Underrated Manga: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Posted by Guest Author on Jan 18, 2008 in Comic Books |

Underrated Manga: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

With American anime sales on a downward trend, a lot of attention is being paid to its partner in crime manga, the Japanese comics that are often adapted into anime (if they’re not already adaptations themselves). In North America and Europe manga has exploded, but the sheer volume of manga published in Japan means that not every series makes it over here— and even the ones that do don’t always get the attention that they deserve! So here’s one of our Top Ten Underrated Manga that we recommend that you should get your hands on:

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

How can the manga adaptations of a light novel and anime series so immensely popular that even protesters in Gaza use her on their signs go unlicensed and unloved? Haruhi has two manga adaptations: one started in 2004 and was cancelled due to its unpopularity; fans maintain that it’s a poor adaptation. A new version started in 2005, shortly before the anime aired, and now has five volumes in Japan.

If you don’t follow anime much you might not already know the story of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which began as a series of illustrated novels. Haruhi Suzumiya is a high school girl who claims to have no interest in ordinary humans, preferring to associate only with aliens, time-travelers, and espers (psychics). She does deign to become friends with the series’ protagonist, Kyon, and forces him to help her start a new school club for the purpose of finding said aliens, time-travelers, and espers.

Haruhi manages to scam three other members into the club. First came the quiet Yuki, who had been the sole member of the literature club until Haruhi took over the club’s facilities (and Yuki’s membership in the bargain). Haruhi then decided she needed a mascot character, so she harassed the buxom and slightly ditzy upperclassman Mikuru until she joined. When a slick young man named Itsuki Koizumi transferred to their school in the middle of the year, Haruhi declared the transfer student “mysterious” and bullied him into the club.

Before long, Yuki, Mikuru, and Koizumi each make their way to Kyon and make a confession: they are actually an alien robot, a time-traveler from the future, and an esper from an organization of psychics, respectively. Each character’s group has come to the conclusion that Haruhi, for whatever reason, has the ability to change reality as she sees fit (their own existence being part of the proof), and that she doesn’t know about her powers. Kyon sets aside his wry humor long enough to help them keep Haruhi unaware for fear that if she knew, she’d destroy the world and make a new one.

Bandai Entertainment, who has the licensed and released the entire anime series in 2007, has been known on occasion to license a manga. They just recently licensed the anime Code Geass and THREE of its various manga adaptations. So why not Haruhi? One must conclude that there’s a big fat bidding war for the series, given its massive appeal.

Gia Manry is a Portland, OR-based professional writer specializing in pop culture/entertainment writing. Read up on more of her work at giapet.net or hire her at GiaManry.com.

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