Gaku Tsugano / Nagaru Tanigawa – Yen Press – 2011 – 14+ volumes

I’d read the novels, so I thought I’d give the comic a shot to see how the adaptation was. This volume comes from the end of the fourth novel, the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The adaptation is 100% faithful. Everything that I recall from the novel was in the manga, and other than a couple short bonus stories at the end, the manga didn’t have any extraneous bits of story. Then again, that might just be because the Disappearance story is so plot-heavy to begin with, plus this was the end and featured some very lengthy explanations of time travel and just how the time-hopping characters were solving the problems during the different time periods.

I am glad I read the novel, because this volume would not have been a good place to enter the series otherwise. The time travel explanations, along with the different versions of the characters across different time periods and universes, are not for the faint of heart. But they do make sense if you’ve read the novel, or even the volumes before this one.

I did like seeing the story visualized, even if this was mostly a talky part. I should really watch the anime, which I’ve been meaning to do, but on the other hand, I feel like the anime might play up the fanservice elements, my least favorite part of these stories.

The bonus stories at the end of the volume were interesting. The first takes place right after Kyon wakes up from his coma, and is simply the cheery Christmas party between the SOS Brigade members. The other is an AU story, set in the Meiji era, where Kyon is forced to look for tea for Haruhi. It’s implied that the characters in the present are re-incarnations of the ones from the Meiji era, or that the Meiji story is a dream Kyon or Haruhi is having, but I think it’s mostly just meant to be a silly bonus story. I liked it well enough.

The highlight for me, in this volume, was the choice Kyon had to make between the crazy life where Haruhi had powers and his friends were aliens, espers, and time-travelers, or the normal life he was leading now. I commented on this when I read the novel, but I loved that, for all his complaining, Kyon still had to consciously make a decision on this. He couldn’t just go along for the ride. He had to really want it.

The problem with reading the novels is that reading this volume of manga only made me want to read more of the novels. The manga is all well and good, but reading a portion of the story in one volume of the manga isn’t the same as reading the whole story in the novel. It probably doesn’t help that I loved this particular novel.

I liked the manga adaptation, too, and if you’ve been following the manga, you definitely won’t be disappointed by the climax here. But all the same, I think I prefer the novels because I started with them, and I’m willing to bet that those who started with the manga prefer to see the story played out visually.

This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.