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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Movie Review: The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

The long awaited animated movie adaptation of the fan favorite fourth installation in the Suzumiya Haruhi light novel series finally went on sale around two weeks ago and I am very pleased to say that Kyoto Animation pulled it off perfectly. It’s been years since I last read that particular novel but it’s still as clear to me in my memory now as when I had first read it which really is a testament as to how brilliant that book was. Having declared that I can honestly say with the utmost confidence that it is most faithful movie adaptation of any novel that I’ve ever seen.

The movie runs 2 hours and 43 minutes long and revolves around Kyon who suddenly woke up one day that the world around him had changed overnight as he slept. He doesn’t realize this at first but he slowly comes to this shocking revelation that all the odd discrepancies between his and everyone else’s memories culminating with the impossible return of his attempted murderer Asakura Ryouko in place of the ever troublesome brigade chief he’s come to know in the past few months of his life. Coming to grasp this world so similar to his and yet so significantly different to the one he has known all this time he must discover the truth behind the events that put him in this situation and find a way to fix things so that they go back to the way it was.

I don’t mean to come off as fanboy of the series with what I’m about to say about the movie but this is in my opinion one of the very best things that anime has to offer. The animation work seen in this movie is its biggest plus and deserves absolute praise as they just piled detail upon detail upon detail here. Every character named and unnamed feel like unique individuals while the scenery can be just so mindbogglingly breathtaking that you have to wonder just how much work they put into all of it. The audio that went with the visuals was also made use of superbly and conveyed the ambience and tone of the movie perfectly. We’d get quiet sombre melodies when we were meant to feel Kyon’s anguish and alienation in the world while uplifting, hopeful tunes when he’d find some form of a clue out of his predicament. Subtlety was clearly the key to making this as good as it is. They went as far as to show very small things like Yuki stroking a teapot to show just how timid she is in the new world and even put in sounds like the flapping of arms and the low humming of lights, sounds that we’d just ignore and tune out. KyoAni did far more than go the extra mile with this one, they ran a whole marathon just for the heck of it.

Proof that you don't have to be flexible to step on your own head
Kyon's defining moment

Though the movie is called the Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, she doesn’t really do much in the story and most of the focus goes to Kyon and Yuki. Disappearance is there to show just how much the two of have changed and what their roles in the messes that Haruhi brings them into means to them. When you think about it, there really isn’t much plot and is pretty much secondary to the characterisation but that more than makes up for it. You’re probably not even going to realize that with how great the scenes are. My favorite parts were when they played Asakura showing up in class like a horror scene, Kyon’s expanded inner conflict scene and also when Asakura showed up at the end to “protect” Yuki. Asakura showing up was just as good as the novel made it out to be but they really outdid themselves with Kyon’s inner conflict with whole symbolic way they went about it when it was just a bunch of lines in the book. As for Asakura’s protection, I just loved how psychotic she was while giving Kyon that pleased smile of hers.

Asakura Ryouko: Yandere Mode
Asakura the Happy Knife Wielding Psycho. My favorite character of the series.

I do have to point out that they did exaggerate some of Kyon’s reactions, particularly his outburst at Asakura but I think that just made the later scenes even more powerful, especially so for the self-confrontation scene. The movie can also seem a little draggy in the beginning but I suppose that was intended as bit of a refresher for fans since even Kyon lampshades the fact that it was a very long prologue. The rest of the movie though is quite enjoyable though so you’re probably not going to feel the length till maybe the end with Koizumi but that’ll wear off when you get to Yuki.

When I read the original novel I thought that Tanigawa Nagaru painted an amazing picture with his words but what I saw in its movie was an even grander one that surpassed. It really did make up for the whole Endless Eight troll they pulled on us in the second season and it was most certainly worth the wait. You might even want to watch it twice if you don’t mind the sitting down again for it for another few hours. Even if you don’t want to make just make sure wait till after the credits are done cause there’s an extra scene they threw in as fanservice for Yuki fans. Another really nice touch that wasn’t in the book.

Yuki at her cutest
This wasn't it but I thought it deserved to be shared

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