A single season anime series directed by Tatsuya Ishihara
and originally created by Nagaru Tanigawa
. Melancholy is focused on a strange, energetic and very dangerously bored young girl named Suzumiya Haruhi; the story is told from the perspective of her friend, confidant
and tormentee Kyon. There is a message about growing up and leaving behind dreams of our childhood.
Suzumiya is bored with humanity, she begins high school sitting behind Kyon, standing to address the class and asking very directly if there are any aliens, time travelers, sliders, espers, or otherwise supernatural or interesting beings in disguise around. After an awkward moment where she appraised the class room with everyone staring in astonishment, she sits down with a look of disdain. Kyon is intrigued and, moth to a flame, tries to engage her in conversation. And like that it has begun, Kyon's curiosity has been pulled into Suzumiya's web and every little conversation in the first few weeks of class digs him in deeper and deeper. Eventually one conversation gives her an idea, one that gets her out of her funk. Form a club. One that has the purpose of finding the mysterious. She takes over the Literary club room in the club house behind the school, at the same time conscripting the lone club member(Yuki). She kidnaps a vacant, pretty upper classman girl to be the club mascot and convince people to join(Asahina). She conscripts a 'mysterious' transfer student(Koizumi). And with all the pieces in place, she forms the Save our world by Overloading it with fun, Suzumiya Haruhi's Brigade or SOS Brigade for short.
For Kyon, it's been a small whirlwind of madness pulled along and bullied into things by Suzumiya, watching her molest Asahina and generally being annoyed with Suzumiya's inability to listen to others. Then things go absolutely crazy. Because the people who have joined the group are an alien, a time traveller, and an esper. For an ordinary human like Kyon all he has as a weapon against this onslaught on sanity is a sort of Dent-like sarcasm.
Structure of the series
The series is semi-episodic. That is the second half of the series is episodic and the first half is an arch that introduces the characters and develops their relationships with Kyon and Suzumiya. But the most jarring about the structure of the series. It is told heavily out of order. If you want to put the structure together you have to watch the variety of cues or listen intently to the story line.(Or if you want you can find out by listening to the end credits were Suzumiya always gets it wrong) It allows the series to use the later parts of the series to foreshadow the rest of the series.
The first episode is a bad high school student film. Asahina stars as a combat waitress, sent from the future to save Koizumi, a young man with powers he does not understand from Yuki the alien witch. The film is narrated entirely by Kyon, and it only introduces Suzumiya in the last minute of the episode. It is also the 11th episode in the series chronologically. The series begins in the middle and ends in the middle. It uses this to create a sense of ADD, as if the director, much like the title character, gets bored with just telling the story in order. But it does interesting things to the pace of the program. For instance, at the end of one episode, a major plot point is about to be revealed and then in the next, Baseball! Or in the latter half, everyone is on vacation and then back at school months earlier. This sort of storytelling is reminiscent of books like Iain M. Banks's Use of Weapons or movies like Memento. The distortion of the structure of the story, like its uses elsewhere in fiction, changes the way that the watcher interacts with the media. It's one of those things that can be pointed easily to show that editing is an art form in itself. In many ways this show would simply be another zany high-school comedic romance, but this format lends far more suspense to the series.
Note to the Nerdy
Melancholy is one of the few series where western literary influences are clearly seen in the show. The character of Yuki is very clearly a reference to Dan Simmons's Hyperion novels. A copy of the book is actually presented to Kyon by her prior to the revelation of her identity. There are other influences if you can catch them, but as a big fan of Simmons's this one particularly tickled me. These influences are even more apparent in the light novel series with the same name.