Wednesday, January 14, 2009


(Despite appearances, this hasn't turned into an all-Haruhi blog. That three posts of my last five posts, counting this, are on Haruhi is the result of chance as much as anything. Normal programming will return shortly.)

I had bought The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya [Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu], the fourth in the series of Haruhi Suzumiya light novels by Nagaru Tanigawa, before the U.S. licensing of the novels was announced. A few weeks ago, I had finished reading a couple of serious manga and was looking for a change, and decided to read Disappearance. By this time, of course, the license had been announced, and I could have waited for the book to come out in English (assuming that the first three novels get published and that they sell well enough to justify publishing the fourth). But the description on the back cover intrigued me and I was curious, the more so since this is apparently the novel that's being adapted for the second season of the anime.

Disappearance is set shortly before Christmas, and opens with a prologue in which, among other things, Haruhi announces in typically imperious fashion that the SOS Brigade is having a Christmas party. A few days later, though, Kyon goes to school as usual and finds that Haruhi is gone and no one remembers her, and there is no evidence of the SOS Brigade ever having existed. Not only that, but Itsuki has also vanished without a trace, Mikuru and Yuki are ordinary high school students, and a character who shouldn't be there* is present as if nothing had happened.

In the anime, Kyon mainly plays the roles of observer and Haruhi's unwilling flunky; only rarely does he take action on his own. In Disappearance, Kyon has to act on his own initiative from the start. His first impulse is to search frantically for confirmation that his memories of Haruhi and the SOS Brigade are true, but this only succeeds in terrifying Mikuru and convincing the rest of the school that he's gone insane. But eventually, with a lot of help, he finds a way to return things to abnormal. And he encounters versions, at least, of the familiar characters along the way.

Disappearance isn't great literature, of course, but it's an enjoyable book and a worthy sequel to the anime. The plot is ingenious, if not as much so as the anime (but that's a very high bar). Kyon's character gets some development, and another character is also developed in a way that's unexpected yet logical in retrospect.

Regarding spoilers: the book thoroughly spoils the anime and first novel. There is also extensive, and presumably spoiler-filled, description of an episode which is in the third novel but not in the anime.

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is 256 pages long and costs 514 yen. It's published by Kadokawa Shoten and its ISBN is 978-4044292041. Here's Google's machine translation of its Amazon.co.jp page. Interestingly, it has the highest customer rating of the entire series of novels, including the first novel. Note that there is a semi-intelligible spoiler in one of the customer reviews.

*I'm being vague to minimize spoilers for the anime.

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Friday, January 02, 2009


About a week ago Gia (via MangaBlog) reported that in Japan, the second volume of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi chan, the "official gag manga" for the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise, is expected to outsell the latest volume of the straight manga adaptation. As it happens, I bought the first volume of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi chan a few months ago, though I haven't read it yet. It's a mix of 4-panel strips and short stories. Gia stated that the second volume has an eroge*- playing Yuki. In fact, Yuki plays eroge in the first volume as well. What's more, she does so wearing headphones whose earpieces are shaped like bunnies. In another running gag, one of the characters from the anime returns, but shrunk down to only about a foot tall, and is treated like a toy by Yuki.

I can't really say much about the manga without having read it. But my impression, for what it's worth, is that its humor is:
1. very otakuish, and
2. dependent upon familiarity with the Haruhi Suzumiya anime and/or light novels.

I don't like the art, largely because I dislike the caricature-like style Puyo, the artist, uses here. However, the infrequent action sequences are well-done. Perhaps comedy is not Puyo's forte.

Volume 1 of Haruhi chan is published by Kadokawa Shoten. It's 164 pages and costs 540 yen, and its ISBN is 978-4-04-715062-1. Here's a machine translation of its Amazon.co.jp page.

*Erotic computer game.

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