If someone from the future comes to tell you what you will do with your life, how free are you to do otherwise?
This is the question at the heart of this seventh volume in the Suzumiya Haruhi series. This volume is the first that consists of material that is entirely new to viewers of the anime franchise.
In Disappearance, Kyon learned to appreciate Haruhi. In Intrigues, he learns to appreciate the other members of the SOS-Dan (even Itsuki), perhaps most especially himself. Tsuruya also plays an important role as the Tom Bombadil of this book series: knowing, able to be helpful, but more a natural force than an ally.
The novel begins with a prologue that involves a bit of time-travel to clean up some loose ends from Disappearance, then jumps directly into a puzzle in which a second Mikuru appears suddenly in the clubroom broom-closet, and informs Kyon that, eight days from today, he will shove her into the broom closet and tell her to leap back in time to this point. Also puzzling to Mikuru, she got immediate permission to perform the time-leap Kyon demanded of her.
After that, the plot is driven by letters that appear each morning in Kyon’s shoe-locker — Kyon’s week of geo-caching. Trudging about in mysterious corners of the city in February isn’t the most pleasant way to spend one’s time, but mostly Kyon is puzzled about the apparently random activities and his own motivation for sending Mikuru back in time.
On top of this, Haruhi seems subdued, but not to the extreme that she’s generating closed spaces as a side-effect. Haruhi’s blues eventually clear up (and Kyon, seemingly, was the only one who noticed they were there), and, since Disappearance, Kyon now appreciates an inspired Haruhi.
And an inspired Haruhi is no longer quite as unpleasant as she was earlier in the series. She’s mellowed. Further, she’s almost a minor character (after the first book, this series has never done well when Haruhi is on center stage).
Finally, there are actual encounters with minions of the sinister opposition force that caused the snowy mountain syndrome episode.
After something of a rough start, these novels continue to improve. Tanigawa is growing as a writer, and developing a firmer, and deeper grasp of his characters.
Yen Press’ softcover includes monochrome illustrations throughout the book and a collection of color plates at the back.