Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya - Do KyoAni manage to redeem their selves?

I'm with Kyon, I'm not a glasses man either. Although Nagato still never fails to be cute.

From the start I knew this was going to be difficult for me to review and talk about, for a lot of us Haruhi fans we were let down by Season 2, it was bare on new material, and the Endless Night Arc was what really disappointed us, having an unforgiving amount of episodes repeating basically the same events.

The Disappearance of Suzimaya Haruhi was a story we were all hoping to be adapted, we didn't get but the at the end of Season 2 we found out instead we'd be getting a film of it. Some of us were very excited, others weren't happy, left pessimistic due to Season 2.

So the question being, does this film make up for Season 2's short comings? Is it the experience we all wanted? I can happily say with certainty, this film was everything we wanted.

It was an experience the anime would not be able to deliver, the anime was indeed a good one, but this film is the first time we really have such powerful, wonderful and beautiful moments in the Haruhi story. The story gets deeper, more complex, more wonderful and some of the characters start to evolve and develop.

The story places during December 17th until the 24th, a month after North High's cultural festival. On the 17th everything is normal, the SOS Brigade plans to have a party for Christmas, However the next day Kyon arrives at school to find everything has changed, different, Suzumiya Haruhi is no where to be seen. And Ryoko Asakura is now an ordinary student. Unfortunately for Kyon he's the only one who is aware of the change. Nagato is now an ordinary human, Mikuru doesn't know who he is either, The only clue he has is a bookmark left by our Alien Nagato, leading Kyon on a journey back in time whilst trying to sort out the odd mystery and return to his old time line

So far this truly unlike any of the other story's we've been introduced to, and it remains as one of the strongest so far

As far as my knowledge goes, the film does not appear to use any of the anime's soundtracks, although the film does use the first Season's OP music, which was quite welcomed if I'm honest.

With that said I'm glad the film didn't use any of the anime's soundtrack, it came with it's own, and one that truly added to the atmosphere and power to many of the scenes, I feel it's something the original soundtrack would not be able to live up to. Kyon's VA Tomokazu Sugita continues to do impressive work, the emotion and effort he puts into this translates to the audience strongly and easily, and he continues to be a character we can so easily relate to and like.

Since this a completely different world to the one we're use to, we get to see one of the usually quiet characters in a different light. Nagato although still having the passion for reading, is now a bit more open, and we see a wide array of emotions from her which is a wonder to see. She's all kinds of cute as she blushes, smiles, grabs onto Kyon's coat so he won't leave. It almost feels like this is the Nagato hidden deep inside our Alien Nagato.

A world without Haruhi and the others is surprisingly stressful on Kyon, when he's reunited with her you can't help but want to cheer a little, and despite the fact she has no idea who he is and although she isn't our old world god Haruhi, it's still essentially the Haruhi we all know. However these two share a common memory, something that forever links them together, the man John Smith who inspired her as a child. Otherwise known as Kyon's time travelling alias.

We get to see everything come together, it doesn't happen too slowly or too fast either, the film keeps a fine pace throughout till the end. We eventually get to the New Worlds group re-united, they may not all know each other right now, but it's still a joy to see them all in the same room together again.
However with the group re-united the old world's Nagato has presented Kyon with a difficult choice, he's given a chance to return to his old world, the crazy world that gives him so much grief, or this new normal world, one he has longed for. Despite this it is no difficult choice for Kyon, he would choose his own original world any day.

However here's where the story will get really fun for a Haruhi fan, as it starts getting strongly related to the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode, where we find out there was a lot more going on than we first thought. Not everything is back to normal for Kyon yet, but he's getting there.

After the older Asahina meets him again they both go to Nagato, where Kyon learns who is behind this world changing event, the person he least expected it to be, Nagato! He's obviously bewildered by the fact she will be and was driven to such a point. He now goes back to the time before the world changed, to witness where and when Nagato changes the world, and where she and everyone else is essentially re-born. It's here he will be able to fix everything.

Again the film manages to pull out another incredible scene, it truly is amazing how emotional it can be. For most of the series we've seen Nagato so dormant, so quiet, one could not imagine how troubling things were actually getting for her. She was tired from running around for Haruhi, saving everyone, and most likely having to sort out other things as well. Her changing the world was not due to any ill intention, the Alien Nagato says it was due to an error, one she cannot counter due to her not understanding how the error was triggered. But Kyon understands and knows what it is, it's no error of hers, no bug of hers, it's emotions developing within her.

As Kyon says, she was designed to be emotionless, so for emotions to start developing within her, she has indeed a very strong reaction to it. She was being relied on heavily by the others and especially Kyon, just leaving her to deal with everything, the immense pressure lead to Nagato wanting to change the world, she yearned for a normal world.

However we find out the reason as to why Kyon was the only one who's memory remained unaffected, this was because Nagato wanted to let Kyon make the choice.
However this not only builds on Nagato's character, but ends up building on Kyon's as well. He begins reflecting on everything that he's been through, all the incidents he's gone through due to Haruhi, he asks himself.. 'Don't you find such an extraordinary school life fun?'. This was a question he needed to ask himself, after being presented with such a normal world that he dreamed of having, he ended up choosing the world he appeared to loathe so much. The high-speed talks from an alien, the classified information from the cute second year time traveller, the too close in your face Esper, the bossy Haruhi with unfair demands and the countless affairs he's pushed into.
He realizes, that world he wanted, wasn't interesting at all. Despite everything he's been through, the many complaints he made, but it didn't matter, because of course he obviously found that world 'fun'

This is not only a very important part of the film but an important development for Kyon, we've had him moan and complain a lot since the series started, this usually lead to some funny narration, but it was important that he realized without Haruhi and the others, that world of his, he would not be happy at all. He appeared to not enjoy Haruhi's antic's, but it's obvious to him now, he was enjoying himself and having fun.

However before Kyon can set everything right though he has to use the injection like gun Nagato gave him, he must inject the restoration program into her after she has altered the world. However the crazed Asakura stops him with a knife to the stomach, it seems this time she managed to get him huh? It's quite a frightening scene, as this is the first time we've seen Kyon properly and badly injured, however the one who ends up saving him is himself, a future variant it seems along with the younger Asahina, the Asahina we all know. The future Kyon tells himself just to sleep and next thing we see is Kyon waking up in hospital.

He's back in his world, the time is right, the place is relatively right. But he's not in the hospital due to being stabbed, apparently he fell down the stairs and his head got a rather strong blow leading to a 3 day coma. Of course everyone was in panic (well except for Nagato retaining her level-headedness, which was what saved him.) Although Koizumi was the one Kyon waked up to see, it turns out Haruhi was in a sleeping bag the entire time beside Kyon's bed, it was quite clear she was the most worried about him, refusing to leave his side. It's small things like this that we see how much Haruhi must truly care for Kyon.

Kyon eventually gets to talk with his Nagato again, it appears her superiors will be delivering her a punishment, and her days with Kyon and the others are nearing it's end. However Kyon simply will not allow it, if Nagato is taken from him, he's ready to plunge the universe into hell if it means getting Nagato back. He realizes he is just an ordinary human with no special powers, but he's the only person who can convince Haruhi, with the simply name of 'John Smith'.

It's a very touching and beautiful scene, Kyon grips her hands tightly to show he won't let her to be taken from him and the others, and tell her superiors that he would tell Haruhi everything if Nagato is taken. Nagato sends the messages, and then utters a sentence we rarely hear, in fact I believe it may be the first time we've ever heard it. She says 'Thank you' to Kyon, a simple thing it's self, but for the lonely quiet alien Nagato, it's a big step.

At the end of the film everything is back to how it should be for Kyon, the world he knows so well and has grown so comfortable with. He realizes that he needs to go back in time to restore the world as he saw, but right now he decides it can wait, right now he simply wants to try some of Haruhi's special hot pot first, enjoying the world he has returned to and loved.

The credits roll but there is one small scene left, we see Nagato sitting in the library reading a book, she looks up to see a small boy and girl, the boy is getting a library card for her, just as Kyon once did the first time him and Nagato went to the library together. It's clear it's a memory that she keeps close to her heart, and a wonderful end to the film.

I went into this film not sure of what to expect, after Season 2 I was anxious to expect anything too good, but surely they couldn't mess this up. I'm glad to see they didn't, by the end of the film I was left with my mind blown and mentally exhausted from such an exhilarating story and adventure I witnessed. The animation was of course decent, and at times came through really beautiful, they clearly had no need to hold back. The music as I said was perfect in this film, it seemed to match my excitement and also made my excitement build at the same time, meaning there was no point in the film where you started to get bored.

And of course the story was brilliant, a more serious side to the Haruhi world that was very welcome, it helped some of the characters grow and evolve, and has expanded the story greatly. However this film made me left with a thirst for more, to continue seeing the adventures Haruhi and Kyon go through together, where your left just as excited as Kyon is to see what fun he has ahead of him, lets just hope we get a Season 3, because this is one story that I don't think I will ever be able to tear myself away from till it's end.

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