On December 18, Kyon finds that several traces of the SOS Brigade have mysteriously disappeared from his life. Mikuru and Yuki do not seem to recall meeting him, and Haruhi and Itsuki do ...
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On December 18, Kyon finds that several traces of the SOS Brigade have mysteriously disappeared from his life. Mikuru and Yuki do not seem to recall meeting him, and Haruhi and Itsuki do not attend North High School. In addition, all the former Brigade members have become normal people. Eventually, Kyon receives a message from Yuki's alien counterpart asking him to gather keys for a program that could return him to his own reality. This starts Kyon on a journey that eventually leads him back to the night Haruhi first became interested in meeting aliens, time travelers, and espers.Written by
First of all, this review comes from a person who hasn't seen the televised Haruhi series. I've read the light novels but I never got around to watching any of the anime for whatever reason. I recently purchased The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya from a used DVD store for a couple bucks which is probably the only reason I'll have ever watched this film.
One word to summarize my experience with Disappearance is "daunting". At 164 minutes, nearly three hours, this is the longest anime film I've ever sat through. Typically a movie that long, for me, requires two sittings unless I'm really into it. I watched Disappearance in one night, in one sitting, and I don't want to completely attest it to me being engaged because there were a lot of parts that I found boring.
The story is that one day series protagonist Kyon wakes up and everyone he knows is different. The stoic alien Nagato is now a shy, emotive girl. Time traveling Asahina Mikuru is the same but doesn't recognize him. And most of all, Haruhi Suzumiya isn't at Kyon's school any longer and attends a private academy. Why is the world this way and can Kyon return to his own reality? The story section is where the runtime becomes a problem. If I were to speed-read the light novel this is based on, I'd probably come out of the novel a half hour sooner than I would the film. The biggest problem with Disappearance is how much fluff I felt was attached. I had the distinct impression I was watching an uncut version of the film, one where an editor or the director didn't take the time to remove the extraneous scenes. It takes nearly a half an hour just to get to the actual story, the majority of the beginning of the movie is spent with slice-of-life and comedy bits that are good for introducing the characters to a new audience and giving a sense of comradeship, but nothing more really. Given the fact that the Christmas celebration isn't the focus of the finale and hardly plays into the story other than some minor motivation for Kyon, it's strange that the movie focuses so much on the minutiae of it all. Half the introductory scenes could have been cut.
The middle of the film drags as well though. There are quite a few scenes of nothing happening that are well directed and animated, sure, and also sometimes gives a glimpse into the character and his/her thoughts but I can't help but feel that much of it was pointless. While I was engaged in the mystery of what was happening and I do love the characters I was pulling my hair out at points wondering why in God's name certain scenes were drug out or even included in the final product.
The ending is abrupt. Like, really abrupt. It comes out of nowhere and doesn't feel satisfactory for the two plus hours you've had to trudge through to get to that point. And it leads to twenty-ish minutes of a conclusion that, again, is extended way beyond what it should have been.
This movie could have been two hours easily.
The animation and sound design are fantastic though. I love Kyo-Ani's animation and they're at the top of their game here. Everyone looks like human/bug hybrids but how can you not love those smug faces and want to protect those glowing smiles? The lack of music in certain scenes is a nice touch, it feels like the director understood using music for drama and not to fill dead air.
I feel that descriptions and analysis of Haruhi characters have been done to death so I'll slide by this. I love Haruhi as a character and I love the cast. I've spent years reading the light novels and some of the manga, they've been part of my anime conscience for nearly a decade. I don't feel that this movie had a lot of good development though alternate reality Nagato is amazing and I'm sad they bastardized her with that abomination of a spin-off. Nonetheless, memorable characters. Maybe not so much if you're just taking the film on its own, but definitely in the grand scheme of the franchise.
Disappearance isn't a bad movie in the least and has a lot of great merits. Everything about it screams quality but the amount of fluff and padding really weighs down what would otherwise have been an extremely worthwhile adventure. As it stands, I'd still recommend it but with the caveat that it may be best enjoyed in portions.
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