The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan Vol. #02 Manga Review

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan Vol. #02 Manga Review A constant flux in presentation styles keeps this book entertaining from start to finish. A feat considering the lack of consistently good content.

Creative Staff
Story: Nagaru Tanigawa
Art: Puyo
Translation/Adaptation: Chris Pai

What They Say
It’s another crazy-exciting day for Haruhi-chan and the SOS Brigade! Haruhi-chan never runs out of ideas for fun new activities with the SOS Brigade (attendance mandatory). It’s a busy time for everyone: going to the beach, taking scenic hikes…moongazing in sexy bunny-girl outfits?! What will Haruhi think of next?! You’ll find plenty of gags and guffaws as Haruhi dives into the world of four-panel and short comics!!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Trying to describe any plot in this volume of Haruhi-chan is utterly pointless so…let’s move on shall we? This is the first volume of Haruhi-chan I have read (not bad odds considering this is volume 2) and already I enjoy it much more than the manga adaptations of the light novels. Why? Because it is zany and it works!

The formatting of this series fluctuates quite frequently from 4-koma to standard manga layout one page stories, to normal manga layout over a few pages. I have a hard time with 4-koma manga because it takes so long to read. A lot more material can be squished into 150 pages using the 4-koma layout and whether I am enjoying it or not, I get tired after about 30 pages or so. It seems as if the authors are aware of this and break up the formatting a perfect intervals to keep pulling me in and continue reading.

The 4-koma stories are done almost just right. Full use of the format is utilized and quick funny bursts are presented here. Sure, they aren’t ALL funny, but there is still a punchline. The 4-koma strips actually combine together to tell a longer story but instead of trying to make the story congruent the authors use the format to tell pieces of the story, the pieces that matter. Think of it as ‘without filler’ in terms of pacing. The traditional manga stories and one page traditional manga stories were my favorite parts of the book. The kinetic energy was there, the jokes hit appropriate chords, and they never drag on for too long.

Is this the perfect Haruhi series though? No. Not a chance. Haruhi-chan is ONLY for Haruhi diehards. It is too self-referential for its own good most of the time for anyone but diehards to fully enjoy it. As if to prove that it is only for diehards, certain panels refer to an event and assumes that the reader is aware. Then at the bottom of the page is a footnote telling the reader to read a particular Haruhi novel to understand what is going on. Call me crazy but that is no way to write a standalone series. Also, Haruhi-chan depends on the readers being so entrenched in the Haruhi mythos that they know each and every quirk and trademark of each character. How did I get that conclusion? The art.

The actual artwork of this series is pretty terrible. I understand it is supposed to be a chibi version of the characters (hence the -chan in the title) but they don’t maintain that model. The characters change, extremely frequently, between standard character models and their chibi designs. The standard character models are nice and detailed, easy to follow. But the chibi models are too basic, too ‘chibi’ if you will. It is difficult to tell who is who and many of the reaction shots are lost in over simplified, ugly artwork.

But don’t let that stop you, you diehard Haruhi fan you; you will enjoy it very much. It is funny for the most part, it has good spirit and does a good job of translating the zaniness of the series. Plus, the simple fact that it changes formats on the fly helps keep things fresh and prevents prolonged boredom.

In Summary
I enjoyed this volume overall but its problems are too glaring to overlook. I like Haruhi, I’m not a diehard. I find the series amusing and fun, but nothing to be obsessed with. So frankly a lot of things fly over my head and I constantly got frustrated at the ‘please read this book’ footnotes. The art is a hard hurdle to leap when it hits, and it hits frequently, but the content, the jokes, the stories are what saved this volume for me. Good distraction and a necessity for the real Haruhi fans out there.

Content Grade: C+
Art Grade: C-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 31st, 2011
MSRP: $11.99