Every so often you come across a film that virtually flawless in almost every way. It might not the best film ever, but there are no discernible flaws to be found, and the result is an amazing experience that has few equals, and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is one of those films. In addition to all that, it is also my favorite Christmas film.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a sequel to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series. If you remember my review of the series, you would know that it is a wacky and fun sci-fi adventure comedy that I highly recommend if you want to watch something fun, and you can find my review for the series by clicking here. However, unlike the series, The Disappearance is a serious, character driven drama with elements of mystery and science fiction.
Directed by: Tatsuya Ishihara
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Dramedy, Christmas,
Release Date: February 6, 2010
Running Time: 164 minutes (the longest anime film ever)
MMPA rating: PG-13
The Good: Tour de force of character development, Stunning animation, Retains some comedic moments, Perfect pacing, Strong emotional core, Nearly flawless, Makes "Endless Eight" important, Fantastic English dub, Superb soundtrack, Satisfying conclusion,
Plot: 10/10- For a movie that is 164 minutes, the same length as The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya feels so amazingly short. How does it accomplish this amazing feat you may ask? With flawless pacing.
There was never a dull moment throughout the entirety of the film, although some might find the beginning a tad slow. However, the pacing during those early scenes is brilliantly used to create the atmospheric setting and to set up the satisfying character moments.
Nagaru Tanigawa’s original source material and Fumihiko Shimo’s screenwriting provides for one of the most flawlessly crafted pieces of fiction of ever put to screen. Even the time-travel element is adequately explained, without having to devote too much time to exposition.
If I was forced at gunpoint to actually find a flaw with the film, the only that I could possibly surmise is that the ending was left slightly open-ended for further adventures, but at the same time, the ending provides more than enough character conclusion and allusion to what most likely happened that there is really no need for anything more.
Characterization: 10/10- While The Disappearance still retains some of the great comedic moments from the series, the film is more of a drama with elements of mystery and science fiction. Dramas are notoriously difficult to pull off effectively, because if you do not care about the characters, there is virtually nothing for the audience to attach to or enjoy. What makes Disappearance work, is that the characters have already been previously established in the series, which is mandatory viewing before watching the film, Therefore, it provides more time to development the characters.
In many ways The Disappearance is a lot like Serenity in the Firefly franchise in that you could watch the movie without watching the series but the emotional impact and character development is completely lost and you end up with a fun movie that is completely out of context.
With all that said, The Disappearance is Tour de force of characterization, at least of the two characters that the film focuses on, Kyon and Yuki Nagato. Despite Haruhi Suzumiya being the titular, she is not the focal point of the film thematically, although her character still drives the plot forward.
Yuki Nagato is given ample of character development, as the film is a character study of Yuki. The film uses the controversial, and partially infuriating, "Endless Eight" storyline to actually provide incredible depth to the character of Yuki, as well as being an important experience for the audience to truly understand the character’s struggle.
Again, if I was forced at gunpoint to offer criticism about the characterization, it would be that the other three members of the SOS Brigade are not given much development, which is so incredibly insignificant of an issue that it never comes to mind while watching the film.
Acting: 9.8/10- Obviously, whichever dub you watched the series in is the suggested one to watch for the film. With that said, Crispin Freeman kills it yet again as Kyon, and Michelle Ruff should be given special praise for giving Yuki another layer of emotion and character through her superb performance.
Art Style: 9.9/10- Kyoto Animation takes their already high quality animation for the Haruhi Suzumiya and dials it up to over 9000! Seriously, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya contains some of the most beautiful and stunning work from any anime film. Even the more mundane scenes are crisp and incredibly high in quality.
Soundtrack: 9.6/10- The score by Satoru Kōsaki and Ryuichi Takada ranges from lighthearted and fun to emotional and inspiring to absolutely freaking epic. Few scores manage to make the various genres work, and Disappearance is certainly a perfect example. Also the opening song from season one, "Bōken Desho Desho?" makes a more than welcome return.
Humor: 8.4/10- While not as humorous as the series, The Disappearance still retains some of the comedic gold that the series featured heavily.
Entertainment Value: 10/10- Even though some might find the film too slow for their taste, for those interested in character driven dramas with the lovable characters from the series, it is incredibly entertaining, especially seeing how the concept and characters are portrayed flawlessly.
Overall: 9.9/10- The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is truly a special work of fiction. From the unparalleled characterization to the stellar production value, it is one of the few nearly flawless films that I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, and it is easily among my favorite films of all-time....
Closing comments: To experience this masterpiece of animation, viewing the series is mandatory, which unfortunately makes the viewing audience limited. However, if you want to experience one of the cornerstones of modern anime greatness, do yourself a favor and watch both the series and the film.
Recommended for: Anyone that watched the series, Otaku, Animation fans, Drama fans, Sci-Fi fans,
Unfortunately, the film is not available for legal streaming, and Blu-Rays, if you can find them, run for upwards of 100 US dollars!
Since only those that have seen the series have probably seen the Disappearance, I want to add another opinion of this masterwork from my favorite critic, GRArkada, aka Tristan Gallant. Of the reviews I have seen from him, which is 98% of them, this is the highest rating I have seen him give a film. Warning however, since his review does contain some mild spoilers.
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