Moments in Anime 2010: When God is Away, Kyon Won’t Pray: Kyon’s Threat in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

I’m glad I waited and did not watch the cam-rip edition of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya film. The film itself is a stunning visual spectacle. It won’t give you the grand landscapes of Mononoke Hime, or the sustained fluid action of Sword of the Stranger, or the detailed and diverse imagery of Paprika; it basically takes a GIGA DRILL to a thumb wrestling match and animates the quietest of scenes with ridiculous powers.

I’m talking about the coffee shop conversation between Kyon, Koizumi and Haruhi where their table is by the window. The whole scene you can see Kyon talking by the window while regular traffic passes by outside (no car repeats itself), and you can even see Koizumi’s reactions to Kyon via translucent reflection. Insane. Thank Yuki I can view this in 1080p high definition.

But I’m not here to discuss the merits of the film. I liked it a lot, suffice to say. Sugita delivered a performance of a lifetime to carry here via Kyon’s monologues. The film ties in so tightly with everything shown in the franchise so far, making for a satisfyingly intricate plot. The conceit of this film (and Kyon’s growth) allowed the female cast to exist primarily as moé fanservice, and it’s of an amazing standard. I’m here to discuss the spoils of Kyon’s victory.

Kyon, by working out his true feelings about the world he was thrust in revolving around Haruhi, chooses it over the mundane alternative: a world where Haruhi as God disappeared. Not only has Haruhi lost her God powers along with anything supernatural in the whole firmament (so I assume), Haruhi isn’t even in the same school. In so doing he worked out the incredible toll the whole thing (considerable, accounting the whole extent of Endless Eight) took on Nagato Yuki. Kyon also came to realize how irresponsible he’s been in letting Nagato to do all of the work, while he does little but complain about his circumstances.

For him, Nagato has grown into a human person, and with it his own feelings for her which include acrimony towards the Integrated Data Sentient Entity who programmed her in what Kyon believes to be a severely limited personality.

Kyon threatened the Integrated Data Sentient Entity that should it remove Nagato Yuki from her post, he will cause Armageddon by revealing to Suzumiya Haruhi that he is the John Smith who will change the world.

Kyon threatened to destroy the universe if anybody messes with his harem. It’s a touching gesture truly, and it honors the work and growth of Nagato Yuki which is beyond my reckoning at this point. However, is this a responsible policy?

In Disappearance, Kyon resolves to no longer remain as a bystander, a heckler from the cheap seats endlessly complaining but never playing on the court. Well, he sure is a player now!

Take the scene between Kyon and Nagato on the hospital rooftop.

Kyon is on bended knee, proposing (policy) to Yuki:

Pass along this message to your boss:

If you ever disappear or go away, know this–

I will let all hell break loose. I will do anything it takes to bring you back. I don’t have any powers myself, but I sure as hell can stir up Haruhi.

Kyon then monologued internally:

That’s why I’ve been keeping a trump card. All I’d need to do is tell her, “I am John Smith.” That’s right. I have about as much power as a sponge, but Haruhi is stupidly powerful. If Nagato ever disappears, I will reveal everything to her and make her believe me.

After that we’d embark on a quest to get Nagato back. Even if the Integrated Data Sentient Entity hides her somewhere, Haruhi would be able to do something.

I’d force her to, and I’d drag Asahina-san and Koizumi into it as well. Nagato is our compainion. If any of our members went missing, Haruhi wouldn’t take it lying down. Thats the kind of person Suzumiya Haruhi is. Selfish and egotistical and inconsiderate, our nuisance of a brigade chief […]

Kyon reflects on how the IDSE could’ve made Nagato with a different, more emotionally broad character but they didn’t. Then he told Yuki,

If they have any complaints, I will take Haruhi and recreate the world completely. We’ll make a world where you’re here, and the Integrated Data Sentient Entity doesn’t exist.

Nagato acknowledges the message and tells Kyon he will tell the IDSE his message.

Is this the resolution of someone who chooses to work with the elites to protect the world? It seems to me that this is the resolution of someone who wants to protect his world. He’s found his thresholds. He’s fine with the chaos and inconvenience that Haruhi causes because:

  1. Dere-dere~ Haruhi is mighty nice (and she’ll be like this frequently enough)
  2. As much as Koizumi’s, Asahina’s and Nagato’s existences revolve around Haruhi, theirs also revolve around him. As much as he can threaten the IDSE, he can threaten each of them.
  3. He is King and the SOS is his harem (Koizumi is his eunuch).

When Kyon talks about fulfilling his responsibility to the end. He may just be talking about a responsibility to himself, and perhaps his friends. To be responsible for all of existence is after all, a big thing to ask from a high school student.

When Haruhi disappeared from the world, did Kyon pray to her? I think Nagato became the Goddess that made Haruhi disappear, and Kyon may just have founded a new religion around her instead.

I’m very glad too that I watched this show this late, and found it appropriately set on Christmastime. Whomever you worship or whether you do so at all, Merry Christmas!

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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44 Responses to Moments in Anime 2010: When God is Away, Kyon Won’t Pray: Kyon’s Threat in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

  1. lelangir says:

    Yeah, fucking awesome that I saved this for winter FFFFFFFFFFFFF.

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  3. kluxorious says:

    That;s a new spin of seeing things differently alright. Good eyes but I’m in denial.

  4. animekritik says:

    Haven’t seen this yet, so let me just say merry xmas!

    • Merry Christmas and I look forward to your own take on this fine film.

      • animekritik says:

        I just watched this. I’ve always felt this franchise is about a glorified harem, and this movie fits the bill perfectly. What’s interesting to me is how Kyon rationalizes things. He never once dares admit to himself that Haruhi has a crush on him, and he never once admits to himself that one of the main reasons Nagato remade the world was to get rid of Haruhi and have a chance at a relationship with him.

        So as cool as Kyon is, there is this constant inauthenticity (to borrow one of your favorites) about his situation. I mean, for all of the internal monologue we get, you’d think he’d let himself go and acknowledge these feelings in the women and in himself at least sometimes!!

        The art and animation was superb. I’m glad I hadn’t read the light novel.

        • I’ve suspected it, but by the time I watched it I have completed zero harem shows. I did watch a lot of Ranma 1/2 back in the day, but I couldn’t force the comparison then.

          Regarding Kyon’s inauthenticity, these are the things really worth thinking about:

          1. All these events only transpired in a single school year (I’ve known people go through longer periods under similar but secular circumstances).
          2. All these events transpired over a ridiculous amount of time thanks to the whole arc starting from Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody through Endless Eight and then Disappearance. You’d think that Kyon would’ve had more than just this epiphany in particular.

          Kyon doesn’t acknowledge the existence of his harem even to himself — but only if we are to take his monologue as real-time thoughts. If he’s telling this as a story as if putting it down on paper or autobiographically, then there’s more than enough space for him to be cheating everyone.

  5. Flak says:

    Kyon needs a ponytail

    • His hair is too short. Itsuki maybe (though still short).

      But let’s say you’re being really clever here…

      Kyon needs the ponytail indeed. There’s something behind the 37% increase in Haruhi’s charm. It isn’t just about changing her looks. Her long-haired version is pretty fetching. The ponytail represents Kyon’s control or influence over Haruhi — the direct way, and not the way he has little control over (as Itsuki has been revealing to him since SHNY).

      We can even look at it as foreshadowing of the confidence for the threat he feels he can make against The IDSE re Nagato on the rooftop.

      So yes, Kyon needs that ponytail.

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  7. KrimzonStriker says:

    Since I haven’t seen the movie yet myself, it really isn’t fair of me to comment about it, but on the blog entry itself I’ll just say that from what I gather the plot demanded the focus be on Nagato. I could easily picture Kyon doing this to and for any of his other friend as well if it was their circumstances (Time police issued a recall, psychics initiated a cover-up, etc.) that forced the overall change to his world. Other then that I found it pretty insightful and glad Kyon finally stepped up, to do what he at least can do, to play that part. While rightly his focus is on the pretext of ‘his world’ as you put it, my own interpretation perceives that as simply being one amongst an entire universe, that his wants and desires are thus merely the role he serves in the grand scheme of things, anymore then Haruhi herself even, which Kyon demonstrates by flexing his influence at last. Just as keeping Nagato makes things right in Kyon’s world, so too does it ‘right’ the universe itself! To which I lean back into my chair, tapping my fingers together in unison and exclaiming the word “Eeexxxccceelleeenttt” In this sense, I suppose the divergence between my opinion and yours boils down to independence versus responsibility as the true moral of the story.

    • I don’t disagree with your points, as it underscores the clever subversion this whole franchise makes on the harem trope complex. In the end, Kyon keeps the status quo, every female ends up having something more intense with him (going through something strengthening in their relationships), Koizumi ends up playing enabler, shipping can be and is indulged.

      Have fun watching the film and do it this Christmas season if you can.

  8. megaroad1 says:

    Not seen the movie but read the novel. Cannot wait to see this fine, beautiful animation you speak off!

    • Do it this Christmas and get back to me here!

      • megaroad1 says:

        You’re absolutely right. The level of detail in the animation is nothing short of mindblowing. I mean you can actually clearly the outlines of leaves of the trees moving with the wind. The number of man hours that went into this film cannot be underestimated.

        The film itself is in my opinion, one of the few cases were the visual version is superior to the source text (the novel). The characters are more fleshed out and their reactions and responses to the events around them feel more real and Kyon’s despair at his new reality really hits home.

        You’re right in saying that the level to which Kyon commits to preserve the status quo is pretty impressive (damn the world, I’ll create a new one if needs be). It’s amazing that he can be portrayed managing to feel so strongly about it, without a clear love story like in some other anime.

        • Substitute a clear love story for a harem dynamic and it works for the core audience. After all, this film isn’t meant to be an introduction to the franchise and there are no worries at how Kyon’s friendship(?) with Nagato is enough motivation for rapturous, cataclysmic, Alpha+Omega threats.

  9. ~xxx says:

    It’s actually pretty good.
    Kyon now has a role in the game of how can Haruhi turn the tables of humanity.

  10. Shinmaru says:

    I always thought Kyon at the end of Disappearance was pretty badass. If I had a world like this to myself, I’d fight like hell to protect it too.

    • Just note that the world he’s protecting doesn’t extend very far. It doesn’t matter if somewhere in the Philippines I’m having the time of my life with my baby daughter if the IDSE demotes Nagato, my family’s lives and our world would end.

  11. Yumeka says:

    I really need to take another look at that scene in the cafe and observe all the details you’re talking about. KyoAni really outdid themselves as far as quality animation for the movie.

    Thanks for offering another interesting way of interpreting Disappearance. Although I don’t fully agree about the harem thing, I can see how it can be looked upon that way. This movie is definitely all about Kyon and Yuki’s character development. And, not to spoil much from later novels, it’s a turning point because after this, conflict begins to come from the outside rather than within the SOS Brigade.

    • As I’ve mentioned to others who responded, I’ve thought that SHNY is lauded for its subversion of the traditional harem trope complex. It’s not quite as subversive here given how Kyon indulges himself more with the haremettes — or maybe it is more subversive here, for the same reasons — without having a clear central love story (or get in the pants story) running through it.

  12. Flak says:

    You know it’s a good movie if I like it and it’s a Haruhi film

  13. Kaioshin Sama says:

    I liked the movie more than I thought I would, but god damn does it drag brutally at points and have pacing issues pretty much all throughout. I don’t know if I can fully appreciate a movie that feels like a test of willpower at times, but it has it’s moments and is indeed very well animated even if the characters sometimes look like they have been superimposed on MUCH more detailed backgrounds. I reserve most of my praise for the animation for Studio Blue (a Korean studio believe it or not and an unsung hero who’s work seems to have been overshadowed by Kyoani’s immense popularity) which did the backgrounds and who seem to have been inspired by that early 90’s style of background art that I’ve seen in works like Patlabor and Macross Plus and I kind of hope to see more of them in the future. Without Studio Blue’s work I think the movie loses a lot of it’s character and charm.

    Thinking about my issues with the movies narrative definitely highlights my current dilemma with the copy of War and Peace I got today for Christmas. After reading a bit of the foreword it’s apparently a shorter “original version” that Tolstoy would have preferred to see published and lacks what he himself apparently called the “excessive verbiage” of the classic 1,500 page version we all know that he himself later claimed goes off on circular philosophical tangents that distract from the heart of the drama and points he’s trying to make with the movie. My dilemma is whether I would prefer to keep this shorter “original version” or exchange it for the classic translation that is 600 pages longer.

    I’d been leaning toward exchanging it for the longer classic version all throughout the day because I figure that this “original version” can’t possibly be superior to the heralded classic that has received all the praise in the world, but being reminded of this film and how I felt it was unnecessarily long and filled with Kyon’s circular musings that drove me nuts as I waited for the next act to start long after getting his point and recalling what Tolstoy was reported to have said about wishing he could redo his own novel as more akin to the shorter version I have before me to get to the point I’m starting to think I might as well just keep it and then check out the classic version later.

    To go with what is popular and heralded as a seminal work or to go with what the original author wanted and what sounds like a clearer narrative…..I still don’t know about War & Peace, but I’d love to see a director’s cut of this movie that loses about 40 minutes here and there during the redundant parts.

    By the way apparently Gundam 00 A Wakening of The Trailblazer came out on Blu-Ray sometime this week and I’m sure you’re already gearing up to work on a post for that if you haven’t already started.

  14. Omisyth says:

    The detail that goes into the subtleties in each scene of the movie is freaking ridiculous. Take Kyon and Nagato walking home, I couldn’t help but notice how the lights of the cars going in each direction refelected off of them so realistically. Goddamn it was beautiful.

    I just liked the fact the movie developed Nagato’s character to even more of an extent. I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind that deadpan expression of hers.

    • Indeed.

      I was surprised at first at how massively popular Nagato is as a character, and certainly the amount of moe-moe fanservice (and filling out her story) this film provides is a testament to her popularity.

  15. ariannasterling says:

    I’m so torn on what I should watch first for the New Year, but I have a feeling it’ll end up being the Haruhi movie.

  16. Jack says:

    I don’t have that many nice things to say about the actual plot and characters of any Haruhi property, so I’ll refrain from brining them up here.

    However, I will lavish praise on Kyoto Animation for making this work look “like a film” (even if structurally it may be slightly long). All too often when anime television shows get a movie version they look, and feel like a badly extended episode. The most recent offender would be the “Eden of the East” movies which don’t really look that better than the original TV anime in many places. “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” even has a few inconsistencies in it’s animation.

    Not so so the Haruhi movie. You’ve already pointed out one of the most important aspects of the presentation, which is the excellent character animation. But equally crucial is the lighting.

    Far too often an anime will only use flat, standard lighting for nearly every scene (bar something very dramatic). But here we see a much more diverse range of lighting schemes, all of which breathe life into the world so subtly that the viewer probably won’t even notice it.

    • I wish I had the vocabulary for photographic/cinematographic analysis.

      The show being in winter, and also at night rendered it a bit drab due to its perpetual overcast and/or evening. I think this made the lighting touches a bit too subtle for most viewers, but they’re definitely there.

  17. As usual, I’m late to another post. But I am very glad I waited to watch this. You wouldn’t think such detailed animation would be necessary for something without explosions or giant ships or anything Hollywood-esque. But this film is beautiful, and detailed, and I appreciate every millimeter of effort that went into crafting it.

    As for Kyon, at the end he was selfish and fierce and committed. Whether this causes a problem later time will tell. I think the fact that we saw the young Asahina show up with his “other” self after he got stabbed may have been some sort of hint as to how willing he is to drag everyone into this. Also Koizumi’s words keep ringing in my head. I’d say it was less than subtle that he’s not happy where he is in the world, whether that be in Haruhi’s or Yuki’s. This movie is a valuable lesson as to what the SOS brigade has been going through. If Nagato goes through this, then I’m sure Koizumi and Asahina have some pent up feelings that need to be dealt with, too.

    I’m not a Haruhi fan, per se, but the more I watch the characters, the more I rewatch their antics, the more they grow on me. I fell in love with Yuki during this movie, and I gained a bit more respect for Haruhi as well. I think my emotions went step and step with Kyon’s throughout this movie.

    • If Nagato goes through this, then I’m sure Koizumi and Asahina have some pent up feelings that need to be dealt with, too.

      Now this is interesting for me, especially since these characters don’t have universe-bending powers to force drama to happen.

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