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Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, The (Light novel)
Distributor Yen Press
Author/Artist Nagaru Tanigaw
After treating us to the first two volumes of Haruhi's adventures last year, this summer sees Yen press bring us volume three of Nagaru Tanigawa's series of light novel starring that decidedly abnormal high school girl and her unwitting ability to change the world, in the form of The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Chronologically speaking, the events of this third novel actually take place in-between the happenings of "Melancholy" and "Sigh", with this book offering up four short stories detailing the adventures of the SOS Brigade in that intervening period, most of which will be familiar to anybody who has watched the original series of the franchise's anime while the fourth made an appearance in the show's second season.
Thus, we're treated to the recounting of the SOS Brigade's entry into a local baseball tournament which sees our protagonist Kyon and his friends trying to juggle Haruhi's competitive streak against the fact that their team is clearly hopeless without the use of outside influences, a brief trip back in time for Kyon and Mikuru Asahina which threatens to go horribly wrong, the disappearance of the school computer club's president and a summer outing for the SOS Brigade which takes a seemingly sinister turn.
Given that this volume is a collection of short stories rather than a single full-length novel outright, it's perhaps unsurprising to learn that the quality of those stories have a tendency to vary somewhat. While some of these tales act as a perfect foil for Kyon's sharp and cynical wit as it pushes against the immovable roadblock that is the intelligent yet utterly bizarre Suzumiya, others almost feel a little out of place in their delivery - Mystérique Sign in particular feels rather rushed in a short story form and arguably worked better when it made the transition to TV screens in animated form, while Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody is interesting enough but struggles to hold its own a little when shorn of its context in the light of other developments; developments that thankfully come into their own in the next novel by all accounts.
That said the biggest benefit of this volume is that it finally leaves the characters to their own devices rather than painstakingly explaining their purpose as the second volume was liable to do, at last assuming that you already have prior knowledge of the decidedly unique scenario in which Kyon finds himself. Let's make no mistake about it though, it's often the Kyon-Haruhi dynamic and the dialogue between them that defines this volume, bringing virtually of all of its most humorous and entertaining moments with the exception of a few occasions where Nagato steps into the limelight to dryly save the day while Asahina and Koizumi practically act as antagonists at times.
If you've enjoyed the previous two light novels (and you really do need to have at least read The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya prior to tackling this third book), then The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya will likely satisfy most of your cravings, serving as a starter for the main course that is The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. The short story format might strip away most of the over-arching story elements that made the first two volumes enjoyable, but by the same token it also allows the franchise's sense of fun and humour to take over after the occasionally darker and more brooding goings-on of the previous novel at the lowest ebb of its story. As a bright and breezy read while you're sunning yourself on a beach or something, this is an ideal summer novel for the discerning anime fan.
A fun summer read that is easy to pick up and enjoy if you're already a fan of Haruhi's adventures.