Haruhi Suzumiya 06: The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya

November 28, 2011

Nagaru Tanigawa – Yen Press – 2011 – 11+ volumes
this is a novel

I am still ridiculously addicted to this series, and that’s after two volumes of short stories. I thought I might hold onto this for a rainy day, but I recently saw the movie adaptation of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and it was so good that I sat down and read this in one afternoon.

I dreaded this volume, and I dreaded reading The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00. I hated that movie-making plotline so much, and that the story seems to keep returning to it is aggravating. Not only do we get the short story version of the terrible movie they made here, we also get to hear more about it in one of the other stories, Live Alive, when the movie is finally screened at the cultural festival.

But The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00 wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. That’s even considering I knew what the plot was going to be beforehand. A lot of the enjoyment has to do with Kyon’s cranky narration, where he points out just how bad this story/movie really is. Kyon is the one that walks us through the entire movie, since there’s not a lot of dialogue to do that for us. Interesting that the thing I hated most about the original novel is what made the short story version bearable.

Live Alive is the first story in this volume, and it covers the cultural festival. Kyon talks briefly about the movie being shown, but mostly he walks around the school grounds, eats at Mikuru’s noodle stand… and sees Haruhi filling in as an impromptu vocalist for a band. This is a nice story, and while I didn’t love it, it’s simple charm is probably part of why I’m such a huge fan of this series. Rather than being a story about supernatural occurrences or something insane happening, everyone gets to be normal students at a school festival, and all their personality traits and quirks get to shine as a result.

Where Did the Cat Go? is the story of what happened for the SOS Brigade’s real winter vacation, the planned “murder mystery” from Koizumi and his associates. This wasn’t nearly as fun as the “trapped in a snowbound mansion” story, or the “real” murder mystery from the summer vacation story, so it was hard for me to get into this one. There are no supernatural occurrences once again, so it’s more of the characters being themselves, but I thought Live Alive was slightly more charming in that way. Though it’s hard to begrudge this story its game time.

Love at First Sight is a really bizarre story about one of Kyon’s friends from junior high falling desperately in love with Yuki Nagato. They get to watch an American Football game, which was about the best part of it for me. This one does have something to do with the supernatural, though it wasn’t really anything exciting in the end.

The Melancholy of Mikuru Asahina is the last story in the volume, and it was one I was very fond of. Kyon and Mikuru go on an awkward date that shares a lot in common with the walk they took in an earlier novel, the one where Mikuru told Kyon she was a time traveler. This date is hilariously awkward, and I knew the other time travel shoe would drop if I was patient enough. It did, though not until the very end. It was mostly unrelated to the series, but at the same time, it was a very classic time travel problem, and one that even Kyon had to question in the end. And, of course, Haruhi found out about the date in the end.

There’s not a whole lot of spectacular or stand-out stories in this volume, and the two I liked best, the first and last, were good because they highlighted what I liked best about the series. The good time travel plot in one, and the way the characters were used in the other. The volumes of short stories are definitely not my favorite part of the series though, and I’m itching for another novel. A novel is next, it appears, but I’m going to have to wait six months to read it.

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