Yuki Nagato is a shy student at North High School and the president of its literature club. She also happens to be the only member of that club until she manages to recruit her protective friend Ryoko Asakura and her new friend Kyon. Tsuruya and Mikuru Asahina soon join the fun, and Haruhi Suzumiya and Itsuki Koizumi even manage to get in on the action too. What ensues is an endless amount of fun for Haruhi, all while Yuki struggles to work up the courage to tell her crush Kyon how she feels about him.
Something to get out of the way first: this is not a sequel to The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. If you want an official sequel to it, see if there are any copies of the 2011 PSP/PS3 game Suzumiya Haruhi no Tsuisou available from online Japanese retailers. Now, on to what this anime adaptation is. Puyo’s series largely mirrors the events of Nagaru Tanigawa’s original series; it progresses like a time-delayed version of it. It seems that this series is aimed at people feeling nostalgia towards the original anime, and it is filled with references to or actual events from them. This saves the series from being just another bland romantic comedy, but it should not take stealing ideas and whole events to save a series. It is nothing more than fan-fiction; for the most part, it is up to the characters to give this series some semblance of integrity.
The characterisation of three of the main characters is disappointing, including that of Yuki Nagato. This version of her character is shy and awkward, and she spends more time playing video games than reading books. Yuki wants to get close to Kyon, whom she has developed feelings for, but they only end up physically close due to contrived circumstances that are only explicable by the writers repeatedly saying that Kyon is just generally a nice person. That much, at the very least, is true. Unfortunately, this version of Kyon’s is a watered-down version of the real Kyon. Bafflingly, he has a terrible memory. Anyone familiar with the original series will know that Kyon’s memory is impeccable, yet Puyo does not seem to actually understand the characters he is ripping off. The one thing he does well regarding Kyon is showing him nervous and confused after a certain event. Kyon does have emotions, so it is good to see them being explored. Mikuru Asahina’s characterisation is downright insulting; she is relegated to the role of ‘moe blob’. She serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Granted, there are no actual aliens, time travelers or ESPers in this version, but she should not be forced to deal with repeated sexual harassment from Haruhi and Tsuruya. What is truly incomprehensible is every scene featuring her in the final episode; what purpose could Mikuru getting ridiculously excited about a blender possibly serve? They may not be the same characters from the main world, but these three characters are also nothing more than poor imitations of those from the alternate world. Taniguchi and Kunikida are roughly the same, but some of the changes in characterisation are actually effective.
Two characters go through interesting character development. Haruhi is shown to have an emotional and reflective side, which is caused by Kyon of all people. She even gives good advice to others on multiple occasions. Asakura’s development is perhaps even more significant than Haruhi’s. She is annoying in several scenes, at one point literally holding Tsuruya and Haruhi back just because she disagrees with their idea of fun, but she ends up being a surprisingly well-developed character. She is thoughtful and considerate, if overly-protective, when it comes to Yuki. She shows the capacity for positive emotions and introspection, making her one of the better features of this otherwise unoriginal fan-fiction. Koizumi is hard to figure out, though; it seems as if Puyo thinks he is attracted to Kyon, yet he is happy being Haruhi’s lackey.
The title of the series does not really start making sense until episode 10, given that these characters are entirely unaware of and disconnected from the main/other world. Following an incident that causes Yuki to suffer from some kind of trauma, the moe Yuki is mentally replaced by a mostly-silent Yuki similar to the one in Tanigawa’s alternate world. Asakura has a hard time accepting the new Yuki, but this ends up causing her to go through the strongest character development she will ever receive. These episodes are what this whole series should have been: a focus on the silent Yuki’s feelings. It seems as if Puyo was inspired by Golden Time in regard to Yuki’s mental battle in this arc, but after the first episode of it, it actually manages to be rather engaging. Kyon’s part in this story, which becomes the main focus of the series once this arc is over, eventually comes to a resolution. Unfortunately, the moe Yuki’s feelings are not explored further.
This may not be the third season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that we all want from Kyoto Animation, but Satelight doesn’t do too badly. Most of the character designs look about right, most of the time at least. Haruhi occasionally looks a bit off-model, and Yuki is noticeably different. It seems that she is meant to come across as moe visually as well as mentally, but Mikuru is the main contender for the position of #1 Moe. It is extremely disappointing that Tsuruya is groping Mikuru’s breasts in the opening animation sequence used in episodes 2-16 and the OVA, and that she does the same with Haruhi as an accomplice in a hot springs episode. Fan-service is otherwise limited to non-explicit shots of characters taking their clothes off, which is mostly harmless except for the embarrassment it causes Yuki. The animation can be fluid at times, but it only occasionally comes across as visually appealing. It does not even come close to the level of quality in Kyoto Animation’s adaptations. The static effects in the ‘Disappearance’ arc are considered by some to be one of the better visual features of this adaptation, but take that as you will.
The audio may be the best parts of this adaptation. The background music is beautiful and very well-suited to the atmosphere of the series, and it seems to kick up a gear in the ‘Disappearance’ arc. The only disappointing thing about the music is that half of it is made up of arrangements of Satoru Kousaki’s music. Said music is excellent and fits perfectly when it is used here, but it would have been better if Tatsuya Katou had demonstrated more of his abilities to compose original music. The opening theme song seems to be trying to recapture the feeling of the songs from the first season of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime adaptation, and it is not bad. The ending song is pleasant to listen to, but the main thing to pay attention to is the lyrics of both songs. These lyrics accurately summarise the only actual plot featured in this series.
The original voice actors reprise their roles in both the Japanese version and the English dub. The Japanese voice actors all do a fantastic job, as do the voice actors in the English version. The only difference is the way Yuki sounds in the English dub. The moe Yuki just does not sound right in it, but this might have something to do with Puyo’s characterisation. She does sound more normal in the ‘Disappearance’ arc, though. The main positive thing that stands out is the way that Kyon reacts at the end of the ‘Disappearance’ arc. His voice actors have to be quite emotive in these scenes, and they both do an excellent job. The Japanese and English voice casts are incredibly talented and experienced, making both audio tracks fantastic to hear.
Included on the third disc are the preview and TV spots, the Blu-ray/DVD promo, the textless opening and ending animation sequences and the subtitled-only OVA episode “I Cannot Let Summer Break End”. It contains 20 minutes of Kyon procrastinating instead of doing homework, and the only meaningful scene in the entire episode occurs right at the very end. It is entertaining, but it should have been used to explore the relationship between Kyon and Yuki instead of referring back to “Endless Eight” for the third time.
This is not a bad series. In fact, it can be surprisingly interesting and entertaining at times. It just has a significant lack of originality and poor characterisation in some cases. If you have seen or read The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, you may enjoy this as an alternate ‘what if’ story. The character of Ryoko Asakura is surprisingly well-rounded, and the ‘Disappearance’ arc that gives this spin-off its name turns out to be a great piece of story telling, despite Puyo using a personality disorder in a very contrived manner as its basis. If you are intrigued by the idea of Golden Time meets The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya meets School Rumble, consider checking The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan out, even if only for half a dozen of the episodes.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.