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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 4
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 4
Bandai // Unrated // November 6, 2007
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted November 13, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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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 previous volumes 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.

In the third volume the show explored the world of Haruhi even further with three episodes. The first standalone episode was one that featured the SOS Brigade receiving a request about searching for a girl's missing boyfriend. As it turns out the guy that has gone missing was the head of the Computer Research Society who Haruhi borrowed her computer from. The search leads them to some sort of alternate dimension which shouldn't really have been a surprise given everything else going on in the show. The volume wrapped up with a two-parter that involved a summer vacation mystery where a murder happens. It felt steeped in a Case Closed-like atmosphere and was a lot of fun overall.

Once again the fourth volume brings three episodes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to the table. The first, "Live Alive" takes place during the traditional cultural festival that we see in most school themed anime. At first we see Kyon talking about the film they put together which was actually presented on the first DVD of the series. From there he wanders around the school and sees the various members of SOS and his classmates doing all sorts of activities. In grand fashion he eventually finds himself in the auditorium for a band performance when none other than Haruhi and Yuki up on stage rocking out. I simply loved Kyon's reaction to this and quite honestly that scene alone made this episode priceless.

"The Day of Sagittarius" was another episode that exemplified everything I love about this series. It's simple and straightforward enough where if a plot like this was done by any other show it would be just an ordinary episode; not the case here. Basically the computer club has challenged the SOS Brigade to a dual for the right to get their computer back. Everyone in SOS trains religiously but in the end it's up to some creative thinking and a little bit of cheating to see victory. Once again it was Kyon's narrative that made this episode entertaining though all around it was very good. The final episode on this disc was yet another classic with Kyon going to buy a space heater because the SOS room was getting colder. In the meantime Haruhi has a little fun with Mikuru which I'll leave right there so your imagination can pick up the pieces.

You know, it really saddens me to know that there will be no new episodes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya until the second season starts airing in Japan. This is such an energized show that pops in almost every instant that it graces the television. Kyon's narrative, Haruhi's insanity, the supporting cast's personality quirks, and each plot in between create a certain power that is so rare in anime. If I have any complaint about Bandai's release it's that the episodes are not presented in their original broadcast order but that is so minor a gripe that it's almost not worth bringing up. This is a show that doesn't need to be shown consecutively in order to be appreciated. Haruhi is simply one of the best shows on the market no matter how you look at it.

The DVD:


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.


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.


The fourth and final disc for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya comes with more bonus content once again. On the lighter side of things there is another Nekoman Gallery, trailers, episode previews, and a teaser for Lucky Star which does a little spoof of Haruhi. Two more Making of Haruhi live action videos are included here with some behind the scenes footage from certain events. They are cute original Japanese features that are worth checking out though they don't really show the "Making of" the series.

A "Special Ending" has been tossed onto this disc as well which is basically a clean version of the closing animation. It features the characters all dancing to the ending song and is a cute addition that I'm sure will make its rounds to anime conventions for Haruhi dance-offs. Three episodes of the ASOS Brigade have been packed onto the disc as well and though they are more promotional than anything else they provide a nice service to fans. The final feature here is a little video that was shown at Anime Expo 2007.

Final Thoughts:

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was an amazing show. There is very little else I can express about the series that I haven't already. I gush over this show and it has easily made it into my top five favorite anime of all time. It's such a well-crafted series from top to bottom that it boggles the senses. Hopefully the forthcoming second season will be just as finely produced with the same amount of energy. It's not often that a show comes out and lives up to the hype surrounding it; thankfully that happened here. Go watch Haruhi right now! 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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