The junkyard presents two articles about the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan I...
The view from 5930 miles away:
This episode starts by replaying the events of the previous one, but from the perspective of Nagato. Despite covering the same ground this works surprisingly well, especially with her narration. It provides an insight into what’s happening in her head, and things might not be quite as straightforward as they at first seemed. Is this the real version of Nagato breaking through, or is something else going on? Is it, in fact, simply a form of amnesia taking effect?
Last week, all the clues were there to suggest this was the original, alien Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: her general demeanour, reading books instead of playing games, etc. But we weren’t inside her head like we are this week, and things don’t quite stack up. For clarity and the purposes of brevity, let’s consider three possible Nagatos here, and we’ll call the original version Melancholy/Nagato, this series parallel universe version Spinoff/Nagato, and the new version of Nagato who has emerged Amnesia/Nagato.
Spinoff/Nagato has gone, or her personality has been repressed, and Amnesia/Nagato has possession of her memories to a certain extent. She says it feels like “reading somebody else’s diary”. Whilst that could work in terms of her being Melancholy/Nagato, her understanding of Asakura and Kyon doesn’t quite add up. Surely Kyon is just Kyon to her, but instead to Amnesia/Nagato he is just a familiar face looking out from her hazy memories: “I know that boy.” Similarly, she is relearning her relationship with Asakura. Surely Melancholy/Nagato’s reaction to seeing Asakura again would be very different. From her point of view Asakura is dangerous, as we occasionally get reminded even in this spinoff.
“Maybe I’ll come up and stab you from behind.”
That’s one for the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya fans. Amnesia/Nagato is analytical, recognising things that Spinoff/Nagato might not have realised. She is perceptive enough to understand that Kyon cares deeply for her. Asakura is also incredibly perceptive, and kind enough to make it clear to Amnesia/Nagato that she isn’t rejecting her and wants to help her and be her friend, despite Amnesia/Nagato actually being the person acting as a barrier between Asakura and Spinoff/Nagato. She also says this:
“Pretending to be someone else sounds like it could be pretty exhausting.”
…which begs the question of what an inner struggle Melancholy/Nagato must have been going through on a daily basis, her whole life an act. But to get back to the speculation about Amnesia/Nagato, there is one big problem with the idea of her being Melancholy/Nagato: there is a moment where she shows embarrassment, actually reddening up. This would seem to be something Melancholy/Nagato would be incapable of. I’ll leave you with a few possibilities to ponder:
- This is Melancholy/Nagato but possessing Spinoff/Nagato’s memories is having an effect on her personality, allowing her to express and experience emotions better. Even so, reddening cheeks seems like an instinctive reaction she would not possess.
- This is Melancholy/Nagato but Spinoff/Nagato’s personality is gradually reasserting itself.
- This is not Melancholy/Nagato, but it’s just what it appears to be: a kind of amnesia.
- None of the above.
…and that last one might just offer a possibility I haven’t mentioned at all, because there’s a fourth Nagato we haven’t even considered. This series definitively does not take place in the same parallel universe as The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Could it possibly be that version of Nagato breaking through instead?
Whatever the case may be, think about what has happened from the point of view of Asakura and Kyon. It’s no wonder Asakura is stressed. Their friend has changed completely. I think a lot of viewers will be able to relate to that, not necessarily from the point of view of any kind of amnesia, but the fact is that people change, and sometimes quite suddenly. I remember from my school days that yesterday’s friend can be tomorrow’s stranger, and it’s not always clear why that has happened. Sometimes what you most want in life is for an old friend to just go back to the way they used to be. The problem is, sometimes that version of a friend exists only as a memory. A melancholy thought for a melancholy episode, and as thought-provoking as all this can be, I’m just about ready for Haruhi to bring the fun back. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later, because that has been an insurmountable problem for the spinoff so far. It really needs Haruhi to bring things to life. Without her, it’s all just a little too bleak. RP
The view from 6,868 miles away:
I admit that the previous episode, while a really slow build up, left on me on a cliffhanger that I really wanted resolved. The thing is, I saw the titles in advance and knew I was not getting my resolution today. What I could potentially get was the first part of a resolution. Unlike Erased and Another, I enjoyed the Haruhi series for the fun that it was, but I didn’t LOVE it. Yuki Nagato is playing the same game. It gives me great characters that I thoroughly enjoy, but a story that sometimes eeks its way from one plot thread to another in the same way that a grade school class moves slowly from one class to the other. Those other shows had a plot that moved from A to B to C to D to Etc. Nagato offers a plot here, then a plot there, then an idea here, and maybe a bit of “sex sells” over there. So I really needed to see that the plot would move along at this point. And with the ending of Someday in the Rain, we have been given a launch point: “who are you, and where is Nagato?”
The episode opens with Yuki’s narration. She’s observing the world through Yuki’s eyes, but she is not Yuki. As she states, she doesn’t recognize her memories as her own. She makes comments about Asakura “helping Yuki” or showing that she is “genuinely concerned for Yuki”. Periodically she observes a snowman with the name Yuki on it (snow is one of the meanings of the name “Yuki”). She knows who she’s supposed to be but she is not her. Here’s where I’m reminded of the parent series: Yuki was a being that observed everything. During the time loop of The Endless Eight, she observes that 15,000 times. She reported to some data entity that was never fully fleshed out. Are we seeing a glimpse of that version of her? Has that personality come through into this universe? If so, why? Why did a near-accident cause this? She wasn’t hit, but somehow scraped her head, but the hospital visit shows nothing of merit. And if this is the Yuki from that universe, where does this fall in that series? Is this taking place during The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya? It would coincide with the titles, and might explain why Yuki was basically a regular girl during that series; her other, machine-self was here. But it seemed that she had control in that universe, whereas here, she’s afraid. And that doesn’t sync up.
Now, this is all speculation so far but what we do know is that Yuki isn’t herself. Asakura is still her friend though and it’s extremely interesting to hear her rationale. She wants to help her Yuki, but doesn’t want to hurt this one either. She’s surprisingly balanced in her approach. To one extent, she’s probably considering that her Yuki could be gone for good, so the last thing she wants to do is isolate what could be her friends new personality. At the same time, she believes this is a “glitch” and she may yet get her friend back. Where does one draw the line? And Yuki, who I mentioned is afraid, admits that loneliness scares her. While she is cold and stoic, it’s less about her surroundings and more about getting to know her new self, so it’s only natural that she wants friends. (Which could explain that she is the data entity character from the original Haruhi universe, but just not fully established here… yet!) It had not escaped my notice that upon occasion, when she’s speaking her glasses reflect light blocking out her eyes completely, giving her an almost machine-like appearance. She also reads the book “The Perfect Outsider”. What is a perfect outsider, but someone who no one can identify as “the other”. She is who she has always been… but not. (Also note, right after she wakes up and Asakura comes in, Yuki glimpses a mirror on the wall, and the look of her doppelganger stares back! Like last week, I have a very Lynchian feeling about what I’m seeing. Has our Yuki been replaced by a “Black Lodge” counterpart?)
I was happy we had some humor to the episode, but with the typical source of comedy missing, namely Haruhi, the comedy is toned down. We get some funny lines with Asakura and a swirly pattern as she talks about how one day she might snap and stab Kyon in the back (which is extremely funny because she basically did that to him once already!) But other than that, even the humor is muted as the entire story moves forward to the unending sounds of a soft piano trying to sound meaningful.
In the end, will it be meaningful? While the series may surprise me, I am bothered by the idea that we won’t get a satisfactory resolution. It’s too early to tell but I just have a bad feeling that this won’t satisfy me. I love a good mystery, but the mark of a good one is that the clues are always there. We usually miss them, but they are given to the reader/viewer. When the answer to the mystery is something that could never be guessed, it ruins the fun. Like being sold a jigsaw puzzle but it doesn’t come with all the pieces, it never amounts to much and ends up being a frustrating waste of time. We’ve been given a whole previous series to mine for clues, but the way this series pops from one idea to another like an infant in a room full of toys, I just don’t know. I guess for now, we’re off to the library to see what that brings us… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan II