The junkyard presents two articles about the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode His Uncertainty...
The view from 5930 miles away:
I bet you never thought you would be watching the Endless Eight again! Actually, that’s a little unfair, because this is very different, but it does take place during the same summer and feature some of the same activities, so it deftly manages to make a nostalgia kick out of what is a bad memory for many viewers. It actually shows how the Endless Eight could have worked so much better, with a bit of added variety.
To add to the nostalgia kick, Kyon gets his narrator duties back, and the episode is so much better for it. As I mentioned a few weeks back, this is an area where the spinoff has felt like it was lacking. References to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya abound, and not just the summer activities themselves. There is the sound of cicadas, Tsuruya’s summer home, Koizumi’s distant relative and his private island, and the ultimate nostalgia kick: Kyon’s little sister. She’s still the fabulous bundle of trouble we remember, trying to stow away in a suitcase (again!) and flooring Kyon with a flying tackle on two separate occasions, the second of which leads to an entertaining rom com moment, and the kind of tactless question only a child would ask:
“Are you gonna kiss?”
As for the Endless Eight activities themselves, half the episode is given over to the beach shenanigans, understandably as this series has been much more blatant with the fanservice. It’s an excuse to show plenty of close up shots of girls in bikinis from different angles, but it also provides the perfect setting for Kyon and Yuki to struggle with their post-Disappearance awkwardness. Trying to make small talk is one thing. Trying to make small talk wearing not much and bouncing a ball to each other is a whole other category of uncomfortable.
Then we have the Cicada Catching Competition, which is little more than a nostalgia trip, with Mikuru getting a butterfly on her nose and Yuki catching a giant hercules beetle. But it works for the same reason that all these blasts from the past work: the dynamics are different. This time round we have Kyon’s little sister joining in, and we also have Asakura scheming to find ways for Yuki and Kyon to spend time together; most importantly we have Tsuruya, taking Haruhi’s place as the one who laughs at poor Mikuru’s afflictions. Haruhi isn’t the ringleader any more. That’s Tsuruya, who pushes for the beach and bug catching idea, and creates the test of courage. A world where Haruhi and Tsuruya are friends, partners in crime, and equally powerful forces of nature, is almost as interesting as Haruhi’s original godlike powers. This final arc has a much bigger cast of core characters than anything we have seen in the original series or spinoff before, with a group of eight friends all fully involved in the narrative. It takes some skill to juggle all those characters, and make it feel like all of them matter, and I would argue this is the first time the series has really achieved that with all seven characters, let alone eight.
Our final E8 activity this week is the test of courage, generally a fleeting moment in the original and sometimes not even shown. Here it takes on a much greater significance, because it’s Kyon and Yuki’s big romantic moment of the episode, holding hands while they watch the fireflies, another example of how beautiful the animation has been for this series when the script has called for it.
Although this series started slowly and really reached its climax two episodes ago, and although we are back into the realms of gentle slice-of-life entertainment, I find myself feeling melancholy as we approach the end. I love these characters, every one of them (well, maybe not Koizumi). I don’t want this to end. And for a series that’s bringing back the spectre of the Endless Eight, that’s really saying something. RP
The view from 6,868 miles away:
With the arrival of summer, we run the risk of repeating the same day some 15000 times, but luckily, this is not the parent series and that’s unlikely to happen again. Instead, we will get some theoretical ideas proposed by Haruhi and some actual plans proposed by Tsuruya. Thankfully, her family has money and she has an idea: go to the beach. Right away, this shouted: FAN SERVICE. But, if I’m honest, it’s not and the one real attempt to draw attention to it is a hilarious line about Haruhi from Kyon, “She may be nuts, but she’s got a great body!” And with that, the visit to the beach couldn’t be more natural.
Here again, I feel like I’m watching a bug caught in the water as it spins around a drain. Circling and circling, but not going down. Are we going into the parent universe or aren’t we? So many things happen that remind me of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that it’s hard to ignore the chances are there; maybe there will be some acknowledgement of that alternate universe. Maybe it’s just there for the fans. Between the beach and Kyon’s sister (who unexpectedly injures him time and again, to my delight), to the cicada catching contest, there are moments that remind the viewer about where we were before. Even Koizumi with his distant relative that bought a deserted island and put on a locked room murder mystery of which only Haruhi would appreciate… it’s all there. And it’s absolutely enjoyable. As are the characters.
Asakura has a few outstanding moments as she tries to set Kyon and Yuki up, and later when she gets to dodge the scary bullet by staying behind with Kyon’s sister, both images are marvelously animated with something akin to angelic backgrounds. I think Kyon must be in awe of her cleverness!
Haruhi is completely the source of what makes this series great. Her watermelon-smashing contest, putting a watermelon between the heads of Koizumi and Kyon and blindfolding Asakura to try to hit the right thing, made it where I had to pause through my laughter. And her attempt to race to an island which might be miles out at sea was absolute comic gold. She is also such a great character because her common sense has not fully made her abandon her imagination and she still can’t wait to see bogeymen, ghosts, ghouls, goblins and demons. This comes about when the group decide to go test their courage in the woods at night. The lead up to this is another magnificent character piece as we get a brief chance to hear everyone’s internal thought. Haruhi is all about the demons but it’s Yuki that I relate to: she’s the only one focusing on the food she’s eating. (I think I relate to her more with every episode!)
But I realize this entire episode is a build-up. And that makes me question whether Roger has me brainwashed or maybe I’m as big a sap as he is for the romantic, but I want to see Yuki and Kyon together. In fact, I think I want that more than the sci-fi! So all those scenes that put us on the edge of it just serve to remind me of the bug in the water: it’s circling over and over, but not getting down the drain. The point is, when Kyon has an imagination of Yuki saying she has him there to protect her, we want her to actually say that. (Instead we have yet another artistic moment of her eyes being obscured by light reflected off her glasses!) Earlier, on the beach, when Kyon’s little sister drop kicks him onto Yuki, we want them to become a couple, but instead we get his sister’s hilarious comment: “you’re a naughty boy, Kyon!”
And in those instances I realize I do want them together; I have come to realize that the sci-fi element that might never be acknowledged is totally OK. What they cannot fail to do, if they want to keep me impressed, is make sure to offer us a resolution to this plot. If this ends up being a blind alley too, I’m going to be upset! However the episode ends with Ms. Asahina screaming so Kyon grabs Yuki by the hand and they go running off to see what happened. Upon arriving, they realize the scream was over a misunderstanding about fireflies (which alone is genius) but the realization didn’t change one thing, which we see in the final moment:
With the next episode titled “Fireworks”, I’m surprisingly excited to see this play out. Two episodes to go. If I don’t get the science fiction, I can live with that. If Yuki and Kyon end up being a red herring, I’m might fly to England to have a word with Roger! But I’m a double click away from finding out! ML