Saturday, March 13, 2010

Suzumiya Haruhi no Juuustu 2009 - anime review

"Suzumiya Haruhi no Juuutsu" or "Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" is anime that I watched this week. And I am currently very biased about it. Also, I plan to write about plot and characters a bit more detailed, so beware of spoilers. I don't plan to write any real spoilers, but I would recommend skipping this to last paragraph if you want to be surprised while watching this anime.

This is a 28 episodes version that aired last year. In year 2006, anime with same name (only difference is in "2009" addition in title of newer one) was aired, that consisted of first 14 episodes. I watched it sometime in 2007 and, like Claymore, it was one of my first anime. I remember that there was much flame and discussions about it, which I thought were irrational at the time. Now, some 150 anime later, I understand them much better. In short, people were arguing was this series uninspired and intended for masses, or was it actually a masterpiece of entertainment. At that time I was closer to second opinion, although I admitted that there were some flaws in it. Now I'm somewhere in the middle, maybe closing to first one.

Episodes were broadcasted in nonlinear fashion, which I didn't mind then, or now. Actually, I though it very clever then (one other series that used this trick was "Kara no Kyoukai"). But problem for me was that that I remembered first 14 episodes quite well, so there was no much suspense for me. And this is half of series! So jokes weren't funny as first time nor was I surprised with revelations in plot.

There are five main characters. Story is told from point of view of Kyon, a normal school boy (first year), although cynical and somewhat lethargic. Suzumiya Haruhi is his new classmate, an eccentric girl who is not satisfied with normal life and is only interested in aliens, time-travelers and espers. And, although she is not aware of that, she has an ability to alter reality (this is maybe not true, but watch anime if you want to understand it better). And to answer her wishes, there are Nagato Yuki (alien); Asahina Mikuru (time-traveler) and Koizumi Itsuki (esper). Haruhi is not aware of their real identities and think of them only as her schoolmates, but Kyon knows it.

Plot consist of several their adventures, connected to Haruhi's quirky wishes and changes to reality she purposelessly cause. Plot is nothing especially interesting or surprising, but it's not bad in any way. For me, most impressive part was eight episodes named "Endless eight". Our heroes are trapped in time-loop and this is represented with eight episodes that are different in only few words per episode and in different clothes (actually, there are few differences in first and last episode, but nevertheless...). Though, I found it unrealistic that all five of them have eight swimming suits!!

Characters are what should be the best point of this anime, but for me, they were also the reason why I am biased about it. Kyon is great character; his comments are always funny and sarcastic and he is very real character (like doubts he has about his feelings). Koizumi and Nagato are good characters, fitting to their roles. I liked Koizumi's speaches and explanations. Problems were Haruhi herself and Mikuru. Mikuru was too whinnying for my taste. I understand that she was intended to be like that, but it was too much for me. Her weak voice and constant whining were irritating for me. And Haruhi is terrible person, especially to Mikuru. Her lowest point (at least for me) was in episodes about making a movie. She is demanding, bossy and not at least concerned about feelings of other. And she gets no punishment for that, nor does she realize it. This was biggest objection for me. But, since there will be some sequels to it, maybe it will get corrected in future.

From technical side, only praises. Animation, design, colors and care for details are on high level. Sounds are good, voice-acting too. And there were few nice songs.

Now, about my recommendation. Anime itself is not great; I would judge it a slightly above average. If you are watching anime only occasionally, or like only one or two categories (and this is not one of them), I think you should skip this anime and found something you will like more (depending on your taste). But if you like anime in general and watching them systematically, this is one of must-see, at least to know what all the fuss about it. Or, at least watch earlier series with 14 episodes, then if you like it, watch other 14 episodes (just beware of order!). And then, if you liked it, watch Bakemonogatari, which I found much better!

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