The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Special Edition DVD Volume 2 (review)

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UPDATE (29 September 2007): My review of Volume 3 has just been published. Click here.

Now that I’ve sobered up from the effects of Saturday’s Tanabata-related excitement, it’s time to put my feet back on the ground and dish up another piping-hot review. Today the spotlight falls on Volume 2 of Kadokawa/Bandai’s special edition Region 1 Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu DVD series.

Oh, and if you’re one of the fans who complained about the chronological ordering of the episodes for the DVD release, I think you’ll find the section on the bonus disc in this review particularly interesting.

As usual, the pictures aren’t worth the pixels they’re made up of. But until such time as I can afford to invest in a new camera – or better yet, until my parents decide to buy one and I borrow it at no expense to myself – I’m afraid these less-than-perfect images will have to do.

Like my article on the first volume, this is a product-centred review, which means that I will not directly comment upon the story, original art direction, screenplay, voice acting, etc. Familiarity with the Suzumiya Haruhi series is assumed on the part of the reader and no spoiler warnings will be given (although, as a product-centred review, I think this post is pretty much spoiler-free). If you’d like to learn more about the series/story (rather than the physical product), please visit the first part of my Volume 1 review for links to sites with additional information.

Since I’ve dealt with some of the major/recurring issues (e.g. episode order, additional/edited scenes, series artbox) in my review of Volume 1, this article is somewhat shorter than the first. Now that the text of the review can comfortably fit in a single post, I have decided to dispense with the previous two-part format.

SPECIAL EDITION PACKAGING

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The DVD and the various bonus items are packed in a box made of thin cardboard, with images on two sides. It’s neither as sturdy nor as attractive as the fancy artbox Volume 1 was shipped out in, but that’s only to be expected since the first box is meant to hold the entire DVD/CD collection. In fact, I half expected them to send me the second volume shrink-wrapped in clear plastic or stuffed in a plain white carton, so the illustrated box that they ended up using was a pleasant surprise – not least because the pictures actually make it suitable for shelf display.

One side features the same Itou Noiji drawing used on the special edition DVD jacket (shown below). The other side (shown above) bears the flashy anime-style scene used for the regular edition DVD.

DVD PACKAGING

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The Mikuru portrait used for the special edition DVD jacket was originally created for the third volume – fourth if you count Volume 00 – of the Japanese DVD series. (The second special edition Japanese DVD featured Asakura Ryouko.) As with Volume 1, the cover illustration was done by Itou Noiji in the same style she employed for Tanigawa Nagaru’s Suzumiya Haruhi light novels. The regular edition DVD jacket is nearly identical to the one used for the second Japanese DVD.

MAIN DVD CONTENTS

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The main DVD of Volume 2 (it’s the one on the left in the picture above) contains the following episodes:

  • Episode 4 (tenth in the broadcast order)
  • Episode 5 (thirteenth in the broadcast order)
  • Episode 6 (fourteenth in the broadcast order)
  • Episode 7 (fourth in the broadcast order)
  • Set-up options are as follows:

  • Audio – English 5.1, Japanese 2.0, English 2.0
  • Subtitles – English, None
  • True to form, this DVD is packed with tons of special features. The highlights of the extras list are probably the two “Making of Haruhi” episodes (numbers 3 and 4 in this case – the first two were included in Volume 1), which have Japanese soundtracks accompanied by English subtitles. There’s more Hirano Aya fun in number 3, which documents a recording session for Lost My Music; Suzumiya Haruhi’s playful young seiyuu showers the viewer with a deluge of cute (mainly through her unnaturally childlike voice). Number 4 shows the three leading female seiyuu – Hirano Aya, Chihara Minori (Nagato) and Gotou Yuuko (Asahina) – together for a photo shoot on an urban school campus. Watching them draw NekoMen on the chalkboards and generally playing around (don’t miss Gotou-san’s rendition of the Episode 00 opening theme on a music-room piano) was a real delight.

    Here’s the complete list of Volume 2’s special features:

  • Textless opening/ending
  • Nekoman gallery #1/2
  • Making of Haruhi #03/04
  • TV preview #5/6/7/8
  • The Adventures of the ASOS Brigade Episode 005/003/0013
  • Trailers – Scrapped Princess, The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye, Eureka Seven, .hack//Roots
  • Credits
  • For information on new/altered scenes (in Japanese only – but don’t worry, there are plenty of screencaps), visit this blog page.

    SPECIAL EDITION BONUS DVD CONTENTS

    As promised (click here for details), Kadokawa/Bandai have included a bonus DVD containing the first five episodes in the original broadcast order. The dialogue is in Japanese (English subtitles are provided); the English dub is available only for the chronologically arranged episodes on the main disc. Please keep in mind that the bonus DVD is available only with the special edition of Volume 2; the regular edition just has the main disc.

    If it weren’t for the many extras included with the main DVD, I’d say the extra disc is actually the crown jewel of the Volume 2 release – and not just because I loved the broadcast order. For one thing, the episodes on this disc (if the subtitles are turned off) are effectively raws; the opening/ending credits and the main title are all in Japanese (as opposed to the reformatted English credits/title used on the chronological order episodes). The original next-episode previews have also been retained, and I’m sure even those who prefer the new ordering will agree that the old previews are better than the bland versions used on the main disc. What’s more, these aren’t simply DVD copies of the episodes as originally broadcast for television – these are the high-quality Japanese DVD masters, complete with alterations and previously unseen footage. The official statement says it best:

    For the Special Bonus DVD, we are taking the Japanese DVD masters, arranging them in TV Broadcast order, and putting in the next episode previews in TV Broadcast order. This creates a DVD master version of the TV Broadcast ordering that does not exist anywhere else in the world. [boldface added for emphasis]

    In this way, we’re actually better off than the ones who chose to acquire the original Japan DVDs. Purchasers of the North American special edition DVDs can now watch the series in broadcast order (complete with restored next-episode previews) and still enjoy the improved quality and numerous corrections/ additions of the DVD masters.

    The next five broadcast-order episodes will be recorded on the bonus disc of special edition Volume 3, while the remaining episodes will ship with special edition Volume 4.

    SPECIAL EDITION EXTRAS

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    The second volume comes loaded with juicy extras. Standing head and shoulders above the rest, of course, is yet another CD: this time featuring the full version of the anime’s opening theme, Bouken Desho Desho?. Like the Hare Hare Yukai CD that was sold with Volume 1, this disc contains four tracks:

  • 1: Bouken Desho Desho?
  • 2: Kazeyomi Ribbon
  • 3: Bouken Desho Desho? (karaoke version)
  • 4: Kazeyomi Ribbon (karaoke version)
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    The colourful CD insert contains the lyrics of both songs in romanised Japanese (with English translations).

    Moving on to the other extras, we have the perfect companion to the Haruhi ribbon from Volume 1: a full-sized reproduction of the SOS Dan leader’s infamous red armband (shown below).

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    I suppose it’s too much to ask for the manufacturers to send us a full-sized replica of her North High seifuku with the next volume . . .

    Anyway, the next item on our list is a Suzumiya Haruhi iron-on.

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    And here’s the last item in the box, a shitajiki showing the SOS Dan ladies frolicking on the beach.

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    OVERALL IMPRESSION

    Kadokawa/Bandai have exceeded my expectations yet again with this fine follow-up to their successful Volume 1 DVD release. They’ve set the bar high in terms of production quality and Volume 2 comfortably leaps over the old benchmark with its features-rich main DVD. Then there’s the extra DVD. The bonus disc is, of course, the best treat a die-hard fan of the skewed broadcast order could possibly hope for, and a welcome sign that the major anime production outfits are keeping their ears open to the wishes of the community at large.

    Final verdict on Volume 2: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

    UPDATE (29 September 2007): My review of Volume 3 has just been published. Click here.

    6 Responses

    1. […] Thursday, July 5th, 2007 in DVDs and CDs, Suzumiya Haruhi, Anime UPDATE (08 July 2007): The full review for Volume 2 has just been published. Click here. […]

    2. […] UPDATE (08 July 2007): The review for Volume 2 has just been published. Click here. […]

    3. so its true eh? 2nd season coming 🙂 oohhhhh so happy ^^

    4. Hmm… I wonder if there are any store in Malaysia sell this item?

    5. […] the sake of readers who haven’t read my review of Volume 2, I’ll quote a paragraph from that article that still applies to the contents of this one. […]

    6. […] TO REVIEWS OF EARLIER VOLUMES Volume 1, Part 1 Volume 1, Part 2 Volume 2 Volume […]

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