I’ll have something new to write about next time, I promise. However, I finally got the chance to see this when I went to ACEN, and thought it was really interesting. Not to mention that around the time I heard Badlands Rumble was coming out, I heard about this, so it’s kind of fitting that it’s my next review.
The Haruhi series as a whole is really interesting. Not only is it an interesting concept, but it’s got interesting themes running through it. What I think really makes The Disappearance good is the way it expands on these themes.
Before I get to that, I’d like to briefly touch on the art. Again, this is one of the strengths of the series; they’ve put a lot of effort into it since the beginning, from the awesome animation during the performance of God Knows, to endless eight… where they re-animated and re-voiced each episode despite the fact that they were all the same sequence of events. Don’t get me wrong, endless eight still failed for obvious reasons, but the point I’m trying to get across here is that the artists working on this franchise are dedicated. Now imagine what those same artists can do with the budget of a full movie behind them. Basically, the movie looks great.
Speaking in terms of character interaction, the writing is pretty great here too. I mean, the characters always came across relatively strongly to me, and I can’t think of any stereotypes they could’ve used as a shortcut, but I think the movie takes things a step further. Over the course of the movie, there’s some real character growth, in particular for Kyon and Nagato, and while the other characters don’t really seem to “grow” I feel like the writers do a really good job of showing us who they are through their actions. Without spoiling anything, we get to see a parallel universe where Kyon and Haruhi haven’t met, and seeing how this affects the other characters I think tells us a lot about them. The writers used the situation rather than a stiff, awkward soliloquy to develop the characters, and I think it works really well.
What pulls it all together, though, is the movie’s use of theme. Like I said, it expands on the themes of the show, but the theme is also really involved with the character development. So when I say it pulls everything together, it really does.
Haruhi is an escapist. She imagines worlds she would rather live in and then subconsciously makes them real. While there are many franchises out there dedicated to ripping these fantasies apart, the Haruhi franchise is different in that it makes the case for fantasy without confining itself to the usual bindings of a reconstruction. This theme is central to the movie, and in particular to Kyon’s character growth. Since everything’s been building to this since the show’s inception, it really doesn’t feel forced. The argument this movie makes feels like a natural progression, and it’s not oversimplified. It doesn’t hammer it in, it presents the evidence to you and lets you put things together for yourself.
I guess that’s ultimately what I like about this movie so much: it respects it’s audience.
To sum things up, you should definitely watch this if you’re a fan of the series. On the other hand, this movie pretty involved with events from the show, so if you haven’t watched it there’s a risk of being confused or spoiling it. I felt everything was explained pretty well, but being familiar with the show it’s hard to tell what an outsider would think.