A collection of tales staring the men of the SOS Brigade.
And some of them are even without Boy’s Love overtones.
Translation/Adaptation: Paul Starr
What They Say
Boisterous, impulsive Haruhi Suzumiya commands the spotlight wherever she goes! But the SOS Brigade chief wouldn’t be any kind of chief at all without a supporting cast of club members to command as well. And there’s no one she loves ordering around as much as Kyon! In this collection of short comics and illustrations by various artists, the boys of the SOS Brigade will at last have their moment to shine!
For the release of this collection of short stories of the much put upon members of Haruhi Suzumiya’s group the cover looks a bit reminiscent of some of the novel covers as it pairs the two title characters sitting on the ground next to each other with Koizumi having his arm placed around Kyon while Kyon has a rather typical ‘put upon’ look on his face and the title is present on the right side of the cover in a manner that also calls back to the novel releases. The pair sit against a giant ‘K’ that is white with Kyon and Koizumi written repeatedly in smaller font in light yellow and the background behind the ‘K’ is a more mustard yellow which is also used in a close crop on the spine. The back meanwhile uses the same ‘K’ but instead of writing the books focus characters instead it features a list of all the artists and writers who worked on this collection and it also includes a small picture of the two title characters in the upper right portion of the ‘K’ bar.
The artwork inside varies quite a bit from artist to artist as each story allows the artist to create the characters in a way that they wish and while the basic designs (and a fair number of the artists try to be somewhat close to) adhere to Noizi Ito’s original models that accompanied the novels some of the artists interpret the characters a bit broader to match their talents/tastes. This can make for some problems in maintaining a flow when characters can vary from somewhat similar to quite different from one story to the next as it can be quite distracting to suddenly have to deal with characters that only bear a bit more than a passing resemblance to the ones that the previous chapter used, though the book is organized so that some of the more divergent interpretations are placed latter in the volume.
This release makes use of a thick enough paper that allows for the images to often use a rather generous amount of ink to really present some splash with a minimum of bleed through being visible on most pages, though most of the authors going all out with ink and using screen tones in most of their images also help cover up any possible bleed through. The binding for the release is sturdy and the release does include a color page that features the two young men together and in both images they are situated back to back.
Like many of Yen Press’ releases the presentation here makes use of keeping the original Japanese sound effects and writing in the art while placing the onomatopoeia underneath effects and translations where needed in the margins for sounds. Honorifics are present at times depending on the characters though in many occasions they aren’t used given the relationship of the characters…or the character’s apathy toward another depending on the situation. The volume does include a Translator’s Notes to help explain a couple of the situations in the book that may be unfamiliar to English readers and which need more space than the margins can provide.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Hauruhi Suzumiya is an amazing person who, despite already being in high school, still believes that aliens, time travelers and espers exist and she has a deep desire to meet them…and she seems to have a god like ability to make it happen as her SOS Brigade happens to have an alien, time traveler and esper in it who have all gathered to monitor Haruhi and her apparent amazing abilities. The only normal member of the group is Kyon (actually a nickname, real given and family name is unknown…which is a bit suspicious in its own way actually) who possesses an abundant amount of cynicism and yet somehow has become tied into Haruhi and her complex and ever shifting emotional make up. Because of this he gets dragged along despite his wishes because if Haruhi becomes imbalanced there is a potential that the world could be destroyed and somehow he seems to be a key to either pacifying her or help alleviating some of her outbursts- but that sword swings both ways as e may cause them as well if not careful.
In addition, Kyon often participates because of a heavy flavoring of guilt that can kick in and pain him when he considers what may happen if he doesn’t help to his fellow SOS Brigade members (and the world in general), often to Kyon’s detriment. And “to Kyon’s detriment” is commonly on full display in this book as the stories here revolve around pairing Kyon with the Brigades only other male member, Itsuki Koizumi (the esper), as they work to keep Haruhi from erupting and sending other dimensional beings known as Celestials into motion which Koizumi and the other members of the same mysterious organization must fight back using their esper powers to save the Earth.
Which kind of makes it seems like Kyon’s role is basically to save Koizumi and that organization a lot of work when put that way…
The thing is that in the collection of stories here that often is the way things appear to work out as Kyon is dragged from event to event- usually because of a dictate from Haruhi or presence of a potential otherworldly unconscious threat from her- and which have him paired with Koizumi (because that is the title of the book after all) as the two try to appease the ever shifting moods of Hauhi in order to have the quietest of school lives possible in the given circumstances (those circumstances being essentially held captive at the mercy of Haruhi’s rather eclectic and erratic whims in their real world). Whether it is participating in a treasure hunt, playing (friendly?) board games, acting out a famous story or participating in a game of chance Kyon is going to be pushed along by the knowledge that if he says” no”, the world may suffer- and Koizumi isn’t shy about brining that up at ever chance either to manipulate Kyon for his own enjoyment either.
Sometimes it is hard to say if Koizumi is looking to satisfy Haruhi or himself with his demands on Kyon present here as Koizumi does more than a small amount of manipulating Kyon into some rather questionable situations at times- supposedly for Haruhi’s sake though the smile he often wears while doing so kind of makes one question his true motives- and stories raising this possibility this are pretty plentiful among the included chapters in this volume.
The collection here is one that does assume that its audience already knows the characters and basic set up as it launches straight into events and the first chapter begins with Koizumi already in the hospital as a direct result of the type of Celestial fighting events that would be typical in the books from the franchise- though like everything else in the omnibus things may not always be entirely what they seem- especially when it comes to proposed solutions to problems raised.
As a result of the large number of various author/artists involved many of the stories have a kind of similar set up, either with Kyon and Koizumi trying to guess what Haruhi might want based on the story premise or else with Kyon and Koizumi just spending time together, though often the ends are very similar as they all seem to try to make Kyon suffer a bit in the execution, even if it is just playing board games. Because of this though the quality of the stories can vary greatly from chapter to chapter and depending on one’s mood this can possibly make the book a treat to read and explore such variable events or it can make a bit tiring to read, or at least it did on my first pass through. Thankfully I gave it another go and found it much more enjoyable the second time around as I was able to really connect with some of the character interactions much better even though the short nature of many of the stories meant having to switch mental tracks between each new start rather frequently.
The Misfortune of Kyon & Koizumi isn’t a book that those who don’t already like the Haruhi franchise will probably get much out of as a large part of the humor is based off knowing these characters but it certainly isn’t the worst manga adaptation of the title out there by a long shot and there is enough little moments to make the book one that people wanting a little more interaction of the two young men will be able to enjoy, even if getting most people outside the franchises fanbase to fall in love with it may be a bit outside the manga’s grasp.
Inspired by the Haruhi Suzumiya book series by Nagaru Tanigawa with original character designs by Noizi Ito, The Misfortune of Kyon & Koizumi is a collection of stories by various manga talents who explore a bit of the relationship that the two youths are forced into due to the very odd circumstances surrounding Haruhi Suzumiya and the need to appease her or risk the destruction of the planet as they know it. The form of the appeasement however can vary in appearance as much as the clouds in the sky and the two never know what is going to be asked of them- perhaps cosplay, perhaps finding buried treasure or perhaps just exploring the mysterious world of Boy’s Love. Whatever the situation, Koizumi is prepared to serve with a smile while Kyon is forced along for the ride with his cynical attitude in tow as the pair hope to avoid disaster for one more day in this anthology of stories that fit right into the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise.
Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: February 26th, 2013