Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan (Nagato Yuki-chan no Shōshitsu)

I was super excited about this anime and it is really weird just how excited I was. After following the manga and impatiently waiting for the next issue it felt like my efforts were being rewarded when an anime was announced that would feature the original Japanese voice talent. Even including Hirano Aya.

Life was suddenly fun an interesting again. I knew this anime was going to be something special to me. 

Having gone through the manga volumes, I more or less knew what to expect. This isn't about Haruhi. She doesn't even show up until the third episode. Sure, she gets up to plenty of hijinks, but this isn't her time to shine. She's more or less the punchy supporting character that drives the comedic element of the show. And she's human... although there are moments where she can respond out loud to Kyon's thoughts. This is just a bit of a throwback to the original story where Haruhi could do the same thing. It's yet another wink at the fans that goes over well. 

Haruhi is even likeable in this anime. In the original series there are plenty of time where Haruhi is just a downright pain in the butt. She comes across as incredibly unlikeable. In The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya I really hated her guts. But it's impossible to dislike her in this series. So as far as Haruhi's character goes this version is a splendid improvement even if she isn't really a god. 

Asakura Ryoko's character took me a while to adjust to, but once I did she grew to be one of my favorites. She's the one that takes care of Nagato, but this time she isn't out to kill anyone in order to do it. She's probably my third favorite character from this series. 

Asahina's character is a bit flat, though. Now that she isn't a time travelling agent, she really is just a ditzy character that is meant to drive the fanservice moments. Oh, well. 

And Koizumi is still the same old bland Koizumi although he's even more bland with the ESPer powers. 

This brings us to Kyon. Kyon is probably the only character that is actually the same as previous anime incarnations. Of course, that has a bit to do with Sugita Tomokazu's fantastic voice performance. Kyon, at least in the manga version, came off as much quieter and less sarcastic. So this could be a slight compromise in order to please fans of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or it could just be the voice actor's way with words and intonation.

Kyon, who has become rather synonymous with how he sounds, just comes across differently when he can't be heard (or read, for that matter). And he's drawn in a way that makes him look less sarcastic in the manga and more like a typical easygoing male lead in a romance.

Now let's talk about Nagato. Obviously, she's different. Maybe the most different of all. This Nagato is a shy, game-playing schoolgirl that somewhat ironically runs a Literature Club. She has a crush on Kyon, but doesn't know quite what to do about it.

Compare that to the reserved book-reading alien that could coldly analyze any given situation and it's tough to believe the same actress voices both versions. The differences are much more apparent when the original Nagato crosses over into this series towards the end.

I think, to date, I've discussed these characters plenty enough between the various anime, manga, and light novels so if you want more info you can check out my other reviews. Just follow the tags.

As for the actual anime:

This 16 episode series takes us into right up to chapter 39 of the fifth volume of the manga. So with any luck there will be another adaptation in the future because the manga is still ongoing (and I'm impatiently waiting for volume eight). Of course, there's still unadapted light novels from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series so who really knows how the hell this is all going to go. Oddly enough, the characters that weren't introduced in the previous anime thanks to the unadapted light novels have yet to be introduced in this one thanks to the rest of the unadapted manga. I hope that isn't a bad sign. Sasaki needs to be animated one day, damn it.

At the risk of making enemies and dividing friends, I'm going to state that this is just a better adaptation of its source material than The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Whether it's the questionable episode order or the agonizing Endless Eight (more so the Endless Eight... I actually liked the different episode orders), there's no doubt the The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya dropped the ball at critical moments. The best part of the series wasn't even really part of the series because the best part was the movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan avoids any potential pitfalls by staying true to its source material. While this source material isn't as good and the story is rather mundane I couldn't find too many faults with this anime. The three part arc where Nagato's other self makes an appearance seemed to drag on a bit much, but other than that I was incredibly impressed with this anime. This was exactly what I wanted and what I expected and I'm surprised by how my expectations were met.

I want more. I want another season. Hell, I want more of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, too. Those remaining light novels need to be adapted and there's no better time to do it then while the voice actors are all round up anyway.

But we'll see. If it be your will, Haruhi. If it be your will.

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