The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a really interesting anime film that was released in Japanese theaters earlier in the year. One thing I have noticed, is that the fans who follow the series are extremely passionate about the product and the animators going into this film had a lot of making up to do since they were under a heavy microscope after botching season two. I am happy to report, that even as a non-avid series follower, this is a fitting conclusion to the two seasons of “Haruhi” leading into it. Our story opens on December 17th. Haruhi’s S.O.S. Brigade is preparing for their Christmas party.
Then the next day, she’s myseteriously vanished! Nobody at school recognizes Haruhi’s name. In her place is Asakura, who was killed in the series. Out of nowhere, Asakura jumps out and knifes Kyon. Seriously, this replacement girl is weirder than Lady Gaga on Halloween. She dances around in a shower of blood, among other off the wall things. The meat and potatoes of the plotline will have to be examined closer if you are a fan of the series, but as a stand alone movie you might go in a bit lost. Especially since the running time is close to 3 horus in length. The feature is based upon the novel of the same name, and plays it quite close to the source, but there is plenty of confusion to be had if you don’t pay close attention to details.
The humor that riddles the series is in full swing here and it doesn’t miss a beat. Take into account, that Kyon has somehow found himself in a world where Haruhi has vanished, you can imagine what kind of crazy things will conjure up. Due to its crazy running time, it allows the film to progress patiently at its own leisure. This is especially effective in many of the more silent moments, as the movie shows exactly what Haruhi means to Kyon. But after the first act it just drags way too long to get to where we all know its going to go. Don’t let the moe characters discourage you. Just don’t raise your expectations and the rest of the franchise after watching.
Kyoto Animation could have easily dialed down the atmosphere, sure, that is a given, but I was entertained enough to ignore the gaps in understanding. The film ends not as I thought it would and it doesn’t take a rocket scientest to attest this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a damn fine effort. It is just sad to report that the alternate world was so much colder. Without Haruhi, the beam of joy and uniqueness, the world became more boring than ever. I guess that means the characters had a direct impact on me, which is definitely a plus. This was worth the long journey, and I recommend all otaku’s out there to track this film down. I appreciate this film and animation studio, and the feeling is recipricated as at the end of the credits you see, in English no less, “Special Thanks to All Fans”. Nice touch!