Title: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Author: Nagaru Tanigawa
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
Despite its dwindling popularity over the years, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a significant phenomenon back in the ’00s. In Japan, the novel was already popular, but the anime caught the attention of western fans, spreading Haruhism to the world.
This light novel volume is the first in the series, starting Kyon’s journey of joining Haruhi Suzumiya’s shenanigans. As high school begins, he meets the eccentric girl who’s fighting against the boredom of common life as she tries to meet aliens, espers, time leapers, or any kind of supernatural being that could make things more fun.
A simple conversation between the two leads Haruhi to create the SOS Brigade (Saving the World by Overloading it with Fun Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade). Despite its name, it’s pretty much just a school club with no apparent purpose besides searching for mysteries and entertaining Suzumiya.
Aside from Kyon and Haruhi, the club also gathers the mostly silent bookworm, Yuki Nagato; the beautiful senpai forced to wear costumes by Suzumiya, Mikuru Asahina; and the constantly smiling handsome boy, Itsuki Koizumi.
The volume introduces the characters, depicting the slice-of-life moments of their interactions and what they really are. Though Kyon doesn’t believe the twists at first, the events become way too weird and life-threatening for him to be able to deny the truth in their words.
The uneventful high school life he originally wanted absolutely won’t come to be. However, by the end of the volume, he comes to terms with this new reality before him. I won’t spoil the details, but it’s an excellent read with some small bits of sci-fi explanation with a tease of an event from the past that might be touched on in one of the future books.
Even for someone who watched the anime, one important detail of the light novel details Kyon’s mind even further. His personal thoughts on the events are not only relatable, but a great way to understand him better as a character.
There are also a few moments that may feel a little harsher in book format. Haruhi feels extra grumpy and unreasonable. The way she treats Mikuru can be a little more alarming in the novel since there are no comedy effects to alleviate her actions.
The light novel also has a preview of the manga, released previously by Yen Press. This is a neat way to compare both works and see how they are adapted to the other format. Both are interesting ways to tell the story, but the light novel can be considerably slower with more detail.
Overall, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel is honestly a great introduction to the series. It has everything that makes Haruhi Suzumiya a classic out in the open early in a volume that’s quite satisfying on its own.
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