What They Say :
The second series of the mega-hit anime based on the series of light novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito, The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 2 Collection comes to DVD as a deluxe four-disc set that also includes the two spin-off original net animation series The Melancholy Of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron! Churuya-san.
For this disc I went for my usual trick of switching between English and Japanese, alternating episodes because of the fact they were so short. There wasn’t any noticeable difference in the audio, mainly as checked that both language tracks were standard 2.0 Stereo. In terms of quality they were fine, but not outstanding – the tracks work in time with the subtitles, are clearly audible and no problems regarding transition, but you felt even a comedy series with the Haruhi label deserved at least a 5.1 Surround Sound in English.
The video had no problems, they were no glitches or slowdown, and linked in well with the Japanese subtitles, there are no transition problems and works very well in both widescreen – it was very colourful and considering the usual switches from the chibi design to real animation it was a real treat to watch and how it worked. As mentioned, no problems with video subtitles in link with the audio in Japanese (though the Churuya animation is very strange) but the quality of the video was super – it’s quite amusing seeing how well this rather warped animation style works on the widescreen.
No packaging was brought with this test disc.
The menu is set up quite well, on the left side of the screen we have the Haruhi-chan menu, and on the right side we have the Nyoron Churuya-san menu – with the play all and the episodes selection below each section whilst near the bottom in a circle we have set up and extras, with picture of Chibi Haruhi and Chuuruya in top left/right respectively. Easy to navigate but just feels tacked on and basic with no real imagination or interest, which considering the nature of the series just feels a little off.
A few small extras are included here, a TV Commercial Spot, the textless Haruhi-chan opening and ending, and a short but fun promo involving the Japanese voice of Tanigughi (a.k.a. Minori Shirahishi) doing a scene from the shorts where he’s dressed as an oni eating beans. Pointless but quite amusing.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The UK got a nice deal with the second season of Haruhi as it also included this release of Haruhi-chan, where it was a separate release in the US. Obviously it has no relation to the plot of the series, and is just basically an excuse for the cast to have some fun in their mini states. The episodes are quite short in length in a similar style to Hetalia, consisting of 13 episodes of Haruhi-chan, and 3 episodes of Chuuruya-san. It’s certainly nothing to write home about if you’re a fan of Haruhi and its cast in terms of the main plot, but as a comedy series in its own right, whilst you have to be a Haruhi fan to get half the jokes and obviously know the characters, it’s still more than capable of getting a few laughs.
To go through what a Haruhi-chan episode, don’t go by what you know by what the characters are like in the main story. Sure, they still have their elements of their characters, like Kyon being sarcastic and Haruhi being over the top, but any of the drama has left them and flown out the window. I mean let’s put it this way – Yuki Nagato is basically transformed from a bad ass quiet alien hybrid to an avid H-game gamer, cosplayer and owner of a mini Ashakura, now called Achakura.
Yes, if what you just read makes no sense – that’s the point of Haruhi-chan.
Each episode basically is around 5 minutes long and is mostly episodic, with the only real recurring plot being the Yuki/Achakura relationship, when the climactic scene of when Ashakura was going to kill Kyon is changed to slapstick where she comes back now a foot high, being caught by Yuki and now has new missions like…clean the windows, sing karaoke with Yuki and be in a real love/hate relationship with the alien…it’s the cutest thing ever. Some classic gags like Yuki using her as a princess doll or using the old taking the sash off her joke is just so funny because Yuki is the most solemn character of the main series, so seeing her like this is just so out there that it becomes the most fun part of the shorts.
Not that the other characters don’t have their moments either. Kyon in particular is still deadpan but in a much more exasperated way – there’s an episode where they are having an SOS sports day and a scavenger hunt occurs. Kyon’s item is rather ridiculous so the way he gets round it…it just has to be seen to be believed. Haruhi’s reaction after that had me laughing for 5 minutes straight. They bringing in returning characters from the series for an episode or two occasionally like Tanaguchi, the computer club society guys, and Nori – the maid from the lost island arc, all used to hilarious effect. Tsuruya also is back in a semi main role and as she was a favourite of mine in the main series, combined with the fact she was crack in the main series, means here she gets to let loose. When you’re teamed up with Haruhi, drooling over Mikuru trying to get her naked so they can try and make a life sized chocolate out of her, you can’t help but need an oxygen capsule to revitalize you.
With each of the episodes so short, it’s hard to really describe what happens. Basically through the episodes you get a Halloween episode, a Setsubun festival episode, a sports day one, a volleyball match, a New Years dream episode, a cosplay rivalry between Mikuru and Yuki (yes, you read that right as well), a Valentine’s day ep (and when the boys have to say they have to work to get the chocolates, we get Kyon and Itsuki trying to be hosts to impress the girls…again, I repeat – you read that right too…) – all mixed with a healthy dose of hilarity usually involving Yuki and Achakura. The other parts are funny, but those two really up the awesome in this simple but fun series.
Problem is, the other part of the DVD pales in comparison. I’m not too familiar with how this originated, but from what I understand the Churuya character was based on something online after they saw Tsuruya, and sparked a real online phenomenon that it culminated in various flash videos and stuff, and the Haruhi staff picked up on this and actually made a series based on her. Like Haruhi-chan, they are about 5 minutes long, but unlike Haruhi-chan, the humour is lost and quite repetitive. The joke seems to be Churuya being addicted to smoked cheese (which I assume was a character trait with the online character) in an animation style which is even stranger than Haruhi-chan, and they turn her into a character that always fails in whatever she does, with very deadpan Haruhi, Mikuru, Kyon et al not really caring for her plight. It never really goes anywhere and isn’t really funny. Maybe if it was trying to make us feel sorry for her as part of a plot maybe, but as it’s a short comedy series, it doesn’t work and compared to the zany comedy Haruhi-chan, it’s very weak.
Still, as it comes with Season 2 and whilst I wasn’t a big fan of Haruhi S2 compared to the fantastic S1, overall it’s a nice little addition. I’d stick with Haruhi-chan though and only go with Churuya if you’re familiar with the joke.
The UK got an interesting little extra with the release of Haruhi S2. Whilst Churuya doesn’t really work unless you understand what the jokes are, Haruhi-chan is a real great time to kill the time. It’s under an hour, all the episodes have at least one laugh in, the characters you know and love throw out the drama and just inject themselves with crack, and you start to crack as well…with laughter. A lot of fun – but definitely worth it for how it’s included in, especially for Yuki fans. You’ll never watch the main series again and not wonder if deep down in that solemn façade she’s an otaku who loves H-games. A lot of fun.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, TV Commercial Spot #1, Haruhi-chan textless opening, retail promo video, Haruhi-chan textless ending.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B –
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: July 4th, 2011
MSRP: Part of Haruhi S2 Release (£39.99)
Running Time: 65 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.