Opening in theatres in Japan on February 6th, 2010 and premiering internationally at Viz Cinema on May 25th, 2010, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was one of the biggest anime movies last year both in per cinema sales as well as disc sales in Japan. Kadokawa released the JP version of the movie last December to coincide with the actual date featured in the movie, but Bandai Entertainment has finally released the NA version! BDInfo/JP BDInfo
I could sit here and say what I think about the movie for a third time, but I’ll just summarize it: KadoAni chose a great method to tell the story that may or may not have been better situated in the second season. The pacing feels slow at times, but always keeps you going forward. The highlights are greatly accentuated by Satoru Kosaki et al’s wonderful background music. I greatly enjoy it, even though it focuses on my two least favorite of the SOS Brigade. It’s something that should be seen by any fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise.
Bandai released the film in both DVD-only and Blu-ray/DVD combo packs. Being the fan of HD anime I am, I opted to purchase the combo pack as seen above. This contains three discs: a BD version of the movie, a DVD version of the movie, and a DVD of extras.
For the Japanese version, I flew to San Francisco for the North American premiere last year. It was worth it then, and it’s still as amazing today when I watch it. The subs are slightly altered due to Bandai’s preference not to use honorifics in main features, but they are otherwise the same as that script translated by Sam Pinansky I saw last year. It’s a wonderful translation and I am very pleased Bandai used it.
For the English version, I waited in line 2 and a half hours at Anime Expo this year to see the premiere of it (seriously a coincidence this time) and greatly enjoyed it. Crispen Freeman was tasked with carrying this film on his back and he succeeded amazingly. His acting as Kyon ranges from depressive to absolute joy and there is not a moment where you go “someone else would do a better job.” It’s incredibly difficult to choose between Sugita and Freeman on who does a better Kyon, which is a compliment to both men. It’s insufficient to say he did a great job, but that’s the problems with words.
I liked Wendee’s Haruhi as usual. Michelle Ruff chose not to go “shy” as much as “bookworm”, which differed from the JP version but was very well at the same time. Stephanie Sheh is amazing as Mikuru, and Johnny Yong Bosch is good as Koizumi. Dub fans will be incredibly happy to finally see this movie and will absolutely enjoy it. It’s one of the few times I will say that the dub is equally as good as the JP version.
Visually, Bandai compressed an already compressed film into something that looks good at times and looks godawful at times. There’s one scene near the end of the movie where even my BD player, which smooths over so many faults and plays things like a tank, showed compression issues. I fault both Bandai and Kadokawa on this. It’s difficult to put a near three-hour movie in high definition on a BD with current technology. Perhaps when 10-bit becomes common, we’ll see how good it looked in theatres again.
As for Bandai’s choices in audio, I can happily say that it’s lossless and not mono on either track. It sounds great from my sound system and plays just as good as the JP version. As I told muhoot, if it’s not the same as the JP, it’s damn close.
And now we get to why I chose to buy Bandai’s release: subtitled extras. While I’m slowly improving my Japanese, it’s great to have an official translation for extras when they’re as great as the Haruhi ones. The problem is that these felt very rushed and incomplete. There’s many times where a line gets cut down to half it’s length and loses some meaning or lines aren’t translated at all. I’d say that a person had problems hearing, but there’s times when lines are at the same volume and only half are translated. It’s only about 5% total, but it’s very jarring when watching it. I’m satisfied, yet not completely satisfied with the extras.
The location scouting was fun. It was good to see that I got the general gist of what happened with the JP set. The BGM recording was great to see Honda switch tempos for Gymnopédie No. 1 and the trip to Sydney. I loved hearing from the cast in Toyko and Kyoto. Sugita, Goto, Ono, and Shiraishi have amazing chemistry together and carried the stage greetings. There were a lot of interesting facts such as how close the film came to not being made if it wasn’t for Ishihara’s enthusiasm that convinced Producer Itou to make the film. Cutting, Dubbing, Editing is another great look behind the scenes of how it was made. The PV making highlighted how not translating the jokes between people feels off. The viewer senses something is missing when Shiraishi, Itou, and Saito are joking around and nothing’s on the screen.
Other extras that need no comment are teasers, trailer, commercials, and the ASOS Brigade episode where Christina Vee disappears.
So overall, do I recommend this set? Of course I would! You’d have to be 36% stupider than Haruhi to realize I would easily say anyone should get this set! Bandai and Bang Zoom Entertainment did an amazing job with the dub for dub fans and the subtitles are great for sub fans. The extras are more than enough to keep anyone happy for another three hours after the film as well. It’s easy to say that this is Bandai’s best Haruhi release yet.