The Decision of Kyon, The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi does a lot for the popular franchise, giving significant development to its characters, most notably narrator and central protagonist Kyon. The film gives a lot to think about on both intellectual and emotional levels, and I find both my thoughts and feelings on it to be surprisingly intense, so I want to organize them to see if I can give myself some clarity and perhaps insight to others.

Just as a warning, while I am calling this a review, it is going to be EXTREMELY SPOILER-HEAVY.

While the movie opens with the SOS Brigade preparing for a club Christmas party, the story truly begins when Kyon wakes up to a world where Suzumiya Haruhi not only seems to have disappeared, but has never existed in the first place. While we eventually learn that Haruhi wasn’t wiped out of existence and that the timeline had merely been altered so that she was never the center of the universe and had no reality-altering abilities, Kyon is at this point unaware. When everyone tells him that there’s never been a girl named Haruhi in his class, he panics. The world is all wrong. He and Asahina Mikuru never became friends and she isn’t from the future. Koizumi Itsuki (and his entire classroom) have vanished. Perhaps most surprisingly, Nagato Yuki is a just a shy girl who loves books and is afraid to talk to others.

For a guy who’s been through it all, from time travel to fighting extra-dimensional monsters to having a talking cat, it is the loss of Haruhi which delivers the greatest emotional shock to him. Though he was accustomed to lamenting their association, he cannot picture his life without Haruhi. It’s a revelation to both us the audience and to Kyon himself, and so when he finally finds out that Haruhi actually does exist in this world and finally sees her, an incredible joy washes over him completely.

After the initial trouble of Kyon convincing this new Haruhi (who is accompanied by the alternate Koizumi) that they both in fact know each other, you can see their rapport with one another. Much like their first meeting all the way back in episode 1, the two are able to hit it off without even necessarily realizing that it’s happening. Just as Kyon’s entire expression from head to toe changes in the presence of Haruhi, so too does this alternate Haruhi change with Kyon around. It’s clear that this Haruhi had resigned herself to a normal, boring life, but she finds new life in talking with Kyon. While it has somewhat to do with the fact that he’s revealing the truth about her, or at least the original Haruhi, it clearly goes beyond that.

Alone, Kyon was able to piece together some clues as to the truth of this world, but together, they are able to accomplish great things.

Having gathered all of the would-be members of the SOS Brigade, a message from Yuki, the real Yuki, appears, and gives Kyon a decision: either let the world stay as it is, with absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, or take a chance and restore it, with absolutely no guarantee that he would succeed. Seeing the new world as an aberration, Kyon decides to risk it, but the heart of the situation changes when he learns that the real culprit behind the massive alteration of their universe was Yuki herself, who had slowly and gradually developed emotions over time, both positive and negative, and was simply tired of it all.

In the end, Kyon chooses his original world of time travelers, espers, and aliens over the one where everyone can live in relative peace without having to worry about the supernatural. The choice makes sense, but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel for the people living in that altered timeline. Perhaps they might not have originally been there, but from their point of view their lives and emotions were real. The alternate Koizumi, the regular, if talented guy who has affections for Haruhi, would no longer exist. The same applies for Mikuru and even Haruhi, who, while vastly preferring a world where she is an omnipotent being unaware of her own might, would still have her life erased.

With Nagato Yuki in particular, who is in this timeline the meek girl that others originally assumed her to be, it was especially heartbreaking to see her go. Not because I prefer one Yuki over the other, and not just because of the human Yuki’s feelings, but because the original Yuki herself, the creation of the Data Integration Thought Entity, felt a genuine wish to cast it all aside and become that shy bookworm. Couched in that human Yuki and the new world around her was the original Yuki’s heartfelt desire, and by denying its existence, Kyon also potentially takes away Nagato’s only chance to live a normal life and, in turn, her potential happiness.

Kyon’s decision is somewhat selfish, but it had to be, and I think as much as he arrives at the conclusion that he would much rather have the SOS Brigade he knows and loves, even though Yuki ultimately gives him the opportunity to make his choice, it still wasn’t easy for him because he sees the truth of Nagato’s feelings in the new timeline. This is clear when he resolves to stop taking a passive role in his life, now truly aware of how much of a burden Nagato (and the others) have to shoulder. Whether it was the “right” decision or not is up to debate, but I find that less important than the fact that Kyon had two choices, and he picked one knowing the consequences.

The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi runs a whopping 2 hours and 40 minutes and manages to stay gripping throughout. It adds a new dimension to the series and is the best that the Haruhi anime has had to offer, but it not only rewards fans of the series but practically requires that you have familiarity with and fondness for Haruhi for it to hit you on the right emotional level. During the ending credits, Yuki’s voice actor sings “Tender Oblivion,” a solemn tune with no musical accompaniment for her voice. I’m not sure whether it was referring to the altered timeline (which could be interpreted as a kind of sweet mercy) or the destruction of the altered timeline as such. Regardless of the exact meaning though, as I listened I could only describe my feelings as melancholic.

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12 thoughts on “The Decision of Kyon, The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

  1. Great writeup. I remember discussing this with friends post screening last year, and came to a conclusion that this was a necessary breakthrough for the Kyon character as an audience surrogate, before the story begins to truly twist and turn in later installments.

    Kyon’s relationships have developed despite his own surface problems with them, and is now seemingly ready to embrace the madness that has engulfed his life to this point. He is no less the cynic that he was at the start, but he is at least willing to shoulder some of the responsibility. And that makes for an interesting turn in his (and fans) respective arcs.

    The film still is a tad too long, and overstays its welcome at times, but is also a beautiful turning point to a curious & unique phenom in recent anime history.

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  2. Great write up there, but I do have a point to add. You know what’s actually interesting to watch after the movie? Endless Eight. The entire exercise of watching it goes from observing repetition and slight stylistic changes to seeing just what made Yuki snap. The fact that it’s eight episodes actually plays into Yuk’s narrative, and watching the whole thing allows one to experience the feeling of being stuck that she must of felt the entire damn time. Given what happened to Yuki it’s a small wonder she didn’t end up pulling her gambit the moment Kyon broke the time loop. That she skips school the next day shows how badly that whole thing affected her.

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    • But in regards to Kyon, I think his decision had a certain romantic level. In essence, the sequence of him deciding was him rejecting Yuki’s feelings, particularly alternate Yuki’s feelings for Kyon in favor of Haruhi’s. I think particularly the image of him moving away from Yuki and towards Haruhi is what gives me that impression. In a way, Kyon destroyed an entire universe, and recreated another, because he decided that he liked one girl more than the other.

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      • That’s factually incorrect, sorry. If you’ve garnered that interpretation, it was only through your own mis-interpretation of the material.

        Really, just think about it a little. And realize that Haruhi existed in in the alternate universe, with her personality completely unchanged. If his decision had any “romantic undertone” to it, it would’ve been his decision that he liked the original Yuki more than the alternate Yuki.
        Choosing the old world over the new had nothing to do with choosing Haruhi over anything. Any preference between the two worlds comes down to “the old world was more fun” because it was full of Gods, mysterious powers, talking cats, lasers, time-travellers, aliens and espers. You know, adventure.

        To be even more blunt, that imagery of Kyon walking to Haruhi isn’t in the novel, and if you’ve interpreted anything romantic into it, it’s cognitively dissonant with the fact that in the novel and in the anime, if Kyon’s preference of the two worlds had anything romantic about it, it would make no sense given that Haruhi existed as the same person in both, minus the supernatural.
        Simply put, Haruhi is standing there as a call-back to Kyon’s earlier denial and symbol to the supernatural occurances in the old universe, while Alternate Nagato and the alternate SOS Brigade are simple symbols of normality — it’s not supposed to be romantic at all, due to the very fact that Haruhi is just a regular, eccentric school-girl in the alternate universe — and if it is, it’s not the author’s original vision in his novel at all.

        Tl;dr

        Kyon was never in a position of “Haruhi or Nagato: who do you like more? Go!”, and that was not at all the point of his choice. His preference is solely predicated on Supernatural > normal(and original Yuki’s persona > AltYuki’s).

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  3. I don’t read it as Kyon rejecting Yuki in favor of Haruhi but rather him saying he is going to take responsibly for the real Yuki’s feelings for him even though he is not ready to chose yet, after all he tells her on the hospital roof that he will shatter the universe to protect her which is more than he has ever committed to anyone else. I think the whole story of Haruhi boils down to Kyon choosing between Destiny (Timetravelers), Possibility (Aliens), Duty (Espers) or Joy (Haruhi) because he is the slider and can shape the focus of the world. But thats just my two bits.

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  4. Excellent write-up about the movie.

    I get what you’re saying about Kyon indirectly robbing Yuki of the happy world she desired by choosing to press the Enter key. But thanks to what happened, he now realizes what Yuki feels and will try his best to help her, whereas, if he had chosen the alternate world, he never would have truly known the real Yuki’s feelings, or even his own. Yuki is now able to live with the emotions she has rather than erasing them. Whether she’s pleased with this decision or not is hard to tell, but in later novels I think she’s come to appreciate it.

    Oh, and what you said in the first few paragraphs kinda fired up the KyonxHaruhi shipper in me XD

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  5. Excellent write-up. On another site a possible hypothesis is put forward that Kyon not Haruhi is the one with powers – events happen around him, and he’s aware of the entire situation as opposed to Haruhi. In fact it’s possible that she’s the biggest red herring of all time.

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  6. Pingback: My Favorite Light Novel Anime | OGIUE MANIAX

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