Title: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand)
Based on: The highly successful “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” series
Genre: Comedy, Science Fantasy
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition
Runtime: 164 minutes
Cost: $29.95 (DVD) / $39.95 (Blu-ray)
Classification: This title has been classified as M for Infrequent Animated Violence
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the Madman Entertainment PR Team for providing me with a review sample of this title.
While we have been behind the Japanese release of the anime series for a while now, we have finally caught up to speed with the recent releases of the anime film for “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” titled, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Currently it is unknown if any further episodes will be produced or if the series will be indefinitely put on hiatus, however regardless of that we have the chance to watch almost 3 hours of Haruhi goodness…. what could be wrong with that? Does this movie live up to high expectations? Find out in my review of this series.
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.
By deciding to contemplate this series, I will assume that you have taken the initiative to have watched the two currently available anime series otherwise the extremely brief recap (If you can call it that) at the beginning of the series will not do you any good and you will be starting at the screen in complete confuzzlement for 164 minutes as the comedic and sweet, plesant and series storyline plays itself out. So, we all know that Kyon has spent more than half a year galavanting around the school causing mayhem, becoming the worlds new “Adam”, producing shoddy videos with talking cats and laser eye beams and so forth all thanks to Haruhi, with Yuki Nagato, Mikuru Asahina and Itsuki Koizumi all in tow. While he may have complained about the work, lack of sleep or her extremely tyranical means of doing things… could he really be happy if left by himself in a school with no one remembering who he is – or even existing with the same personalities? This series is all about that…. with him trying to fix this new world that he has been unwillingly thrown into.
While most of the story has been about the characters chasing after Haruhi and occasionally diving into the mysteries of the other characters (Unfortunately not so much in the anime, but most certainly the novel/manga series), it takes a step back and makes her more of a secondary character… might like Itsuki has been for the most part of the anime series. Instead, while leaving Kyon as the lead and narrator, it gives Yuki a chance to shine and as the only character in this tale with some small link to help him escape, it is nice to see her without the overly serious façade and instead with a more shy personality. Of course, with the time shift characters such as Asakura also are affected and return with no suspected malice towards the characters… you could say for the first part at least the series reset itself to give other characters their chance to shine. While Kyon does resemble a character such as psychotic character from one of Ryukishi07’s works, constantly screaming and giving off the impression he is delusional and having a belief in a non-existent girl known as Haruhi (Didn’t getting locked in a closed space with just her teach him to calm down in these situations?), his character is still that guy character you hope for in a school-life anime series… where he is both not a push over and has personality – both of which shine even more in this release.
The first part of the series is about him trying to escape the world, and gives Yuki Nagato some important character development she surely needed as her personality has been shifting over the seasons.. but that is not to say the second part of the season is not well written as well. While I will not discuss the contents of it to avoid spoilers, this is the part where you really require knowledge of both seasons, especially knowledge of the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode in Season 2 otherwise you may be rendered confused. This part of the storyline is also creatively written and links it with both past episodes and little hints you can collect over all Haruhi media and offers a satisfying conclusion. Of course, while it is mostly a conversational story, you are provided with a few glimpses of action, a few glimpses of Mikuru fanservice and a bit more of what makes Haruhi Suzumiya that interesting main character alongside it all. You might think that almost 3 hours of content is quite hefty, but I think they used the time they had well, albeit could have shaved off half an hour or so without losing too much in terms of plot.
As with every other Haruhi Suzumiya title, Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) is the studio behind it. The designs of the two anime series improved between seasons one and two, but while being good… never seemed to get onto the level of excellent. Fortunately, their efforts in the design improved tenfold and have now presented what I would consider excellent design. Character designs have improved to make them look more refined and more effectively present emotions and movements in a more realistic and presentable manner. The environments were also picturesque and they opted to not only make the previously shown areas look better, but introduced a number of new settings which also look highly creative. In the introduction, they also do a neat little pan out of the school using 3D CGI effects which was a nice effect. The use of an excellent colour pallete and evident lack of shortcuts while designing make it not only the best looking Haruhi title to date, but one of the most impressive KyoAni titles to date!
As with all other Haruhi titles, Satoru Kousaki is the mastermind behind the music, and while I would not call it his best work, I will still consider it above average. Perhaps I got used to the many fun tracks used in the previous seasons, but given that this is a more serious plot more piano-based and softer songs were used. They were of good quality mind you but lacked that fun Haruhi edge I suppose I had gotten used to. The original seasons opening sequence Bouken Desho Desho? was used with an original “Get Fit, Get Active” (?? My description) animation sequence with coloured Haruhi while the “lazy” actual characters sit around a fireplace. The ending sequence, Yasashii Boukyaku by Minori Chihara was brand new, and while a softer but enjoyable song… could have really done with an animated sequence (After a hundred and sixty minutes, another minute of two of animation wouldn’t have hurt… right?).
The Japanese dub cast returned with all the original cast and did a good job however as a viewer of anime in English, I immediately chose to watch with the included English Dub and was more than satisfied with what I was shown. Crispin Freeman returns as the lead role of Kyon and as with every other role he has filled it seems… he performed a brilliant job at not only matching his characters sarcastic personality, but every other one. Michelle Ruff who voiced second main Yuki always had a rather dull role to play, but got a bit more leeway with Nagato being an actual human. The other voice roles were done just as good as previous seasons, with special mention to Wendee Lee for still managing to capture Haruhi’s personality perfectly.
My review is based on the Blu-ray versions extra content, but I believe it is the same irrespective of DVD or Blu-ray. When you pop in the disc and presented with the menu, your stomach may sink when you see that there is only three trailers on the disc (For K-ON!, Gundam 00 and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)… … … who am I kidding… the first thing you will notice when you open the case is that there is an entire bonus disc full of content. As with other Haruhi releases, there is a nice healthy dosage of bonus content including:
- Location Hunting “Kounan Hospital”
- Behind the Scenes: BGM Recording at Victor Studio, Australia (BGM’s done so close to home?)
- Stage Greetings and Tokyo: Shinjuku Wald 9, Ikebukuro Cinema Sunshine
- Stage Greetings at Kyoto: Kyoto Cinema
- Behind the Scenes: Cutting, Dubbing and Video Editing
- Theme Song “Yasashii Boukyaku” PV Making
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Trailers for Rideback Series Collection, The Melancholy of Haruhi-Chan Suzumiya, K-ON!, Eden of the East Movie 2 – Paradise Lost and Trigun: Badlands Rumble
So yes, there are a good couple of hours of extra content in that mix.
To conclude, I was very satisfied with what was presented in this series, however saddened that while the Light Novel/Manga are still ongoing, no announcement has been made about the anime continuing any further despite the wealth of source material at their fingertips. I strongly advise checking the two seasons of the anime series – then checking out this release!
Music/Voice Acting: A-
Personal Preference: A
Overall Score: A