Taking place in a slightly different version of the “Disappearance” timeline of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan has the shy and cute Yuki Nagato once again in the desperate situation to keep her Literature Club alive along with the help of her friends Asukura, Kyon, and anyone else she can pick up along the way. Once everyone is all rounded up, hijinks follow, and along the way everyone lends a helping hand to Yuki to help her open up and to give her a life worth living. So does Yuki-chan live up to its predecessors, or is it nothing more than a simple rom-com set in the world of Haruhi?
Return of Haruhi’s Comedy
While the first two episodes are what I feel as a generic rom-com (which I discuss below), most of the rest of the show is made up of the craziness of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya with a rom-com twist. While die-hard fans of the original series may not entirely appreciate this, I personally feel that the lack of anything being parodied and the semi-complex sci-fi backdrop lets the show go wild and do whatever it wants to without worrying about the consequences it may have on Haruhi. So people who weren’t really fans of the original series, rejoice, because here you can get the crazy without the mind-warping.
As rom-coms never rely on visual fidelity (as far as I know), Yuki-chan really stands out, especially in the latter half of the show. As far as backgrounds and the number of animated items onscreen at a time, this show is rather average. However it really makes up for this weakness with great lighting, impressive rain and snow, and art direction during the Disappearance arc that would bring a tear to the eyes of Anno, Ikuhara, and SHAFT staff. Sadly these visuals couldn’t be present in every episode most likely due to budget constraints, but when they do pull out all the stops, they make it count.
Ah... The soundtrack. This is probably the most stand-out positive thing about this show for me. Many of the fun Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya tracks make a return in this show along with some new ones, and they greatly go along with the show, and manage to avoid being heavily subdued by the crazy antics of Haruhi and the gang. Also, whenever the show decides to take a more serious turn, lovely melancholy tracks akin to Disappearance make a return in perfect form. Out of all the shows I’ve watched this season, this has to be my #1 favorite soundtrack.
Thinking about it, the title for this show doesn’t really fit a Rom-com does it? Maybe a dramatic anime akin to SNAFU could work for it, but here? Not really. So when they do get to the disappearance part, prepare yourself. It’s quite a bit of an emotional and existential roller coaster...
New Character Growths
This was one of my favorite things about the show because we get to see Haruhi as a regular girl that reacts to her environment, rather than always forcing the environment to react to her, more often. It makes for a nice change, as well as making her much more relatable to as a whole. Other than her, most everyone else gets a little expanded on as well, but just not to the same extent.
The censorship in the hot springs episode has to be the most convenient censorship I’ve ever seen. X-P
Episodes 1 & 2
While honestly there’s not much that could have been done to prevent this, I still couldn’t enjoy this series until Haruhi shoved herself into the picture and forced the world to revolve around her in episode 3. Before that, it really just felt like I was watching a rather generic Rom-com (not that I watch many Rom-coms......) that didn’t really stand out in any way. Either that or I was just too fresh from seeing The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. >.> <.<
Slight Character Design Changes
Out of all the things that bugged me when I first started the series, this stood out the most for the first 15 minutes. Everyone has been slightly moeified (New word everybody!), with full moe transformations during some comedic scenes. I guess it’s okay it’s like this as the show leans on Rom-com traits, but then again I liked the original designs and kind of wished that was kept.
Nagato’s Japanese VA
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Nagato’s voice actress. However there seemed to be a few times where she just couldn’t nail down how Nagato’s new moe personality was supposed to sound, and left a few lines hanging around for nit-pickers like me. This only occurred a handful of times for me so it’s not that bad, but........ Meh. Other than that she did a rather good job adjusting, and hit it out of the park when (MAJOR SPOILER!!!)
Nagato’s original personality came back. (/MAJOR SPOILER!!!)
A Slow and Safe Ending
Honestly I was kind of expecting this as 1) the manga source material still has around 3 more volumes to go, and 2) due to the nature of rom coms to be inconclusive. That said, I felt satisfied with what I got, even if it was a so-so ending.
Overall, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan is basically a wonderful mash-up of The Melancholy of Haruhi, The Disappearance of Haruhi, and standard Rom-com traits. If you like any of those things, then you’ll definitely enjoy this show. If you’re a Haruhi fan (especially of Disappearance), just don’t come in expecting more of the same. As Yuki-chan was originally simply a spin-off by a different author, not everything you used to love will be present, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t any better and more loyal to the source material than your average spin-off. Now go on. If you haven’t done so already, then you have a surprisingly good show ahead of you to watch...
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