The Disappearance— An appearance of a visual masterpiece

Warning: This post contains explicit spoilers to The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

note: I realize that this post is extremely long winded, but there’s just so much to go over that I couldn’t help it. I apologize in advance. There are pictures, and in the later parts of the post, I began to water down my paragraphs, so I hope that helps a little.

As a movie sequel to the ever famous and beloved Suzumiya Haruhi series, Disappearance attracts a lot of attention, and receives just as much positive feedback. Suzumiya Haruhi changed the precedent of anime, and transformed the way the industry will be from the time it was released for the public, to now, and will continue to do so for more years to come. And from the  duo of chief director Tatsuya Ishihara and cinematographer Ryuuta NakagamiDisappearance is a visual masterpiece that surpasses it’s predecessor and sets the bar for all anime. Disappearance is not successful because of its plot; its plot is an above average and satisfying one that stands above others. What makes this film what it is now is it’s use of visual art on the screen.

Kyoto Animation really steps up their game for this film. There’s a great jump between the TV series and this, and that’s a big deal. Suzumiya Haruhi was an extremely influential show that acts as a model for all the shows that follow. So for a movie with such charisma and magnitude as this, it only continues that influence and makes it even bigger. Furthermore, Disappearance makes up for the so-called “troll” of the second season known as the “Endless Eight” (and as a side note, I myself and impartial to this.) Almost everything about this movie is done right, and it makes little mistakes. Its scripting is top notch, its animation professional and clean, one that surpasses that of other anime studios. It maintains a steady pace of mood and atmosphere that makes it more enjoyable to watch.

The movie starts out through the perspective of Kyon— literally. It’s a good way to start out the film since we’re looking at it through his perspective, and will [more or less] experience share the same reactions.

Blurred and tilted camera

The first thing to take notice of is the change in color tone. The movie starts out with a warm tone, and is replaced with a cold blue filter after the world changes. For most of the beginning of the movie, after the wake-up scene, the camera is upright and straight. The moment that Kyon realizes something is wrong as soon as he notices Asakura Ryoko, the camera angles become tilted and distorted. This isn’t just to look good. It’s to reflect the emotions and turmoil in Kyon’s mindset. Shot after shot after shot of these angles, and following that a swaying camera, express the confusion he suffers in an extremely short amount of time. One scene regains color when he sees Asahina, but quickly reverts back when she denies she knows him.

On the note of color tone, there are two particular scenes that are at the same time exactly the same and different. One of Kyon opening the door to the club room before the world changes, and one of the same thing after the change takes place. The one before the change is rendered in the cold tone, whereas the one after is in a warm tone. While I said that the color tone doesn’t reflect Kyon’s emotions, it reflects the atmosphere which would say that it was the same when Haruhi disappears, and when he is about the see Haruhi.

There’s a lot of dialogue in Disappearance. Kyon’s introspection is almost always heard throughout the movie. Alongside the above color tones and camera angles, Kyon’s emotions and thoughts are presented to the viewer accurately, literally, and figuratively. Kyon’s witty thoughts make it a little easier to listen through the long winded monologues he starts, but even that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a lot of it. One scene during a certain monologue when he was walking around most of the school, all of the students around him are paying attention to their own business. This shows that this is his problem only, and he is all by himself, which is a scary thought.

Nagato and her reflection looking away from each other

One recurring action KyoAni likes to take is the use of reflections. And there are a lot of reflections.  From plain items like an umbrella to shots of our main characters, they appear for most of the movie. There’s probably several reasons for this and I’m not able to find them all. However, I do think that its to literally reflect that fact that this is a different world, and the old world is merely something similar to this one Kyon is in right now.

After spending some time with the new cute version of Nagato, Kyon walks by himself with his bike contemplating on his thoughts on the whole matter. When he comes to realize the fact that he truly wants to see Haruhi, he is already approaching a beam of light coming from a hovering post. Light sources are very scarce in this movie, so when they are shown, they show significance.

The no longer goddess Suzumiya Haruhi

Midway through the movie, after Kyon runs out of his school, he finds Suzumiya Haruhi. This scene is a jumble of everything that’s already been presented before. First of all, the return of the tilted camera angles return, depth of field blurs that pull Haruhi and her surroundings in, a cold color tone (except for her bow), and Haruhi herself is wrapped in a flickering glowing light. This could all mean just a crazy jumble of emotion and shock in Kyon’s mind. After all, this whole time he’s been going through emotional breakdowns, he finally gets to see what he’s been looking for.

Kyons reflection standing above the actual Kyon

And as for the climax of the movie, this scene is also a jumble of everything that has been presented.  Firstly, Kyon begins to debate with himself while showing unseen shots of the characters here and there. Soon after, it begins to show that he’s debating with his reflection. Sound familiar? Instead of being ambiguous, Kyon’s reflection actually begins to take action and talk to the real Kyon. After some more talking, they start to show various shots of Kyon in places abstract in his mind. The point of all this is to show the storm of thought in Kyon’s mind, with his reflection as the voice of objection to what’s happening. When his reflection actually takes physical form and overpowers Kyon, he finally speaks back and stands up against him, where the reflection disintegrates into millions of particles that go into Kyon, showing how his voice of objection is now part of him as his adamant decision.

And on a final note, the music composed for this movie is absolutely incredible. It handles the tone well, and blends into the scene appropriately.

There’s a lot to take note of in this movie, and unfortunately, too much for me to write, and probably too much for you to read. The bottom line is that Disappearance is an artwork. One that is unprecedented in the franchise, and isn’t all too familiar in the anime industry.  And for that, it makes up the few mistakes the movie made. I enjoyed Disappearance a lot, and the same goes for many other fans out there.

References made to, and credited to  Sorrow-kun’s How to Disappear Completely. Please note, most of the content in this post is from my own opinion and observation.

About Suda
Video games and anime reviews.

3 Responses to The Disappearance— An appearance of a visual masterpiece

  1. DavetheZombie says:

    Yeah, I agree the plot’s not exactly… original, but the art is definitely done damn well. This movie certainly does have a great tone color done appropriately for each scene, and fitting the mood just right. I’d rewatch it myself, but damn is it long.

    • Lehq says:

      Personally, I’d say that way the plot is executed as well as the way the dialogues are scripted are more than enough to make up for the originality of the plot and yeah, this one certainly had high re-watch value.

  2. SelfTorment says:

    I have to agree as well the visual on this movie are amazing.
    I got lucky and my friend called me over to watch it.
    I hope to see most movies and shows take this type of style.

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