The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
“Haruhi Suzumiya, the girl who hates boredom above all else”
Title: The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
Series: Haruhi Suzumiya (Book 3)
Author: Nagaru Tanigawa
Published (In Japanese): December 27, 2003
Published (In English): July 1, 2010
Genres: Comedy, Science Fantasy, Adventure, Slice of Life
Synopsis: Haruhi is the bossy and beautiful leader of the SOS Brigade, a club comprised of her high school’s most extraordinary (and strangest) students. On a typical day, the SOS Brigade must struggle to keep Haruhi happy and occupied because, unbeknownst to her, Haruhi has the power to destroy the world. This third volume in the Haruhi Suzumiya series features a collection of four wildly unpredictable and fun short stories that cover everything from baseball and time travel to alternate dimensions. It even includes an intriguing murder mystery — when it comes to Haruhi, you never know what you’re going to get!
In The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagura Tanigawa deviates massively from the plot and decides to instead write four short stories about the events that preceded ‘The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya’. The result? A light novel the surpasses the series’ previous iteration (The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya) whilst never being able to live up to the original. It’s not that I didn’t like this novel, it was great, but the series (at this point) lacks a clear direction and or focus. After the disappointment that was The Sigh, should Tanigawa have written four short stories?
In the end we received four short stories, each having their own charm and each filling in the gaps… that we didn’t even know were there. Was this novel necessary? No. Were the stories interesting? Of course. But, the all important question is… Is this a good read…? How about you read the review and find out, eh?
The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya:
‘In her latest attempt to give the S.O.S. Brigade more public exposure, Haruhi signs the group up for the city-wide baseball tournament.’
The first story in Tanigawa’s compilation is one that reveals to the reader how much Haruhi values Kyon and the consequences of Kyon’s failure. As of right now we don’t know why Haruhi brought Kyon into her life; sure she brought Koizumi, Mikuru and Nagato ‘into existence’ because she wanted her life to be more interesting, but Kyon…? Maybe she wants romance? Maybe she wants a true friends? Maybe Kyon has some other reason for existing that we have no way of knowing about yet? But nevertheless Haruhi values him.
This first story, named aptly after the novel itself, is a fun little adventure with no purpose other than to serve as a medium for the readers enjoyment and I don’t have a problem with that, I mean, it is a light novel after all, if we don’t have at least some lightheartedness then what’s the point? This story highlights, firstly, Nagato’s alien power prowess, I mean, she pretty much takes control of the game and wins it for them but uttering ‘nonsense’ and sitting down. Nagato’s powerful and whilst Kyon doesn’t realize it yet, he’s made himself a valuable ally. On the other hand, Koizumi, Nagato and Asahina all seem to know quite a lot about each other and each others past… What’s up with that? Too many reviewers (I feel) overlook the fact that Koizumi knows A LOT about Nagato (it would seem) and that intrigues me. The readers take for granted Koizumi’s seemingly boundless knowledge (probably due to Kyon’s constant bitching about him) and I’m glad that Koizumi’s intelligence was finally shown fully in this story.
Koizumi aside, I was glad to see the relationship between Haruhi and Kyon start growing again. Not only does it go to show why Haruhi was so shocked in The Sigh when Kyon almost hit her, it also shows just how passive their relationship is. Haruhi gives up with game because Kyon tells her to, she subjugates herself to boredom because this guy, this guy who’s seemingly always ruining the fun, is telling her to… she must really want to get into his trousers because I don’t know any girl (who’s this good looking) who would fall for Kyon that way he is now. As of this point in the novel series, Kyon has been a continuous blight on Haruhi’s fun, not once has he shown her any compassion and not once has he ever acknowledged how fun life is with her around. This story rectifies that (ever so slightly), we see Kyon take on a more compassionate approach when trying to deal with Haruhi (even though it’s for his own gain) and it’s great.
Overall, The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya is an interesting chapter, it’s good but it’s not great. It lacks a certain finesse and drive, a drive that drove the first novel into the hearts and minds of readers. And why was Kyon’s sister even here? Yes, yes, they were short on team members and they needed to introduce her somehow… I know, I know…
Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody:
‘It’s like Back To the Future! In order to prevent an impending disaster, Mikuru takes Kyon back in time, where he meets Haruhi as a seventh grader.’
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes? This is the story I’ve been waiting for… Not because I’m a loli-pedo hybrid, but because I’ve wanted some insight into the anomaly that is Haruhi Suzumiya for so very long. This story offers up 70% more Asahina (who, again, is just there to appeal Kyon), 10% more Haruhi, 10% more Nagato and 5% more ‘older Asahina’. The plot is riveting and I found myself immediately interested in the novel again (because, y’know, the first story wasn’t the best of story’s), 7 year old Haruhi is a delight, of course, and Kyon, his cynicism and his ultimate understanding… yeah they were awesome too. Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody harkens back to the original in an awesome way and any readers who fell in love with the original (and especially the Haruhi and Kyon dynamic) will love this story.
The use of Yuki Nagato is an interesting one though, of course it was the only way they could get three years into the future but it does beg the question, why did the older Mikuru take away her TPDD? I’m beginning to feel as though both Kyon and Haruhi’s lives are being orchestrated by those around them and it’s just plain creepy… everything Kyon has done so far has been dictated by those around him and we’ve yet to see him take any initiative. But that’s not what bothers me. I don’t trust the older Mikuru. Sure the Mikuru now is nice and sweet, but this older and more cunning version of her makes me wonder about just how Kyon and Haruhi will affect the future… what lies in their wake after their school years are over?
That aside, Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody is one of the better short stories in the novel and, some would say, it may even be one of the best out of all of the short story compilation novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa. It offers insight in an alluring and unassuming way, giving us a reason for Haruhi’s appearance at Kyon’s school, the symbols on the school grounds and the cunning of Mikuru Asahina… that would make a great name for a spin off series…
‘The computer club president at school mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to the S.O.S. Brigade to get to the bottom of it!’
This was easily my least favorite out of the short stories. The only parts I found even remotely interesting were any that involved Kyon and Haruhi, otherwise, this was a weak story with no clear direction and the introduction of characters (or should I say a character) that won’t be important until much later in the series. And that begs the question, why introduce Emiri Kimidori now? I can understand if she’d been introduced in an interesting and thought provoking way, but she was not. So she was ‘created’ by Nagato and she’s some sort of interface…? Right… And all of this was because of a symbol the Haruhi created! Emiri’s story could have been left to later in the series and it could have been written better… I call it her story but that is a lie, truthfully, this was one of those ‘everyone but Asahina (of course) stories’.
I have yet to see Asahina do anything other than be cute and funny and… well… (once the humor has worn off) that annoys me. Do something! Add to the plot! Don’t just be an obstruction for Haruhi… jeez…
Speaking of Haruhi… why is she so awesome? And why, oh why, is she not central to the plot… ever. Sure she’s a plot point in all of the novels but she’s usually never actually a part of the integral plot. Because, well, y’know, we are talking about this story in particular after all, let’s look at her here. She helps Kyon in her investigation, she is called cute by an old man and that’s pretty much it. Koizumi and Nagato take over from there and then Haruhi is pretty much forgotten… but she’s not, she’s always a part of the story, the problem is she’s always in the background unaware… and I know that’s the point and I know Tanigawa has to showcase all of his characters (a part from Asahina because, y’know, she’s there because she’s moe) but it still weakens the story in my view. I read Haruhi novels for A. their lightheartedness (although I wouldn’t mind some more dedicated plot later on), B. the slice of life feel and C. the ever so slight hints of romance that flavor every single novel in some way. Do I care when Haruhi isn’t being cute with Kyon? Yes, because to me that concept is an important part of the series. Do I care when Haruhi is pushed aside in favor of poor side story? Yes, because that’s not what I read the novels for.
With that said, I’m sure you can understand why I say this was the weakest and my least favorite part of the novel. I would tell you to skip over it if you planned on reading it if I didn’t think you’d need to understand all of this to understand things later on in the series… I guess you’ll have to suffer through it as I did? I apologize.
Remote Island Syndrome:
‘It’s vacation time when a relative of Itsuki’s invites the S.O.S. Brigade to stay at his island villa. But then a dead body turns up, and Haruhi and the gang get mixed up in a thrilling murder mystery.’
Finally! I’ve been waiting for this for so long, beaches, boobs, butts, bikinis and… barnacles? I ran out of of ‘b’ words… Wait? What’s this? No fan service? Only an intriguing plot and a somewhat anti-climactic plot twist that makes sense and couldn’t have be done any other way? Fair enough.
Everyone knew this would happen eventually, I mean, what’s anything Japanese media related without an awesome beach trip and wet girls (wet in the sense that they are covered in sea water you perverts). Remote Island Syndrome was the second best story in the novel (second only to Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody) and whilst at some points I found myself ‘bored’ and unwilling, I’d be immediately drawn back in by the change of environment and captivating characters.
And you know how I was talking about that passive romance aspect of the novels that I love so much? It was very nice and even almost prominent in this story. We saw a side of Haruhi that we’d never seen before, a scared and somewhat, dare I say, lucid Haruhi. Whilst at first she only dreams of excitement and adventure when presented with such things she quickly realizes that it’s not all she thought it would be. A harsh reality and truth swoops down on Haruhi’s before care free life and she’s forced to realize that a lot of the time she’s all talk. It was nice, not to see Haruhi squirm, but to see Haruhi grow closer to Kyon in a natural and… different way. Haruhi, for the first time, was acting like a normal girl and I loved it! More please? But not too much, I do like my crazy Haruhi portions every now and then.
Plot (Story): 7/10
Characters (Character Development): 6/10
Overall: 7/10, whilst still being a better novel than it’s predecessor, the novel does not live up to the standard set by the original. If I could I would tell you to skip over the third story in the novel but alas I cannot as every story has some merits and every story will, most likely, have some relevance later on in the chronology. It’s a light breather in the series before the next full story and if you want the equivalent of four extremely light stories and adequate stories then here you go, otherwise, read it, try to enjoy it and if not, do not despair, for I promise you this; you will not want to miss out on the next installment in the series… just saying…
Unused Images (from the novel):