What They Say:
From the creator of the international hit The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya comes a new spinoff featuring familiar faces! In an alternate universe, shy, awkward Yuki Nagato attempts to court her crush, Kyon, with the help of her best friend, the perky and indomitable Ryoko Asakura. Together, the trio defend their high school literature club from extermination and from the pestering of Haruhi Suzumiya and her lovable friend Koizumi! Watch as Yuki navigates normal high school life, like Christmas parties, festivals, and feelings. And when another side of Yuki comes out will full-force, will her chances with Kyon be obliterated? No true Haruhi devotee should miss The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the new English language dub in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that’s definitely very dialogue based so there’s not a lot in the way of action or big moments, if you could really find a bit moment, so the 5.1 mix doesn’t really add anything beyond something that feels a touch louder and perhaps a touch clearer. The show itself is fairly straightforward dialogue material that doesn’t have a lot of places to go or work with but it handles it well while allowing for the music to take a better footing with more warmth and a larger feeling to it where it can do so. Everything here is clean and clear so we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions but it’s otherwise a mix that won’t be all that memorable.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series and OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is split across two discs with nine on the first and seven on the second plus the OVA and extras. Animated by Satelight, it has a good look about it with a clean design that comes through well but with a softer color palette that gives it a slightly older looking feeling in the right way. Detail comes through very clean and problem free while the colors themselves hold up very well. It’s an appealing looking show overall but, like the audio, it’s not something with standout visuals that really make you take notice. The transfer is clean and problem free throughout and made for an enjoyable visual experience.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case the holds all the discs inside on hinges for the two formats. The o-card for the release mirrors the artwork and design on the case itself but with a slightly glossier look that works well. The front cover works a familiar key visual of the main cast of character together that bleeds into the bottom and it definitely works with the soft purple and the snowflakes in the background to give it a little more weight. The back cover carries over the color design and has a cute image of Yuki running in her winter coat along the right. The rest is standard design material with some decent shots from the show, a good summary of the premise, and a clean breakdown of the extras. The technical grid also covers everything very well in a clean and easy to read format so you know what you’re getting. While there are no inserts with the show we do get artwork on the reverse side; the left panel has Yuki under an umbrella in the rain as she’s alongside the episode numbers and titles while the right side gives us a really great image of her reading a book with chibi versions of the other characters floating around her.
The menus for this release work a similar kind of simplicity that certainly works as we get the static image design for it. The menu goes for an all white background that has the cast shot on the left, which is nice and busy without being overdone, while the right has the softly colored logo for the series with its pinkish red and blue. The navigation along the bottom has the text in simple black with a decent sized font and it has a cute Y as the cursor that ties into the large red Y along the left side. Everything is functional and easy to use with navigation being a breeze both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are pretty basic, unless you really do count the OVA as an extra (we don’t), as we get the clean opening and closing sequences, some home video promo and TV spot material, and… that’s it. Sadly, there are no commentary tracks made for this release, something we see on nearly all Funimation releases.
With the success of the original Haruhi works it was little surprise that there would be a range of spinoffs that would come from it. Debuting in 2009 in Young Ace, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan came from Puyo and served as an expansion on the alternate universe piece we saw in the main Haruhi property from the fourth volume of the light novels as well as the film. This show landed in the spring of 2015 and had a strange sixteen episode count to it plus an OVA, which was produced by Satelight with Junichi Wada directing all of it. With the recent release of the Haruhi TV series, I ended up skipping over that as I just felt that the show had its moment in the sun and I really and truly was not interested in revisiting it again all these years later. It was its own thing at a time where it could be and replicating it is near impossible.
With this series, I was curious to see what the alternate reality storyline could produce sin there’s a fair bit of manga and these kinds of shows can really either do something fun or really engaging. Seeing the way the Madoka Magica works have sprawled or the Fate/Stay Night properties have certainly show there’s so much potential in it. And coming from a big comic book background that relies heavily on such things I know what can be done and the sheer variety to it all. Which is why this series in the end (and the beginning, and the middle) proved to be so disappointing. The time and place that it wants to follow is not the weird and wacky of what the primary timeline is about with Haruhi and all her specialness but rather just a story about a somewhat shy girl that makes friends, gains a crush, and sort of just coasts through existence outside of one brief bit of trouble that’s not even memorable even as it uses the series name.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan follows our title character as she’s running her Literature Club with Ryoko but it’s essentially just a quiet nothing club that lets her do all the reading she wants. It grows slowly as Kryon is drawn into it and eventually we get a few others like the occasional guest appearance from Haruhi, some cute time with Asahina as one would hope and expect, and a little time with Tsuruya as well. There are plenty of familiar pieces here from the club room to the cast and the school as a whole, but none of the magic that was captured before that comes to life. This is, quite simply, a quiet story of a boy and a girl that are slowly nudged towards each other through a series of familiar and drawn out events that we’ve seen far too many times over the years in almost the same exact fashion.
Christmas party? Check. Valentine’s chocolates and nervousness? Check. Hot spring trip? Check. Beach episode? Check. Dark moments that are largely forgotten not long afterward with lead character? Check. Summer festival? Check. Summer vacation with lots of fanservice? Check.
And that’s what’s barely memorable when you get down to it. Without the SOS Brigade, without Haruhi’s nature, without Yuki being who she’s been elsewhere and the same with Asahina… without the film, without all the things that made the original work so interesting, this alternate world is just plain bland. There are some nice moments of tenderness that come up and if you rallied big behind the idea of Kyon and Yuki you’ll find lots of adorable moments there, but I never really felt relationships were all that interesting with this property. And I’ve always been an Asahina kind of guy anywhere simply because of how she blunders her way through everything. But the main problem here is that the show goes so far to the normality to give us that real world youthful experience with all of its restrained tension that there’s nothing to move you here. Nothing to capture your heart or imagination because we’ve seen these characters come to life in bigger and grander ways elsewhere and they end up feeling largely neutered here.
While I can find some cute moments to like here and there, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is one of those rare shows that just leaves me feeling almost nothing for it. It’s well put together from top to bottom with the animation, design work, the casting for both the Japanese and English side, and the home video release. Everything is spot on professionally done and problem free. But the story is just so shallow that it’s the five miles wide and a tenth of an inch deep kind of work. Fans of the show will certainly enjoy what they get here but if you were struggling with the original work then this could be either a huge hit or miss depending on what you’re looking for. For me, this was a significant miss.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, OVA – I Cannot Let Summer Break End, Textless Opening Song ”Fure Fure Mirai”, Textless Closing Song ”Arigatou, Daisuki” , TV Spots, Blu-ray/DVD Promo, U.S. Trailer, Trailers
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Running Time: 400 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.