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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol 1 Bundle
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol 1 Bundle
Bandai // PG-13 // April 1, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted April 29, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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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
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P R I N T
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The Series:

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya received a lot of buzz before its R1 release and if the number of posts on web sites about the show is any indication, sold very well after it came out.  There were originally two versions each volume, a plain episodes-only DVD, and the same disc in a limited edition version that included some cool, and unusual bonus items such as CDs, pillow cases, and one of the best series cases to come along in a while (included with the LE for volume one.)  Now Bandai has gone back and released the first volume again, this time as a "bundle" with two new CDs.  I'm not sure why they did this, but I'm happy that they did because now I get to give my thoughts on this fun and enjoyable series.

 Kyon is a normal, average high school freshman.  He sits in front of an attractive girl, Haruhi Suzumiya, and figures it wouldn't hurt to be friendly to her.  He's wrong.  She lets him, and the rest of the class, know in no uncertain terms that she is only interested in aliens, time travelers, and psychics (or ESPers as it is translated in the series.)  Ordinary people hold no interest for her.

Even so, Haruhi slowly starts warming up to Kyon and talking to him, something that amazes the kids who went to middle school with her.  He starts to learn about his strange classmate:  she's good at all sports but won't go out for any of the school teams.  She has joined every school club there is, but only for one day each.  They were all too boring.  Then something that Kyon says triggers an idea:  If she doesn't like any of the school clubs, she'll start one that isn't boring.  And so is born the SOS Brigade which stands for (in the English translation) "Spreading Excitement All Over the World with the Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade."

To become an official school club, they need five members.  Kyon is quickly wrangled into joining, and when Suzumiya takes over the Literary Club's old room, that club's only member, Yuki Nagato is absorbed into the Brigade.  Mikuru Asahina is an attractive but shy girl that Suzumiya found walking down the hall one day, and since every club needs a hot babe, Mikuru was forced to join (and wear a maid's costume at every meeting.)  They need one more member, and Suzumiya wants someone odd, like a mysterious transfer student.  So when Itsuki Koizumi starts attending their school, Suzumiya insists that he join.

The club spends a lot of time looking for strange phenomena and people, but only Kyon knows the truth.  He's become the confidant of all of the members of the club, and he's discovered that the Brigade consists of just what Suzumiya is looking for: an alien, a time traveler, and a psychic.  There's something odd about Suzumia herself too.  She may be a god and just not realize it, so poor Kyon can't tell her that what she's looking for is right in front of her face.

This is a hilarious show.  Though it doesn't have the same trimmings, it has the feel of a good harem series like the first Tenchi serial.  It's probably because Kyon has that same 'trapped' look on his face through most of the show.  There are several laugh-out-loud moments on this disc too, such as the way Suzumiya gets the computer club to give the SOS Brigade a computer.  The show is irreverent and goofy, without being too removed from reality.

Even the episode order is humorous.  The story is not told in chronological order.  Though the DVD release is slightly different than the broadcast order, it doesn't really matter since neither arrangement tells the story as events happened.  In both cases the series starts with a home made movie that the Brigade makes.  It really should be shown as episode 11 or 12, and that first episode reveals some spoilers to the show, but it's hilarious none-the-less.

The DVD:


Audio:

This show comes with the original Japanese soundtrack in stereo as well as an English dub in both stereo and DD5.1.  I alternated languages while watching the show and prefer the Japanese audio just a bit.  The English cast did a fine job, but the Japanese voices seemed to 'fit' the characters and situations a little better.  It's too bad that there isn't a Japanese surround sound option, because I did enjoy the wider feel of the 5.1 English track.  The rears were used occasionally, but not as much as I would have hoped.  All three audio options had good quality sound, with clear voices and a good amount of dynamic range.  There weren't any dropouts or distortion, which isn't surprising since this is a recent show.

Video:

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is just great.  The show is very colorful, and those colors are reproduced wonderfully with bright and solid shades that make the show fun to watch.  The lines are tight and sharp and the detail is excellent.  What's most impressive is that digital defects are largely absent.  Aliasing, which plagues animation, is so minor that it's not worth mentioning.  There is a little banding here and there, mainly in larger scenes, but I would guess that this is a problem with the master and not the DVD itself.  Overall a fantastic looking disc.

Extras:

This disc has a lot of fun bonus material.  First off there are clean songs for episode 00 then there is a set of live-action promos for the show and two behind-the scenes featurettes that discuss the making of those promos.  These run about 25 minutes in all.  In addition there's a series of four TV previews.  The most entertaining extra are the three episodes of The Adventures of the ASOS Brigade.  These are live-action 'homemade' promos for the R1 DVD release that were originally shown on the web.  Generally funny and amusing, these clips have the same spirit as the show themselves and are a nice bonus.

There are also two CDs packaged with this disc, Character Song Volume 6, Kyon's Sister, and Character Song Volume 9, Kyon.  These are short, only two songs on each disc which are both presented as regular songs and a karaoke version.  The disc insert opens up and contains lyrics in both Japanese and English.

Final Thoughts:

This is just a funny show.  I had read Todd Douglas' reviews of the volumes (one, two, three, and four) and knew he liked it but the irreverent nature of the show along with the unexpected plot twists that come flying out from left field make this a must-see. With the nice image, great bonus material and two CD's picking up a copy of this is a no-brainer. Highly recommended.

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