Anyone who has seen the first 2 seasons of this anime needs to experience this movie - if you have not seen them, please do or read below. Clocking in at over 2 hrs 43 min, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a faithful representation of the novel, but in my opinion, conveys the message more effectively than the source material. It is a masterpiece that had me endure almost every human emotion at one time or another.
For anyone who is not familiar with this, the Haruhi Suzumiya saga (Suzumiya Haruhi in Japanese) is an anime adapted from a series of light novels by Nagaru Tanigawa. (PLEASE NOTE THAT I WILL TRY TO KEEP THIS AS SPOILER FREE AS POSSIBLE, BUT IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE MOVIE, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE PREMISE OF SEASON 1 AND 2 - VERY LIGHT TO NO SPOILERS WILL BE REVEALED ABOUT THE MOVIE.)
It is the story of a sarcastic young man named Kyon who tells us early on that he has put away childish heroes and myths and is ready to experience the real world. On his first day of school he meets a beautiful yet interestingly bored young girl named Haruhi. Yet, unlike a "normal" female student who is interested in dating, sports, or joining school activities, she announces to her class that her only goal is in meeting "aliens, time travelers or espers (psychics)." Pretty weird to say the least!
However, the plot quickly jolts when Kyon unwittingly inspires the melancholic Haruhi to create her own club which she dubs the SOS Brigade (Spreading excitement all Over the world with Suzumiya haruhi brigade or S-O-S for short). The now spirited, eccentric, and almost intimidating Haruhi forcibly drafts Kyon and 3 other students into her club and sets out on a mission to find these supernatural beings and help other students who have dealt with mysterious happenings.
Of course, this would not be a unique anime without using sexy bunny costumes to advertise the club, blackmailing the computer club to set up the brigade's computer network, and students trying to kill Kyon to see how Haruhi's attitude will change...What???...just stay with me for a moment. Also, everyone has to keep Haruhi happy all the time because she has the power to destroy the universe if she gets angry or bored...YES THAT'S RIGHT! Ms. Suzumiya, unbeknownst to her, has supernatural powers that can recreate the entire universe or even destroy or change reality itself!
Another catch...the 3 other SOS club members soon reveal to Kyon that they are in fact the beings Haruhi has been searching for - a time traveler, alien and esper - who were sent by their respective organizations to keep an eye on Haruhi while preventing the end of the world. To top it off, Kyon is not allowed to tell Haruhi and has to pretend that life is peaches-and-cream, while he experiences giant crickets and lasers shooting out of people's eyes...just to name a few bizarre happenings. And of course, who is behind it all...you guessed it...Haruhi! So how does our cynical and want-to-be normal Kyon feel about this...NOT TOO HAPPY!
Many adventures take place in the first 2 seasons, which is why I heavily recommend watching them before this movie - which is in fact the 4th novel in the series. In addition, there are character development and plot elements that rightfully set the viewer up for what happens.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya takes place during Christmastime and the SOS Brigade (really Haruhi) plans to throw a Christmas Eve party in the club room. Kyon, still furious over Haruhi's hi jinx and the fact that he cannot experience a normal life continues to pout over his ridiculous reality...that is until he wakes up one morning and finds out that everything he knows changes. Students and classrooms are missing, sickness is plaguing the school, SOS brigade members have no idea who Kyon is and most importantly...Haruhi Suzumiya disappears!...and no one even remembers who she is!
In a hybrid of "It's a Wonderful Life" meets "Back to the Future," Kyon is given a rare perspective of how things can be without the supernatural chaos that has plagued him for the last few months. Be prepared to undergo numerous emotions as we see Kyon diagnose this new world without Haruhi Suzumiya and even contemplate if this is a reality he secretly desires to remain in. Of course, he still does not know how Haruhi could do such a thing...or is something else pulling the strings of the universe...? Kyon, who has wanted no part of any of this, is now in the driver's seat and is forced to make decisions that will change his life and the world's forever.
This Blu-ray is the Hong Kong version - Region A - and is compatible with US players, including the PS3. It is well made with the box art being the graphic shown on this page. The disk includes pop-up menus you would expect from a Blu-ray interface and fans of the series will immediately recognize the main menu song "Bouken Desho Desho?" (the opening for Season 1). I will mention that there is an animation of images from the film that could be a little spoiler happy, but nonetheless is still beautiful to see and did not ruin anything for me. The special features are only the trailers, but the real special feature is watching this in High Definition.
The English subtitles are in a crisp white (no yellow -italics garbage) and the animated visuals are gorgeous. There are a few spots where the color seems a bit washed in certain bright scenes but this might appear differently for people's televisions. In addition, it is true that people can watch this movie on the web, but there is no comparison to watching it in 1080p in your living room.
The movie is currently being dubbed in English and should be coming to our shores later this year (which I too will pick-up). However, if you cannot wait, pick up this Japanese language/English Subs edition.
In conclusion, in my opinion, this is the best anime movie that I have ever seen. What Season 1 and 2 did in comedy and suspense, Disappearance bridges into seriousness and contemplation. The soundtrack, produced by Satoru Kosaki, sounds simple yet magnificent - especially the track "Ready." Although the movie is lengthy, it always captures my attention in all the right places and I am left wanting more. You will laugh, you will cry...you will reflect even after the movie finishes. For those who have seen both Season 1 and 2, you will love and feel for characters even more. For all, I hope you will walk away with an assessment of your own life...and as Kyon has to do, realize just how important your decisions are to yourself and to the world around you.