Winter’s Melancholy: Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu Review

I… I forgive you, Kyoto Animation.

I was amongst those that felt that season 2 of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu was something of a travesty. The character design change irked us (too damn cutesy), and the eight episode long “Endless Eight” Groundhog’s Day arc was… unbelievably bothersome. At one episode a week, that was two straight months of the same plot run over and over again – and, no, animating each of them from scratch did nothing to lessen the absurdity of it all.

But this makes up for it. In fact, this… this is the perfect capstone to the entire series.

Don’t make another episode. Don’t make another special. Let it stop here, amidst the snowdrifts of a late winter’s evening. Let it end with “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya,” because there can be no better, no more beautiful an end.

It is easy to forget, after Lucky Star, two seasons of K-On, and whatever that next moe series they were releasing next, that Kyoto Animation actually started off as one of the most cinematic of the currently active anime studios. When they have the budget for it, they were capable of visual feats ranging from the jawdropping to the impressively nuanced – something they hadn’t practiced in the deluge of simplistic slice-of-life fare that they’ve been serving up as of late. After watching the Haruhi movie, I think I understand why now – quality like this can’t be cheap. The work and investment behind it must have been straining at the company’s bottom line for literal years now.

I don’t know how true it is, but it would not surprise me greatly if the business plan for KyoAni during the last few years was geared towards releasing cheap, profitable titles in order to support their cinematic ambitions.

Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu isn’t a flashy movie. There’s all of one “fight” scene, if it can even qualify as a fight. Nothing in it is meant to dazzle or impress or shock. Yet it will take your breathe away. Kyoto Animation sought to make a movie that would do justice the emotional weight and impact of the fourth novel of the Haruhi series… and, largely, they succeeded. In many ways, they triumphed.

Popular media can, in fact, be Art. Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu was a cinematic experience in totality, combining visual, audio and emotional elements into a transcendental whole. I’m not sure how well it’d play out to those that aren’t already familiar to the source material, but for us fans (even those that turned away after Endless Eight), there can be no better, no more fitting end to the franchise than that final turn of the doorknob.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on December 22, 2010.

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