The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya is the ninth novel published in the light novel series about Haruhi Suzumiya.

The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya
Written by: Nagaru Tanigawa
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
English Publisher: Yen On
Release Date: May 25, 2021

This installment of the series is a little different, because while it contains a self-contained story, the story in this volume isn’t resolved by the end of it. In order to find out how this storyline ends, you have to read the follow-up novel, The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The series finally progresses the story into the next school year. Kyon, Haruhi, Nagato, and Koizumi are all now second-years, and Asahina is now a third-year. With a new school year upon them, Haruhi is trying to recruit new members for the SOS Brigade, but has to do so in a subtle manner, since the club isn’t officially recognized by the student council. Early on in the volume, Kyon remembers Haruhi’s introduction the previous school year and realizes one of the types of people she wanted to meet hasn’t appeared yet: a slider. Kyon wonders if perhaps the slider could be among the new freshmen at their school.

Shortly before the new school year starts, Kyon has a run-in with a former middle school classmate named Sasaki. They went their separate ways for high school, with Sasaki now attending an academically rigorous school. When Sasaki meets the SOS Brigade, Haruhi seems to be jealous of the other girl. Koizumi also mentions that he senses something about Sasaki but isn’t quite sure what it is. When Kyon has another encounter with Sasaki, she is now with two friends… and Kyon recognizes one of the girls being with the group who tried to kidnap Asahina in an earlier volume of the series. Because of this, Kyon has a dislike for this girl, who we learn is named Kyoko Tachibana. The other girl is named Kuyoh and she turns out to be similar in nature to Nagato.

By the end of the volume, it’s revealed that Kyoko, Kuyoh, and the male time traveler that was introduced earlier in the series are part of a faction opposing the agency that Koizumi is affiliated with. While the Agency believes that Haruhi is the one who created the world four years earlier, the opposing faction believes that Sasaki is the real deity. Of course, this puts Kyon in a tight spot, since he knows Sasaki, and has to balance that friendship with everything he’s gone through with the SOS Brigade over the past year. The thing is, Sasaki isn’t entirely convinced that she’s any kind of a deity, and this uncertainty is what makes her decide to get Kyon involved.

We’d seen two of these characters previously, but I’m glad to finally get an answer as to who they are and why their appearances were important. The official addition of these characters, as well as Sasaki and Kuyoh, adds an interesting element to the series. Koizumi mentioned an opposing faction earlier in the series, and it’s nice to finally see this other faction officially becoming part of the main story.

The prologue and the first chapter have the type of storytelling that readers have come to expect from the Haruhi Suzumiya series. However, with the third (and final) chapter of the volume, the story diverges into two different timelines. One timeline is marked with the alpha symbol, while the other timeline is marked with the beta symbol. The situation Kyon finds himself in is quite different between the two timelines. In the “alpha timeline,” Kyon gets a mysterious telephone call from a girl claiming to be his junior, and the SOS Brigade finds itself getting a group of students wanting to join. In the “beta timeline,” Kyon finds himself meeting with Sasaki and the opposing faction and learning the details about the faction believing that Sasaki is the real deity and not Haruhi Suzumiya. It’s also in this timeline that Kyoko is trying to convince Kyon to switch sides.

I have to admit that this is an interesting way to tell a story between two different timelines, although it can make for some awkward reading at times since you’re alternating between timelines throughout the chapter. I appreciate having the different markings to make it clear that the reader has changed timelines, though, because it helps to make it a little less confusing. I suspect that The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya will be told in a similar manner. It’ll be interesting to see how Tanigawa resolves the two different timelines.

Up to this point, I could see how the novels that haven’t been adapted for an anime could accomplish it. With this one featuring alternate timelines, it would be much harder to adapt. About the only way you would be able to do it is to have two different anime adaptations that would follow the two separate timelines.

Even with the two timelines running throughout the last chapter of the volume, I would still recommend The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya, as well as the other novels in the series that have not been adapted into anime, to anime only viewers so they can continue the adventures of Haruhi and the other members of the SOS Brigade.

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