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Dated 1 May 2010: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is really about her return

Disappearance is more Yuki's movie than it is Haruhi's.

This apostle of Haruhi fell victim to temptation and watched the horrible cam rip of Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu. The camrip is strictly amateurish, and of such poor quality the best thing I can say about it is it must be a labor of love. I guess it's still better than the Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 camrip which I had to close after 10 seconds for being almost literally unwatchable.

This is about as good as the quality gets.

As for the movie itself, it's stunning. The comparison is apples to oranges, but I liked it better than both Summer Wars and Rebuild of Evangelion 1.11. Despite its focus on drama instead of comedy, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is heavy on the factors that made the original series so good.

Seriously, can I pre-order a Blu-ray yet? This is terrible.

Likewise, the movie does wonders for Haruhi herself. [Spoilers: She's in the movie.] Kyon's happiness at seeing her again is our happiness. So too seeing the Haruhi we know emerge from the Shoushitsu Haruhi we meet at first. Gone is the exasperating and vicious Haruhi from The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya. We had to lose Haruhi to find her. (Cruel is one thing, but vicious is another—I can dig cruelty when it's packaged with enough charisma.)

Kyon is going to be so sore in the morning.

Speaking of The Sighs of Haruhi Suzumiya, the second season broadcasts do matter. Specifically, the tanabata episode and "Endless Eight" matter. Without delving further into spoiler territory, the viewer will appreciate a critical aspect of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya more if he suffered through all of "Endless Eight." Don't worry, it also works if you actually enjoyed "Endless Eight," as I did.

Dated 20 December 2010: More about Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu

Nagato Yuki
Reflections appear a lot in this movie.

There is finally a Blu-ray release for The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. As I said earlier, this is an amazing movie. After watching it again, I must say I do enjoy it more than Summer Wars, more than Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works, easily more than Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st, and even more than both of the Rebuild of Evangelion movies that have been released thus far.

It can't be that cold, Kyon. It's not even below freezing.

So what new insights and benefits can one derive from re-watching The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya via a high definition release compared to an amateur cam rip (besides the plainly obvious)? Well, for one thing, it is much more apparent how warm all of the scenes with Disappearance Nagato Yuki are. Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu is very much a winter movie, with a mostly gray palette and bitterly cold scenes. In contrast, Nagato appears to fill the clubroom with warmth. Likewise, although her apartment is spartan—almost barren—it radiates with a glow that one does not typically associate with the quiet and unassuming Nagato.

Kyon at Nagato Yuki's apartment
I gotta say, that is one awesome apartment.

Additionally, it's much more apparent now when Kyon sees himself reflected in Yuki's eyes. I've claimed before that this is very much her movie. I amend that statement now to say it is very much their movie. Without revealing too much about the plot or the movie's secrets, Shoushitsu gives us a privileged look into the mind of a girl we thought we knew—one we've perhaps taken for granted because she has been so reliable. In so doing, the motion Yuki makes with her arm towards the end of the film, when she is doing something almost indistinguishable from magic, seems to both beckon while at the same time waving farewell—an appropriate gesture she arguably makes to herself, to Kyon, and to us.

Dated 31 December 2010: 2010 Girl of the Year

Aoba is the Best Girl of 2010 even though
Adachi Mitsuru can only draw one face.

Congratulations to Tsukishima Aoba, 2010's Best Girl. This was a pretty easy choice despite a lot of strong contenders. More about Aoba herself and the rest of this year's nominations below.

Shimizu sees Goro again after a long absence.

Shimizu Kaoru from the sixth season of Major got an automatic nomination by virtue of being last year's winner. Unfortunately, Shimizu did not get many scenes during this epic baseball show's final season, and had many of her presumably more important moments from the manga relegated to the montage during the last episode. I suspect Major probably has enough material for a seventh season, but I don't think we'll get any more in anime form unless there are OVAs.

Conan and Ran
This usually means somebody's about to get fucked.

I've decided to add Mouri Ran to basically every Best Girl of the Year list from here on out on general principle because Ran is one of anime's All Time Babes. Detective Conan doesn't change much and appears capable of running indefinitely, and Ran is enough of a sweetheart that she could potentially win this contest any year, so consider her a baseline metric of sorts. Certainly anyone below the Mouri Ran Line has no hope of winning.

Sasha and Katja
Katja breaks Sasha's brain.

Only people who watched Seikon no Qwaser will fully understand why Katja gets a nomination. Too many people either did not watch the show at all or gave up on it far too early to fully appreciate just how ridiculous Qwaser managed to be. Katja's contributions are too numerous to list here, but I'll point to three key moments that cemented her nomination in 2010's Best Girl competition: (1) The scene where she connects her phone to her television. (2) The railgun powered by breast milk. (3) The scene where incorruptibly loyal Hana comes flying in out of left field.

Yamada is basically Ranpha, the early years.

Yamada from B Gata H Kei barely makes the list for being outrageous (only medium outrageous in a year containing Seikon no Qwaser) and for being an excuse for Yukarin to say amazing things.

Nagato Yuki
Be glad this isn't a Key story, Yuki.

Nagato Yuki qualifies this year because of the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie. As I've said before, this is more her movie than Haruhi's. Now, in order to answer the obvious question that people who have seen the movie must be asking without venturing into spoiler territory before those who have not seen it, let me just say this: Based on how Kyon views Nagato in the beginning of the film, the middle, and the at the end, I think the impact she has on him (and hopefully the viewer) elevates her into the upper pantheon of this year's nominees.

Ika Musume
Squids love the long ball.

A late arrival, especially because I did not start watching Shinryaku! Ika Musume until it was already half over, Ika Musume herself easily gains a nomination as one of 2010's Best Girls. A genius at everything (except invading) and filled with verve and imagination, Ika Musume should be on everyone's list of this season's Best Girls. Well, I guess there is that technicality about whether or not squids can be girls, but I consulted the judges panel and they allowed it.

Nobody on the team trains harder than Aoba.

Finally, our victor, Tsukishima Aoba from Cross Game wins the title of Best Girl of the Year for 2010 with her solid showing throughout the yearlong baseball anime. Aoba nearly won the title last year, and was an early favorite to win even though Cross Game ended in March.

The best coaches are in the stands.
-Charles M. Schulz

It's easy to describe Aoba as another Haruka Tomatosauce tsundere, but I believe Aoba honestly hated Kou when they were children—jealous of the attention he got from her sister. However, Aoba grudgingly comes to respect Kou's physical talents for baseball and dedicates her considerable knowledge and love for the game into transforming him into the type of pitcher who can make her sister's dream come true. My memory is very hazy on this point, so the accuracy of the following anecdote is suspect at best: I believe Don Drysdale once lamented it was a shame the Los Angeles Dodgers did not have a pitcher with Orel Hershiser's brain in Kevin Gross' body. That's basically the idea behind the Aoba + Kou combination in Cross Game. It's a pity Adachi Mitsuru could not re-write the rules of Japanese high school baseball, but Aoba's head—and her heart—were enough for her to win it all this year, even if her arm could not officially compete.

That's still an awesome phone.

If you're wondering why Shikinami Asuka Langley didn't win by default, it's because Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 came out in 2009. Also Soryu > Shikinami.

[Update: Added Panty from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.]

Dated 18 May 2015: It's not just the books that disappeared, Yuki-chan

Kyon, Ryoko, Haruhi, Yuki, and Koizumi
Small gods move in mysterious ways.

I still enjoy the Haruhi franchise quite a bit, even in its Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan guise. For the most part, the characters remain true to their established forms, with the notable exception of Yuki herself. You wouldn't expect this to be problematic, since the entire premise of Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu is that it takes place in an alternate reality based on the Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu book and movie. However, Yuki-chan from the television anime is neither the "original" Nagato nor her alternate counterpart from the 2010 feature film.

Yuki and Kyon
It's funny because she's short.

Disappearance movie Nagato is quiet and incredibly meek, but Disappearance TV Yuki is sort of spacey and oblivious instead in a clumsy sort of way that's supposed to make her appear cute. She already has an established friendship with Kyon, which at least provides a framework for the overarching story about her crush on him, but she's also clearly not alt.movies.nagato warmed up a bit. Part of the difference is how this Yuki plays video games constantly instead of spending all of her time reading. I'm not entirely sure what inspired this change. Some have postulated it makes her more relatable to the show's target demographic, but I wonder if it's actually to make her appear less introspective and thus reinforce the sort of clueless, helpless vibe she currently extrudes? In any case, it's not a good change, but also not bad enough to sink the entire series, thanks to Haruhi still being Haruhi and doing all the in-character Haruhi things Her faithful have come to expect of their small god.