13 April 2016 | JHD_inc
This one pulled my heartstrings
A bit of a mushy title for my review, I know, but it corresponds with the tone of the show; it's sappy - no point in denying it – and I loved every minute of it. Well, I loved most minutes of it.
A short synopsis: Girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl doesn't really know what to do next. Oh yeah, almost forgot. Girl is just a girl this time around, not an alien/humanoid interface created by the Data Overmind.
Before we continue; I hope you saw "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" and its movie "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya"? If not, you should probably do that first. You'll be able to appreciate this show more and parts of my review won't make a lot of sense otherwise. Go ahead, I'll wait here.
Done already? Excellent. You fly right through them, don't you? But what's up season 2? Sub-par, if you ask me. All those redundant "Endless Eight" episodes just to reach that anti-climactic conclusion?! I mean, seriously, after-
Sorry, I digress.
Now, if you just watched all that, enjoyed it, but (like me) thought Nagato-san had more "moe" in her left pinkie than Asahina as a whole (regardless which outfit she was forced to wear) and felt the demure humanoid interface (and her human counterpart) deserved a hug, than this spin-off is definitely for you. Even if you didn't feel that way and just enjoyed the original show (the movie in particular), give this one a try as well. Fair warning though; liking the original might indicate you'll like this spin-off as well, but it might also mean you'll hate it. It is quite a different beast.
Dealing much more with the trials and tribulations of the protagonist's timid heart, rather than Haruhi's antics and the supernatural surrounding her, the show's overall tone is considerably calmer and more down to earth than the original. As stated before, it can get downright sappy at times, but it does so in an endearing way, never feeling overbearing. It's a tribute to the underdog; the quiet one, always hidden in the shadow of others; the shy one sitting on the side- line; the one waiting for an opportunity to open up. The spotlight is being turned on Yuki Nagato, and it's her moment to shine. Well, perhaps not shine, but she does twinkle gently. The old cast members (and their voice actors, for both original and English versions) are all reunited, filling supporting roles, keeping things lively and light-hearted. There is some nice interplay between characters, feeling more organic than in the original, which is only logical, given the different nature of the two shows.
At this point I feel I should point out this Nagato is not really the one we got to know in the original show, or even her alter-ego from the movie. What made the original(s) so endearing (I think), was how much effort it took for her human side to show, making it all the more gratifying when it did. Compared to the original(s) this Yuki is actually quite well-adjusted, if just a bit shy. That being said, the new version is more than adequately equipped with quirks and lovable features.
And then, a few episodes in, when you've resigned yourself (happily) to continue watching our bespectacled heroine stumble her way into romance (quite effectively, I must say), you're thrown a curveball when she "disappears". (Relax, that's not a spoiler; it says so right in the title.) Amidst all the accidental touching, obligatory blushing, stammering and other clichés (don't worry, they hang a lantern on it), there is room for surprise. I can't give away too much about what happens, but I'm not ashamed to admit; my eyes misted over a few times.
Before you start watching I should warn you though; the anime has only partly covered the published manga and at the time of writing it's unclear whether or not the remainder of the story will be brought to the screen. As it stands the series' ending is a bit lacklustre as a finale. But I'm sure a copy of the manga is floating around somewhere, for those of us desiring closure.
Which brings me to the reasons I can't give this show more than a 7/10. It doesn't have much of a story; it moves from one sweet moment to another, provides an enjoyable ride, but doesn't actually go anywhere. (I realise this is not necessarily a bad thing. Your average sitcom won't have much of a story. Shows like "Lucky Star" make a point of not going anywhere, and we enjoyed that... didn't we?!). Though it does has plenty "slice of life" elements, it's also a love-story, but after the last episode you're not really left with the satisfying feeling of having been told a story. A love-triangle is touched upon, but it deserved a lot more attention. The story-arc of Yuki's disappearing act is the only real bit with highs and lows. (Which I really liked it, it pushed my rating up from a 6 to a 7.) But in hindsight, it was handled rather hurriedly. It comes in quite late and the consequences for the rest of the (lack of) story is limited. I mean, it's in the title of the show, you'd think they'd explore it a bit more. The rest of the show feels comfortable, but flat.
All in all, it's an enjoyable show with plenty of sweet and endearing moments, but it could use some more substance.