By Nagaru Tanigawa and Puyo. Released in Japan as “Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yuutsu” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Paul Starr.
And now, the end is near. And so we face the final curtain. Since the Haruhi Suzumiya novels began in Japan in 2003, we’ve seen two manga, two anime series, a movie, two manga spinoffs, and two anime of said manga spinoffs. In 2006, Haruhi was the hottest franchise around. But in 2020, quietly, the last Haruhi spinoff has come to an end, and as far as I can tell there’s nothing out there to replace it. The novels are effectively finished, as the author apparently has massive writer’s block. The main manga ended, and Nagato Yuki-chan’s manga ended. And now we have the final volume of Haruhi-chan, though… wait a minute, didn’t we see this before? In 2017? Remember, the volume with the word ‘FINAL’ on it? In fact, didn’t I write these same words back then? And yet here we are with one more Haruhi-chan… and one more short-story from the original author, a sort of “thank you for the gag comic” story.
At least this cover looks a bit more final than the last one. Indeed, the author is far more prepared than last time for the end of the series. In perhaps the funniest chapter in the book, we see Haruhi at college, reminiscing about the old times and telling us what everyone’s up to now… except she can’t, as she’s constrained by the fact that the original source material didn’t tell us anything beyond her and Kyon being in college. (That said, we do get some amusing panels showing Kyon’s sister as a young (and grumpy) teenager, showing that Puyo is at least not constrained when it comes to her.) There are also three final chapters in a row, each concerned with one of the main heroines. Nagato’s is about stasis… She’s in the apartment and Ryoko is there basically being her housewife (Ryoko’s in big mode more than little mode in this book.) Mikuru tries to hint to Tsuruya that she’s going away and won’t be able to be contacted, till Tsuruya insists she’ll just magically invent something that will keep them in touch. And Haruhi seems to be bringing back the very first novel, as once again she’s recreating “Adam and Eve” and Kyon will have to kiss her out of it. (We don’t see that, of course.)
The rest of the volume is more plotless gag-oriented. There’s one last New Year’s dream story, mocking the fact that the cast has grown so large. One last beach episode, featuring Kyon and Sasaki’s gang (don’t worry, the Haruhi gang is out buying swimsuits and tormenting Mikuru). We do not see that picture of Haruhi as a sexy hot 30-year-old that had been floating around the Internet, but we do see college Haruhi looking pretty sexy. And then there’s that short story by the original author at the end, which in effect “fictionalizes” this gag comic, as Haruhi decides to make a gag manga of their lives, and finds someone to draw it… who Kyon and the others can’t actually track down. As a story it’s not much, but it is a sort of sweet thank you, and it’s nice to see that Tanigawa can still write SOMETHING.
Gag comics are not for everyone, and honestly at 12 volumes this one probably went on longer than it should have. But I usually found a great deal to enjoy as I read it – Puyo knows the series inside and out, and allows the characters to be exaggerated while never feeling out of character, even if they’re the butt of the joke. If you enjoyed the Haruhi franchise and want to delve into it one more time, the book makes a pretty decent wake… didn’t I write this before too?