Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 5

By Nagaru Tanigawa and Gaku Tsugano. Released in Japan as "Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu" by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

I really have to feel bad for the creators of the Haruhi Suzumiya manga proper. Not only do they have to deal with the fact that the original novels and the animated adaptation are superior to it, but also that the two spinoff manga, the 4-koma Haruhi-chan and The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato, are more interesting than their parent manga. And then, to add insult to injury, this volume boasts on the back cover that it's the manga adaptation of Endless Eight, leading many fans who are still traumatized by the 2nd season of the anime to recoil in horror and flee.

And indeed, when it's merely an adaptation, the manga is predominately a failure. Endless Eight and the start of the 2nd novel are covered here, and they don't get the room to stretch that the novel or anime give them, so they look rushed. (Note: Endless Eight is, like the short story, merely one iteration. In case you were worried.) Also, the art is frankly only okay, and sometimes looks sketchy and unfinished. If you're reading this manga to enjoy the stories you've read and watched before, I'd expect to be disappointed.

It's especially disappointing as whenever the manga *isn't* doing a straight adaptation, it shines. The short chapter from the POV of Shamisen (who is, at this point, still a "normal" cat is intriguing, and dovetails nicely with the adaptation of the 2nd novel, where Yuki feels a frisson of recognition when she's given the cat for the filming. And the sports festival chapter, hinted at but never shown in the novel and anime, is simply excellent, showing Haruhi once again altering the universe to her specifications, but also showing her not being a total jerkass (rare at this point in the series - her development is the point, after all) and some nice moments for everyone, even Mikuru!

Unfortunately, these chapters are surrounded by lesser quality adaptations, and I'm not sure I can recommend the manga to anyone who's not already a Haruhi fanboy and thus would buy it anyway. If you *are*, however, the middle of the manga will give you a nice bonus.

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