The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is the first in a series of light novels about the character of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Written by: Nagaru Tanigawa
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
English Publisher: Yen On
Release Date: January 19, 2021

Even though I’m already familiar with the story of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya through seeing the anime adaption of the light novels, I was curious to see how the story was told through the original source material.

Before I go into comparing the light novel and the anime, I will briefly explain the setup for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, for any readers who may not have any familiarity at all with the franchise.

Haruhi Suzumiya is energetic and eccentric and is viewed by many of her classmates as an oddball. Three years prior to the start of the series, she wished she lived in a world with time travelers, espers, and aliens. It turns out Haruhi has the power to change the environment around her as she pleases, although she has no idea that she possesses this power.

Haruhi is the main character, but the story (in both the light novel and the anime) is narrated by her classmate, Kyon. He’s a normal guy and he gets caught up in Haruhi’s scheme, which is to form a club called the SOS Brigade. The goal of the club is to find mysteries or evidence of the existence of time travelers, espers, or aliens. Unknown to her, the other three members she recruits for the SOS Brigade fall into those categories. Yuki Nagato is a quiet bookworm who is also a bibliophile humanoid interface created by aliens. Mikuru Asahina is a soft-spoken girl who is also a time traveler. Itsuki Koizumi is a smiling and carefree guy who is also an esper. The story follows Kyon as he learns the truth behind Haruhi and the other members of the SOS Brigade, and how his involvement with this group of individuals force him to start seeing things differently.

One of the things to really jump out at me when reading the light novel was the fact that I was able to get more into Kyon’s head and better understand his reactions and thought processes during the story. Unfortunately, this just isn’t possible in an anime telling of the story. While the audience watching the anime gets to occasionally hear Kyon’s thoughts, it’s nowhere near the level of inner monologue that the reader gets in the light novel. I thought that the light novel format allowed me to better understand Kyon as a character, and that he also has more of a personality in this telling. In the anime, the audience is given a different perspective of Kyon due to the limitations of the format.

Another thing that caught my eye was a piece of dialogue from Kyon’s classmate Taniguchi that appears early in the volume, when he’s talking to Kyon about Haruhi. He talks about the incident of the graffiti on the grounds of the middle school that Taniguchi and Haruhi attended together. But then he mentions another incident that I don’t remember being mentioned in the anime: Haruhi putting all the desks outside of the classroom, drawing stars on the roof in paint, and sticking talismans around the school. Outside of that, though, there wasn’t anything else that I noticed that was different or omitted from the anime telling of the story.

Unfortunately, since I came into reading this light novel after watching the anime, I found Noizi Ito’s art to look a little on the rough side. But I admit it’s not fair to look at the art that way, since the light novel was the source material for the anime, and that the character designs for the anime are based off of Ito’s art.

At the end of the volume, there’s a sneak peek of a manga adaptation of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel. While this first chapter of the manga was faithfully telling the story, I really didn’t care for the character designs. In that regard, the art in the manga preview made me better appreciate Ito’s original art for the light novel.

Even though I was already familiar with the story from the anime adaptation, I found myself riveted by what I was reading and I didn’t want to put the book down. I enjoyed Tanigawa’s writing style, and the book is well written. I think this light novel can by enjoyed by readers who already have some kind of familiarity with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or by readers coming into the franchise for the first time.

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