This trip into an alternate world of Haruhi characters comes to an end as Kyon decides to deal with his strained relationship with Yuki.
What They Say:
Episode 16: “Fireworks”
The summer is almost over. Ever since the other Yuki disappeared, Kyon has been acting strange around Yuki. When he realizes that it’s not just him who’s feeling awkward and that he’s making Yuki suffer, he decides to do something about it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Instead of an endless time loop, we have Kyon and Yuki acting awkwardly with each other. While we see an alternate version of Haruhi trying to fill the summer with activities, the entire focus is on Kyon’s failing attempts to talk to Yuki. It’s a little bit of overwrought angst framing an otherwise unremarkable festival attendance episode. Listening to Kyon be indecisive for 15 minutes or so is tiring, not exciting.
He does finally work up the courage to drag Yuki away from the crowds to speak to her properly. Though what he does is admit that in response to the other Yuki’s confession, he would eventually have said “Yes” to her. The Yuki of Now is utterly confused by what is happening, but it manages to clear the air between them. And that’s…basically it. We end with one of the most in-jokes of in-jokes possible for the Haruhi-verse.
The final episode of the show ends more with a whimper than a bang (the fireworks not providing enough of an explosive kick to manage that) as Kyon resolves his own internal dilemma and brings down the curtain for this romantic comedy/drama.
As things stand, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan will probably go down as one of the weaker parts of the larger Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. While it certainly has its high points (the entire Disappearance arc was very well handled and brought a good deal of depth and at times pathos to the proceedings), the majority of episodes came off more as pale carbon copies of so many generic romantic comedies involving high school students. The basic plots of many of the episode could have been reworked with the characters from To Love-ru or Tenchi Muyo! for that matter and been hardly indistinguishable. You did not specifically need Haruhi or Kyon around to make these episodes carry out their basic function of presenting bland comedy with the trappings of romance (that remains entirely chaste, of course).
It’s a bit sad to have to remark that the animation, music and sound were of much higher quality than the writing. Sad because it shows that with better writing, this could have been a much more entertaining experience. Satelight have shown that they can produce a perfectly competent Haruhi show should Kyoto Animation prove to be uninterested in animating any further installments (there are still several unadapted light novels in the main series). But one wonders what appetite there will be out there for any more from the Haruhi-verse when this contribution feels like some second-rate fan fiction for most of its running time. Odd, because the manga somehow manages to achieve its own kind of quirky charm while engaging in in-jokes and the rom-com antics. That charm was sorely lacking in this anime version. I think what was lacking was the will on the part of anyone involved (from the production committee down to the anime production team) to truly explore this alternate world on its own terms (with the exception of the Disappearance arc). It could have used some more courage and willingness to take risks, but anime is a risk-averse industry. Safer to give us a bland rom-com starring the Haruhi cast than attempt to draw them in a new light and take them in a new direction.
Episode Grade: B-
Series Grade: B-
Streamed by: FUNimation
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