For the uninitiated, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a 2006 anime light novel adaptation that took the anime community by storm. It was hugely popular, and spawned tons of conversation and memes, just like popular anime do today.
For the record, I wasn’t around for that part. I only watched and fell in love with Haruhi earlier this year.
But it was an incredibly popular and influential show – it’s even often credited for being the reason that we have so many light novel adaptations today.
Sadly, it has some incredibly complicated watch order shenanigans.
You see, when the show was released in 2006, they adapted the first few novels, but the strongest emotional arc comes only the first novel. The rest of the novels they adapted were more filler and fun stories.
So with a brilliant stroke of genius, Kyoto Animation created the first season of the show to be broadcast achronologically. The main six episodes that told the story arc “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” were split up so that the sixth episode of the arc, the one with the climax, would be broadcast as the 13th episode.
The show was paced around this decision, and led to a fun sense of mystery throughout the proceedings. Characters popped up before we were properly introduced, and some of the show’s supernatural concepts were referenced before the audience fully knew what was going on. It was a great time, and watching the show in its original broadcast order is definitely the best way to experience the first season.
But things were complicated by the release of season two.
When Kyoto Animation went to release the second season, they ran into trouble because some of the stories that they were adapting happened before some of the events of season one. This fact, combined with the achronological broadcast order of the first season meant that in order for them to broadcast season two and for it to make sense, it needed to be contextualized by season one.
So as they went to release season two, they broadcast alongside the entirety of season one in chronological order. The new episodes were simply slotted in wherever they fit into the plot.
While this works okay, it ruins the pacing and takes out lot of the mystery that made season one a lot of fun.
Right now, a lot of Haruhi fans will recommend you either watch the show start to finish in chronological order, or that you watch season one in its broadcast order then watch seasons one and two together in chronological order. That means that you’d watch a lot of the episodes twice, which isn’t bad for rewatches but it’s not ideal when you want to watch one after another.
But fear not, for I have a solution! There is another watch order that combines the pros of both other watch orders into one single order. I’m going to list it below, but please note that I did not come up with this. Here’s the link to the original reddit comment.
I’m using episode titles because it’s much easier to find the next episode you need to watch using them, rather than episode numbers.
- The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya II
- The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III
- Remote Island Syndrome I
- Mysterique Sign
- Remote Island Syndrome II
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV
- The Days of Sagittarius
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya V
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI
- Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody
- Endless Eight (I recommend watching three Endless Eight episodes. I, VIII, and whatever middle episode you want – it’s really not worth watching all eight unless you really really want to)
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya I
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya II
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya III
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya IV
- The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya V
- Live Alive
- Someday in the Rain
- The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (the movie)
This order gives you the better pacing and mystery from the broadcast order of season one, while allowing season one to flow easily into season two and negate the need for rewatching any episodes.
Like I said in the order, I don’t think Endless Eight is worth the full time investment unless you really want to experience it. It can be fun to look for the changes in animation and voice acting in each episode, but watching the same story unfold eight episodes in a row gets a little boring.
A lot of people say that it helps you understand Yuki’s action in the movie, but I think three episodes accomplishes the same effect without burning too much of your time – with the added benefit of not having any of the three episodes play out exactly the same.
Please watch Haruhi, it’s really an amazing show that deserves to be remembered in a good light and watched by more new anime fans who (like myself) got into the medium long after it aired originally.