Light Novels: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Posted by Guest Author on Feb 29, 2008 in Comic Books |

Light Novels: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Most people know about anime and manga, but a new wave of Japanese popular culture is just starting to hit the United States: the light novel. The light novel (literally “raito noberu” or “ranobe” for short) is similar to a young adult novel in the United States, but it also has a little twist: manga-style illustrations are littered throughout the books. So now that you know what light novels are, here’s one of our Ten Light Novels That You Need To Know:

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I mentioned in the introduction that Haruhi has blitzed the entire world with her antics. Written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito, the series currently spans ten volumes, nearly all of which are told in an achronological fashion. (This resulted in the anime airing its episodes out of order as well.)

Haruhi may be the most visible character of the series, but the protagonist is actually a fellow nicknamed Kyon (his real name has yet to be mentioned). Kyon is an average high school student who manages to strike up a friendship with Haruhi, his unfriendly classmate who claims to have no interest in normal humans— only in aliens, time travelers, and espers. During one of their pre-class talks, she complains that the school clubs are all incredibly boring, so he flippantly suggests that she create her own. Which she does, dragging Kyon along as its first member, of course.

She bullies three other members into joining: Yuki, who is actually a member of the literature club (whose clubroom Haruhi also stole); Mikuru, a nervous (and buxom) upperclassman; and Itsuki, a “mysterious” transfer student. As time passes, each of the members comes to Kyon with an unusual tale. None of them is actually a normal human: Yuki is an alien robot, Mikuru is a time traveler from a distant future, and Itsuki is an esper, a being with magic-like powers. Each of them explains that several years prior, Haruhi somehow gained the ability to alter reality as she sees fit. Yuki suggests that she’s an anomaly in the system. Mikuru thinks she’s a crack in the space-time continuum, and Itsuki suggests she might simply be god.

All of them, however, agree that Haruhi should be kept unaware of her abilities, lest she decide consciously that the world around her is too dull. So Kyon joins them in preventing Haruhi from figuring it out— and in keeping the world in its original form, or as close as possible.

The series has been made into a manga twice (the first effort failed dismally with fans), and an anime season aired in April of 2006 and became immensely popular world-wide. A second season has been announced, but no air date has been offered yet. The novel series has not been licensed for release in English, though a fan translation project has the vast majority of it available online (illegally).

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

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