The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Haruhi Suzumiya

by dm00


The cover of <i>The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya</i>, a novel

The cover of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a novel


Don’t panic, Kyon.

I haven’t had so much fun since friends started babbling about this thing they’d seen called “The adventures of Asahina Mikuru”.

Perhaps because I pre-ordered a long time ago, RightStuf shipped my copy of Yen Press’s translation of the novel, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya so that it got to me a few days early.   The novel is as good as the anime, perhaps better: more Kyon snark, more Kyon drooling over Mikuru, but not enough enigmatic Yuki.  I read it with a big grin on my face and enjoyed every minute of it.

Fans of the anime won’t find any surprises: the anime was very faithful to this volume (which covers from the beginning up to the end of the Sleeping Beauty incident).  This novel, while complete in itself, does give one the sense of the stage being set and the characters introduced.  Not just characters, but framing concepts are introduced as well: of time as a series of interleaved planes; of existence being a series of moments, each one leading to a decision by God whether to create the next; the anthropic principle, and more.  These are all ideas that the novel takes “seriously” and plays with.

The ideas are outlandish, but the prose and the plotting are not.  The story is told in a straightforward fashion.  Or, at least, it appears to be.  I remember seeing speculation that it is actually Kyon that’s the prime mover of events, that Haruhi is his creation to make the mundane more interesting. I never really took that idea seriously from the evidence of the anime, but the novel practically begs for that interpretation.  I think it will be several volumes more before we will be able to judge whether Kyon is a reliable narrator of events.

The translation (by Chris Pai) is flawless: colloquial without being overly slangy, Kyon’s voice comes through clear as a bell.  In addition to reproducing the original edition’s illustrations and color pages, there is an excerpt from the manga (also published by Yen Press) included in the book.

Go buy it.  Read it.  Recommend it to your friends.  Let Yen Press know they’ve got a winner on their hands, and that they want to rush the sequels into print.

Update: for an interesting take on Haruhi, see this comparison of Yukio Mishima’s Sea of Fertility tetrology to the Haruhi books.

10 Responses to “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Haruhi Suzumiya”

  1. 1 ghostlightning March 29, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    This volume was an entertaining read. However some of the succeeding ones, particularly “The Boredom…” were utter crap to read. I applaud the decision to compress the whole of its content into 2 episodes of The Melancholy…. I had dropped this light novel series right before “The Vanishment…”

  2. 2 animekritik March 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    i read the first three novels, then stopped before “disappearance” because i’d heard the second season would cover that and i wanted to see the animation before reading it. anyway, first 3 vols. are enjoyable..

  3. 3 nogizaka March 30, 2009 at 1:10 am

    Now i’m craving for it~ *c*
    *stares at hole in the pocket*

  4. 4 phossil March 31, 2009 at 8:47 am

    haha, I think I will need to read it then… ^^

  5. 5 Jesus159159159 April 1, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, I bought this along with Welcome to the NHK (novel) and The Twelve Kingdoms (first part, been eyeballin’ these for awhile) :3 can’t wait til it arrives!

  6. 6 cello85 April 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    This looks fantastic, thanks for putting me onto this. I’ll scoop it up!

  7. 7 snobaste April 4, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I read the Baka-Tsuki translations of the books forever ago, but have been looking forward to a physical copy for a long time. I completely forgot this came out on the first… ordering now 😀

  8. 8 Lupus April 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

    That cover looks fucking atrocious. I can understand not wanting to alienate potential readers with anime schtick on the cover, but the least they could do is hire some decent cover designer.

    As for the book itself: own everything that’s published in Chinese already, and love most of it. First book is far and away the best one. Tightly plotted and hilarious from beginning to end. Glad to see it’s getting more international attention.

    • 9 Jesus159159159 April 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      I also disliked that cover, but once I received my book in the mail, I was glad to see that it looked like this. :3 I bought it from amazon (hardcover). Perhaps dm00 bought the paperback version or something.

  9. 10 dm00 April 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t think the cover looks bad, myself.

    Yes, it is the paperback cover. The cover also opens to a color illustration of Haruhi, I think the same one that’s on the cover of the hardback.

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