Light Novel Review: The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya is the third novel published in the light novel series about Haruhi Suzumiya, but the stories take place in between The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
Written by: Nagaru Tanigawa
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
English Publisher: Yen On
Release Date: February 23, 2021

In my review for The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, I had mentioned that there was a six month timeskip between the first novel and that one, yet events that happened during the six month gap were referenced in it. The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya covers most of those events, although it should be noted that the sports festival that Kyon references in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya is only mentioned briefly early on in the first story of this volume. I appreciated how Kyon, in his narration in the prologue, acknowledges that the story is being told out of order.

Unlike the previous two volumes, which covered one story, The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya is broken down into four separate stories that take place during the summer. It’s interesting to note that in the afterword, Tanigawa reveals that the final story in the volume, “Remote Island Syndrome,” was first published as an extra story in this volume, because it was too long for regular serialization. If you couldn’t guess, “Remote Island Syndrome” is the longest story in this volume.

The volume opens with “The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya,” which sees Haruhi entering the SOS Brigade into a baseball tournament because she’s bored. Of course, there aren’t enough players for a team within the SOS Brigade, so they end up bringing in Kyon’s friends Taniguchi and Kunikida, Asahina’s friend Tsuruya (who was first introduced in the previous volume), and Kyon’s little sister. As luck would have it, the SOS Brigade, which has no real experience playing baseball, is pitted against a high-ranking college team. Even though this is their reality, Haruhi still really wants to win. When things aren’t going well, Haruhi’s temperament causes a closed space to open up. According to Koizumi, they must find a way for their team to win in order to keep the closed space from getting worse. This leads to a humorous story, thanks to something that Nagato does. I remember enjoying this story when I watched it in the anime, and I thought the novel version was just as good, thanks in large part to Kyon’s narration.

This is followed by “Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody,” which is my favorite of the four stories included in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. In this story, Haruhi insists that the SOS Brigade celebrate Tanabata, and she brings in some bamboo and orders everyone to write wishes on cards to tie to the bamboo. However, it’s obvious that Haruhi isn’t acting as she usually does. This turns into a time travel story, where Asahina takes Kyon three years into the past, to the time when Haruhi was in middle school and wrote a message using weird symbols on the school lawn. We see that Kyon helps her (under the name “John Smith”) and learn that this encounter is what leads Haruhi to go to their high school. This incident was referenced by one of Kyon’s friends back in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, when Kyon learns what Haruhi was like back in middle school. And thanks to a mishap, Kyon and Asahina have to go to the Nagato from three years ago in order to return to their normal time. The ramifications of this are quite interesting, especially when Kyon has a realization about the time he visited Nagato back in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. When Kyon realizes this, it also made me stop for a moment and realize how… interesting it is. At this point in the series, I’m already seeing how Tanigawa keeps finding ways to take something that’s mentioned in an off-hand way and make them important later. This was another story I was already familiar with from the anime, but again, Kyon’s narration and thoughts add a little more flavor to the story.

Next is “Mysterique Sign,” which sees Haruhi design a logo for the SOS Brigade’s website and forcing Kyon to add it. Later, they discover the logo looks distorted, and Kyon thinks the file is corrupt. He tries to put a new version of the file on the server, but it still looks distorted. Meanwhile, a girl in Asahina’s grade comes to the SOS Brigade to ask them to help locate her missing boyfriend… the president of the Computer Club that Haruhi blackmailed out of a computer in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Since this is a story that ties in with Haruhi, it’s not surprising that there’s more going on than there appears on the surface. To me, of the four stories included in this volume, this one is my least favorite. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but of the four, I found it to be the least interesting.

The final story is “Remote Island Syndrome,” and it sees Haruhi and Koizumi coming up with the idea of going to a villa on a remote island that’s owned by a distant relative of Koizumi’s for a trip during summer break. Everything seems rather normal when the SOS Brigade first arrives, but on the second day, a hurricane hits and lasts for almost the remainder of their time on the island. And while the storm is going on, a locked room murder mystery takes place that involves the owner of the villa. This is one of those stories that seems to be trying to make the reader believe that this mystery is going on, but as a reader, I had nagging doubts about it. Yes, I did see this story in the anime, so I knew what was going to happen, but I tried going into reading this story without thinking about the anime adaptation and putting myself into the shoes of someone who is only familiar with the story through the novels. Even going in with that mindset, I could still pick up on the fact that something seemed off before Kyon points it out. The way this series is written, there’s no way Tanigawa would have let a real murder take place. Instead of trying to solve a murder, the reader finds that they’re trying to figure out how this case feels off.

As a reader, I appreciated seeing Tanigawa work at filling in that roughly six month timeskip. I also liked seeing how these stories helped to develop some characters other than Haruhi and Kyon and to expand the universe of the series. When I finished The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, it made me wonder if perhaps the original airing order for the anime was inspired by the novels telling the story out of order. And as a reader who’s already familiar with the anime telling of this series, I’m very curious to see whether the light novels will continue to tell the story out of order, or if the next novel is going to pick right back up where The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya ended.

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One comment

  1. momomanamu · March 5

    I had no idea there was a light novel version of the Haruhi Suzumiya series! I wonder if my local library has it? Now that anime has become more trendy, they have a surprisingly good selection.

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