I just finished The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya, a title that makes me think of Alexander the Great for some reason.
Book six of the Haruhi Suzumiya series is a collection of short stories. The first two stories, “Live alive” and “The adventures of Mikuru Asahina episode 00”, were among the highlights of the first animated season (which I think appeared shortly after this book was originally published in Japan).
In the new stories in this volume, Yuki is on the receiving end of a confession of love, Mikuru asks Kyon out on a Sunday afternoon (“The melancholy of Mikuru Asahina”), and the cat Shamisen is a key witness in the murder mystery that got derailed in “Snowy mountain syndrome”.
Aside from the weak story involving Shamisen, it’s a pretty solid book. “Love at first sight” has that special Nagato charm, “The melancholy of Mikuru Asahina” involves another critical event in the setup of the Haruhi world. Both stories continue “Snowy Mountain syndrome’s” suspicion that there are other forces that were awakened by Haruhi’s powers. The last story, especially, shows that there’s more to Mikuru’s mission than just the care of Haruhi Suzumiya’s moods.
Perhaps it’s just rose-coloring from nostalgia, or perhaps stories about movies and concerts are better off being seen instead of read about, but “The adventures of Mikuru Asahina” and “Live alive” struck me as having been better done by Kyoto Animation. They’re okay stories, and despite all the time-travel, the author had no idea that, in the future, his images would have to compete with those created by top-notch animators. These are the stories that went on to be animated so well, after all.
Also, I think animated Tsuruya works better than described Tsuruya.
I kvetched that too many iterations of “Endless Eight” was a wasted opportunity in my review of the previous volume. This volume prompts that sentiment as well, though not quite so much. “Love at first sight” might have comfortably replaced one of the eighterations (though it’s richer for following The disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya); “The melancholy of Mikuru Asahina” might be a less comfortable fit. That story ends with an unresolved thread, and it is not clear that the resolution would have fit into the 12-episode season (I don’t know — the resolution may not yet have appeared in print).
The next volume (The intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya) is scheduled for June 2012, with the volume after that (The indignation of Haruhi Suzumiya) scheduled for September 2012. There are two more volumes after that in the series (which I expect Yen Press to release as a single volume, since they comprise a single story). I’m looking forward to them.