Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu – 03

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By formally introducing the main character of the Haruhi franchise in just the third episode of a spin-off starring a meek bookworm, Nagato Yuki-kun seems to be issuing a challenge—to itself—can Yuki hold her ground when a charm factory like Hirano Aya’s Haruhi crashes her show, or will she disappear, as the title suggests?

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I would imagine most of the audience turned off by all the show’s changes have already checked out (unless they’re hate-watching). Now it’s up to the show to deliver for the cautiously optimistic viewers who stuck around to see where they’re going with this.

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In terms of Yuki being replaced as the protagonist, that isn’t going to happen, nor would I want it to: Haruhi is a supporting character who just happens to steal every scene she’s in with her charisma, and instant chemistry with Kyon. Their half-hostile, half-flirtatious sparring on display here is nothing new for veterans of the franchise. And listening to two true pros at work in Hirano and Sugita is always a pleasure in and of itself.

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As it has every episode thus far, the show doesn’t forget to give Yuki and Kyon a romantic moment or two to keep their romantic potential active. Here, Yuki gives Kyon an extra-formal thank you for helping her this year, and then prays at the shrine for the courage to tell him her feelings—her real feelings, not the word salad she dropped on Haruhi and Kyon in that cafe.

That being said, I loved how her melon soda refilled when she realized she could call Kyon a friend without anyone thinking it’s weird.

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The new year brings with it more Haruhi, and when she infiltrates North High with her transfer student pet Koizumi Itsuki (who doesn’t appear to be an esper) and moves right in, getting Yuki to agree to make them members and make her Executive President. In an odd moment, it seems like Haruhi heard Kyon’s inner monologue. Was that just an easter egg, or a sign things could get more supernatural?

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That’s going to be another big question: assuming Nagato will still have the greater share of screen time as the official protagonist, how much will the people Haruhi has amassed change? Does she have the same godlike power to make her delusions reality she possessed in the original series? Did the show start out like a conventional, non-supernatural rom-com as a feint?

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I’m skeptical of that. I see this Haruhi as no more a god here than Yuki is an alien or Asahina a future-girl. I’m not saying there’s no way they’ll become those things under extended exposure to Haruhi, but I doubt it. The challenge remains, the lit club is now much louder and livelier (the whole cast does a great job creating the aural chaos of such a club), and Yuki must become louder and more aggressive in order not to be left in the dust.

The good news is, Nagato doesn’t need to grow her hair long enough to put it in a ponytail…though if she really wants to, Kyon won’t stop her.

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Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu (Retro Review)

Originally posted 19 Dec 2010 – We’ve been fans of Haruhi Suzumiya from the first episode of the original series back in 2006, and have remained fans ever since. She’s certainly a polarizing character most will either find charming or unbelievably annoying. The same goes with the Suzumiya franchise. It’s spawned dozens of imitations since it first aired. We even sat through the infamous “Endless Eight” arc, in which the producers had the audacity to recreate the very same tortured feeling of repetition that Kyon felt. Call us masochists, but we relished every excruciating, suspense-building episode (well, mostly).

One of the things we love about the series is the infinite possibilities that come from Haruhi’s apparently limitless power. A simple visual metaphor in the original series OP says it all: the camera zooms into Haruhi’s eye and the entire universe unfolds within it. That’s the potential of this series: anything can happen to Kyon, an otherwise ordinary student with no powers in an otherwise normal school in an otherwise normal city. This epic, sprawling, two-and-three-quarter-hour film met that potential…and surpassed it in ways we couldn’t have predicted.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the production values rule. This film was a masterpiece of light and color. It breathed life into its characters and settings by employing peerless care and attention to detail. Whatever this film cost, it was frankly worth every penny. From the soaring orchestral arrangements of familiar musical motifs, to portrayal of such mundane actions as applying double-stick tape or walking home at night and having headlamps cast upon you, this film simply looked and sounded badass. On some levels this film even surpassees Ghibli in rendering its utterly beautiful yet believable world.

As for the story, in the best tradition of the franchise, it weaves a tangled, complex tale, as Kyon travels across time and space, having somehow fallen out of his own. As the title suggests, Haruhi is nowhere to be found…at first. But the twists and turns the plot takes as Kyon desperately searches for someone who understands him, and the epic quest to set things right in the world – and indeed, discover what constitutes ‘right’ for Kyon, make for a satisfyingly addictive cinematic experience.

The film essentially boiled down to a choice Kyon – not Haruhi – has to make; a choice made possible by Yuki Nagano, who after living with humans so long, has reached the point where systemic “errors” cause “anomalous behavior”. Read: she’s developing emotions for her SOS Brigade-mates, slowly but surely, and decided to act upon Kyon’s outward attitude towards the world he lives in. He seems weary of all the supernatural experiences, the danger, and the hassle of dealing with Haruhi.

So Yuki remakes the world; a stable world where both she and Haruhi are powerless, and there are neither time travelers nor espers to be found. It’s a world she thought Kyon would prefer, and a world where Yuki herself would be a normal girl with feelings for him. Naturally, upon finding himself suddenly in this world, he wigs out…at first. This is where the choice comes in: will he admit he actually likes being with Haruhi and enduring her schemes, or live a quiet, safe life devoid of anything fantastical in the new, normal world Yuki made for him?

At times, this seems like a choice for Kyon between Haruhi and the ‘new’ Yuki. After much hand-wringing, he chooses the original world, not because it was the logical choice, but it was what he really wanted. Thus, he rejects the new, normal human Yuki with whom he could have had a normal romantic relationship. Even so, his later pledge to original Yuki – that he’d fight just as fiercely to get her back if anything ever happened to her – showed that his affections aren’t limited to Haruhi – or Asahina – but to Yuki too.

Well, that’s enough rambling! This is a long and engrossing film, but we almost can’t wait to see it again soon (We have. It still rocks.) We’ll simply close by saying this wasn’t simply an excellent Haruhi Suzumiya film, or anime film; it was an excellent film, full stop, and an instant favorite of ours. If Kyoto Animation wants to make another Haruhi anime series in the near future, we certainly won’t stop them.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya – Film Review

I’ve been a fan of Haruhi Suzumiya from the first episode of the original series back in 2006, and I haven’t stopped being one since. She’s a polarizing character some find either unbelievably charming or unbelievably annoying. The same goes with the Suzumiya franchise. Lord knows there have been dozens of anime that imitate it since it took that world by storm. I even sat through the infamous “Endless Eight” arc (call it my completionist side), in which the producers had the audacity to recreate the very same tortured feeling of repetition that Kyon felt. Call me a masochist, but I relished every excrutiating, suspense-building episode.

One of the things I love about the series was the infinite possibilities that come from Haruhi’s apparently limitless power. A visual metaphor in the original opening says it all: the camera zooms into Haruhi’s eye and the entire universe unfolds within it. That’s the potential of this series: anything can happen to Kyon, an otherwise ordinary student with no powers in an otherwise normal school in an otherwise normal city. This epic, two-and-three-quarter-hour film met that potential…and surpassed it in ways I could not have predicted.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the production values. This film was simply a masterpiece both of light and color and in breathing life into the characters and settings by employing peerless care and attention to detail. I didn’t look into the budget for this film, but it was frankly worth every penny. From the soaring orchestral arrangements of familiar musical motifs, to portrayal of such mundane actions as applying double-stick tape or walking home at night and having headlamps cast upon you, this film simply looked and sounded bad-ass. Not to step on toes, but on some levels this film even surpasses Ghibli in rendering an utterly beautiful yet believable world.

As for the story, in the best tradition of the franchise, it weaves a tangled tale of unprecedented complexity, as Kyon travels across time and space, having somehow fallen out of his own. As the title suggests, Haruhi is nowhere to be found…at first. But the twists and turns the plot takes as Kyon desperately searches for someone who understands him, and the epic quest to set things right in the world – and indeed, discover what constitutes ‘right’ for Kyon, make for a satisfyingly addictive cinematic experience.

The film essentially boiled down to a choice Kyon – not Haruhi – has to make; a choice made possible by Yuki Nagano, who after living with humans so long, has reached the point where systemic “errors” cause “anomalous behavior” Read: she’s developing emotions for her brigade-mates, slowly but surely, and decided to act upon Kyon’s outward attitude towards the world he lives in. He seems weary of all the supernatural experiences, the danger, and the hassle of dealing with Haruhi.

So Yuki remakes the world; a stable world where both she and Haruhi are powerless, and there are neither time travelers nor espers to be found. A world  Kyon seemed like he’d prefer…and a world where Yuki herself would be a normal girl with feelings for him. Naturally, upon finding himself suddenly in this world, he wigs out…at first. This is where the choice comes in: will he admit he actually likes being with Haruhi and enduring her schemes, or live a quiet, safe life devoid of anything fantastical in the world Yuki made?

At times, this seems like a choice between Haruhi and the ‘new’ Yuki. After much hand-wringing, he chooses the original world, not because it was the logical choice, but it was what he really wanted. Thus, he rejects the new, human Yuki with whom he could have had a normal romantic relationship with. Even so, his later pledge to original Yuki – that he’d fight just as fiercely to get her back if anything ever happened to her – showed that his affections aren’t limited to Haruhi, or Asahina, but to Yuki too.

Well, that’s enough rambling for now. Frankly, I’m still reeling from the experience. This is a long and engrossing film, but I almost can’t wait to see it again soon. I’ll simply close by saying this wasn’t simply an excellent Haruhi Suzumiya film; it was an excellent film, full stop; I immediately count it amongst my favorites. And if Kyoto Animation wants to make another Haruhi anime series in the near future, I certainly won’t stop them. Rating: 4