Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

11 September 2017: In re Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? light novels

SukaSuka Blu-rays and light novels
Spoilers all over these covers. Maybe.

I enjoyed the Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? anime enough to import the first two (so far, anyway) Blu-ray discs and all five light novels. Fortuitously, a fan has translated all five of these books, leaving only the EX volumes and the SukaMoka sequels remaining. As you might expect, anime adaptations of light novels can benefit quite a bit in how they interpret the original works, presumably in ways not available to anime adaptations of manga. Anime adaptations of manga seem to be a bit more straightforward (often to their detriment), I assume out of deference to the mangaka or to avoid dealing with irate fans who won't accept an anime that changed something from the original manga.

But I digress.

SukaSuka Blu-ray volumes one and two
Surprising no one, the lead male character does not appear
on the cover of either of the first two Blu-ray sets.
(Not on the first four, for that matter.)

From a narrative standpoint, the SukaSuka anime generally follows the light novels, with really only minor tweaks to reinforce the anime's Chtholly-centric perspective. This is very much her story, so the anime omits some details about Willem and his backstory. Or rather, they're still present in the anime, but not explicitly addressed. It's reasonable for the viewer to draw different conclusions based on what the anime depicts, particularly when the clues provided in reference to parts explained in the light novel only appear briefly and without explanation. For example, Willem and Nephren are not necessarily falling to their deaths (absent outside intervention) in the opening one-minute prologue at the start of the first episode. These bits relate mostly to specifics provided in the light novels regarding the mechanics of "venenun" (alternatively, "venom") and origins of the Beasts and the Visitors. Components of these are in the anime, but remain somewhat vague in order to keep the attention on the core story it's telling. I.e., the romance.

SukaSuka Blu-ray volume two
At least there's a box.

These additional details in the light novels do help the reader understand the world better, but can go a bit too far at times. Most notably, there's a portion of the books that explicitly describes power levels from an objective standpoint. I find that contextualizing abilities in this video game sort of way detracts from the characters and is completely unnecessary in terms of helping the reader understand their relative strengths. Thankfully, this aspect does not pervade the entire series and is a relatively minor part of the narrative as a whole. On a more favorable note, details regarding the history of the world and the people involved do add to the story in positive ways. While there is no shortage of fantasy world stories, and no shortage of post-apocalyptic stories either, SukaSuka combines both. I rather enjoy the idea of a fantasy world which has gone through an apocalypse, leaving survivors weak and struggling for survival. In any case, it works a lot better here than having a "real" world go through an apocalyptic event, turning into a fantasy world.

SukaSuka Blu-ray volume two
And they come with books.

Anyone interested enough in the SukaSuka light novels to have reached this far probably already knows that the events of the 12-episode anime only run through the first three volumes. Naturally, this raises questions concerning the fates and futures of the characters after the anime. It's not really possible to discuss the fourth or fifth volumes of the light novels without including a lot of spoilers for the anime. At a minimum, the discussion would confirm or deny what may or may not occur towards the end of the anime or afterwards. I suppose I will at least say this to satisfy curious fans of the anime who still wish to avoid explicit spoilers: At least some of the chapters in the last two volumes are set during past events, so things you may have heard about certain characters are not necessarily as they seem. I've mentioned before that the anime itself is a little misleading in this way, as it presents things from the light novels outside of the same context, leading viewers to naturally draw conclusions which might not be entirely correct. (Or at least different from the source material, even if "correct" is arguably inapplicable in an adaptation.)

SukaSuka Blu-ray volume two
And there's an audio thingy.

With regard to the characters, the anime is very much Chtholly's show. Viewers of the anime should find it unsurprising I list her among the front-runners for 2017's Girl of the Year honors (or at least I would, if I still gave these awards). However, Nephren is the real star in the books. I already had a positive view of Ren from the anime, even if I mostly referred to her on the Twitter as "Mini-Kashima." The light novels expand her role in the story quite a bit by presenting a significant number of scenes from her perspective. The anime mostly tells its story from Chtholly's or Willem's points of view. This is appropriate, given the narrative the episodes are framing, but it does leave Nephren in a somewhat standard kuudere role, albeit one benefiting from a number of visual gags. Light novel Ren, though, is a real favorite, and a genuine reason to read the books if you're already inclined to like her. I do consider the anime and the light novels to be separate properties, and the anime ending is a Real Ending which does not need to incorporate parts of the books for reference or for validation. That is, any compulsion to read the books should come from an independent desire to enjoy them in their own right, and not out of any sort of preconceived notion that the anime needs more than what is actually there. Is there room in the anime for a sequel? I've not read SukaMoka (Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Mou Ichido dake, Aemasu ka?), the actual sequel, but presumably yes. In any case, SukaSuka volumes four and five themselves contain enough text to support another cours of anime—one I'd very much like to see.

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