The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan: Why I'm Excited

I’m kinda excited for the dub of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan.

I'm sure the above statement sounds weird on its own, especially given my secret disdain for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but it’s true: I’m actually anticipating the fan-fiction spin-off of a beloved Kyoto Animation series from almost a decade ago. In order to fully understand, perhaps I should explain why I despise what it’s based off of:

I know what you’re thinking, and, no, this won’t be another “shamelessly riffing on a popular anime series” piece. Unlike my critique of Monogatari, which I’m not apologizing for, I attempted to watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya a few years ago. It was back when I was new to the wacky world of anime, so I was mooching off of other, more-renowned otaku to see what I could pick up. One of these otaku, JesuOtaku, had a weekly LiveStream where she’d show the first three episodes of an anime series every week. I got to see many great shows that way, but it also had its drawbacks. Particularly with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, where I left the stream after three episodes despite her then-boyfriend teasing people for taking it too seriously.

Why did I leave? Simple: because Haruhi is a smug douchebag.

I’m betting any and all Haruhi fans are waiting to type angry comments at the bottom of this article, but rest-assured, she’s a jerk. There are several reasons for why, but they all stem back to the same, underlying issue: she never learns from her actions. She never grows, she never changes, she never experiences any sort of character arc or development. And that’d be fine…if the show weren’t operating in such a way that it warranted it.

Perhaps the best way to sum up my frustrations with Haruhi is via a single scene early on. Initially, Haruhi wants her club, The SOS Brigade, to have access to a computer and the school’s internet for whatever she desires. This requires working out a deal with the head of the computer club, so that’s where she goes. But when the president of the club, understandably, refuses to relent for some catty teenager who already has a reputation for being creepy, she uses psychological warfare and blackmails him into submission.

I wish I were kidding:

0_0 … (Clip courtesy of user DepressedDevilsWings.)

There are many words I can use to describe this scene, but half are profane and most of the remaining ones are SAT-level. So I’ll go easy on you and insert the one Kyon used: extortion. Having a girl force a guy to grope another girl’s breasts and take pictures of it, then threaten to leak them online, is extortion. It’s extortion because it’s misleading, and it’s extortion because it takes advantage of two, completely innocent individuals for the sake of something really petty. Also, I can’t help but feel like this was a creative loophole for something worse, i.e. suggested rape, that can be “overlooked” because “neither party had consent in the matter.” Oh, and it’s really uncomfortable and not funny in the slightest.

Anyway, my jaw dropped when I saw that for the first time. Even explaining it to my job coach a few years later, who’s a big anime fan but hadn’t seen the show, made me feel gross. But it got worse, as not only does Haruhi not get in trouble, or even a lecture from Kyon, but she proceeds to further humiliate poor Mikuru by forcibly having her dress in a bunny outfit and solicit members for The SOS Brigade in the schoolyard. Of course, Haruhi gets in trouble this time, a lenient “detention” for something so awful, and as she whines about how unfair it is and storms off, we finally get Mikuru’s take on the situation.

And what does Mikuru do? Simple: express her lack of self-worth and ask to die…to Kyon, who is guilty of not intervening while Haruhi was forcing her into the bunny outfit…

It was at this point that I was done with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Done! D-O-N-E. I didn’t care if the show was supposed to be a commentary on how passive Japanese high-schoolers are, or if it was a show with subtext from an animation house that normally gives us hollow, slice-of-life moe vehicles, I was over my interest for this weird series. It was, quite literally, making me sick, a fact not helped by me being averse to hate-watching because my time on this planet is finite, and I’m not wasting it subjecting myself to torture.

And that was when I rage-quit from the stream. Even after asking JesuOtaku what made the show well-loved, her response-that awful characters can be endearing-didn’t change my mind. Awful characters are only compelling to me when there are either real consequences for their actions, or when there’s a point being made about them over-stepping their boundaries. It’s one of the reasons why movies like Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Nightcrawler stick out so much, as all three show one or both of those. Meanwhile, the most I’ve heard about Haruhi’s comeuppance is Kyon almost-but not quite-slapping her for not cooperating during a film shoot that the club does. Almost isn’t good enough, especially not here.

Which leads back to why I’m excited for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan. For one, I want a show with consequences and self-aware honesty. These are two points that are lacking in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, even though the latter is somewhat present. I like the concept behind the original show, but I wish Haruhi actually got jabs more frequently and didn’t always get her way. This was somewhat explored in The Melancholy of Haruki-Chan Suzumiya, a collection of shorts that always started with Haruhi crashing into a camera lens-hence why I actually prefer it-but it’s not enough. I want full-out consequences and/or honesty, which is what The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan seems to be doing.

And secondly, Yuki Nagato is the focus this time. Yes, I’m aware that she’s a tsundere, making her the epitome of a sexist stereotype. Yes, she looks weird, as does everyone else. Yes, the dreaded Manga Iconography is in full-force. Yes, the show even smells of fan-fiction. But I can forgive all of that because it’s not another “dumb goddess show” like its parent series.

Besides, Yuki Nagato has always struck me as more interesting than Haruhi Suzumiya because, well, we know next to nothing about her. True, I’d have preferred a show about Mikuru Asahina, as she's a more well-rounded character, but Yuki doesn't do much of anything and has a stone-cold face. I constantly look at her character model, the original one, and think, “What’s going on behind that exterior?” With The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan, I’m finally gonna know, even if it’s not as grand or daring as it could be.

Also, I’m hoping to finally understand why this franchise is so damned pop-I mean, why Yuki Nagato wears glasses; after all, my reason’s fascinating, so what’s hers?


  1. could you cut down on the bad anime

    1. Sure. Can you name some good anime for me to watch instead?

    2. blood blockade battlefront, assassination classroom, or death parade

    3. I've been meaning to watch those three, actually, but I'm waiting for their dubs to finish being uploaded on FUNimation's website. (I've got a lot of catching up to do...)

  2. I've had "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" recommended to me before, but I've been extremely hesitant to give it a go. Sounds like my apprehension was justified.

    Perhaps I can relate your bafflement over its popularity to my bafflement over the folks who think "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is deep and thought-provoking? I'm halfway through that show and its pretentious, poorly written trash that veers from hilariously nonsensical to the seriously disturbing and back again at the drop of a hat. I do enjoy the penguin in an ironic sort of way, but I overall just don't get the love.

    1. I know very little about that show, honestly. You might get better insight from another staff member, perhaps Joe, Danni or Jonathan...

  3. I like both series. I believe lack of self-awareness is the premise of the original.

    Anyway, who do you say is a tsundere here? Haruhi?

    ”And secondly, Yuki Nagato is the focus this time. Yes, I’m aware that she’s a tsundere, making her the epitome of a sexist stereotype."

    1. It doesn't matter, I don't like Haruhi as a character...

  4. Nagato isn't tsundere. I haven't memorized the "dere" types, so I had to look it up, but I knew Nagato didn't fit the mean-acting, strong personality type of tsunderes (think Misty from Pokemon, for a very mainstream example).

    Nagato in the main series is apparently classified as "dandere", meaning quiet or antisocial. Nagato in her own side-series I would simply call SHY.

    At any rate, I don't think tsundere is a sexist stereotype. Its just a romantic stereotype extremely common in anime. Most romantic relationships in anime are from the perspective of a male character, sooooo the tsundere character is usually female. There are a couple of tsundere male characters in anime. Okabe from Steins;Gate is the one I know of, and there are people who actually say Kyon from Haruhi is a male tsundere (I kinda disagree there, but I understand their reasoning).

    1. She definitely feels it in this show, though. But you're right.

      Also, most tsunderes are generally sexist because they don't transcend their tsundere nature as their sole character trait. There are exceptions, see Taiga from Toradora, but that's because the tsundere component isn't there from the get-go, but rather develops over time...


Post a Comment

Popular Posts