(Check out the other posts for Haruhi week!)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Anime’s Goddess
Playing With Expectations – Haruhi Suzumiya’s First Arc
Was it Really That Bad? – Haruhi Suzumiya’s Endless Eight
First of all, hello. Second of all, if you’re here to know whether you should watch this movie or not, I’ll tell you this: if you liked the series and want a better conclusion, yes, yes you should. If you just liked the series, still watch it.
This won’t feature heavy spoilers or anything. I never like to do that, but I will assume that you have watched The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime when discussing this. Because honestly, I don’t know why you would watch the movie if you haven’t.
I saw one person online asking if you can watch this movie without seeing the series. My answer to that is yes, you can, but no, you shouldn’t. The Disappearance is a bit of a rarity for the fact that it actually continues the story of the anime. It isn’t just some separate plot. So the events of the movie will mean basically nothing to you without the context of the series.
Pretty much, if you like fun and happiness, you should probably watch the series first.
With that said, let’s talk about the second longest animated film of all time, shall we? Real shame it missed first by just a minute. However, the series is very self-aware, so I feel like it was intentional in one way or another.
The plot of this movie is very simple. So simple, actually, that writing a synopsis would almost be pointless. It’s all explained right in the title. You’d get the gist of it without me saying much.
After some of the SOS Brigade’s normal hijinx at the beginning of the movie, Kyon wakes up on December 18 and finds that Haruhi Suzumiya seemed to drop off the face of the earth. She isn’t at his school, never went to North High at all apparently, and nobody seems to know her name.
Kyon realizes things are really out of wack when Ryoko Asakura sits behind him in class where Haruhi belonged. In case you had forgotten why this is a problem, she tried to brutally murder Kyon in the first story arc of the show. Yeah, I wouldn’t want her behind me either.
Things get even worse when Asahina, Nagato, all of the people Kyon had met since May don’t recognize him at all. But worse than that, this world doesn’t have time travelers, aliens, or espers! All of his friends are just humans now! It’s like he’s in a different world entirely.
If you couldn’t tell, despite Haruhi Suzumiya being in the title, this movie is very focused on Kyon. in fact, for most of the runtime, Kyon is really the only character you actively see. We’re no stranger to Kyon’s inner monologues, but this movie is just one huge one.
Even though we see many other characters, they aren’t the people we, or Kyon, have come to know. This leads to a sense of isolation. Throughout the beginning of the film, we see Kyon slowly start to unravel. At first, he thinks it’s nothing but a joke, then he starts to get angry with everyone, then desperate.
He’s so panicked and acts crazy to everyone else. He even starts to frighten people who he would never hurt. This new world’s Asahina – the girl he always defends from Haruhi’s antics – is absolutely terrified of him. Even this new human Nagato is initially scared by how aggressive Kyon is.
We see a new side of him that we’ve never seen before. For all of his complaining, Kyon is generally a calm person and very rarely an angry or desperate one, even if he’s not calm. He’s not the type of person to barge into a room and force a girl to back up into a corner, shaking, because she’s scared of him. It’s not Kyon, but it happens.
The only other time we see him lose his cool in a similar way is in episode 23 of the anime when he’s about to smack Haruhi before Koizumi stops him. Even that’s different, though. That was anger for Asahina because of how horrible Haruhi was to her. He was getting mad for someone else. In The Disappearance, Kyon is angry and desperate for himself.
He can’t figure out whether he’s the one going crazy or if the world is the one screwy in the head. And that makes him desperate. At one point, he starts ripping books out of the literature club room in an attempt to find some type of clue from his Nagato. Something to tell him that he wasn’t crazy. That the past months of his life wasn’t a lie.
It’s very much a story of growth for Kyon. This world he finds himself in should be everything he’s ever wanted if his words are to be believed, that is. The whole anime is his constant complaining about all the things Haruhi drags him into. In this world, he never met her.
He complains endlessly about how he hates the crazy things that happen around him. In this world, time travelers, espers, and aliens don’t exist. He has a nice boring, quiet life. He’s just a normal high school student, living a normal life like every other normal high schooler.
He doesn’t travel through time. He doesn’t solve murder mysteries. He doesn’t shoot horrible movies. He doesn’t relive the same two weeks 15000 times. He doesn’t even almost die on multiple occasions. He just exists, as he always wanted to.
But Kyon soon realizes that this world isn’t what he expected – or more accurately, he doesn’t enjoy that world as much as he thought he would. Kyon learns that you need to be careful what you wish for.
The one person that causes him all his anguish, the person who gets him all kinds of trouble, the person who has unknowingly nearly killed him several times over, the person who annoys him more than any other human ever disappears, and the first thing Kyon does is try to find that very same person.
No matter how much of a hypocrite it makes him, Kyon likes his old life. He likes his old friends and more than that he likes Haruhi. He doesn’t want to be in a world where he never met any of them. This is something he accepts and is something very unlike him.
The cynical, sarcastic Kyon changes more from the beginning of this movie to the end than he does throughout the entire series before it. Because he’s truly alone for the first time, and that scares him. The only other time he faces a similar event to this is when he and Haruhi get trapped in the closed space during the first arc. But he gets trapped with Haruhi. He’s not alone.
Even if she isn’t helpful at all, I know I would go crazy if I was in such a world by myself. I’d likely lose my mind. And even then, Koizumi pops up to say hi, and Nagato sends him a message in a pretty obvious place. He has support.
In The Disappearance, he’s worse than alone; he’s isolated. He’s different than everyone else and has nobody to turn to. Nobody that will truly believe him. It’s almost like he and Haruhi have a personality swap in a lot of ways.
He becomes that crazy girl that runs around telling everyone who will and won’t listen about all of the crazy things in her head. He tells everyone about time travelers, espers, and aliens like they’re a fact. How can you not believe him? He becomes Haruhi, and I think because of that, he starts to understand her more, if only a little bit.
After a certain scene in the movie when someone finally does take an interest in what he’s saying, I think Kyon understands a bit of what it was like for Haruhi in episode 1 and why he may mean something to her. I think it mirrors the events of that first episode beautifully. It ends where it began, you could say!
I just love this actual arc of the story, if you couldn’t tell that already. I think it’s easily one of the best, if not the best, arc in the series as a whole. It makes me really, really happy that they decided to make this a bit of a farewell movie instead of including it in season 2 but watered down a bit. We all know how that went, but I think it was ultimately a good call.
Seeing Kyon finally cut the crap and accept that he likes his life. To see this cynical, sarcastic bastard finally accept his feelings that he doesn’t hate every day of his life, that he may even find it fun. Is about the most obvious, anticlimatic resolution to the series you could ever get, but it means the world if you’ve stuck with him since the beginning.
Haruhi Suzumiya, in general, is very anti-climatic in my mind. It has very natural resolutions to many of its arcs. It usually feels a tad more realistic than other anime are. This means it’s more boring at times, but it also means it’s more believable. The Disappearance fits perfectly with that.
Kyon is able to have all this character growth without ever being out of character, not truly. He acts desperate, but he doesn’t suddenly become a different person. All of his progression throughout this almost 3-hour movie is believable.
After realizing he actually misses Haruhi, he doesn’t go to the nearest rooftop, shout out, and profess his feelings. He just mulls it over, understands, and attempts to process his feelings. Those feelings ultimately lead to his realization of just how much his old life means to him. It isn’t dramatic, it’s quite boring really, but I believe it. Kyon is a believable, deep character, the same way his relationship with Haruhi is.
Kyon, Kyon, and more…Nagato?
I love Kyon as much as the next guy, and I think it’s great he got so much focus, but it does come with a problem. Because the plot is so focused on him, the other members of the SOS Brigade really don’t get a chance to shine.
Yes, we run into Koizumi, Nagato, and Asahina, but they are different from the ones we know. The actual characters don’t come into play until much later, and even then, not much. Asahina is more or less not in it at all, besides adult future Asahina. Young one is practically nonexistent.
I hate to tell you, but Koizumi got shafted hard like in the series. He’s barely in it in any form, let alone the way we know him. Honestly, you can even take the title “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” at face value. She’s not in it much. Like maybe 45 minutes, if she’s lucky. And that’s who the series is named after.
It very much turns into the Kyon and Nagato show. Ahem! I wonder if that’s why there was a spin-off made about it?
Seriously though, this movie is big for Nagato fans, believe me. For one, we get to see a human version of her. Not the kind of scary alien that uses magic and bites people to put nanomachines in them, Nagato. We get to see normal, shy, bookworm, Nagato. It’s a side to her we never see, but again it’s not really her. It comes with that caveat.
But more importantly, actual Nagato gets an insane amount of growth. A lot of things happen that make her more relatable, which is a word I never thought I used to describe a magic alien, but here we are.
But once again, like with Kyon, her growth is believable. I honestly love her character a lot. I did in the series too, but especially post-Disappearance. I’ve always respected how her character never really changed. Like, she’s always been emotionless. She really doesn’t ever show emotions at all. Even in the episode where she takes an interest in computers and Kyon sees that as her changing, she still doesn’t really.
All the emotions that Kyon sees, and we think we see, are feelings that we impart onto her because we don’t want to believe that she’s truly just emotionless. What I respect so much is how Disappearance manages to again make us feel like she has emotions but keep her character the same. She’s incredibly complex, so I won’t act like I understand her brain, but I do like her a lot.
I won’t spoil why, but this movie also makes endless eight one of the most important parts of the series, which I respect tremendously. That arc is wild, and I love how significant it actually becomes in the lore.
I like how the movie connects the series as a whole, really. We even get a little more insight into some of the events going on in Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, which, as some of you may know, is the most important night in the entire Haruhi timeline. Seriously, the whole John Smith debacle is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever witnessed in a story.
It does feel like a farewell movie. Everything connects. I mentioned this briefly before, but it’s because this isn’t a self-contained plot. This was adapted from the fourth light novel. It’s a normal story arc that ended up becoming a movie. If you’re interested, I talk more about this when I discussed the endless eight a few days ago. All you really need to know is this movie wasn’t supposed to happen.
But because it did, we get this nicely wrapped present to send the series off.
And to those a little confused by the ending of the movie. It wasn’t KyoAni being lazy or anything. It’s because of the reason I stated above. It would have been impossible to fit everything into that timeframe with the timeline still making sense. They would have had to jump ahead to a plot in a separate novel. It would have been a whole other can of worms. The movie would probably be like 4 hours long.
And to those who haven’t watched the ending yet, eh, don’t worry about anything. Time travel’s complicated. That’s all you need to know.
I mean that in a couple of ways, actually. Firstly, thank you for reading. This marks the end of this Haruhi week we’ve had here on the site. It was a lot of work, but I had a ton of fun doing it. I really like The Melancholy Haruhi Suzumiya. I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did.
Every episode and arc I watched was so fascinating to me. They all left me with something to think about afterward. I’m a big fan of time travel plots (even though they’re riddled with plot holes), and Haruhi Suzumiya doesn’t shy away from that one bit. I also think they handle it exceptionally, and I was thrilled to see it revisited in the finale.
I very well may talk about something in the Haruhi Suzumiya universe again. In fact, I’d count on it. There are still some things to discuss, but I’m going to hang my proverbial hat up for now. Maybe I’ll talk about the spin-off someday. I don’t know.
But to go to my second point, just recently, we got a new Haruhi light novel for the first time in nearly a decade. Do I think that means a season 3? No. Not by itself, at least. Still, if the hype showed anything, people would certainly watch one. We’ll see what happens. I would say it’s more likely than not. If there is a season 3, though, you can count on me coming back to the series for sure.
Thank you very much for reading
How do you feel about the movie and series as a whole if you’ve watched it? And if you haven’t, I would highly recommend it. Both this movie and the series. They’re both really good. Not perfect, but really good.
Thanks again. That was fun.
Praise be to Haruhi. Keep that Haruhi-ism going, my fellow Haruhists. For real, though, I think we could all use a bit of Haruhi in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the world to be a special place. Just don’t spike people’s drinks with alcohol. Leave that part of her behind.