Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa

With no sequels in sight for the foreseeable future I suppose the natural assumption to make is that The
Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya is the last book in this odd little series. However, I certainly hope that is not the case. It's not that I don't feel satisfied with this book, but I don't quite feel satisfied with this book as a conclusion to the series. If that makes any sense at all. 

If you read my review for The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya here then you know at least a little about the plot of this particular book since The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya is a direct continuation. Technically, they are the same exact book. In Japan they were released in three separate volumes but in the U.S. they were released in just two. The reason you see two cover pictures here for one book is because these were the Japanese covers for Volumes 2 and 3 or basically what comprises the content of the U.S. edition of The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya. All of the artwork from Volumes 2 and 3 is included so that is good. 

As far as the actual story is concerned... Hmm, let me phrase this delicately. It is a good story, but it takes its own time. That is probably why it took me a month to read it. Since it is currently December 11th and the book came out November 19th. I was also purposely dragging it out a bit because I wasn't sure I wanted it to end. If there is another book within two years it could be four years before it gets an official translation. That would be a pain in the ass to wait for. 

In this book we begin to see the two realities get a little bit closer and closer. As to why there are two realities isn't explained until the final chapter, but we do get a few clues that there certainly are two realities going on simultaneously even if Kyon (who narrates the series) doesn't. Or perhaps I should say "even if Kyon A or Kyon B do not get it." Since, in a way, there are two Kyons in this book. Three actually, now that I think about it. Or maybe it is more like four. 

While a slow-moving book The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya does have everything I think a person could want from this series, though. We have time travel, duels in closed space, split realities, characters coming back from the dead, and a bit of slice of life as well. However, there are three things which I feel must be resolved before this series really does end. If you read this book then you probably will know what three things I mean. If you haven't and want to then go away because I am about to unleash some spoilers. 

At the end of novel when the two realities are merged back together and Haruhi's alter ego does her vanishing act, we are left with a few mysteries. Just what is the present that Kyon buys Haruhi for the anniversary of the SOS Brigade? When will that metal thingy on Tsuruya's property be used? And just how the hell is future Haruhi Suzumiya going to react now that she saw two Kyons at the same time? That last thing is all I really care about, really. The present and the metal thingy are things I would like to know, but this last issue just can't be brushed aside. While we weren't shown another Kyon accompanying future Haruhi, her shocked reaction certainly provided a hint. And then Kyon himself admitted that Haruhi had indeed saw two Kyons because he apparently saw his future self. 

If Haruhi has seen actual proof of time travel... Well, this entire series is about her not learning about these things because she is supposedly a godlike being but doesn't know it. If she learns about time travel then chaos could erupt throughout all time-frames. She could subconsciously manipulate the very fabric of the world by simply wishing for everyone to be a time traveller. Same thing about ESPers, aliens, and sliders. And who is to say that isn't what has been happening the whole time?

But if she becomes consciously aware of the strangeness of the world and of her role in it... Well, I really want to know how that particular issue gets resolved. Because there aren't a lot of excuses one can make for being in two places at once. 

Anyway, I suppose this is all I have to say on this subject for quite a while. At least until The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan Vol. 5 gets released in February. Of course, that's really a different series altogether. 

I wish the anime would continue by adapting these core novels, though. The folks that only know about the anime don't understand how important a character like Tsuruya is and they've never met Fujiwara or Asahina Michiru. Asahina Mikuru has also gone through a lot of character development, too. In the anime she really didn't have all that much importance except for a few episodes. Haruhi, Kyon, and Nagato have developed, too. The only one who seems to be the same is Koizumi and I don't think Koizumi will ever change, either. 

The anime really is only the beginning, but the novels tell the whole story. It's far from a perfect series, but when it is good it is really good. The short story collections could have been better, but I suppose they serve their purpose too since I don't regret reading them. It's just more time spent with the SOS Brigade. That isn't too much of a bad thing, right? 

For now this is the last hurrah.

It's been interesting. 

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