The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

The Gentlest Oblivion: A Valentine’s Day Reflection of Yuki Nagato’s feelings in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

“You found someone, and then you lost her. That’s a part of living. But, you’re not living. You’re wasting away, waiting for another chance to present itself.”

There’s a few hours left in Valentine’s Day, and the song “Yasashii Boukyaku” has entered my playlist rotation. It’s now a few hours since my exam, and prior to that, I was watching the Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate OVA while waiting for said exam, accompanied by a grilled chicken wrap and watermelon smoothie. It’s been a while since I’ve actually had a night exam (my last one was back in 2011 for organic chemistry, and with due respect, I prefer morning exams because that is when I’m most focused). When I begin following this train of thought, 2011 was also the year where I had the opportunity to watch The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi. It was a warm evening late in the summer, after hours on campus, and I was watching the movie while waiting for a friend’s LAN party to kick off. I would find the movie to be the cornerstone of the entire Haruhi franchise, revealing that for everything he’d said in the TV series, Kyon very much prefers an eccentric universe with Haruhi over a normal universe. Back then, I saw a movie about how knowledge of an alternative will help individuals understand the nature of their choices. I now additionally see the movie as a story about unrequited love, accounting for why there is an overarching sense of longing throughout the entire movie: the journey Kyon is thrust into undertaking in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi might be to give him perspective on his choices, but perhaps more significantly, provides insight into the true extent of Yuki’s feelings.

  • This post has an uncharacteristically long title, partly because it’s about something that I cannot readily condense into a short discussion. I first watched The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi during the summer of 2011. I’ve also broken tradition here: all ten of the images link to a 1920 by 1080 full-sized version.

  • Because lyrics for “Yasashii Boukyaku” are so readily available everywhere, this post isn’t about the lyrics, but rather, what the lyrics entail and why the song suits the movie so well. Last I watched this movie, I was impressed. This time, I was fighting the dust in my eyes when Kyon makes the choice, choosing Haruhi over Yuki.

  • The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi is a movie that ages well with the passage of time: my initial impressions of it were overwhelmingly positive, but today, the movie stands out for being able to capture notions surrounding unrequited love and weave that into a film format without driving it into center stage at all moments.

  • Yuki’s gesture here was first depicted in the opening “Bouken Desho Desho?”, one of my favourite opening songs of all time. The music in the Suzumiya franchise varies from some of the best material, to some of the most disappointing. In The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, the music stays firmly on the good side of the spectrum.

  • Atmospherics and lighting contribute greatly to the different scenes in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi. The alternate universe is dull and drab, while the original universe is immensely colourful. Near the film’s conclusion, the cold blue lighting of the foreground stand in contrast to the distant warm lights, setting off the mood between Kyon and Yuki’s conversation very nicely.

Despite being a stoic and seemingly emotionless character for much of the TV series, Yuki Nagato is perhaps the most interesting of the characters: she is the first to inform Kyon about Haruhi’s nature, and is also the one member of the SOS Brigade that Kyon trusts the most. Despite being present in the TV series as a construct to monitor and manage data, Yuki’s experiences with the SOS Brigade (and in particular, Kyon), lead her to develop a set of interests and understand how to express gratitude to those around her. Over time, Yuki grows sufficiently restless at the pacing and rewrites the logic for Kyon’s world, giving him another chance to make a choice between the two realities. This choice is fundamentally equivalent to choosing between Yuki or Haruhi; Yuki’s own conflicting feelings propels her desire to ascertain whether or not she would have had a chance with Kyon. While Yuki attributes it to error data with no known cause, Kyon realises that Yuki has picked up human emotions over her time, and of the SOS Brigade, she wanted to be closest to Kyon, disinterested in her original mandate and Haruhi’s existence. “Yasashii Boukyaku”, thus, resonates particularly strongly: Minori Chihara’s wistful delivery of the lyrics captures Yuki’s loneliness and simultaneous resignation to her duty despite longing for so much more. Yuki understands that in spite of her own desires, she also wishes for Kyon to be happy, hence her decision to offer him the choice between her and Haruhi. As the song draws to a close, Yuki’s longing becomes clear as Kyon chooses a different future, one where she cannot follow him. She is able to let go and accept this, but prays that Kyon will continue to think of her even as he follows his heart.

  • Valentine’s Day is alternately known to some as “Singles Awareness Day”, and admittedly, this is my least favourite time of year owing to the frequent grey skies and icy days that accompany being single. If I could pick a day for Valentine’s Day, it would be somewhere in the middle of the summer, between early July and mid-August, where the skies are blue, the landscape is lush and the air is warm.

  • If there hadn’t been an exam today, I would have hit a pub and ordered a rare steak. A good steak is sufficient to lift one’s spirits, providing a gain in courage…rich, tasty courage.

  • I completely sympathise with Yuki’s situation because it is very familiar:  Yuki realises that for the present, patiently waiting it out and keeping faith in the future’s answer is all she really can do, even if the answer, once the time comes, is unfavourable.

  • Patience is supposed to be a virtue, and for things such as love confessions, I prefer things that are face-to-face. I’m not alone in this brand of thinking: a recent article on Wired.com even outright states that online love confessions are about as ineffectual as it gets, devaluing the phrase entirely. Love confessions hold their value in rarity, hence the significance of reserving them for very specific situations.

  • might come back in the summer and do a second review of The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi in its entirety, given how much has changed since 2011. The review content is straightforward enough: the challenge will be to get a sufficiently different set of screenshots such that the post is unique.

While the lyrics in “Yasashii Boukyaku” ties in perfectly with Yuki’s modus operandi throughout The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, they can be generalised to a more diverse range of cases, especially where unrequited love is concerned. In Yuki’s case, she’s willing to accept things as they are, in spite of all the injustices that she’s experienced, if it means that Kyon will be happy. From the personal side of things, I felt that the possibility of a relationship between Yuki and Kyon presented a superior story; this is explored in much greater detail in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. While I used to find myself wishing that this was the only universe in the Suzumiya Haruhi franchise, I realise now that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is particularly enjoyable to read because we know of what happens in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi. With that, my Valentine’s Day post ends, and if I haven’t made myself clear, “Yasashii Boukyaku” is a brilliant song that enhances The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi to such an extent that I’m surprised I somehow missed this on my first watch-through. Of course, I would personally recommend against reading The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan or watching The Disappearance of Suzumiya Garuhi on Valentine’s Day itself if one is single, lest feelings of longing and loneliness overtake all else.

6 responses to “The Gentlest Oblivion: A Valentine’s Day Reflection of Yuki Nagato’s feelings in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

  1. Zephuros March 18, 2014 at 05:31

    I’m happy Nagato gets to be the centered heroine in this book/movie😛
    although the main heroine is still Haruhi, but they focused it on Nagato – great ^^, since I like her very much >_<
    p.s but man, why did Kyon had to say that? I really prefer the quiet Nagato..WITH glasses xDD

    Like

    • infinitezenith March 22, 2014 at 23:18

      Have you had the opportunity to read The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan yet? It deals specifically with this setup and excels at atmosphereics: I feel very lonely when I read the manga. From a personal end, I prefer the movie incarnation of Yuki, as well🙂

      Like

      • Zephuros March 23, 2014 at 23:02

        Nope, not yet
        or maybe I read it.. I don’t really remember it’s Haruhi-chan or Yuki-chan… or maybe I have already read it but forgot lols” (like read it long time ago or something) xD”

        Like

  2. Tony May 14, 2014 at 21:08

    I too picked up on the unrequited love angle from Yuki and made it through the film with mostly dry eyes until that last song… that was a low blow, right below the belt!🙂 I didn’t even try to hold back the tears, it was so sad, poor Yuki! Its obvious that Kyon truly loves Haruhi and Yuki truly loves Kyon in giving him his choice and supporting it, but man! What a movie!

    I still listen to Yasashii Boukyaku whenever a need a bit of sweet “blues”, you know when you just have to hear something sweet but sad sometimes?

    Like

    • infinitezenith May 15, 2014 at 09:40

      In a curious turn of events, a few months after doing this talk about Yuki, I experienced the same thing. I’m still not sure what to make of it, but I can say that perhaps now, more than ever, I understand what Yuki experiences, making the movie all the more poignant.

      Like

  3. beneficii June 17, 2015 at 12:47

    One question psychiatry has grappled with is, If someone does not express their emotions, which lack of expression, or “blunted affect,” is called “flat affect” in its severest form, then does that person experience emotions? I find it very interesting that the Haruhi series grapples with the same question with regards to Yuki Nagato and I think the answer that is emerging is very interesting.

    I made a mistake on the other post when I said Yuki’s support humanizes her: In reality, she humanizes on her own, but the support helps her handle it. As we can see in _Disappearance_, Yuki was heading toward being sad, angry, despondent, and longing: She was heading down a very destructive path. For those that go into the story past the anime, Yuki seems to improve. She becomes more assertive and much more vibrant, even if her expression still comes across as flat. I like to compare Intrigues Yuki to Disappearance Yuki when Yuki goes back in time with Kyon and Mikuru to fix the last issue with time surrounding _Disappearance_: She refuses synchronization and takes control of the situation, coming across as very effective.

    In response to one statement in this article:

    > Yuki realises that for the present, patiently waiting it out and keeping faith in the future’s answer is all she really can do, even if the answer, once the time comes, is unfavourable.

    She does more than just waits it out. She takes steps to make herself more independent, such as by ceasing all synchronization. She pursues her own interests. She and the rest of the SOS brigade work to become more integrated with each other. I think she may be doing a lot in the background to ensure that, even as she continues to work for the Data Integration Thought Entity, she can still live a good life and gain satisfaction from it.

    Like

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