Coming off my third rewatch of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime, I thought it’d be fun to rank every episode and give my thoughts on them. I’ve only ever seen the show in chronological order, so, for the most part, this is going to speak exclusively to that watch order. I’ve also only seen it dubbed as a whole. This is mostly a fun exercise and I’m sure my own opinions will change on a moment to moment basis.
28. Endless Eight VI
I think anyone can tell you that if there’s a worst episode of Haruhi Suzumiya, it’s in Endless Eight. I don’t know if most people would agree that it’s Endless Eight VI in particular, but across all 3 of my rewatches I watched Endless Eight through and found myself feeling like Endless Eight VI was the low point. Full disclosure, I love Endless Eight. I think it’s masterfully done with each episode the gang starts figuring things out moments and moments sooner. I will speak more to everything, so why is Endless Eight VI so bad? I think it’s the only moment in the arc that’s regressive. Coming off Endless Eight V it feels like we just took a step away from getting the solution. I’m sure one could agrue it’s to show how each loop isn’t as important or successful as the last, but I think that was already thoroughly conveyed through the skipping of loops. We weren’t being shown certain loops because they just weren’t as interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if VI and V were swapped somehow. So of all the Endless Eight episodes, this one stands out as the worst by far, and probably the only episode I’d say you could remove and Haruhi would be better.
27. Remote Island Syndrome (Part 1)
The most surprising thing on this list might be the bottom isn’t a dump of Endless Eight episodes, but honestly, the Remote Island Syndrome episodes are the low point of the series for me. They’re not bad by any means, but, compared to the rest of the series, I think it just falls flat. It might just be because I love murder mysteries and this one is (purposefully) flawed. The first episode I feel like is worse than the second by a small margin. I suppose it’s supposed to be character building moments, but I don’t actually see it. Haruhi doesn’t see major character development for any characters until much later in the series.
26-24. Endless Eight III, IV, and VI
Now I know I said I love Endless Eight, but even I have to admit that a large amount of people don’t. If you were to take out 1, 2, 3, etc. episodes from the show, even I’d probably pick a bunch of Endless Eight episodes first. I love these episodes, but in terms of overall impact they’re the smallest. The subtleties is what really makes this arc shine, but the offering of Haruhi episodes is so good that Endless Eight is left in the dust. Since we luckily don’t have to remove any episode, we’re good! These episodes do stand on their own the least even if I love the collection of episodes called Endless Eight.
23. Remote Island Syndrome (Part 2)
Of the two Remote Island Syndrome Episodes, I definitely like Part 2 a lot more. Who doesn’t love a good detective spewing out revelations moment, and Kyon and Haruhi’s acting was very fun. I do want to take a moment to complain about the biggest flaw to the mystery. The room shouldn’t have been locked. So Tamura apparently was woken up by the banging on the door and went to lock the room because he was afraid of his brother. The problem is they were only banging on the door because it was locked in the first place. Now obviously the murder didn’t actually happen and Koizumi could’ve just pretended the door was locked. My main issue with this is that when Kyon and Haruhi are revealing all the clues to show the murder mystery was just a game, no one mentioned it. It’s not a huge thing, but the episode already stands pretty low anyways.
22. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya II
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya II serves as the episodes that defines the initial state of Haruhi as a character. We learn this girl is wild and impulsive and totally willing to extort and abuse people for her own benefit. It’s might be crucial, as the computer actually serves a lot of plot necessity and the computer club shows up a lot, but also I still hate watching the blackmail scene each time. It’s uncomfortable, and that’s the point. It’s still uncomfortable though.
21. Mysterique Sign
Mysterique Sign stands out as the only episode in the entire show where the SOS Brigade performs club activities. We get another cool supernatural event that showcases Haruhi’s, Nagato’s, and Koizumi’s powers. The visual spectacle is exciting (for those who don’t mind giant camel crickets and scarabs). This is the kind of short story that works well to shape out the show. I do want to complain quickly about how in Chronological order, there’s a line that Kyon says that doesn’t really make sense. He comments about how Nagato isn’t really a person and is more of an “accessory to the room.” It’s one thing for Kyon’s snarky and apathetic inner monologue to say things like that even after The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, but having him say that directly after Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody feels really bad. Obviously Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody wouldn’t be produced until much later, and Nagato’s character development hasn’t really begun yet. It’s still something to note that sours Chronological order especially since overall that’s probably the better order for looking at Nagato as a character.
20. The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya
The necessary baseball episode of the series, The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya is probably among my least favorite baseball episodes. Maybe I’ll have to make that list someday. The point is I love baseball episodes, and this isn’t an exception. The stakes and tension surprisingly are done extremely well and the jokes are on point. It’s probably important to note this is the first showcase of Nagato’s powers in Broadcast order, and looking at it through that lens it’s definitely a good introduction. Overall it’s definitely a fun episode, but it doesn’t leave much of an impact in the show overall.
19-18. The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya I and II
It only feels natural to group these two episodes together because as a whole they serve as the inciting incidents of the Sighs arc. We learn in The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya I that the gang plans on making a movie and we watch them go collect equipment. Overall it’s the setup for what to come and it’s fun seeing everyone react to what their class is doing and doing a movie on top of that. The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya II is where we get the real inciting incident which is the abuse of Asahina by Haruhi. This moment sets the stage for how the arc will play out and the struggle for main cast to keep up with Haruhi’s outlandish selfishness. These episodes are very foundational, but still rather uneventful overall.
17. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya V
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya V introduces us to closed space and the shinjin. It’s definitely quiet a site to behold, but I think the eminent danger isn’t as impactful coming off seeing Asakura and Nagato’s fight. It’s still cool and we need to know about all this for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI to work as well as it does, but the episode is really just Koizumi talking to Kyon about theory in a taxi. I do love me some theory like I’ll hapily take more episodes that are just that, but it still doesn’t show as one of the greatest haruhi moments.
16. The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00
The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00 serves as fun payoff for the Sighs arc when watched in Chronological order. It’s fun to hear Kyon’s snarky narration/commentary and how he has to piece all the random bits and pieces together. It’s very satisfying that all their struggles paid off into something that’s enjoyable. Now I do want to talk a bit about Chronological vs Broadcast order for a bit. I haven’t and can’t see the show for the first time in Broadcast order, but for those who do, this serves as a basic introduction to the characters and how they work in season 1. Mikuru Asahina is a time traveler, but that’s not really important. Yuki Nagato is some sort of alien witch thing. Itsuki Koizumi is an esper but his powers don’t work until one very specific moment in the end. This comes across for me as more of a joke poking fun of the show itself. In the light novel, this chapter also comes after The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya, so I’m inclined that was the original intention. Kyoani saw an opportunity to use it to introduce the characters, and I really hope it worked.
15. Endless Eight I
Endless Eight I, without the arc that follows, I think still stands up as an above average romp. It’s really the peak of watching the characters we love have some fun, kind of like a better version of Remote Island Syndrome (Part 1). Now looking at it as foundation for Endless Eight, I think it also works really well. I know watching this I was like wow I want to do all that. It looks like they have more fun than any friend group could reasonably expect. It makes me want to take the most of any summer. So seeing all this and understanding that this wasn’t enough really helps to show how dire their situation is and just how high Haruhi’s expectations of Kyon are.
14. The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya V
The wrap up to the Sighs arc, The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya V is a nice wrap up to the shenanigans of the gang’s movie making endeavors. We get some more insight into how the side characters view Haruhi in terms of her role and powers and the conflicts that create within them. I do wish they were a little more external as we only get the characters each talking to Kyon rather than Asahina and Koizumi having direct conflict, but I suppose that need a lot more time to not destabilize the whole entire group. Setting up the framework for the future conflict is great, and one day I’ll read the light novels and see how it plays out. I do think that if there’s ever more anime adaptation that covers the conflict, this episode will shine even more since it acts as sort of a transition into episodes that don’t exist. The end of the episode shows Kyon explaining to Haruhi who in the group is who. The scene in and of itself is great, but I do wish it as a bit more clear that it happens after The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI and it’s what Kyon refers to as his fault in The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya II.
13. The Day of Sagittarius
The day of Sagittarius is a mixed bag of an episode. The gang focusing on playing a video game for a whole episode isn’t exactly the best setup and the computer club episodes tend to be the weakest offerings of the show. The episode also is very fun in how it goes the extra mile to make fun of big space battle anime. The visuals actually still hold up really well despite the large amount of old CG. This episode also serves as a crucial character moment for Nagato as she does multiple things on her own volition and makes choices solely because it’ll make her happy. These moments really help transition the show from Sighs into Disappearance. It brings focus back to Nagato and away from Haruhi, which makes sense as Haruhi is relatively absent from Disappearance. In terms of Haruhi, this episode can be read kind of both ways with it being regressive and progressive for her character. It seems weird coming after Live Alive that Haruhi would immediately offer up Nagato and Asahina as folly for a bet. At the same time, the fact that Haruhi wants to make the stakes even, is willing to give back the computer, and even offers up herself as well could show that she has grown as a person. People don’t change in a day and Haruhi likely would still be all conflicted over The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya IV and Live Alive. I can see either reading of Haruhi’s actions as valid, and it’s another thing where Broadcast vs Chronological order come into place. This Day of Sagittarius comes before any major character moments for Haruhi in Broadcast order, while it comes directly after them in Chronological. It’s possible the growth is there but it’s shown at a moment it doesn’t shine so that it fits in both orders.
12. Endless Eight II
I think for most people coming into the show not knowing the full extent of Endless Eight, Endless Eight II is such a great moment. The confusion into shock into intrigue all happens seamlessly. The reveal might stand out as one of my favorite moments; I really like time loop shenanigans. Overall technically this episode isn’t any better or worse than most of the others, but I think the fact that it’s the first makes a big impact. There’s a good reason people say to watch Endless Eight I, Endless Eight II, and Endless Eight VIII. Endless Eight II just works really well as the introduction to the arc and a starting place for the development to come.
11. The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya III
The tensions rise as mishaps happen as the gang continue to shoot their movie. Haruhi’s demands for the actors (Asahina) has gone past what reality can ask for and she shoots lasers from her eyes. The supernatural spillage from Haruhi is a great compliment to have the internal struggles that Kyon and Asahina take form and pull Koizumi and Nagato into the conflict. This episode really defines Sighs as an arc and justifies it’s existence. I definitely find Sighs to be the weakest among it, Melancholy, Disappearance, and Endless Eight, but The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya III still shows how the arc is still genius and stands alongside everything else.
10. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III
The big exposition dump of the seires, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya III is still fascinating. This episodes defines the three main side characters of the show, and it pulls it off really well. The main bulk is spent talking about Nagato and it’s show with all these interesting and dynamic angles and visuals. Koizumi and Mikuru get more of a small personal chat, but I think that helps establish their characters all really well. Nagato is this otherworldly presence with amazing powers. Koizumi is this knowledged man of mystery but is still ultimately human, and Asahina is really just another human who can happen to time travel. We also get the first brigade outing which already helps take Nagato a notch down from super computer to a person with wants and needs as she is glued to library books and needs help getting a library card. The dichotomy of the two sides of Nagato is extremely important as the series explores her character, and this episode is a great showcase of that.
9. Someday in the Rain
Someday in the Rain is a really interesting episode. It has no significant events occur and spends long stretches with us just watching Nagato reading while a radio faintly plays in the background. It might be my pretentious showing that I love this episode so much, but the atmosphere it creates is unmatched. It feels cozy. It winds down things from the rest of the series. It is the final episode for us Chronological Order watchers, and I think that’s where it works best. Haruhi is a story about high schoolers in a club having fun. The stakes are ginormous, but I think Someday in the Rain really helps ground the show to what it is at it’s core. It’s about Kyon, and it’s about Nagato. It’s about Haruhi, Koizumi, and Asahina. The outlandish journey the gang went on was second to the time they spent together. Heck, Haruhi only sees the show through the lens in this episode, since she’s none the wiser to the mishaps of the gang. While most shows ends with the huge climax, as Broadcast Order season 1 does, I honestly can’t imagine a better last episode. The somber note and cozy winter vibes say farewell to the series better than any big revelation. I also should speak to the episode as a setup for The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. I think the mood established in the episode carries over perfectly into the movie itself. It’s been a minute since the last big event took place and winter coming in with Christmas around the corner helps establish why Haruhi takes a backseat in the end since she’s preoccupied with something that’s very grounded in reality. It also shows great motivation as the nice calm environment established here is what Kyon hopes to return to, rather than if it came straight off of something like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI. I imagine this episode would be amoung the least liked if Endless Eight didn’t exist, but I think it serves the series extremely well.
8. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI
The climax of the series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI really delivers. Everything built up through the Melancholy arc comes to fruition in this episode where the stakes and drama run high. The visual spectacle is great and it really helps define the series moving forward. Putting the climax only 6 episodes into a show is a bold choice that’s not scene in Broadcast Order, and luckily I do think it pays off thanks to The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya delivering another high stakes climax later. Every single side story the gang goes on has this underlying tension that if they don’t handle things, this will happen again. I think it makes every episode that comes after it better, and that’s something a good episode does.
7. Live Alive
Live Alive stands a crucial character defining moment for Haruhi. Coming off the growth she saw in The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya IV, Haruhi both does something out of her usual character, helping people with no ulterior motive, and digests the feelings that came from it. It feels great after seeing Haruhi abuse her friends so much throughout the show actually learn from her mistakes. On top of Haruhi’s growth, this episode gave us two amazing bops and lots of other fun moments like Nagato telling actual futures or Koizumi preforming a solid 6/10 in his play.
6. The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya IV
I really can’t believe that one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows is focused on the main character almost assaulting a woman. If The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya VI is the climax in terms of worldly stakes, The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya is the climax in emotional stakes. Haruhi throughout the series has been more of a force of nature and less of a person, and the other characters really treater her as such. Kyon justifiably snapping over the drugging and abuse of Asahina is one of the first times she’s really shown how her actions are effecting those around her. Nagato, Asahina, and Koizumi really can’t do anything to stop her because they’re not allowed from their respective groups. Kyon is the only person who treats Haruhi as an equal, and even he generally holds back because of the unknown consequences. Kyon needed to snap at some point, and him doing it solely on behalf of Asahina who couldn’t for multiple reasons really fleshes out his character. Kyon always looked out for the others but never on such a scale where it was really a core part of his character. The fallout of this moment really helped ground Haruhi. We get to see her get into a slump as she contemplates her actions. From this moment on Haruhi starts caring about others starts to see the value in maintaining these interpersonal relationships. Without this episode the show as a whole really lacks the emotional development of Haruhi and Kyon. With it, we actually have fleshed out characters that we see and understand.
5. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV
For a lot of people, I imagine The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya IV is when the show turned from good to great. Asakura being a personable and very murderous version of Nagato is the kind of juicy juicy plot twist we all love. The battle between Asakura and Nagato is a huge highlight of the series as a whole. The visual spectacle and action are top notch. It’s great to see that all the stuff that the side characters were discussing is all true and we’re going to have to deal with it at some point. I do wish that the fight was the entire episode, or at the very least in the 2nd half. It’s a bit jarring to immediately put the breaks on and talk to the adult Asahina right after, but no matter what it’s still a true joy to watch.
4. Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody
Of all the side stories, none really capture the spirit of the Haruhi series quiet like Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody does. Throughout the show we keep hearing about this event that happened 3 years ago, and, while it’s implied that this isn’t the event, it’s super cool to go back to this and recolor the events of the series prior. We get to know a lot of Haruhi’s reasons for acting, like why she looks for time travelers, espers, and aliens but not sliders. This is also really the only Asahina related episode in regards to time travel. Koizumi and Nagato are prevalent throughout the Melancholy arc and other episodes, but Asahina is just a normal girl for the most part. It’s great to explore this essential part of her character. Seeing how the oddities of these events are then further fleshed out and paid off in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody is critical to the universe of Haruhi Suzumiya and make the episodes before and after it much better.
3. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I
It seems pretty evident that I tend to favor the climactic eventful episodes over the foundational one. So it’s surprising that I ended up putting the very first episode so high up. This episode establishes Kyon as a character through one of the best intro monologues ever. Kyon is an odd character because it takes the classic pervy, snarky, apathetic main guy and has him feel like a real person with good qualities and flaws that I want to follow. I love that he acts genuinely different around everyone he interacts with and yet he feels like one cohesive character thanks to his inner narration. If we weren’t introduced to Kyon through a monologue about how he’s antithetical to the events to come, I think he’d seem fragmented or incohesive. He acts the way he does because he’s both the opposite of Haruhi and jealous of her. This drives his main actions and then how he treats all the different characters results naturally from his motivation and outlook on the person. We become deeply intimate with Kyon’s way of thinking so it makes sense that he’s a good guy with Asahina, caring towards and dependent on Nagato, and both rude and chummy with Koizumi. All of Kyon’s great character comes from how well he was established in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I.
2. Endless Eight VIII
I’ve mentioned loving Endless Eight multiple times, and I think Endless Eight VIII ends the saga perfectly. I’m sure the relief of finally getting Endless Eight over with is huge plus for everyone who hates it, but as someone who loves it, I think the relief comes in just as strong. I love the way conversations we’ve heard every time about homework and how Kyon didn’t do it and doesn’t do it because time resets is the key to breaking free. The fact that the cicadas pay back the favor of being released despite Kyon really not expecting them to is both poetic and funny. Anytime Kyon gets a big monologue in an important moment is a huge plus for me. The way that we see so many Haruhis walk away at the end is one of my favorite shots in the whole show. The cinematography and animation is really what sells Endless Eight to me, and Endless Eight VIII shows it extremely well.
1. Endless Eight V
An episode of Endless Eight being the best episode of Haruhi? An episode of Endless Eight between III and VII being the best? Well Endless Eight V I think really shines as exactly what makes Endless Eight good. The ending sequence I think really drives in the monotonous horror of the situation. Watching Haruhi stand up to leave multiple times and just watching Kyon plop into bed while the camera spins like a ticking clock are both amazing moments and showcase the great cinematography of the arc. The subtle touch necessary to actually make Endless Eight work on any scale should not be overlooked, and it’s in full showcase in this episode. Going from Endless Eight II to III to IV to V you really can feel like the gang is getting closer and closer to solving the issue. They realize things faster and with more lucidity. Of all the middle episodes, Endless Eight V is the peak. People famously skip episodes III-VII and I definitely understand why, but I would tell anyone who doesn’t want to watch every episode to make sure V is one they hit. Endless Eight V showcases the struggles much better than any other, and I would even say it’s worth watching over Endless Eight II.
0. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Now I know The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya isn’t an episode, and that’s why it’s number zero. If the movie was split into 20 minute chunks though, I imagine I’d put every chunk at the top of the episode list. How can you talk about the Haruhi Suzumiya series without talking about the Disappearance arc. Granted I have talked about it multiple times, but it’s just so good. The emotions, the animation, the everything like agrhhhhhh I love it. It’s great how it gives payoff to Endless Eight and Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody in extremely satisfying ways with the recreation of the world and the solutions to fix it. The insight it gives into Nagato is amazing because she finally makes the full transition from computer to person. Honestly I think it’s fair to say the show as a whole is about Nagato rather than Haruhi. We also get the peak Kyon monologue with “Kyon’s Choice.” It’s great payoff towards all the character development Kyon received over the series. It’s quiet fitting that only Kyon’s snarky commentary making fun of himself can show how ironic his words were compared to his actions. The movie deserves way more than just a little blurb, but regardless it’s the best part of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime.