[Let’s Talk: Anime] Throwback Thursday Dub- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since Haruhi Suzumiya was first released. When the show was brought stateside, it was a phenomenon. Fans instantly gravitated to the hyper active otaku and her search for aliens, time travelers and espers. From time loops to alternate dimensions, there was certainly never a dull day when Haruhi was around.

Even today, the show holds a special place in the hearts of fans. Something about it makes fans want to revisit Haruhi and the SOS brigade, the club that she forms, over and over again. But what is it about this ragtag group that keeps anime audiences even years later?

For many, it’s the absolutely stellar English cast.

haruhi2Leading this group of incredible talent is the legendary Crispin Freeman as Haruhi’s classmate/unwilling accomplice Kyon. Since Kyon is the narrator of the story, most of his dialogue is delivered via voice over or internal monologue.This required a lot of skill on Freeman’s part to be able to, not only keep the audience engaged while they watch, but essentially act as the voice of the reason while he watches Haruhi’s antics. What’s great about his performance is that his portrayal of Kyon never comes off as uptight or prudish. If anything, he’s the best part of the entire dub. Kyon is a character who is incredibly humorous since most of his dialogue is internal and Freeman

The rest of the cast does an equally impressive job, which is difficult to do with such a small cast. Each actor does an incredible job of highlighting their character even though the characters themselves could be considered typical anime tropes incarnate. But again, it’s Kyon’s interactions with them that accentuates their personalities and allows them to reveal their secrets. The actors all have great chemistry together, which is where the dub gets its strength. It keeps the viewer engaged to see what twists and turns are to come for the SOS Brigade.

If there was anything about the dub that could be considered a weakness, it would be the the-melancholy-of-haruhi-suzumiya-3performance of Haruhi herself. Wendee Lee is an accomplished actor and her portrayal of Haruhi isn’t bad. But, when put up against the members of the SOS Brigade, this is the weakest performance. It’s difficult to pin down what exactly it is about Lee’s performance that doesn’t quite resonate the way it should. Perhaps it’s the somewhat lack of certain energy or the fact that Haruhi is hardly in the show so Lee gets a little lost among the other actors. Against, her performance isn’t bad but it doesn’t stick the way the others do.

This dub is still enjoyable to come back to even years later. With a cast of actors that have become household names over the past several years, there is still something to enjoy after all this time. Even the weakest performance is still good when compared to some of the other older dubs. For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to check it out, The Melancholy of Hauhi Suzumiya is certainly worth a look.

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