Tag: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Top 5 Anime of 2010

It is the time to reflect back on the year that has passed with a look at some of the best Anime that came out in 2010. It was a solid year even though more and more predictions of Anime’s inevitable death because of the strength of the Moe fandom. But like all years some real creativity comes out of Japan and that is the reason that most people started watching anime in the first place. That one unique moment that came at an important time in one’s life can endear a person to the medium forever, or scare them away forever. I enjoy writing this list because it reminds me of those things that keep me attached to the genre even after a strong ten years of anime fandom, and it helps me forget some backward steps that Japan has thrown at us

Same as last year I only have one rule for this list: The anime must have finished airing or being released in Japan or United States in 2010. If I have already seen the show in fansubs it becomes ineligible for the list the year it gets an R1 release. In terms of films the year it is released on theaters or screen in the US for the first time, or failing that released on DVD, becomes the year where it qualifies.

On to the List:

Honorable Mention:
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I can’t make a best of the year list without mentioning Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. As someone who hasn’t seen the original I came into it without any bias from the original series. I was immediately hooked by the characters, concept, and intensely well-choreographed action sequences. The series ramped up well throughout and all the elements, plot threads, and massive cast of characters all came together in then end in a final epic battle. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood knew how to do Sh┼Źnen perfectly not only with action and characters but by developing a plot that steadily rams up and climaxes without dragging itself out and killing its own originality.

5. Squid Girl

If I were to time travel and hand this list to myself at the start of the fall season I wouldn’t believe it. Squid Girl was the complete shock of the year coming in with a quirky concept that is executed brilliantly. The jokes fly fast and the characters are endearing enough to suck you in, once caught the charm of Squid Girl alone is enough to keep you hooked. The adorable lead and her interactions with the interesting cast of characters is a joy to watch and the concept of a Squid being anthropomorphized is played straight no matter how odd from Squid Girl’s ability to produce ink to her bioluminescence. The jokes do get a little receptive and the art is uninspired standard Moe fair but the writing is enough to make Squid Girl an excellent little show.

4. Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

Like Squid Girl, SoreMachi is a gag anime that brings some unique concepts to the genre to create something new. But, unlike Squid Girl, SoreMachi has the benefit of the art of Shaft and the directing ability of Akiyuki Shinbou in order to take this gag show up another level. The structure of the show constantly shifts and its treatment of science fiction elements create a strange entry into the comedy genre but one that will leave a profound impact on those who watched it. The best part being the bizarre Science fiction elements mixed in and played as if they were just another piece of the slice of life drama. Rarely is there an anime that is so boldly odd.

3. Durarara!!

I doubt one could find a “Best of 2010” list without Durarrara!! on it. It came out early with a force and captured the imaginations of the fandom with its style and excellent cast of characters on top of a storyline that speaks to the current generation in a profound way. The action and drama combined in a perfect blend to create a piece that drew the audience in and keep them excited with some epic moments. At its heart is the idea that all urban legends are true, which include everything from the strongest man in the district to a headless woman who rides a motorcycle (and calls it a horse!). I’m eagerly looking forward to more and desperately hope they animate the remainder of the light novels.

2. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

The latest chapter in the Haruhi franchise became the most anticipated piece of the story after the troll that KyoAni tossed at us with Endless Eight. Disappearance brings the Haruhi science fiction elements to all-time high as well as developing characters far beyond what they were in the series. We finally got to see Kyon step up and play the part of protagonist without being led by the nose by Kozume or overshadowed by the flamboyant personality of Haruhi. We also get to see Nagato as if she were a human girl, a vulnerable and touching version of the normally cold and distant character. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a deep character study wrapped in a terrific science fiction story.

1. Tatami Galaxy

Tatami Galaxy succeeds on so many levels that it is difficult to list them. Thematically and visually It is beyond a masterpiece. While the narrative is geared towards students finishing or starting to finish their college career, which is why it spoke to me so profoundly, the message stands as a timeless reminder that little things we do may change our lives profoundly but the large opportunities will always be waiting for us to grab them. The art style is masterful; MadHouse and director Masaaki Yuasa create a cutout art style in 2D. The art was used effectively to visually highlight important aspects of the story and some creative pieces standout as bold attempts to delight the audience such as a seemingly random scene where Master Higuchi plays music to summon a massive golden fish from the ocean, what purpose that scene played in the narrative remains a mystery to me but it was entertaining as hell.

Review: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

As Christmas approaches SOS Brigade chief Haruhi Suzumiya announces that there will be a Christmas party in their clubroom. The brigade members prepare decorations and food for the party but several days later Kyon comes into school to find that no one remembers Haruhi or the SOS Bridage. Kyon begins to search for an answer to the mystery aided by a non-alien version of Yuki Nagato.

Kyoto did a fantastic job make the film feel theatrical. Having not seen any Haruhi in over a year, since season 2 ended plus eight months longer than the Japanese fans had to wait to see the film, I appreciated how it started by introducing each character briefly and showing off the traits that we’ve all come to love in each of them and ending, of course, on the title character herself. The first thirty minute or so, the “prologue” as Kyon himself calls it, is simply a love letter to Haruhi fans. It contains all the elements that fans swoon over. Kyon is annoyed, Haruhi is insane, Koizumi is a jerk, Yuki is strange, and Mikuru is adorable. There may be more hilarious character interactions in those first thirty minutes than in all of season 2 combined. The material felt fresh again and Kyon’s role as the only voice of reason using his trade mark sarcastic tone had me laughing throughout the entire scene. Haruhi herself was in overdrive, showing an amazing amount of energy and her dialogue couldn’t have been funnier. It was an absolute delight and a real potent way to start the film.

The majority of the film features Kyon’s attempt to understand and figure out the title event; why has Haruhi disappeared, and in doing so the audience is treated to a Kyon they’ve never seen before. Normally sarcastic, annoyed, and sometimes angry, Kyon went into a complete panic when his world was turned upside down. The aspects of his character only assumed and hinted at before came out in full force when the parts of his life he constantly complained about were taken away. In those moments the true Kyon is revealed. It was shocking and yet so obvious simultaneously. The largest change to any of the characters in the Haruhi-less world was Yuki Nagato. In a world without Haruhi she doesn’t need to be an alien observing the titular character but is transformed into a normal shy girl with emotions and feelings. The change is reasonable; Yuki retains all the traits from the alien version but instead is placed in a human context. She is still quiet and shy but actually reacts to the people and events around her instead of sitting and passively. While a drastic and shocking character change it wasn’t an unbelievable character change. It was Yuki imagined as a human girl, as simple as that.

The film’s main plot contain some serious and complex science fiction concepts wrapped up in a Moe costume, just like Haruhi should be, but everything feels like the stakes are much higher. Most of the series has to do with the danger of Haruhi finding out about her powers and running amok, the movie turns that plot in a new direction by showing a world without Haruhi. This puts Kyon finally in the driver’s seat instead of living in the shadow of the energetic Haruhi Suzumyia. Instead of the phantom threat of Haruhi destroying the world the conflict of the film comes from Kyon trying to get his life back, the life so wonderfully portrayed at the start of the film and all that can go away unless Kyon puts things right. The conflict is far more immediate than it has ever been, Kyon might lose Haruhi forever, the audience might lose Haruhi forever, and keeping her is finally something Kyon believes is worth fighting for and something the audience can get really distressed over.

The film, as exception as it is, is not without problems. Most of them come from the length. Kyoto wanted to make the Haruhi fans as happy as possible and to do that they adapted the novel practically word-for-word. The film’s runtime comes in at 163 minutes and it started to feel long by the end. Elements that work in novels such as references past events constantly, long sequences of omnipotent narration, and wrapping up the narrative with long scenes of dialogue after the action is long over slowed the film down. As a Haruhi fan I was in love with every word that came out of every character’s mouth, maybe not -Esper guy-, but as an Anime fan the film obviously needed some serious script editing to improve the flow of the film and tighten u the dialogue for maximum effect in minimum time.

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a near masterpiece. It gives Haruhi fans everything they want from a piece of the Haruhi franchise while opening up the story to a greater level of depth, science fiction concepts, and narrative. However, the films goal to appear to the hardcore fan harmed the overall quality by slowing down the pace of some scenes and making the film longer than it really needed to be.

Good

  • Haruhi characters are at their absolute best in humor and drama
  • Reaches new narrative and conceptual highs for the series
  • Calls back on past events to link both of the past seasons with the film
  • Direction and visuals are excellent even for Kyoto Animation.

Bad

  • Scenes that work in a novel feel long on screen
  • Long scenes of dialogue and omnipotent narration slows the pace of the film