The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is anything but melancholic. This anime series (and the light novel series that it’s based upon) is full of fun and quirky characters, metaphysical humor, and strange situations. It’s an intelligent and provocative high school/ science-fiction/ comedy series with touches of romantic shipping.
It’s no wonder that this series became a cult hit, complete with its own religion, Haruhiism. However, the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise is also a bit problematic. How do you deal with that weird, mixed-up broadcast order? Or the inexplicable Endless Eight? Or the spin-offs?
Thankfully, you don’t need to be an official SOS Brigade member to untangle this worthwhile franchise. Here is a complete watch order guide for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime.
Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko published the first Haruhi Suzumiya light novel in 2003. Author Nagaru Tanigawa has written 12 books in the series. Not all of the books have been animated, and there’s a large publishing gap between The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (2011) and The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya, which came out in November 2020.
All of the books are titled The ‘X’ of Haruhi Suzumiya, where ‘X’ represents Haruhi’s current mental state of being (Melancholy, Sigh, Boredom, Rampage, etc.). The entire anime is named after the first book: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. But most episodes are named after the books that they adapt.
The anime series had two seasons. The first season (2006) had 14 episodes, and the second season (2009) added 14.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya came out in 2010. Unlike some anime films, it is absolutely light-novel canon. It shouldn’t be missed by any Haruhi fan.
Story Arcs and Major Plotlines
Here’s where things start to get tricky. The story arcs aren’t in broadcast order, but broadcast order isn’t chronological. (By broadcast order, we are talking about the original, scheduled airing on Japanese television.)
The following list put the anime in chronological order:
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
- (Broadcast order) episodes 2, 3, 5, 10, 13, 14.
Haruhi starts her own club, the SOS Brigade, with the intention of finding aliens, ESPers, time-travelers, etc. The brigade attracts an alien (Yuki Nagato), an ESPer (Itsuki Koizumi), and a time-traveler (Mikuru Asahina). Also Kyon, the narrator. All of the SOS members are dedicated to keeping Haruhi away from the truth, in case she does something crazy. Haruhi subconsciously generates an end-of-the-world scenario, which Kyon defuses by kissing her.
- The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya. Broadcast episode 4.
The SOS Brigade joins a baseball tournament. Yuki rigs the game to avoid another possible Haruhi apocalypse.
- Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody. Season 2, episode 1.
Kyon time travels back three years. In secret, he helps middle school girl Haruhi draw weird, alien-signaling symbols. It’s heavily implied that Kyon inspired Haruhi to investigate aliens, ESPers, and time-travelers in high school.
- Mysterique Sign. Broadcast episode 7.
Haruhi creates a logo for the SOS website. Shortly afterward, the SOS Brigade needs to rescue the computer research society president. The logo is somehow responsible.
- Remote Island Syndrome. Broadcast episodes 6, 8.
The SOS Brigade goes on an island vacation. There’s a murder mystery, which was engineered by Itsuki.
- Endless Eight. Season 2, episodes 2-9.
The SOS Brigade finds itself repeating the end of summer until Kyon figures out how to break the loop.
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Season 2, episodes 10-14.
The SOS Brigade makes a movie for the school cultural festival. The filming involves a lot of scheming and silly antics by Haruhi. Haruhi’s mysterious power threatens to make the science-fiction elements of the film real.
- The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina, Episode 00. Broadcast episode 1.
The film from The Sigh, as shown during the cultural festival. The film is hilariously amateurish, but echoes the real SOS Brigade. (Yuki plays an alien, Mikuru is a time traveler, etc.)
Note: The funniest episode of the whole series, and extremely good at hooking curious viewers, which is probably why Kyoto Animation put it first.
- Live Alive. Episode 12.
The school’s cultural festival takes place. Notable for Haruhi’s impromptu guitar performance with the band ENOZ; and Haruhi voice actor Aya Hirano’s amazing singing.
(It’s also the only first season episode where broadcast and chronological order align.)
- The Day of Sagittarius. Broadcast episode 11.
The computer research society challenges the SOS Brigade to a video game. The game is rigged to favor the computer research society until Yuki hacks the game. The episode has some fun Space Battleship Yamato parodies.
- Someday in the Rain. Broadcast episode 9.
A surprisingly mellow episode, with some SOS Brigade hijinks. Kyon and Haruhi share an umbrella on the way home.
- The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.
The movie takes place during the Christmas season. Kyon experiences an alternate universe where the SOS Brigade doesn’t exist. Haruhi and Itsuki go to a different school than the other members. Yuki turns out to be the key to the new, more peaceful universe. And in the end, Kyon decides that he prefers the crazy Haruhi universe, and is able to return home.
Filler and Endless Eight
Someday in the Rain is the only Haruhi episode with no equivalent in the light novels. The Anime Filler List website marks all of Endless Eight as filler, but that’s a bit unfair. After all, it’s canon.
Endless Eight is adapted from a chapter in The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya. The original story is an interesting time-travel tale, which foreshadows The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. There’s nothing wrong with the anime, except for its excessive length.
If you want to watch Endless Eight, watch Part I, which sets up the scenario. Also watch Part II, which reveals that something has gone horribly wrong with the timeline; and Part VIII, which finally resolves the situation. The other episodes could really be considered filler, unless you’re a completionist.
Broadcast Order vs. Chronological Order
When the first season of the Haruhi series first aired, it was broadcast in nonlinear (i.e. not chronological) order. Allegedly, this was done to give the series a big climax at the end of the Melancholy story arc. (By comparison, Someday in the Rain is rather anti-climatic.) However, when the series went to DVD, the discs followed chronological order for season 1.
Also, Funimation re-arranged both seasons. Their version now follows a chronological order for the complete two-season timeline. (They moved episodes around between seasons, and divided Endless Eight between the two.)
Personally, I like the chronological order. More than a decade later, the 2006 broadcast order feels like a cheap publicity stunt. If I were to give one concession to ‘broadcast order,’ it would be to show The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina to newcomers first. That’s some funny stuff right there.
If you want to watch Haruhi the way that fans saw the show in 2006, the original broadcast order is: 11, 1, 2, 7, 3, 9, 8, 10, 14, 4, 13, 12, 5, 6.
Season 2 follows chronological order, except it’s an interquel for season 1. Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody ought to be part of season 1 if we’re following a proper timeline.
If you’re a fan of the show, you might want to consider these worthy, but non-canon spin-off anime series. The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan is a 2009 gag series, based on a gag yonkoma manga series. On DVDs, it’s typically bundled with the weird, gag series Nyoro-n Churuya-san. IMHO, Haruhi-chan is pretty funny, Churuya-san is OK.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan anime series is based on a spin-off manga by Puyo. It takes place in a version of the Disappearance movie’s alternate universe. The original universe was erased in this version, and even Kyon doesn’t remember it. It’s certainly interesting, but definitely not canon. And the series contains more romance (especially for Yuki) than the original.