Reviewby Michelle Yu, Jan 31st 2012
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
On December 17th, Kyon's life was abnormal: he spent his free time with an alien robot (Yuki), a time traveller (Mikuru), and an ESPer (Koizumi), trying to keep a headstrong classmate (the eponymous Haruhi) entertained so that she wouldn't unintentionally destroy the world. On December 18th, Kyon's life becomes... normal. Haruhi has disappeared as if she never attended their high school. Yuki is now a shy bookworm, Mikuru has lost all memory of Kyon, Koizumi is nowhere to be found, and only Kyon can see that things have changed. Now he has to decide whether he'll fix it or not.
When people are confronted with something that is too good to be true, it probably is. But for Kyon, an unexpected break from his chaotic everyday life appears to be more than just true- it is almost like a new reality.
Fans of the infamous anime featuring Haruhi Suzumiya know it as an adventure-comedy-fantasy series with a hint of romance. This feature-length release however incorporates a great deal more mystery than the series has done thus far. After all, when the star of the show is nowhere to be found and the world is not as it was the day before, the logical next-step is to find some answers to the conundrum.
This apparent shift in genres is done well, with the seemingly out-of-character cast balanced by Kyon, who appears to be the only one who has remained unchanged. In line with the series thus far, the plot focuses largely on Kyon as the hero and narrator; but to a greater extent as it seems to portray Kyon in a much more introspective manner. As the feature follows on from the anime series, it is important to note that the script has remained consistent with preceding events in the series' universe even though the events take a large turn away from the ‘usual’. The writing deserves commendation as such changes in the characterisation and plot could have easily missed the mark in the writers' attempt to try something new.
In keeping with the mix of new and old (among other contradictions) in the feature, the opening theme is an old favourite among fans from earlier in the Haruhi anime series- the upbeat “Bouken Desho Desho?” which contrasts greatly with the Japanese-folk-style ending theme “Yasashii Boukyaku” which is sung in acapella and is much more mellow. For me this was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise.
In comparison with earlier incarnations of the anime series, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya showcases a noticeable improvement in animation, which is also sharpened in the high-definition Blu-Ray release. The fluidity of the animation coupled with the consistently good art makes for pleasant viewing- as it should, considering the feature is more than two-and-a-half hours in length. The Blu-Ray release also includes a healthy dose of extras in the form of a bonus disc of special features which include trailers, behind-the-scenes footage, and footage of special events.
Overall there is little to dislike in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. The characters are likeable, the soundtrack is good and it is all pleasing to the eye. The only possible negative point is that it requires some prior knowledge of the events in the anime series, as the plot does not dwell on past events in a way that could be meaningfully explained to the viewer. Thus it is highly recommended that viewers who are new to the Haruhi franchise begin by watching the first and second seasons of the The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya before tackling this feature. Otherwise, this is likely to be a guaranteed hit for fans of the series.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Beautiful animation and entertaining plot.
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