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When I watched The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya on DVD, the episodes were shown out of order. It was somewhat funny, since in the previews, Haruhi and Kyon argue about which episode number comes next, but other than that, I didn't see the point of it. It didn't have interwoven plot threads, or any in-universe reason to be shown out of order. It looks like in other releases, the episodes were arranged in chronological order, so it must not have been essential to the viewing of the series.

Put simply: Why did The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya have a version that was not in chronological order?

18

As far as I can tell (and admittedly this is a bit speculative), the reason was to spread out the plot to avoid having the second half be entirely episodic. The creators knew that the main plot (episodes 1-6 in chronological order) would not take a full season (14 episodes), but the next major storyline was not for a while, so they had to insert some episodic content. However, these 6 episodes don't leave much room for breaks, and equally importantly they would rather use canon content from the light novels than make up their own.

So the creators used content from future light novels. This let them intersperse the plot with the episodic material. The 6 plot-related episodes are all in order among themselves, and the others are placed in whatever order the director thought was best (e.g. in terms of character development).

I'm looking for something official to confirm this, but I've had no luck so far. Barring that, this seems to be at least the prevailing opinion of most people on the internet.

  • This makes sense but what is the real order of the episodes then????? – user3165 Dec 30 '13 at 18:41
  • @person chirale's answer has that information, as does wikipedia – Logan M Dec 31 '13 at 0:59
  • +1, but also, the stories in the light novels were often out of chronological order too. Sometimes it was a publication artifact (The Boredom preceding The Sigh), but The Rampage and The Wavering jump all over the place. I think the animators wanted to preserve that quirk of the series. – Torisuda Jul 13 '14 at 18:17
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According to asosbrigade.com, the ASOS Brigade site run by Bandai:

The Regular Edition DVDs contain the exact same episode order as released in Japan on the R2 DVDs. [...] Due to pre-existing contractual obligations, the regular edition MUST contain the R2 DVD ordering of episodes. This was set in stone, there were no exceptions. [...] After deeply intense negotiations to try and please the existing fan-base, we are able to release a Special Bonus DVD in the TV Broadcast order as an extra.

According to a DVD 1 review by ANN (May 31st, 2007):

Another oddity came in the fourth broadcast episode, which originally jumped ahead to episode 7. This DVD release does not do this, however, instead opting to release the episodes in chronological rather than the scrambled broadcast order

According to the episodes list on ANN, the broadcast order against chronological order is:

Broadcast       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14
Chronological  11  1  2  7  3  9  8 10 14  4 13 12  5  6

This order is reported in the episodes list on Wikipedia as well, with DVD release following the chronological order with the only exception being the first episode.

asosbrigade.com reports the chronological order (C) as Haruhi's order, and the broadcast, "scrambled" order as Kyon's order (B). The Regular Edition DVD order is Haruhi's order, with the exception of the first episode.

Regular edition was and ever was in the right order because of "contractual obligation": Region 2 DVD (Japan) must apparently have the same content of Region 1 DVD (USA). Bandai was pressured by fans to release the "scrambled" version.

Why did they have to, back in 2006-2007? From here on, speculations: because fanbase watched the fansubbed version from the broadcast (2006-04-02 ~ 2006-07-02) and ask for that order. I cannot find evidence of requests by fans to do so, so we have to trust Bandai's words in the meanwhile.

5

Good question!

As far as I can tell, the broadcast was released in that order to improve the flow of the season's episodes, best establish the relationship between Haruhi and Kyon, and to best appeal to Haruhi's existing fanbase. This ties in with Logan M's entirely correct point about spreading out the plot.

The broadcast begins with The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina, which I believe was a fan-favorite storyline, to both satisfy fans and establish the weirdness of the Haruhi universe. The broadcast then leaps backwards in time to begin the story proper.

The rest of the episodes build the relationship between Haruhi and Kyon, culminating in Kyon's realization about Haruhi's first act of selflessness, just after the school festival.

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