothing is done about it until the eighth episode of the arc. At least Kyoto Animation made some alterations like changing around the clothes and different scenes which I can kind of appreciate was their solution to try to keep it fresh – but be prepared to hear similar dialogue and watch the same events.
The best way I found to approach this was to marathon the whole arc – but by the halfway point, I honestly became bored with it and just couldn’t be positive until I finally finished it and raised my hands in the air in victory.
The final arc “The Sigh Of Haruhi Suzumiya” turned out to be an extended and more detailed version of episode 00 from the first season.
This still left me disappointed as to what the second season had to offer. If you add in the fact that the DVD comes with mono Japanese audio only, it becomes increasingly hard to recommend. While both OP and ED are very colourful and fit the show’s overall mood, I found them forgettable and easily skippable.
On the positive side, all three discs are littered with extras including the popular dance routine and an hour’s worth of location scouting videos researching popular real locations such as the high school (which could interest hardcore Haruhi fans) as well as many other additional extras.
Coming with the box-set is The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya, a 13 episode parody of the series which centers around our main characters. Each episode has a runtime of around five minutes and is full of quick random gags that work well most of the time. As a matter of fact, it reminded me a lot of Hetalia: Axis Powers and its chibitalia sketches. On the animation side, all the characters have a chibi look to them – but this works well with the parodies (it also uses 3D models.) It’s most definitely worth your time.
Also with the The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya disc you get another short known as Nyoron Churuya-san which is based on Tsuruya, one of the supporting characters of the series, and is made up of six two-minute episodes.This one isn’t really that good and uses a repetitive punchline.
Haruhi-chan also gets its own set of extras including Textless Openings & Closings and TV commercial spots.
As a full package The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 2 box-set has some decent arcs in the second series and the inclusion of The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya; if you can get past the flaws, then I can just about recommended it.