The Infinite Zenith

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

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Whole-series Review and Reflection

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” —George Sand

The grand finale to The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan concludes in a low-key fashion, with Kyon and Yuki partaking in a variety of activities during their summer break with Ryouko, Haruhi, Mikuru, Tsuruya and Itsuki. Indeed, this final episode is a callback to Endless Eight, even featuring a summer festival and Kyon’s forgetting to complete his summer homework. However, rather than acting as the basis for an infinite loop, this finale is about Kyon coming to terms with how he feels about Yuki, and under the festival’s fireworks show, he summons the courage to let Yuki knows of his true feelings. However, his timing it with the fireworks show means that said confession is drowned out (in a manner reminiscent of Houki’s fate in Infinite Stratos), and as The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan draws to a close, it would appear that Yuki and Kyon’s relationship is more amicable, slightly closer than it had been during the season’s start.

The single most important aspect to consider in the anime adaptation of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is whether or not it is able to capitalise on its medium to present the story in a manner that would not have been possible within the manga. As noted in an earlier discussion about The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, I noted that anime intrinsically have access to audio-visual cues and therefore, should theoretically be able to convey the atmosphere of a particular moment more effectively than a manga by making use of lighting, camera angles and sound to mirror how the characters are feeling. It becomes clear that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s anime adaption succeeds making use of all of these elements to achieve this, despite not being helmed by Kyoto Animation. Lighting is used to give a sense of nostalgia through the pink glow of evening light and melancholy through greys of a rainy season. Moments high in anticipation or tension are fleshed out with camera focus on the characters’ features or their surroundings to really bring to life Yuki’s shyness or hesitation, as well as Haruhi’s energy and Ryouko’s motherly presence. These elements complement the sound: while all of the characters retain their original voice actor, Minori Chihara does a phenomenal job conveying the differences between the Yuki of the Melancholy-era, and this new Yuki. Finally, the soundtrack has fulfilled expectations, bringing out the sense of longing and tenderness during the moments that Yuki and Kyon share together. The fact that there are not-so-subtle motifs from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is a bonus. Each of these elements together succeed in bringing The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan to life: for this anime, there is no higher praise.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We’ve come to the finale at last, and after sixteen episodes, I can confidently say that Satelight’s anime adaptation of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is indeed able to capture the manga’s spirit in full. As with the first episode talk, this talk comes with a full twenty images.

  • The anime remains faithful to the manga for a vast majority of the season, and typically, deviations usually arose when the adaption capitalises on slower moments to include subtle callbacks to The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Besides succeeding in recalling elements from the original series, Satelight manages to incorporate them without interrupting the narrative’s flow.

  • Such scenes in the finale include a scene in the rain, where Yuki stands with her palms facing upwards; she does this in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi‘s opening song, as well as in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi.

  • Various summer activities, such as Kyon and company bowling and playing baseball, were not featured in the manga, but included, the group’s various summer activities seem to be a direct callback to the Endless Eight story arc.

  • The summer festival also figured predominantly in Endless Eight; minor details were changed in each iteration such that viewers would have some details to seek. After sixteen episodes, Satelight’s artistic design of the locales and environments in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan have improved as the series progressed. Landscapes become more detailed, lighting has improved greatly, and the characters’ physical appearances, though different than Kyoto Animation’s interpretation, have grown on me.

  • Having their original voice actors play each respective characters’ roles really helped the audience (or at the very least, myself) to immediately recognise each characters’ distinctions and personalities. Despite their different appearances, each of Kyon, Yuki, Ryouko, Haruhi, Mikuru, Tsuruya and Itsuki feel familiar.

  • The manga made extensive use of deformed/simplified artwork to represent a character during moments of comedy, and the anime adaptation carries this over. However, in keeping with the manga’s spirit, the characters never appear in this manner during the more serious moments.

  • My posting schedule’s been all over the place over the past few weeks: it’s all I can do to get posts out on time. This summer’s now around five-eighths finished, and over the past week, I attended a raclette party with some of my friends from high school. It’s been quite some time since we last conversed, had cheese fondue and grilled meat over a table top raclette; after we’d eaten as much as was physically possible and cleared the dishes, we played split-screen Halo 2 on an Xbox 360.

  • The last time I played a Halo game on console was back during  August 2011: we’d went to the same friend’s place for a BBQ and spent the evening playing Halo: Reach. There had been a major thunderstorm that evening. My friends were waiting out the storm, and as I had arrived early, I watched The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi on my iPad while waiting for them. Playing split-screen Halo brings back fond memories of an older time.

  • The fireworks show begins in earnest, and while the other Yuki longed to see it ever since Kyon suggested they go, she returned to oblivion. However, Kyon’s kept his promise, and with everyone, Yuki is able to enjoy the show as the summer draws to a close.

  • Kyon’s confession to Yuki acts as The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan‘s climax: seeing Yuki (albeit, the other Yuki) confess her feelings to him had led to a degree of awkwardness, but thankfully, Kyon’s quickly come to terms with how he feels about Yuki and decides to confess to her. Compared to other male protagonists in anime of such a setup, Kyon is rather more decisive, and the other characters also appear to realise that Kyon’s heart lies with Yuki.

  • While Kyon does get this off his chest, the fireworks drown out his confession, so it might’ve not been as effective as one might imagine. Had he succeeded in doing so here, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan could end because the major conflict is resolved. Instead, the decision to present this love confession in such a manner leaves The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan open to a continuation.

  • In the end, my claims that ” those unfamiliar with the manga have little need to worry that the “fluffiness and self-referential humour” are all that is going to comprise The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan” proved completely correct. I never doubted for a second that this spin-off’s entire purpose was to act as fanservice to The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and indeed, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is able to stand of its own merits, cleverly making use of tidbits from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi to enhance its own story.

  • While I praise the anime adaptation, I am praising how well it manages to bring The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan to life. From a technical perspective, the manga’s story started out quite slowly and presented unremarkable comings-and-goings between Kyon and Yuki, before upping the ante during the fourth volume. This is completely mirrored in the anime adaptation, whose plot progression and character growth are directly tied with the manga.

  • Consequently, when I review the anime, I am considering how effectively Satelight is able to make use of colour, light, sound and intonations in the dialogue to really flesh out the emotional tenor of a moment. Because Satelight has been able to do this, they’ve satisfied my expectations for what an animated version of the manga would be like.

  • There’s been no word of when the anime soundtrack is going to come out, to the best of my knowledge (perhaps one of the readers could help me out here!). The background music complemented this series nicely, and making use of similar instrumental choices as did The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, really brought out how Yuki was feeling following the near-accident, conveying a sense of melancholy and longing.

  • Besides playing Halo 2 for old times’ sake, this past week also saw me hit the theatres to watch Pixar’s Inside Out with several friends before having dinner at a kaiten sushi restaurant (naturally, I ordered tempura to go with my sushi and savoured every moment of that). I found this film to be worthy of the praise it has earned for its spirited and imaginative depictions of human emotions. It joins the ranks of Five Centimeters per SecondCLANNAD and Angel Beats! as something whose execution was able to get me to cry (which is no small feat).

  • The status quo is largely retained after the events of the summer festival, meaning that there’s still quite a ways to go before Kyon and Yuki go further in their relationship, which is perfectly fine. Now, I’ve seen the scene for myself several times during Endless Eight, but I still do not understand the significance of キョンくん、電話 (“Kyon-kun, denwa“) or why it was elevated to meme status. Foxtrot uniform charlie kilo memes.

  • In yet another callback to Endless Eight, the episode ends with Kyon realising he hasn’t touched his summer assignments yet. When I wrote the post on how I summoned my uncommon über-micro towards finishing the arc without chucking my computer out the window, I was setting out on my final year of my undergraduate studies, and I’d remarked that the Endless Eight arc might’ve been a commentary on the importance of going one’s assignments on time. Three years hence, my approach has not changed, and it’s still serving me reasonably well.

  • With the end of this post, I believe I’ve said all that can be reasonably said about The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. While nothing appears to have changed in Yuki and Kyon’s relationship, the ending shows a group of people who’ve become friends, suggesting that regardless of what universe they’re in, they’re destined to be friends (or something). There’s no cliffhanger, and as such, things close off without leaving audiences hanging. An OVA is set for release on October 26, which means one can reasonably expect a review to come out shortly after.

Given that the anime has remained faithful to the manga with respect to its story, any remarks directed at the anime are mirrored in the manga (and vise-versa). My thoughts on the manga, that it is “a simple love story that is unfettered by aliens, time travellers and espers…[allowing] for the story to focus solely on the character’s interactions, making them far more alive than they were in the original TV series”, apply fully to the anime adaptation of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is not a perfect manga (and by extension, not a perfect anime) owing to minor inconsistencies here and there in the story, but it remained an entertaining read because it is able to build anticipation for each volume. With this season now over, we’ve covered around 4.814 volumes: there’s definitely material for a continuation, and while the anime smartly decides to end on a humourous note, the manga’s fifth volume closes off with the introduction of Sasaki, Kyon’s childhood friend. It is likely that we could see a continuation of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan at some point in the future, so the question for the present is not “if”, but “when”. My final word on The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is that, while perhaps a little slow and generic for first-time viewers, there are enough elements to allow this anime to stand on its own merits as the season progresses. Consequently, patience allows individuals to find this anime worthwhile. Those who’ve read the manga and/or are existing fans of Suzumiya Haruhi will find this to be an entertaining watch.

3 responses to “The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Whole-series Review and Reflection

  1. beneficii July 25, 2015 at 22:14

    I thought this series was OK. Not bad, but OK. I was kinda disappointed not to see who the voice actor for Sasaki was going to be, as that could provide a hint for a new season of Haruhi.

    One pet peeve I have with observers of this series is that a lot say that it makes Yuki out to be ditzy, air-headed, or scatter-brained, but that was not my impression of Yuki at all. Yuki is depicted as being pretty intelligent, though much more book smart than street smart. That’s where her support system, Ryoko and Kyon, comes in.

    Like

    • infinitezenith July 26, 2015 at 20:03

      The interpersonal dynamics between Kyon, Ryouko and Yuki contributed substantially towards the sense that these were individuals who did indeed care for one another. Curiously enough, other viewers at my usual haunts seem to have received The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan quite favourably and state that it is at more…unsavoury locations where the anime’s reception was negative :p

      Like

  2. beneficii July 26, 2015 at 21:10

    For me, the good points and bad points of the series were:

    Good points:
    1.) The friendship between Yuki, Ryoko, and Kyon was done really well. I think the 3 have a very good dynamic together. Kyon is also a bit nicer than he was in the other series.
    2.) The whole finding-herself thing with Yuki around the middle-to-late part of the series was very interesting.
    3.) From a feminist standpoint, this show was less problematic than the Haruhi series, dropping the Mikuru abuse and adding good female role models like the woman doctor.
    4.) I like the depiction of Yuki as being intelligent, but perhaps not having the greatest common sense (and the revealing way in which her lack of common sense was treated by many viewers as meaning she was a ditz, despite her strong academic performance).

    Bad points:
    1.) Too many people at times. I’m the kinda person who likes to interact with a small number of people, instead of a huge bash with lots of people crowding in. I knew they were Haruhi characters and all (and I was kinda curious about who Sasaki’s voice was going to be), but in Haruhi they generally had more defined roles that justified their inclusion.
    2.) Aimlessness at times. The series would seem kinda aimless at times, which made following it somewhat difficult.

    All in all, a decent series that seemed to get better toward the latter part. I think Yuki, Ryoko, and Kyon are a good group of characters and I would watch a continuation of this series, which was hinted.

    Like

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