The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 1-3
written by Nagaru Tanigawa
illustrated by Noizi Ito and Gaku Tsugano
She thinks, therefore we are.
Kyon used to be a dreamer; but by his first day of high school, he has finally accepted that there is no grand adventure or epic fantasies in life. Existence is banal, and life is mundane. Now that he is starting high school, it’s time to grow up and move on.
Then something happens that will change his life forever. He meets Haruhi Suzumiya, who introduces herself by demanding that all aliens, time travelers, or anyone else with supernatural powers show themselves. Kyon finds himself fascinated with Haruhi. Her eccentric actions and confrontational attitude make her a force to be reckoned with. Much like Kyon in the past, Haruhi craves to find what lies beyond the veil of humanity.
Inspired by Kyon’s curiosity over her, Haruhi takes it upon herself to create the S.O.S. Brigade, a school club devoted to seeking out supernatural life. At the start, the club members include only Kyon, Haruhi, and a remarkably quiet girl named Yuki Nagato. Nagato privately confesses to Kyon that she is actually an alien created to gather data about Haruhi.
And that’s just the beginning. New students join the club, only to confess that they too are supernatural beings. They all seem to have one important trait in common. They all believe that Haruhi has the ability to shape reality with her desires, but she must never know of their secrets or of her powers. For now, Haruhi must believe that they can’t exist while maintaining her faith in the possibility that they could exist, lest she destroy the world on a whim of boredom.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya puts an interesting twist on a typical sci-fi comedy by incorporating an element of solipsism, the philosophy that one’s own mind is all that exists, and anything outside the mind cannot be proven real. The secondary characters even indicate that Haruhi is the entity identified as God, despite being unaware of her station.
Author Nagaru Tanigawa made the right choice in using Kyon, the straight man, as the narrator. Even though the story centers on Haruhi, she is bossy, ill-tempered, and not a particularly likeable character at first. Experiencing the story through Kyon’s eyes gives the reader a better objective stance between what Haruhi knows and doesn’t know about her world, plus it creates the sense of being caught in the middle that Kyon experiences within the reader.
The series also creates an unusual conflict of interest between intellect and emotion. The manga appeases the intellect by offering a well-structured conflict involving the fragile complexities involved with time travel. Yet it may anger more mature readers who can’t stand to see Haruhi, who is the epitome of a bossy brat, get her way.
The anime version of Haruhi Suzumiya offers several adorable songs and dances the manga does not, which can take away from the charisma of the manga when someone compares the two. However, this franchise is popular enough among a wide age range of fans that it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with it. The first three volumes indicate that the story is thought-out and well structured, which promises payoff down the road.-- Courtney Kraft