Can I just say that I really loved The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? The anime was already beloved by a lot of fans so I’m technically late to the party here. I already finished the series since I saw it on Netflix a while ago. It was a fantastic show dealing with some surreal sci-fi tales and, while it was painful to watch the entire Endless Eight arc, I still an very surprised that, thanks to the way they closed the Endless Eight arc, I can say that I’m super happy I powered through it.
So why the bugger did it take Netflix until last week to recommend The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya to me? Oh, I’m happy they eventually did since I watched this almost 3 hour film last night! I’m just questioning why Netflix didn’t tell me sooner that this gem of a film was in their library?
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya takes place after all the events of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi bullies the SOS Brigade into doing some activity which is, due to the upcoming Holidays, is throwing a Christmas Party. As usual, Kyon (the actual main character) is annoyed at this but, because Haruhi does have some God-like powers which she isn’t aware of, goes along with it. His annoyance seems to not have gone unnoticed because, the next morning, Kyon wakes up in a world where, apparently, Haruhi has disappeared and, in fact, none of his previous friends in the SOS Brigade recognizes him. Moreover, the world where espers, time-travelers and aliens, or Kyon’s present, never seems to have existed.
Now, technically, this kind of story, wherein the protagonist wakes up in a world that is different from what he considers to be normal, is typical sci-fi fodder. However, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya does have a little twist as, without Haruhi and her powers, the world Kyon in transported to is actually a normal one. It’s usually the other way around. This is actually part of the brilliance of the film: with Kyon always complaining about the problems he encounters because of Haruhi Suzumiya and company, should he even want to go back now that he can live the normal life he so desperately wants?
I will say the movie does feel quite daunting when you realize that it’s 162-minutes long. To put this in perspective, Avengers: Infinity War is 149-minutes long! It is longer than the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 2nd longest film, only losing out to Avengers: Endgame with a 181-minute runtime! Considering The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is an animated film, that is quite a feat! Kyoto Animation must’ve paid their animators overtime as well because the film is gorgeous and filled to the brim with little details that don’t technically add to the plot but does make the world seem incredibly real. Also, there are some scenes that are just animated incredibly fluidly that it looked like the Kyoto Animation guys must have used rotoscoping or CGI’ed it. Either way, it looked real good!
Another thing that I loved about The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is how it takes into account the previous events Kyon and the SOS Brigade have encountered. It’s practically a must to have watched the “long” version of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya as some characters that have long gone, such as Ryoko Asakura, reappear in the film thanks to the changes that have been made. There are even some scenes that are directly taken from the series that will pop into the plot. I guess this is also a minus since this is one film you can’t go in blind. If you do, you won’t understand what the heck is happening. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is definitely for fans only and can’t be your first entry.
While Kyon has actually always been the main character of anime series, it is rather disappointing that Haruhi isn’t in the film for most of its runtime. I guess it wouldn’t make sense and it would’ve made less of an impact if Kyon managed to figure out what happened quickly but it is disappointing that her infectious energy isn’t seen throughout its 163-minute runtime. It was rather fun to figure out what happened to the other members of the SOS Brigade and see how they would operate in a “normal” world.
If you’ve noticed I’ve mentioned The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya’s length several times, that’s because I’m rather torn about it. There is a part of me that appreciates Kyoto Animation for taking the time to let the changes sink in. It lets us empathize with Kyon’s situation a little more. On the other hand, I also feel that a lot of it could’ve been trimmed out to make the story run at a smoother pace. There are definitely some slower moments that, while does set a good emotional tone, felt like they ran just a minute or two too long. I guess this is kind of typical for anime drama films?
I also watched the Netflix version in my area (the Philippines), which only has the Japanese dub with English subtitles version. Now, I watched the original The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that way as well but, for some reason, it seemed like there was a lot more reading of subtitles involved with The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Kyon definitely has a lot on his mind and you’re going to be reading it all at a fast pace. This may be one time when I wished there was a dubbed version because there were moments when I felt I was doing a whole lot more reading than actually watching the beautiful animation!
Thankfully, the audio quality is great and the voice acting still perfectly captures the personalities of the characters. Even Yuki, who does get a big personality change in the “normal” world, is still voiced superbly. I also like how the music from the television series mixed in seamlessly with the soundtrack of the background scenes of the film. There were some music tracks that I didn’t really care for but the more nostalgic music from the series felt just right. I’m also glad that they just used the original theme song as the film’s opening because I loved that song so much! It would’ve been great to see another dance number at the end, but the opening animated scene almost makes up for it.
I really enjoyed The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya but that’s only because I really enjoyed The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. This is a movie only for fans and outsiders should avoid. If you loved the series, you do owe it to yourself to watch this movie. It’s long but all that time is going to be worth it.
Have you seen The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!