“Everyday life was falling apart around us”
Title: The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya
Series: Haruhi Suzumiya (Book 2)
Author: Nagaru Tanigawa
Published (In Japanese): September 30, 2003
Published (In English): October 1, 2009
Genres: Comedy, Science Fantasy, Adventure, Slice of Life
Synopsis: Gorgeous, confident, and demanding, Haruhi Suzumiya is the leader of the SOS Brigade, a club comprised of her high school’s most extraordinary students. So when Haruhi is bored, it’s up to the SOS Brigade to do something about it. In this sequel to the clever and uniquely witty The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the SOS Brigade goes along with Haruhi’s scheme to make a movie for the school’s upcoming cultural festival. But when filming begins, strange things start to happen, and Haruhi — who has no idea she’s a goddess with the ability to destroy the world — starts to show her devastating powers. Could the end be near? Or is it just another day at high school? You never know when Haruhi is involved!
The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya:
It’s 2003, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has done astoundingly well and light novels are becoming a staple in Japan. Nagaru Tanigawa’s fans await a sequel and all the adolescent eyes in Japan are on him to do well. Was it even possible for him to live up to the hype set by the first book? Well yeah, of course. An authors gotta be able to adapt, one hit wonders are no good in the light novel industry and Nagaru Tanigawa definitely delivered with The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Whilst viewed by many (the many including myself) as the weakest of the story based novels (not the side story based ones), The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya still offers a gripping story and a compelling climax. The characters are still great, the novel retains its light novel feel, the artwork inside is crisp and excellent and the witty rhetoric that Kyon delivers in every novel is amazing as ever. Where’s the space for anything to be bad, I hear you asking? Well, I guess you’re just going to have to read this thorough explanation and review to find out…
I think we should go good point, bad point with each paragraph? Yeah, let’s do that. One of the good things about the Haruhi Suzumiya series (and this novel in particular) is that it sticks to it’s light novel roots; it doesn’t try to become an ‘epic’ overnight. Light novels are meant to be an easy read, easy to pick up, flick through about fifty pages and put down. That’s the way it should be and this novel retains it’s ‘easy to get into’ feel. Well done. And whilst the first novel felt like more of an introduction into the series, this novel felt like it finally set the S.O.S Brigades antics fully into motion. We receive 80% exposition in return for 80% more… ‘plot’ and it’s nice to finally be able to get into a Haruhi Novel without another explanation of what Haruhi is from one of the S.O.S Brigades numerous members. The being said, I did find the plot tedious at times and THAT made it hard to read fifty pages every night but otherwise the story was consistently above average and made for a comical and intrinsic read.
Now on to the ‘bad’ points. Other than the fact that the novel remains entirely anticlimactic until the last two chapters, did anyone else feel as though the characters made no progress in this novel? Where was the character development? No, I wouldn’t call Kyon bitching about Kozumi every five seconds ‘character development’ and no, I wouldn’t call Mikuru being a submissive pawn ‘character development’. It’s this lack of character development that really annoys me because this is a book series that relies heavily on it’s characters and their interactions with one another. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this might as well have been a side story. This plot line didn’t deserve to be as drawn out as it was… why was it even drawn out that long? This plot line could have easily been reduced into 100 words and placed alongside another 100 word short story just like they did with the seventh novel, The Indignation of Haruhi Suzumiya. I actually enjoyed the later short stories more than I did this entire novel plot and that saddens me. I think that to truly enjoy this novel you need to have truly enjoyed the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya otherwise there’s no way in hell you’re going to enjoy this. And don’t even think about reading this before you read the others… it will give off a bad impression.
And now, I’m going to seriously bitch about this series’ supposed strength, it’s characters. What were they even doing in this novel? The only one I can forgive is Yuki because… well, she’s Yuki, what more do you want from her?! Kyon… I love you man but what the hell was this? Your sarcasm came across dry and, dude… NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO STAY IN THE S.O.S BRIGADE! I’m fed up of reading about Kyon’s annoyance at being forced to do things against his will. Either grow and pair and LEAVE (actually don’t… that would cause the end of the series) or grow and pair and kiss Haruhi again (really, that’s all I want anymore… romance! Romance?! Where art my romance?!). Kyon… man, I love your inner monologues and when they’re good, they are good, but when you spend entire pages talking about Mikuru and how cute she is I’m going to get fed up (and so is everyone else). I get it. She’s cute and has big boobs. Get over it. No normal guy thinks about a girl this much.
And I’m not going to even talk about Mikuru! Actually, no wait, I am. She’s only in this book to be used and whilst that’s the point, it still freaking annoys me. No because Haruhi is using her but because she’s allowing herself to be used. Sure Haruhi will end the world if she doesn’t, but we all know that the cure to wrathful Haruhi is a kiss on the lips for Dr Kyon. Hell, I even enjoyed KOZUMI’S presence more than I enjoyed Mikuru’s! I think Kyon should just give Kozumi a break if I’m being honest, I mean, he really isn’t that bad and he’s always helping Kyon out. Why doesn’t Kyon just take a chill pill and say, ‘Yo, Kozumi, we’re cool man’. Damn you Kyon! Damn you….
Although… it’s like I was saying, everything became much better towards the end and character development did actually occur in the last chapter. We all know what happens between Haruhi and Kyon (and I’m going to talk about that in two more paragraphs time) and we all know about the repercussions the event would have had if Kyon hadn’t stepped in and grown up. Both Haruhi and Kyon did A LOT of growing up in the final chapter of the novel and I feel as though the final two chapters where Kyon and Haruhi’s ‘relationship’ was truly formed. It was the moment they set their boundaries and it was the moment of change. Kyon realized how hypocritical he is (which, by the way, was a really nice moment because Kyon actually acknowledges Haruhi’s hard work and contributions to his life) and Haruhi realized that she needs to learn to moderate herself and calm down. She’s not the center of the universe (even though she is). And the ponytail scene! My god, I’m in love with the continuity in this series! It’s cute to see a passively apologetic Haruhi who was actually trying to think of ways to make Kyon like her again… as child like as it was, it was really cute (although I guess if it was child like it would be cute… my bad?)
Before we continue, I’d like to commend Noizi Ito on her work as the illustrator for the novel. Her work, as usual, is brilliant, crisp and clean, suiting the Haruhi franchise perfectly. You’re seeing her artwork neatly littered all throughout this post and at the end I’ll make a gallery of any unused images so that you can admire them. It’s what I love about light novels in general, it’s not all just pages and pages of writing, it’s broken up by, what can be, cute, comical and impressionable images that give every light novel their own feel. So again, nice one Noizi Izo! What a wonderful woman…
Now let’s get back to that all important plot point. The ‘almost punch’. Now I was talking about character development two paragraphs and a couple further back I was talking about Kyon growing a pair… well there was a moment where both of these things were implement and it was awesome. It was everything that I wanted from a Haruhi novel and it’s a shame that in both of the novels in the series so far (in context and chronology, that is) these moments only occur near or at the end of each novel. There’s an opportunity for so many more epic moments and (getting back to the point) I absolutely LOVED Haruhi’s reaction to Kyon almost punching her. She likes him, we all know that, and for him to almost HIT HER… well, I don’t know about you but that would really tell me something about myself and make me want to change if I was in Haruhi’s shoes. And she does, but we’ve already discussed that. It was a moment so perfectly executed that it could only be made better by an anime adaption… oh wait! It already got one of those… silly me.
To conclude, Shamisen is awesome. Wait what? Where did that come from? Who said that? Wasn’t me… But I digress, this novel is BY FAR the weakest in the series but it also has a redeeming last two chapters that save it from being ‘bad’. A lack of character development and an abundance of annoying character dialogues/monologues cause the novel to fall flat on it’s face and ALMOST become a boring read, by some nicely placed drama saves that from happening (entirely).
Plot (Story): 6/10
Characters (Character Development): 6/10
Overall: 6/10, would I recommend you read it? Definitely if you enjoyed the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but otherwise no, you’d simply fall asleep or you just wouldn’t be able to get through it. Light novel though it may be, this is definately not a novel for newcomers to the series and I recommend you read the first novel before jumping into this one.
Unused Images (from the novel):