Region: 2 - UK
Length: 163 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
The Haruhi move takes a melancholy tone, as Kyon wakes to find out the world has changed overnight. No one seems to have heard of Haruhi, Mikuru doesn't seem to recognise him, and emotionless alien Yuki Nagato is suddenly a shy but very human girl.
The disappearance of Harhui Suzuimya, is like the TV series based on the Harhui novels; this time adapting the novel of the same name into a film. Unlike the TV series bright and cheery tone, the movie takes on a sombre tone as Kyon desperately searches for answers. For many series the movies are a great jumping in point, but with this movie knowledge of the first series in particular is essential to really get the most out of things, since many key plot points require knowledge of the series to have any impact. The core theme that of a world without Haruhi will also only have meaning to existing fans of the show.
With Haruhi missing for large chunks of the film Kyon, (the narrator of the story) takes centre stage. A lot of the dialogue seems to have been lifted straight from the novels, making this a very faithful adaptation. In places it felt more like a Makoto Shinkai film than Haruhi, with gentle warm colours and an emotional piano track.
Whilst the plot follows Kyon as he navigates a world where the SOS-Dan never seems to have been formed with only Kyon aware of the world before the change, most of the characters still act like themselves with the exception of Yuki Nagato and Kyon himself. Kyon looses a little of his normal cynicism as he starts to realize just how bad his situation is. Yuki is a little more expressive, moving from deadpan to shy and needy, as is normal for Haruhi straying in a into typical moe anime territory as Yuki suddenly falls into a typical shy girl romance interest. This being Haruhi it raises interesting questions, without the threat of Haruhi; suddenly the human Yuki becomes a viable love interest. With Haruhi around, the film raises questions about her true intentions and feelings.
Since it's such a character driven story, in places the animators didn't seem to know what to do with the budget so there's the odd out of place 3D tilt around a classroom. It's all nice eye candy, but in a way the bravest thing would have let everything remain low key. In general though the animation is solid and does its job. There are nice little touches too especially if you've read the novel (look out for a sly grin from Yuki near the start).
Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya isn't for everyone, if you followed the series for the laughs they are largely absent here. If however, you are genuinely curious about the more serious questions posed in the series such as the characters relationships with each other, or are curious about Haruhi's backstory then this is essential viewing.
The film also comes with an extras disc full of features following the making of the film. These are fairly dry and offered 'as is', there's little narration or explanation just film of various parts of the anime making process. I found myself watching a feature following the making of the film's associated theme song music video, as Yuki's voice actress kept pulling different poses in a very practised way as the photographer shot promo pictures of her. The whole video near enough seemed to be made of up of similar scenes, so whilst the inclusion of Japanese extras was interesting they are dry to say the least.
The film however is enjoyable, not in a laugh out loud kind of way but in a quiet thoughtful one.
This review is of the DVD edition of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.