Release Teardowns

Release Teardown: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Ultimate Edition


Publisher: Funimation
Price: $149.98

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Haruhi Suzumiya made her début. The charming, albeit eccentric high school student and her SOS Brigade won over hearts and minds across the globe, as they sought out the mysteries of the universe. Whether she was hunting for time travelers and aliens, or just playing a game of baseball, fans couldn’t help but be drawn into her world.

Even today, Kyoto Animation’s classic is a favorite among fan circles, and the show’s most prominent scenes continue to be discussed fondly today.

Bandai Entertainment released the series on DVD in the mid 2000s, building up to the release with an elaborate marketing campaign, and offering each of the show’s four volumes as limited editions. Since Bandai’s closure, though, Haruhi had all but faded from the marketplace. In 2014, Funimation managed to acquire the license to both The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya along with spinoffs The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san. A year later, the company added The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan to its lineup.

But still, no news of a release.

Earlier this month, that all changed. Funimation shipped The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya/Haruhi-chan Suzumiya on Blu-Ray. For the uber fans, the company also released a limited Ultimate Edition of the show, which bundles all three titles into one $150 set.

We received our copy of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Ultimate Edition earlier this week. As we’re die-hard fans of the series (and suckers for fancy boxes), we couldn’t wait to grab the camera and give the set a full teardown.

Packshot - Overall
Packshot – Overall

Packaging

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s premium edition contains three Blu-Ray cases, each of which contains one of the three shows, as well as a decorative spacer box. The four items are shipped in a standard chipboard box. the spacer has roughly the same dimensions as the three Blu-Ray cases.

The front and back of the chipboard box feature Noizi Ito’s color character illustrations, set to a stylized red “H” on a white background. The front of the case features Haruhi, Nagato and Mikuru (in her maid outfit). The back shows off Tsuruya (also in her maid outfit), as well as Asakura. The top panel and spine are a bold red, with “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” presented in red. A silhouette of Haruhi, as well as the words “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” are presented as sky blue accents.

As this is a collection of three distinct releases, we’ll be dividing the rest of the teardown by show. Each of the three releases feature double-sided covers. We’ll be separating these into “Cover A” and “Cover B” segments.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Cover A

The front of Cover A features a key visual of Haruhi dragging Kyon along by his tie, set to the same “Red H” motif found on the chipboard box. The back cover features Mikuru in her “Battle Maid” costume set against the “Red H” background.

 

Cover B

the front of Cover B features Haruhi Suzumiya and Kyon, dressed in military uniforms. Kyon is facepalming, as Haruhi poses in a “venture onward!” gesture. The back cover features a shot of Yuki Nagato, as well as a listing of the special features.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Cover B
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Cover B
Discs

Each of the five discs features a Noizi Ito illustration of one of the major characters, set against the “Red H” background. The title, disc number, and episodes on-disc are presented above the character art. The characters presented include:

  • Disc 1: Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Disc 2: Yuki Nagato
  • Disc 3: Mikuru Asahina
  • Disc 4: Kyon
  • Disc 5: Itsuki Koizumi

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya/Nyoron Churuya-san

Cover A

The front of Cover A features the major cast members of The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san against the Red H background. Haruhi is the most prominent, with the largest presence and a smirk as she looks onward. Churuya takes the center, though, as she triumphantly hoists a block of smoked cheese.

The back of Cover A features another visual of the major cast members from both shows. This time, though, Yuki takes center stage with her karaoke mic and bunny headphones, not to mention a mini Asakura in a baby carrier.

Cover B

The front of Cover B features a shot from above of the casts from both The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san. This time, Asakura takes center stage, along with the sentient balloon dog. (Dont’ ask.)

The back of Cover B featues the major characters from both shows marching forth, beneath a list of on-disc extra features.

the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-ultimate-edition-teardown-031-20160924

Discs

The release includes a single Blu-Ray disc, which featues Haruhi, Yuki, and Mikuru set against the “Red H” background. The title, disc number, and episodes on-disc are presented above the character art.

the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-ultimate-edition-teardown-014-20160924

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

Cover A

The front of Cover A features an illustration of Yuki in her school uniform, with half of her face obscured by a book. The piece is set against a red “Y” on a white background. The back cover features an illustration of the two Yuki Nagatos, with one embracing the other from behind.

Cover B

the front of Cover B features Yuki Nagato in a yukata. The pattern of the yukata has been repolaced by exploding fireworks against an empty night sky. The piece is set against the “Red Y” background.

The back of Cover B features Yuki in a kimono, playing ping pong. Above Yuki’s image is a list of the on-disc extra features.

the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-ultimate-edition-teardown-018-20160924

Discs

The release includes two Blu-Ray discs, each of which features a key visual of Yuki, set to the “Red Y” background. The title, disc number, and episodes on-disc are presented above the character art.

the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-ultimate-edition-teardown-017-20160924

Physical Extras

A collection of nine art cards are included inside the spacer box. I use the term “card” loosely, as they are printed on a thicker gauge of paper, rather than cardstock. Also included in the box is a pamphlet, emblazoned with the SOS Brigade logo. This includes a full episode list, as well as a “viewing guide” for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that contains the episode orders for the following:

  • 2009 Rebroadcast Order (1-28)
  • Japanese DVD Order
  • Season 1 Broadcast Order (“Kyon”)
  • Season 1 Chronological Order (“Haruhi”)

On-Disc Extras

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

  • “Special Ending”
  • Textless Openings & Closings
  • US Trailer
  • Japanese Trailerse
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Making Of Featurettes
  • “New Mysterious Discoveries Journey” Featurettes
  • Location Scouting Featurettes
  • TV Commercial Collection
  • Retail Promo Videos
  • Promo Videos
  • Behind the Scenes of Aya Hirano’s Super Driver Music Video (8 Part Documentary)
  • Anime Expo 2007 “Guest of Honor” Intro – Aya Hirano, Yuko Goto, & Minori Chihara
  • Uncut United States DVD Launch Event Video
  • Nekoman Character Art Gallery
  • Broadcast Previews
  • Bandai Entertainment’s “Special Promo Video” for Lucky Star
  • Endless Eight Prologue – Summer – An Audio Slideshow

It’s actually pretty impressive to see that Funimation was able to acquire so many Bandai Entertainment extras, along with the original Japanese materials. The trailer for Lucky Star, which features the gang at a Haruhi themed café, is delightfully silly, and continues to be a great advertisment for the show, itself. Meanwhile, the DVD launch featurette and Anime Expo intros are welcome bits of nostalgia that could have easily been lost to the sands of time.

Noting that, though, the omission of the original “Adventures of the ASOS Brigade” videos definitely leads a small void in the release. For those first hearing about the ASOS Bigade, Bandai Entertainment made a major marketing push for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. They launched a sub-brand, “Haruhi-ism” that was dedicated to promoting Kyoto Animation’s modern classic. Possibly the biggest push, though, was the formation of the “ASOS Brigade,” a trio of live-action actors who filled the roles of Haruhi, Mikuru, and Yuki:

  • Haruhi: Patricia Ja Lee
  • Mikuru: Haruka Inoue
  • Yuki: Akiyo Yamamoto

The group produced several shorts, which were used to promote the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD releases in the west.

In 2010, a second round of videos was produced to promote the upcoming release of the show’s second season. The ASOS Brigade members were recast, but the overall tone remained the same. The new cast members included:

  • Haruhi: Cristina Vee
  • Mikuru: Karrie Shirou
  • Yuki: Gina Lee (episode 1) / Alice

To be honest, this is a fairly minor omission, only really noticed by the completeness of the other materials.

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya/Nyoron Churuya-san

  • “How about Oniguchi” shorts collection
  • TV Spots
  • Retail Promo Video
  • Textless Intros and Endings
  • Trailers

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

  • OVA Episode: “I Cannot Let Summer Break End”
  • Textless Openings & Closings
  • TV Spot Collection
  • DVD Promo Video
  • US Trailer

Menu Structure

Each of the three releases follows a similar format. The main menu components are arranged as static text items, with black text on a white background. An H-shaped (or “Y” shaped in Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s case) cursor is used to highlight the menu items. Submenus appear as a white overlay text box set on the right side of the screen.

In The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, the main menu uses a static piece of key art. For The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the main menu uses a collection of video clips, set to a musical piece.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-bd-menu-001-20160924 the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-bd-menu-003-20160924 the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-bd-menu-002-20160924

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya/Nyoron Churuya-san

the-melancholy-of-haruhi-chan-suzumiya-bd-menu-001-20160924 the-melancholy-of-haruhi-chan-suzumiya-bd-menu-002-20160924 the-melancholy-of-haruhi-chan-suzumiya-bd-menu-003-20160924

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

the-disappearance-of-nagato-yuki-chan-menu-001-20160924 the-disappearance-of-nagato-yuki-chan-menu-002-20160924 the-disappearance-of-nagato-yuki-chan-menu-003-20160924

Video Quality

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya/Nyoron Churuya-san

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

Overall

No matter how you slice it, this is a set that won’t make Mikuru cry.

I said won’t make Mikuru cry! The set packs in an astounding 21 hours of content across the three shows, along with seven full hours of extra content. At a “dollars per episode” cost, this is a criminally low $3.40 per episode, if we don’t include the The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoron Churuya-san. Factoring them in (let’s say that’s about three episodes’ worth), the ratio drops to $3.19.

The overall presentation is simple, straight-forward, and attractive. The “Red H” motif is wonderfully minimalistic, and draws the viewer’s eye to the gorgeous artwork on the cases and box. The chipboard box itself is sturdy, and the inclusion of real Blu-Ray cases is an absolute godsend. The physical extras are a bit dinky, but they’re far from the main attraction. Fans of on-disc bonus features, though, will be in heaven. With documentaries, “making of” featurettes, and even a healthy dose of Bandai Entertainment’s marketing materials making it into the set. While it’s a shame that “The Adventures of the ASOS Brigade” couldn’t make it into the final cut, it’s a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.

The menus are beautifully minimalistic. They’re straight-forward and fast, with zero clutter. Video of each show is fantastic, with excellent color representation, and no obvious defects like crushed blacks or aliasing. The audio is crystal clear on both tracks.

Basically, Funimation’s release of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Ultimate Edition should be a no-brainer for any fan of the franchise.

About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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