The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya / Vol 4 : 4 of 5
This final DVD contains the last three episodes of this anime, which are by far the best of the entire series! Finally I can start to understand why this series started such a fan phenomenon, since these episodes have something to offer not only in humor and fun animation, but even show some inner feelings that have often been hidden for the rest of the story. The first plot on the DVD covers the school arts festival (which ties in with the very first episode's home video by the SOS Brigade), with all the expected elements (such as Mikuru in a maid cafe), but then shows Haruhi and Yuki filling in for a rock band with some absent members. The concert is fantastic - not only is the music great, but the animation both of the guitar playing and drumming is totally realistic (possibly rotoscoped!). This scene really shows Haruhi experiencing true joy, and it finally made me like her character! Next we have a fun video game duel with the computer club, which takes place mostly in the fantasy world of the game itself. There are hilarious Star Blazers references, and even a polka-dotted space ship for Mikuru, and this story reveals a nice side to Yuki as well. The final episode is really amazing, since after so many frenetic plots and situations, it completely slows down and covers a lazy winter day in a completely touching way. There are even moments where the camera will stay in a long shot for a full minute, just observing Yuki reading or Kyon napping. It was so minimalist that I completely loved it! There's also a cool bonus feature of Aya Hinano touring the Kyoto Animation studio, and seeing all the animators hard at work is pretty fascinating. Even though it took a while to grow on me, I enjoyed Haruhi enough to hope for another season, and at least I now understand what all the buzz has been about!