Author: Nagaru Tanigawa/Noizi Ito
Manga-ka: Gaku Tsugano
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: June 2009
Synopsis: “The SOS Brigade gets browbeaten into entering a baseball tournament to help their fearless leader stave off boredom. But Haruhi has no intention of losing… and she’s ready to pitch a fit if her team doesn’t step up to the plate!”
While I still don’t get the huge hullabaloo about Haruhi the character as her own franchise, the appeal of the series is becoming evident as the strange oddities befalling Kyon’s life remain constant staples. He accepts everything with a grain of salt, as he knows there’s little he can do to fight the tide against psychics, aliens and robots out on a mission to save the world. And why would he want to?
Kyon’s go with the flow attitude feels both down to the earth and appropriate, especially since it balances out the supernatural and science-fictional nature of the stories. It’s his general normalcy that I find makes him the most easily likeable character. Aliens and robots, pfft, big deal, Kyon is a normal guy who accepts them with a helpful shrug and a smile, and he’ll need that adaptive ability to deal with someone like Haruhi who could implode the world when in a bad mood.
This third volume begins with the SOS Brigade entering into a baseball tournament thanks to their overzealous, and easily prone to bitter-boredom, Haruhi. As to be expected, the group doesn’t do so well against a real practiced team, but in the interest of the world’s safety, members of the SOS Brigade step up to the plate with a resolve to win and you know it’s going to be interesting at the very least (albeit short-lived).
A good bulk of the story after that follows Kyon and the time-traveling Asahina as they hit up the town on a Haruhi-free ‘date’. Kyon is taken on his first time-traveling experience and I’m continually amused by the story’s ability to weave in all these fantasy-fictional elements while maintaining a simple illusion that they may or may not actually be happening with no definitive proof after the fact.
The artist’s improvement seems to have hit its peak here, and though impressed with the subtle evolution of the art between volumes one and two, here there were several moments where I just felt the artist was a bit lazy. Still, the art is generally well presented, despite some uneven quality between panels, and from what I’ve seen of the anime, the manga artist does a good job rendering the style overall.
Essentially, my confusion regarding people’s adoration of Haruhi remains a constant reminder that there are some things about series and fandom I’ll never understand, but after three volumes I can really say that I’ve come to like the story. Kyon is a great main character, not much to him but that’s half his appeal, and again he contrasts nicely with the strangeness that surrounds him. The secondary characters all have their own charms as well, each bringing entertaining twists to the story every time they show up.
I don’t know how long the quirkiness of this series can maintain itself but for now I’ve been having enough fun reading each volume that I’m pleased to live in the now with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya a while longer yet.