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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol. 01
Writen by Tectonic
Posted on June 26, 2007 at 10:35:24 pm

If you haven’t heard of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, you either don’t like anime or have been living under a rock. Not to make you feel bad, but the show really is everywhere. And finally it’s in the United States. Re-dubbed and re-released in DVD quality, if you’re a big Haruhi fan you’re not going to want to miss out on these discs.

      

 The Haruhi Dance                                                                                                         "Yametoke"

Story
For those not entirely familiar with the Haruhi legacy, it follows the exploits of one Haruhi Suzumiya who, in an attempt to battle the doldrums of high school life, seeks out adventure only seen in mangas and comics. While pressuring her newly acquired club underlings to help her look for and ‘hang out with’ aliens, ESPers, and time travelers, she is unbeknownst to the fact that she already has an alien, an ESPer, and a time traveler in her club. Either way, with the cute Mikuru, stoic Yuki, poignant Itsuki, and especially the realist Kyon, her life has become far more interesting.

     

 Moe from manual to manifestation

Based off the novel series of the same name, this show won instant fame due to its cast of incredibly unique twists and satires on manga cliché. If this is your first time watching the show, keep that in mind as you sit through episode 00 – the whole anime is subtly making fun of every other anime. Unlike some shows like Excel Saga or the more recent Combat Butler Hayate, the show refuses to merely be a satire and succeeds tremendously as a character piece. Even side characters like Taniguchi and Tsuruya have had feverishly devoted fans since the show’s Japan debut.

Art
Another great thing about Haruhi, is that Kyoto Animation didn’t skimp out on the better artwork. All the characters, while not moving as dramatically as in Full Metal Panic, are very life-like and … shall I say … “moe”. Mikuru and Haruhi are animated very naturally. All the characters are; it’s very easy to imagine sitting down to coffee with Itsuki or Kyon because they truly appear to be rather normal people – we even get to see how Kyon styles his hair in one episode.

      

 Inside and out - this show is beautiful.

The backdrops are also very skillfully meshed with the characters. Unlike other shows that reuse the same shots over and over, the fact that most of the show is dialogue-based wasn’t used as an excuse to be lazy with camera work. Particularly the club room seems to be shot from nearly every angle, even upward and downward shots. Quick cuts during long strings of dialogue keep the show more visually interesting, and while the use of a fisheye lens is a little overused, it does add some much needed spice every now and then. The art team knew 80% of the time they’d be drawing a typical high school drama, and they tried their best to make it as different from the others as possible. I’d say they succeeded.

English Dub
If you listen carefully to how each character talks in English as opposed to how they talk in Japanese, it really seems like the re-dubbing team tried to find people that could reproduce each character’s original voice exactly. While the males of Melancholy seem more Americanized, all the girls’ voices sound identical to their Japanese originals.

      

 Blackmail 101                                                                                                  Get the hell out of her way, Kyon!

This may be a good thing for some, but overall I find it to be a detractor. I don’t know what it is about the Japanese language; perhaps it’s the morphemes or maybe it’s something about the culture that lends itself to high-pitched female voices. Whatever it is, it doesn’t translate into the English language all that well. Mikuru and Yuki both sound like carbon copies of their original Japanese dubs, but sound silly delivering lines in English. Furthermore the need to be so high pitched detracts from the voice actors’ ability to … well … voice act.

The Bottom Line
While the re-dub isn’t as great as hoped, it might help you get your non-true-believer friends to watch the show with you. Either way, the DVD quality video and six channel audio is a must to enjoy this very beautiful, very original show.




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