Kyon continues to deal with the headaches and revelations brought on by the SOS Brigade and its band of miscreants while trying to prevent the utter destruction and subsequent recreation of the universe.
Writer/Artist: Nagaru Tanigawa
Translation: Christine Schilling
Adaptation: Christine Schilling
What They Say
When Haruhi Suzumiya introduces herself to Kyon by asking if he's an alien, time traveler, or psychic, he knows his chances for a normal high school experience are ruined. Bold Haruhi takes a shine to him, and uses the force of her irrepressible personality to draft him into her club to find paranormal beings. Kyon soon discovers what she¹s looking for: Haruhi herself has the power to destroy and create entire universes at her whim.
But if she knew about her ability, it could spell disaster for everyone.
The continued trials of Kyon, utter normalcy surrounded by the incredible, fantastic, or merely peculiar, continue in a much more foreboding direction in this second volume. Haruhi’s melancholy is also given center stage, and we see why maybe it’s a bit worse than when any other teenage girl feels depressed. There are also some nice scenes between Kyon and the other SOS Brigade members, which are greatly appreciated; up to now they’ve been defined by their most obvious character traits and the group they represent, so getting bits of personality to glue in helps to connect with the characters.
Some might ask if a doomsday scenario in the second volume is a little too early, and wonder if the needed emotional attachment has been established to make anyone care what happens to these characters. I don’t think about questions like that, because I don’t take my manga too seriously. I’m a Real Man, and a Real Man doesn’t sit around diagramming character relationships and motivations while writing angry letters to publishing companies. A Real Man reads his manga, appreciates it for what it is, then goes outside and does a thousand one-handed push-ups before running a marathon. Which he places first in. For charity. That being said, there’s definitely a reason the anime broadcast these final few chapters as the last episode in the season. Fans may get more out of it than non-fans, but anyone should enjoy it.
The story really picks up in this volume of Haruhi, with events I won’t even attempt to hint at for fear of spoilage. For those of you wondering why so many people like this series, I can point to this volume and tell you that – for me personally – it’s arcs like these, combined with the interesting main characters, which have endeared the series to me. It breaks from traditional manga pacing, and that makes it feel exciting and unpredictable. It doesn’t try to be overwhelmingly philosophical or pretentious; it’s just a slice of old school, pulpy sci-fi goodness, transported to a rural Japanese high school in a shoddy bomb case filled with used pinball machine parts.
In another tidbit of good news, the text bubble problem has seemingly been corrected, and blocks of dialog are no longer found rubbing against the edges of the bubbles they inhabit. On the other foot, the art is still thoroughly underwhelming. It seems at times – at times - that the mutation of the characters’ faces has been reduced a small amount, rendering them merely ghoulish, but it’s very difficult to tell for sure. Except, strangely enough, for the final chapter. I thought I was going crazy at first, but the artwork in the final chapter is leagues better than the rest of the book. It’s still not incredible by any means, but there is a noticeable leap in quality. I can only hope it remains at this level. It’s not asking much, and it would really increase my enjoyment of this series a great deal.