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About That Haruhi Movie

December 20, 2009

You’ve either seen the preview already or avoided it like the plague. On the off-chance you haven’t seen it yet and want to see it, here’s a link.

Speaking as a fan of both seasons of the Haruhi anime (more on that when I get to my Best of 2006 post), let me say that I’m not looking forward to this movie all that much.

By the way, spoiler crap is ahead, so if you’re the type that doesn’t like spoilers, run away while you can.

What I enjoyed most about the Haruhi TV seasons was how the story was told. The first season told the story in a non-linear manner. This allowed the dramatic moments to occur at the right moments, rather than having the climax happen in episode five and nine or so episodes of one-off stories following that and concluding with the worst episode. The second season was a spectacular failure that tried to do something different. It may have failed, but I’ll take an interesting failure any day over the mediocrity that dominates the current state of anime.

My main concern is that a movie format won’t allow for these narrative tricks. We’ll most likely get a straight-forward, linear telling of the Disappearance story.

The problem with this is that Disappearance kind of sucks.

Disappearance is the only Haruhi novel that I’ve read from beginning to end. I jumped on it after the second season of the anime because I was eager to know what happens next. All of the fans harp about how Disappearance is one of the best stories in the series. That should have been a warning sign, since my reasons for liking Haruhi tend to differ from said fans, but I went ahead and read it anyway. “Regret” is a pretty strong word and doesn’t quite describe my feelings, but I’ll say it anyway:

I regret reading Disappearance.

Disappearance is everything that’s wrong with the Haruhi series. It’s a big cocktease. We get vague glimpses of what’s at stake, but in the end everything gets “reset” to how things were before. The only thing that changes is Kyon goes through more stress and realizes that his lot in life just got worse. Oh yeah, and Yuki kinda-sorta becomes slightly more human. Maybe. Perhaps. Something like that.

It’s Yuki’s story that irked me the most. The whole deal with Yuki is that she’s an alien. She thinks and operates differently than a human being. That’s her charm. At times she demonstrates a playful, curious streak, but it’s shown to be something inhuman and different. Disappearance throws this out the window and recasts Yuki as a generic, blushing, shy bookworm. Yeah, this is because some alternative reality comes into being and Yuki isn’t an alien in this reality, but the character shift still sucks.

It’s sort of like taking one of those episodes of Star Trek where they meet Evil Kirk With A Goatee and turning it into an entire season of the show, but at the same time you never see normal Kirk. What’s the point of building up a character’s personality if you’re going to spend an entire novel turning that character into a stereotype. Yuki wasn’t the most original character to begin with, but at least she had some cool points. The Yuki in Disappearance is a crappy, fan-pandering character. She’s meek and shy and everything that the fans find appealing. She’s no longer the strange, threatening alien. Nope, she’s a non-threatening, fan-idealized trope.

To be blunt, I hate the Yuki from Disappearance and she does everything to bring down an already weak storyline.

That storyline, which involves a bunch of Sliders-like dimension-hopping, isn’t much different from anything else that’s happened earlier in the storyline. Kyon runs around and saves the world while the alien, time traveler, and esper are rendered useless. Same as the first storyline. Same as Endless Eight. Same as it ever was. The only good things about the storyline involve Kyon’s usual cynicism and a few bits where Tsuruya gets to manhandle Kyon for harassing Mikuru. Otherwise it plays out like a bunch of scenes that the author figured the fans would eat up like so much candy.

My concerns could be alleviated if Disappearance was animated during a regular season. There would be opportunities to manipulate the way the story is told in order to make things far more interesting. Unless they do some sort of narrative trick like Memento and tell the story in reverse or something like that, I don’t see how Disappearance is going to be a worthwhile experience. I’d rather they jump ahead and get to the bits with the “rival” group of time travelers, espers, and aliens. That stuff sounds pretty interesting, especially with the way their Haruhi equivalent is portrayed. Unfortunately that storyline is quite a few novels away in terms of what needs to be adapted.

So yeah, chalk me up as one Haruhi fan that isn’t too excited about Disappearance. I’ll watch it the first opportunity I get, but I’m pretty concerned about how it’ll turn out.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2009 11:55 PM

    I’m one of those fans who thinks The Disappearance is one of the best novels, but I can appreciate the issues you have with it. For me it was totally suspenseful and unpredictable – I couldn’t predict anything that would happen or how it would end. I felt that Kyon’s inner feelings really came out, especially at the part where he has to make “the big decision,” and we don’t just see his cynical side. And Yuki…I agree that her Disappearance form is as you say, but when everything goes back to normal, the fact that she’s slowly and very subtly changing in the series is interesting. And about the chronology, I personally like it better in chronological order ’cause it gives me less of a brain strain XD It’s fun out of order once in a while, but it’s nice in the right order once in a while too.

    I also want to see the stories with the rival groups animated but who knows when that will be.

    • Landon permalink
      December 23, 2009 12:10 AM

      I can see how following Kyon and seeing him react to the situation is interesting, but the “big reveal” at the end where we find out he actually enjoys all of the SOS Brigade stuff seemed to be pretty obvious from the earlier stories.

      Why else would someone that isn’t THAT spineless stick around and deal with that kind of emotional grief? Kyon likes the situation that he’s in and I didn’t think we needed an entire novel just to get to a revelation that was already there.

      Yeah, we do get to see more to his character, I’ll agree with that observation. But in the end it’s his cynicism that appeals to me. I just wish he was a bit more vocal with his feelings, although at times it seems like half of what he thinks he’s thinking is actually being said. At least that’s how it plays out in the anime. Half the time it seems like people know what he’s saying when he’s actually doing his inner monologue thing. I haven’t read any of the other novels, is that something that comes across in the novels as well?

  2. Kairu permalink
    December 21, 2009 2:26 AM

    I heard that it’s gonna suck. derp


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