In response to my post about the storytelling in the series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,
Shokamoka (who is right now high on my list of favorite people) suggested that the reason Suzumiya disappears from the final episode (WATCH OUT: SPOILER) was to set up the feature film that followed it, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.
I found it on YouTube:
It’s been uploaded several times. I suspect that this a gross violation of copyright laws. Watching it isn’t.
What I found interesting about Disappearance is that the writers had the same problem as they’d had with Melancholy, and that is: How do you create creative tension when your central character is able to control the world? My point about Melancholy was that it was basically impossible: one of the functions of the end of a narrative is to resolve the conflicts of the story, but because Harumi (unknowingly) controls the universe there really is no conflict and therefore nothing to resolve, leading to a “funky funky finish.”
In Disappearance they created narrative tension by making Kyon the central character…not just the one whose Point of View the story is told from (as in Melancholy) but also the character who drives the plot and whose decisions lead to the resolution. And Kyon can’t change the world, so he’s got to solve the problem.
Harumi (left) and Kyon. Typical poses from Melancholy.
This is a much more traditional type of storytelling. You know, it’s like Kyon is Spike Spiegel or Captain Kirk. It’s really his story and he drives the story without the powers of the others, especially Haruhi.
What I found really neat about it was that I read the last episode of Melancholy as Kyon looking around and seeing his future life without Haruhi. His life would go back to being normal, as it was before this madwoman entered his life, and it would be much more relaxed, and much more dull.
In Disappearance is that this is the exact choice he ultimately has to make: Does he want to go back to the wacky world of Haruhi’s whim, or does he like the world where his friends are, you know, normal?
As I originally said, Disappearance, and also another spin-off series, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, are fun, just like Melancholy, but they are not so innovative narratively. They follow more traditional forms of storytelling and the standard narrative structure. That doesn’t make them better or worse; just different.
If this is worth anything, in the manga the sequence of events that comprise Disappearance occurs near the middle of the series. When they made it into an anime, they left that sequence out of Melancholy. What that tells me is that the writers knew it too, that Melancholy and Disappearance were different narrative structures that didn’t fit together.
Oh, yeah, I liked it. If I don’t like it, I don’t watch it. Life’s too short and there are too many things to see.
Thanks, Shokamoka. I enjoyed Disappearance a lot and if you hadn’t pointed it out I might not have noticed it.