For about five years, there hasn’t been any release of official animation related to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise, except perhaps Haruhi Hunting, a campaign to promote the pachinko game, Fever: Haruhi Suzumiya no Yūutsu that featured an excerpt of what seems to be a music video for “Lost My Music”, an insert song featured from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The last animation released that has something to do with the Haruhi Suzumiya series is the movie, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, released in 2010. Afterwards, Haruhi, along with Kyon, Yuki, Mikuru, Itsuki, and everyone else just kind of, well, disappeared.
Then come 2015, a new anime series produced by Satelight was released, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, a spin-off series to the Haruhi Suzumiya series based off the manga of the same name illustrated by Puyo. This series’ universe is based on, but not directly connected to, the alternate universe created in The Disappearance movie. From the initial announcements of the anime’s production up to its actual release, fans of the Haruhi Suzumiya series has had varying reactions, with some not liking a spin-off series and wanting a third season instead, some not liking how Kyoto Animation would not be producing the anime and loathing the new art style and animation style that gives an overall shoujo feel to it, some liking the fact that the cast stayed the same (even the English dub’s cast stayed the same, which shows some promise) and delivered their respective characters just as great as they previously did, and some just joyous about the fact that there will be new content coming out.
Hailing from an alternate timeline, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan has a number of differences from the world established in The Melancholy anime. Some of them are the following:
- The SOS Brigade never existed, while the Literature Club consists of Kyon, Yuki Nagato, and Ryoko Asakura.
- All characters are ordinary humans.
- Yuki, while no longer a monotonous alien, is different from how the human Yuki acted in The Disappearance In addition, her fondness of books isn’t shown so much but instead she has a bad habit of engulfing herself in a handheld video game. Also, she has a crush on Kyon.
- Haruhi Suzumiya and Itsuki Koizumi aren’t enrolled in North High but instead are studying in Kouyouen Academy. The two haven’t met Kyon yet.
- Haruhi still has long hair.
- While not explicably explored, this alternate timeline might have followed that Itsuki likes Haruhi as in The Disappearance
With these in mind, the story starts near the time table of The Disappearance movie, which was Christmas season. With the absence of Haruhi’s lust for adventure, Kyon leads a rather peaceful school life with the Literature Club, making the vibe of the anime lean towards a realistic kind of the slice of life genre (contrasting the bizarreness of The Melancholy anime, also of the slice of life genre). The initial conflict of the plot is that Yuki, with the moral support of her close friend Ryoko, is building up the courage and waiting for an opportunity to confess to Kyon. The rather peaceful lives of the members of the Literature club, paired with the usual company of the senpai duo of Tsuruya and Mikuru Asahina and the Kouyouen duo of Haruhi and Itsuki, makes for a good set of characters that can be played around with to project different scenarios. And that’s just what was displayed in the anime.
But wait. Even without using the characters and setting of the Haruhi Suzumiya series, a plot like this would still work. What makes this any different to the other slice of life anime with romance overtones? What The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan does have, that an all-new anime doesn’t, is nostalgia. The familiar characters are encased in a different context and lots and lots of references from The Melancholy anime are observed. However, these references might have been overused throughout the anime making only a few episodes dissimilar to its counterpart. But the very fact that this world doesn’t contain aliens, time travellers, espers, or reality-warping powers negates the negative effects of excessive reliance on nostalgia because the context is different and is leaning more towards a romantic approach.
Despite coming from a different author, the characters are still portrayed similarly. Kyon (Tomokazu Sugita) is still an easy-going and helpful person but still has his signature internal complaining whenever he suffers as a by-product of his acts of kindness. Yuki (Chihara Minori) retained her shyness from The Disappearance movie and has gotten a rather moe persona when she is teased by Ryoko. The Ryoko (Kuwatani Natsuko) from The Melancholy anime sports a responsible and all-around star student persona as a façade; The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, however, adopts this side of Ryoko as her legitimate personality coupled with a mother-daughter-like relationship with Yuki. Perhaps Mikuru (Gotō Yūko) is the one who is most distant to her character from The Melancholy anime, having a shy and reserved personality while still being a bit clumsy. Her helplessness and reliance on Kyon is nowhere to be seen in this spin-off since Haruhi will not be harassing her. Tsuruya (Matsuoka Yuki) remains as a hyperactive senpai who becomes an analogue of Ryoko when it comes to her relationship with Mikuru. Haruhi (Hirano Aya) is just as eccentric as she is known and just as prepared as she is whenever she initiates a club activity. In addition, she also has her spells of melancholy. And Itsuki (Ono Daisuke) is still the yes man well known in invading Kyon’s personal space.
Just as the entire anime references lots of things from The Melancholy anime, its OSTs are no different. The opening theme, “Fure Fure Mirai” (performed by Hirano, Chihara, Gotō, Kuwatani, and Matsuoka) has lots of similar elements to the viral “Hare Hare Yukai”. (Just look at those titles!) The ending theme, “Arigatō, Daisuki” (performed by Chihara), on the other hand portrays Yuki’s feelings like the ending theme of The Disappearance movie, “Yasashi Bōkyaku”.
Whether a Haruhi Suzumiya fan or not, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is a lively anime that gives quite a punch with how the deceptively simple set-up of the plot turns out.
Animation – 9
Voice acting – 10
Music – 10
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Overall – 9.2/10