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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Volume 2
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Volume 2
Bandai // Unrated // July 3, 2007
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted August 12, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

When The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya appeared in Japan in 2006 it struck the anime nation with a resounding thunderclap. It didn't take long for Haruhi-mania to knock otaku here in America upside the head and for some time fans have been infatuated with this perky little show. Heck, at this year's Anime Boston I found myself attempting to maneuver around a throng of impromptu dancers doing their best to do the Haruhi dance. Quite the sight, I assure you.

If you have not had the opportunity to check out The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or have never even heard of it, then you're missing out on one of the most endearingly addictive shows to come along in recent years. It's quite as simple as that. This is a show that absolutely everyone should move towards the top of their "anime to see" list.

Produced by Kyoto Animation and released by Bandai Entertainment a total of fourteen episodes make up this fantastic series. The first volume introduced all of the characters and presented the bizarre plot that makes up this eclectic and wonderful show. In the middle of it all is a high school kid named Kyon who shuffles through the mediocrity of life with much of a spark; that is at least, until he meets Haruhi. This girl was different.; very different. Her introduction to the class consisted of a quest for aliens, time travelers, and espers. As they get to know each other they form a club called the SOS Brigade and find other members to cause mass hysteria with. The oddest thing of all was the realizations that Haruhi is actually a deity of some variety and the world is make believe. Talk about a turn of events.

The second volume picks up at a point right after Kyon has been instructed to stay by Haruhi's side and keep her entertained. The bizarre circumstances and events continue to increase as Kyon is drawn invariably deeper into Haruhi's existence. In the first episode here he goes about his daily life like he always does but finds a note asking him to meet "me" after school when nobody is around. He spends a fair amount of time hypothesizing who wrote the note but comes up short in the end. It turns out it is a fellow classmate who actually is Nagato's underling in the alien Information chain. Sadly this kid has her own ideas regarding what needs to happen.

After Kyon enters the classroom and listens to her spiel the girl launches herself at him with a knife. She has the crazy notion that killing him will prompt a reaction from Haruhi and that's what the forces-that-be want to happen. She almost succeeds in murdering Kyon but Nagato appears in the nick of time to save him. One thing is for certain; as crazy and dangerous as Haruhi is there are other things afoot that are even more so.

In the next episode Kyon is taken by Itsuki to see some sort of alternate reality. By using his esper powers he has the ability to travel between the "real" world and a "shadow" one. In the shadow realm Itsuki explains how Haruhi's discarded imaginations and musings will eventually lead to the real world succumbing the same fate. It has already started and in patches across the world the dead shadow world is creeping in. Haruhi's boredom and emotion manifests itself in this world as giants that topple and destroy everything; hence the idea that the universe is dependant on Haruhi to survive.

At first Kyon has a hard time believing it but when he becomes wrapped up in these events it's hard to deny what's going on. This is especially true when he falls asleep and winds up in the shadow world with Haruhi. They both materialize in a shadow version of the school's grounds and the giants seem to be everywhere. Haruhi delights in their presence because it's something remarkable despite Kyon's insistence that they are dangerous. After following some advice given to him by Nagato and Mitsuki he promptly distracts Haruhi in a way and ends the nightmare.

Throughout this volume a big theme is the developing relationship between Haruhi and the world. The way her mood affects things and the way she behaves towards Kyon make for many interesting moments. In between the serious moments The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiyais a whimsical and charming show. The cast has great personality, the writing is fantastic, and the sense of humor is well-realized. Few shows click as well as this one and it's easy to see why otaku everywhere are singing praises.

The DVD:

Video:

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio. I have to tip my hat to Bandai Entertainment because the transfer for this show is absolutely brilliant. I suppose it helps that Kyoto Animation went the extra mile to provide a quality production but it's nice to see Bandai giving the series proper treatment.

Everything in this show from the design, animation, and presentation absolutely pops. The colors are vibrant beyond reproach, the picture is quite sharp, and there are virtually no digital flaws. On a few rare occasions some grain did appear but these instances were certainly few and far between.

Audio:

With English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks and English 5.1, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya's first volume has most all of the bases covered. Part of me wishes that a Japanese 5.1 selection was available but I suppose beggars can't be choosey. Both dubs offer remarkably quality with the voice talent though I felt the Japanese language surpassed the English ever so slightly. Technically speaking the 2.0 tracks offer a fine sounding stereo presentation and they sound roughly like you'd expect them to. The 5.1 brings a more impressive channel mixture to the table with some fine use of the rear channels for sound effects but ultimately the directionality is not as diverse as one would hope. Overall the quality here is quite good and I didn't encounter any flaws.

Extras:

What with this being the Limited Edition release for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya's second volume there are quite a few bonus features to discuss. Bandai's treatment of this marvelous series is nothing short of exemplary and fans everywhere have plenty of reasons to be thankful.

The Limited Edition of this volume comes in a largish box with a soundtrack featuring the opening and ending songs and SOS Brigade armband inside. There are also a pencil board and iron on fabric print of Haruhi in all her glory. Two DVDs make up the set with the second containing episodes one through five in their original Japanese broadcast order. Bandai's release is not arranged in this order and watching it like it was originally intended to be is certainly something to appreciate. It also helps matters that the disc lacks other bonus material so the presentation is all around better; even if just slightly so.

The main disc of this release houses the goodies that you'd find if you purchased the regular edition. That being said there are textless opening and ending animations as well as some trailers and TV broadcast previews. Some more clips from the ASOS Brigade's adventures are included on this disc as well. Seeing the live action recreation of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is kind of silly but in short bursts it's definitely appreciated. Along the same lines are the making of videos which are just about as goofy, if not more so. Lastly there is also something called a Neko-Man Gallery which is basically a bunch of doodles of cat people all dressed up.

Final Thoughts:

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an amazing show. Bandai has gone above and beyond the call of duty bringing the series to fans with a good deal of attentiveness and love. There are so many reasons that this show is a success but probably the best thing to say about it is that it is endearing. You'll love the characters, the world, and the concept from the moment you lay eyes on it and once that happens you're never going to forget. No matter what your tastes in anime are The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is for you. It's an addictive little slice of animated heaven that is the epitome of a good time. Highly Recommended


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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