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The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 13, 2011 by  



“The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” is a fantastic anime film! The SOS Brigade are back in an animated film that is emotional, a bit darker than the TV series but by the film’s end, you realize how enjoyable this film is.  The Blu-ray release is also fantastic as it comes with the DVD combo pack, features very good picture quality and lossless audio but also includes a good number of lengthy special features that were included on the original Japanese release. If you are a fan of Haruhi Suzumiya, then “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack” is a must buy!

Image courtesy of © 2009 Nagaru Tanigawa-Noizi Ito/a Member of SOS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack

DURATION: 164 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p HD Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: September 20, 2011

Chief Director: Tatsuya Ishihara

Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo

Storyboards by Tatsuya Ishihara, Touko Taka, Yasuhiro Takemoto

Muisc by Satoru Kousaki

Oritinally created by Nagaru Tanigawa

Original Character Designs by Shoko Ikeda

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Anime Production by Kyoto Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Wendee Lee as Haruhi Suzumiya

Minori Chihara/Michelle Ruff as Yuki Nagato

Tomokazu Sugita/Crispin Freeman as Kyon

Yuko Goto/Stephanie Sheh as Mikuru Asahina

Daisuke Ono/Johnny Yong Bosch as Itsuki Koizumi

Megumi Matsumoto/Brianne Siddall as Kunikida

Minoru Shiraishi/Sam Regal as Taniguchi

Natsuko Kuwatani/Bridget Hoffman as Ryōko Asakura

Sayaka Aoki/Kari Wahlgren as Kyon’s Sister

Yuki Matsuoka/Kari Wahlgren as Tsuruya-san

Ten days before Christmas, it seemed like just another ordinary day for the SOS Brigade; Haruhi came up with another one of her crazy ideas to hold a Christmas party in the club room. But things got weirder from there…

The next day Kyon woke up to a world in which Haruhi didn’t exist and no one besides him had any memory of her. How can someone like Haruhi Suzumiya, who’s supposed to be center of the universe, just vanish?

Haruhi, Kyon, Nagato, Asahina and Koizumi are back in the new movie “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya”!

For those not familiar with the popular light novel/anime series, “Suzumiya Haruhi” is the name of a light novel series by Nagaru Tanigawa (featuring illustrations by Noizi Ito).

Created back in 2003 and published by Kadokawa Shoten, the series has received a TV series adaptation, two net animation, video gems and most recently an animated film.

But many fans are familiar with the 14-episode anime series “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” which was released in the US by Bandai Entertainment back in 2007.

A 28-episode second season was made in 2010 featuring the original 14-episodes + an alternate re-telling of the 14-episodes ala time-loop featuring new footage which was released by Bandai Entertainment in 2010.

The series revolved around Kyon, the narrator and main protagonist of the series who is a member of the high school club known as the SOS Brigade.  The series focused on Kyon’s perspective of the club and the members which include club leader Haruhi Suzumiya, an eccentric student who wants to meet aliens, time travelers and espers and thus the club search for weird phenomena around their city.

Other members include a Data Entity known as Yuki Nagato, who’s job is to monitor Haruhi and investigate events that took place three years earlier.  She can manipulate the environment and is often seen in the club room reading books.  Mikuru Asahina is the time traveler of the group who is assigned from the future to investigate the reason for the inability to travel at any point of time.  She is very shy and her future, older version appears once in awhile if something is threatening the time paradox.  And Itsuki Koizumi, is the other male member of the club who is an esper and acquired his knowledge and power three years prior to everyone meeting.

In 2010, the film “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” was released in Japan and is a film adaptation of the fourth light novel by Nagaru Tanigawa and now, the Blu-ray+DVD combo pack is set for U.S. release on Sept. 20, 2011 from Bandai Entertainment.

The film takes place on Dec. 16-Dec. 24th.  The SOS Brigade is planning to have a nabemono party for Christmas but on Dec. 18th, something unusual happens to Kyon.

While going to school, what is thought to be a normal day is unusual as Haruhi is not a classmate, Itsuki Koizumi doesn’t go to his school, Mikuru Asahina doesn’t know who he is.

Needless to say, Kyon begins to freak out and wonder if it’s a dream and what has happened to his friends.  To make things worse, his nemesis Ryoko Asakura sits behind him and because she was destroyed, it is not known why she exists in his time period.

Shocked and surprised of how the day is playing out, he goes to the SOS Brigade meeting room in hopes to find Yuki Nagato, and surely she will know who he is.  But she doesn’t.  In fact, the Yuki Nagato that he meets is a normal girl, not a Data Entity.  Kyon starts to think that he is losing his mind and his classmates start to think that perhaps Kyon has been hit with a flu because he is behaving unusual.

The following day, Kyon is still trying to figure out what has happened.  Is he in an alternate dimension?  Why is Haruhi gone?  What happened to his reality and his friends?  As he looks at the books on the shelf of the literary club meeting room, he discovers a book and it’s a bookmark left by the Data Entity alien version of Yuki Nagato in which Kyon has a few days to gather “keys” that will initiate a program.

Meanwhile, as Kyon tries to piece together about the differences between the current world and his own world, he learns that in this world that he is in, Haruhi Suzumiya actually exists but she goes to a different school.  Could this Haruhi be a key that is needed to initiate the program to bring Kyon back to his real world?

VIDEO:

“The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” is presented in 1080p High definition.  The picture quality of the film is vibrant and I felt the animation and also the artistic backgrounds were fantastic.  I did love the use of CG which complimented the film but for the most part, having watched the anime TV series, the production of the film is wonderfully done.  I loved the character designs for the film and the artwork.

Clarity and sharpness is a big positive for this animated film, I didn’t notice any compression artifacts nor did I see any blemishes.  I did notice one short scene with banding at the beginning of the film but outside of that, I didn’t see any problems with the animation.  Fans of the animated series will no doubt love the picture quality of the film!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and English DolbyTrue HD 5.1.  First, let’s talk about the voice acting.  The voice acting for this film is well-done.  I have watched the series prior in Japanese and as I watched the film in English for the first time, I was quite pleased with the overall English dub.  The voice acting was well done and felt that the talent were well cast for this film.  Of course, the Japanese voice acting is well-done but as I am usually biased towards the Japanese vocal track, I have to say that I enjoyed the English dub a lot.

As for the lossless soundtrack, the music is fantastic for the film but also the use of the surround channels for ambiance.  There are a few action sequences, so you can hear glass shattering, you can hear crowds and vehicles that compliment the environment.  But for the most part, its the music that really sets the mood for the film and for the most part, the lossless soundtrack is well-done.  Dialogue for both Japanese and English tracks are crystal clear and well-done!

Optional subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack” comes with the following special features on the second DVD (note: special features are not on the Blu-ray disc, only Bandai Entertainment trailers):

  • Location Hunting – (9:48) The crew scouting locations such as hospitals.
  • BGM Recording – (15:48) Pianist Seiji Honda in the recording studio recording the background music for the film.
  • Special Screening in Kyoto – (16:35) Featuring a Q&A hosted by Minoru Shiraishi (voice actor for Taniguchi) with animation director Shoko Ikeda, supervising animation director Futoshi Nishiya and producer Atsushi Ito.
  • Special Screening in Tokyo – (1:03:40) Featuring a Q&A hosted by Minoru Shiraishi (voice actor for Taniguchi) and voice actress Megumi Matsumoto (Kunikida), featuring voice talents Aya Hirano (Haruhi Suzumiya), Tomokazu Sugita (Kyon), Minori Chihara (Yuki Nagato), Yuko Goto (Mikuru Asahina), Daisuke Ono (Itsuki Koizumi), Natsuko Kuwatani (Ryoko Asakura), Yuki Matsuoka (Tsuruya-san), Sayaka Aoki (Kyon’s sister), supervisting director Ishihara, director Yasuhiro Takemoto.
  • Cutting, Dubbing, Editing – (29:09) Behind-the-scenes with the oost-production at Studio Gong recorded back in 2009.
  • DVD/BD Commercial – (00:34) Commercial for the Blu-ray and DVD release.
  • PV Making – (25:53) Featuring the behind-the-scenes filming of voice actress Minori Chihara’s (voice actress for Yuki Nagato) promotional video (music video) shot in Kobe.
  • Teasers – (2:21) “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” teasers.
  • Trailer – (1:03) “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” trailer.
  • TV Spots – (3:10) Featuring “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” TV spots.
  • A SOS Brigade Episode #A (Disappearance of Cristina) – (0:51) A Haruhi cosplayer watching clips of the movie.

EXTRAS:

“The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” comes with the Blu-ray but also DVD version of the film.  The DVD is presented in English and Japanese 5.1 Audio with English subtitles.

Exciting, fun and for “Haruhi” fans, what a great feeling to see the SOS Brigade together once again!

I have to admit, “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” was a pleasant surprise.   For one, it’s probably one of the longest (in duration) anime films that I have ever watched and two, I was surprised to see how emotional and violent the film was.

For anyone who have watched the anime TV series, for the most part, the episodes of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya were quite upbeat and hilarious, so you expect a similar situation with the film.  And while the opening storyline of the film retains the craziness and fun from the series, once the date changes to October 18th, things change as we see Kyon in a world where life is much different.  The SOS Brigade doesn’t exist, Haruhi and Koizumi do not attend the same school, Asahina doesn’t know him and Nagato is an actual shy girl.

And for Kyon, the thought of being displaced in an alternate reality of his life is too much to handle.  Is he going crazy?  Did something happen to him?  And it’s a side of Kyon that we have never seen in the anime series.  It’s not necessarily dark, but you get to see a more emotional side to him.  A more anxiety-proned Kyon who is trying to piece together of what the heck is happening and how he can get back to his world, if possible.

The film also has its share of darker moments as there is one violent scene in which one of the members does get stabbed and blood is shown.  While not as bloody as more violent anime series, the scene is in the film and just a slight warning for those who are sensitive to those type of scenes.

But overall, while the film is long at 164 minutes, I felt that the film went rather quickly because I enjoyed it so much!  In fact, typically I don’t have high expectations on animated films that are derived from anime series but in the case of “Suzumiya Haruhi”, it is derived from the light novels and in this case, I was blow away from how deep this film was compared to the TV series.  It was much more than I expected and I was pretty blown away.  It’s a fantastic film and because I enjoyed the original series, I enjoyed the whole dynamic of the alternate universe and time-travel aspect of the film.

Aside from the entertaining story, I also enjoyed the overall look of the film, from its character design, art backgrounds, vibrant colors and just the closeups of the faces of the characters and capturing their emotional state.  It was well-done!

A question I have been asked is if one has to watch the entire series to understand the film.  Well, I only watched the first season of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and it’s been quite awhile since I watched that there was an occasion where Kyon talked about being in a situation once before.  Possibly from a past episode that I don’t recall but with that being said, because the film takes you out of the current setting of the S.O.S. Brigade and is more about Kyon trying to get back to his own world, watching the series is not necessary.  It does help to learn about how each of the members except Kyon are not human and also to learn about the chemistry between characters, but also how time-travel comes to play in this film but aside from that, I think anyone who has never seen the series, can easily jump in and watching this movie and still enjoy it.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is very good and the lossless audio soundtrack is also wonderful.  But I was amazed with the English dub track, as mentioned, I am biased towards the Japanese soundtrack and prefer to watch anime in Japanese but this is an instance where I watched in English and absolutely enjoyed the English dub, so great casting by Bang Zoom! Entertainment.

Also, the Blu-ray release contains a good number of special features.  I know some may question why the special features were not carried out on Blu-ray but my feeling is that since the features were in standard definition to begin with, for budgetary reasons, there was no reason to take away from the picture or audio quality of the film on Blu-ray.    So, at least Bandai Entertainment did include the special features on a separate DVD disc.

And of course, with this being a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack, you have that extra DVD, may it be to loan to a friend, watch on commutes or if you don’t have a Blu-ray player now, by purchasing this release, you don’t have to worry if you upgrade to Blu-ray in the near future.

Overall, “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack” is a solid release from Bandai Entertainment!  Fantastic film, great picture quality and lossless audio and also lengthy special features.

If you are a fan of “Haruhi Suzumiya”, then I’m confident to say that you will enjoy the animated film.

Highly recommended!






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