The Haruhi anime history and future speculation (December 2011 edition)

With the recent reports that a Kadokawa representative said they have no plans to broadcast a third Haruhi season, and Kyoto Animation’s new announced works of Hyouka and Chuuni-byou Demo Koi Shitai! the western fans of the Haruhi anime franchise have been upset. Call it stupidity, call it ignorance, call it whatever you want, but I have faith we’ll be hearing about something. So in order to predict the future, we use examples from the past. Let’s first review what has happened with the Haruhi anime franchise.

In 2005, it was first announced in the October 2005 edition (released in August 2005) of The Sneaker that the light novel Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu would be made into an anime. It began airing in April 2006 until July2006, when it was first featured in the anime magazine Newtype. The airing of the anime combined with the beginning popularity of video sites such as YouTube and the ease of viewing anime through the internet made the series into a phenomenon known around the world. As soon as it finished airing, fans were wanting another season. Their prayers would be answered one year later on July 7th, 2007.

July 7th is an important day in the Haruhi franchise. As it is the holiday Tanabata, Haruhi decides to celebrate it with the SOS Brigade. That afternoon, Mikuru takes Kyon back in time three years. It’s presumed that this occurs in 2007 due to a line in the light novels, but that is not confirmed. On July 7th, 2007, Kadokawa Shoten takes out a full page advertisment in a big Japanese newspaper that says “Haruhi 2nd season Decided!” and is also on the official and Newtype webpages as well. At 21:00 that evening, a “security camera” captures footage of two individuals drawing on the grounds of a middle school, a reference to the short story that occurs on that day.

Nothing of note occurs until December 18th, 2007. On that day, the official Haruhi webpage disappears and an image appears saying “Haruhi 2nd season cancelled. NEW Haruhi animation project started!” with a copyright of 2007, 2008, and 2009. In the roundtable with Tanigawa, Ishihara, and Shimo (which is in the process of translation), they admit that Disappearance was supposed to be part of a new TV season as of June 2007. The decision to make it a movie took place during the time period of July 7th and December 18th, 2007 as admitted in the Directors Roundtable. Sakemoto is announced to be the supervisor, replacing Ishihara and Yamamoto who worked on the 2006 edition.

In the June 2008 edition of The Sneaker, a new image of Nagato taking off her glasses is published. They state “stay tuned for more information about the “new animation.” About two weeks later in the next edition of Newtype, the same image is used with another teaser as well as a silhouette of Haruhi in the “next issue” portion. Kyon’s line “I finally….found you” is also used. The July 2007 edition of Newtype uses an image of Haruhi as she is in the new Disappearance world to promote the “New Animation.” Additional character designs and a roundtable are also published in that edition. The staff listing remains the same as the image on December 18th. On July 7th, 2008, tanzakus are shown at 15:00 and at 21:00 images from the surveillance video are played amongst lines from both the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody and Disappearance stories.

In September 2008, the edition of Shounen Ace announces that The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan and Nyoron Churuya-san will be made into an anime with Sakemoto supervising. The October 2008 edition of Newtype announces Nishiya as the character designer. The January 2009 edition of Shounen Ace gives both anime the copyright of Nagaru Tanigawa/Noizi Itou/ESOS Brigade instead of the 2006 or 2007/2008/2009 ones signalling that it is different. They begin broadcasting in January 2009 on YouTube. Around this time, the storyboards for the Disappearance movie are completed (Directors’ Roundtable).

Also in January 2009, the February 2009 edition of Newtype announces that the next issue will have news about the Haruhi anime. That turns out to be an announcement that it will be “re-aired” starting in April 2009. The March edition also gives the story the 2006 copyright and an image from the 2006 series drawn by Ikeda. The story begins airing in chronological order for the first time. Upon reaching the eighth episode, one station has a description stating that it is the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody episode and announces that the “re-airing” is 28 episodes, twice the length of the 2006 airing. It is indeed a new episode and is followed by the three other episodes from the third novel.

Then we arrive at Endless Eight, the next story that was not aired in 2006. To fans’ dismay, this arc takes up 8 episodes of time and is followed by 5 episodes of the second novel to use all 14 new episodes on three stories. Unknown to the fans, the characters designs and location scouting for the movie were finished during this time period (August 2009). In October 2009, the final episode of the “re-airing” finished and an announcement for The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie aired with a 2009 copyright. Production continued on the movie until it was released on February 2010. The movie was shown in theatres until October 2010 and released on DVD/BD on December 18th, 2010, 3 years after the “New Animation” was announced.

So now that we’re caught up on what happened since the initial announcement in 2005, we can begin to hypothesize a few things. The first is that any new announcement will take place in a magazine or newspaper ad. The recent shows announced by KyoAni on their own website is very weird in that both instances were firsts for them. The second is that the studio can be working on multiple projects at the same time. Around Fall 2008, they were airing Clannad ~After Story~, while working on the Haruhi “re-airing” and movie, K-On!, Haruhi-chan, Nyoron Churuya-san, and Mundo TV (aired from January-March 2009). Of these, only K-On! was a new project from scratch, so they can be working on a sequel and not mention anything.

KyoAni animates projects from three sources: Kadokawa (Full Metal Panic!!, Haruhi, Lucky Star, Nichiyou, Hyouka), TBS/Pony Canyon (AIR, Kanon, Clannad, and K-On!), and themselves (Mundo OVAs/TV/movie and Chuuni-byou Demo Koi Shitai!). We do not know of the next TBS franchise, nor do we know a date for Chuuni-byou. Hyouka is likely to air in the spring of 2012 as they have staff announced and a key visual released. The past two years have seen KyoAni release a movie and a 26 episode series (Kadokawa movie/TBS series and TBS movie/Kadokawa series) but that is not a given for next year.

The Haruhi BD-Box still remains the top selling TV series BD-Box. It took two incredible series (Bakemonogatari in sales/Toradora in amount earned) to get over half of what Haruhi earned. The movie earned over 800 million yen, which is incredible for a late night anime (again, topped by the usual suspects of Eva, Macross, and K-On!) and sold over 130,000 copies tabulated by Oricon this year. Unofficially, 200,000 copies were produced and the Limited Editions are sold out on Amazon already. The latest novels had a record first pressing and nearly doubled the previous record for first week sales of a light novel. The series is still selling great in Japan, which begs the question: “Why hasn’t there been an announcement yet?”

My guess: it’s in the background and we may not see it until certain dates are met. We’re just now in the timeframe of the story following Disappearance with big dates occurring on December 30th. January 2nd and the beginning of February are also important days that might see an announcement. People expecting an announcement on December 18th were somewhat foolish: why would that occur for a story that’s already been animated?

The other pressing issue: Is this a third season, or should we consider it a “second season”? I’ve checked the past Haruhi websites, announcements, publications, interviews, and there is only one instance where it’s even hinted that 2009 was a second season. Every instance used the phrase “新アニメーション” (New Animation) or “改めて放送” (Re-airing) except the novel fanbook saying the 2006 and 2009 editions. Prior to December 18th, 2007, it was  said to be “第二期” (Second Season). Might their statement be correct and our assumption incorrect? Only time will tell.

So to bring everything to a conclusion, the announcements of Hyouka and Chuuni-byou are disappointing, but as you can tell, it takes time to produce a season of a show. It’s very possible that these projects were already in the works and Haruhi‘s being worked on in the background. With sales like Haruhi has done compared to everything else Kadokawa released in 2011, they should go back to the well at some time. Let’s just hope it’s not too late like Ascii and Shana or else sales will drop.

21 thoughts on “The Haruhi anime history and future speculation (December 2011 edition)

  1. Thanks for the great article! At the moment I would be more happy about another FMP! season because I also think that more Haruhi is only a matter of time. ^_^

    We will probably hear more about a new anime next year because otherwise the gap would get too big. I don’t know if a time frame for the next novel was mentioned but Kadokawa must keep Haruhi in the news to keep the sales coming in and maybe they will use a different, more traditional marketing approach this time.

    • I don’t have much hope for FMP! from KyoAni. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be surprised by some, but it’s been over 6 years since their last project on it finished and there’s been a lot of turnover in the JP fan community. Look at how poorly Shana is doing compared to seasons I and II and it averaged over 10k per DVD. I’d be surprised if they could sell the 5k that TSR and Fumoffu sold.

      I’m just seeing tons of signs that they’re keeping the franchise alive in Japan. I make note of all of the reairings on WOWOW and AT-X this year and next year from twitter, and it just seems like something is in the works. I can’t pinpoint what exactly is going on, but I just have a feeling. As I’ve shown here, everytime something’s been announced (with one exception), it’s been through standard channels like magazines, so that’s what I’m keeping my eyes on. As for marketing, it’ll be something outlandish per usual IMO.

      • I just hope that Kadokawa give FMP another chance because Gatoh said himself that it still might come and he will inform the fans when all hope is gone. Furthermore, FMP! is internationally a well known property and they should get more money from the licensors than from almost any other non-Haruhi property Kadokawa has.

        Regarding Haruhi I think it’s strange that not a lot of merchandise is announced and between 2006 and 2009 there was a lot of more Haruhi stuff released. Furthermore, the “poster calendar” this year is also a little bit strange.

        • I wouldn’t be surprised to see FMP! Another get a KyoAni series in a couple more novels. Gatoh’s been helping in quite a lot of their series and that would be a good way to pay him back for the assistance as well as not reference a series that’s 6 years old now.

          Right now has been a dull period for Haruhi merchandise compared to the summer, but there was a lot of merchandise released then. The other issue is that you’re seeing merchandise from a lot more shows that are being aired/have been shown than during the 2006-2009 lull. Considering the work that KyoAni’s been doing with K-On! with the movie and all of the newly drawn merchandise, promotional artwork, CD jackets, it’s not surprising that even Nichijou got little merchanside from them. That’s not mentioning the planning process for Hyouka and Chuuni-byou. It’s been a busy year for the studio and just the fact that Haruhi got a calendar when other Kadokawa franchises didn’t is a good sign.

  2. Excellent timeline for the Haruhi anime ^_^ That buzz about there being no third season was discouraging, especially when there really hasn’t been any new anime material, or even news of new anime material, since the movie premiere almost two years ago. But the fact that the series has had a few recent rebroadcasts, and the fact that the official web site still churned out a surprise on Dec.18th, makes it seem like they’re not done with the anime just yet! I hope that’s true, and like you, I will try to be optimistic =)

  3. Good article, Megax. Chuuni-byou Demo Koi Shitai may be an OVA release so it is still possible that Haruhi is in the backpocket somewhere. It is looking more likely for 2013 or later though.

    There has been some buzz about Little Busters lately, and Key has said that they want KyoAni for it and they apparently rejected a team from Aniplex handling that so Little Busters could be the next TBS/Pony Canyon series. Or they could shock us with a Planetarian Movie release and announce it as KyoAni’s first theatrical release of a Key Visual Arts work.

    I think that any further continuation of K-ON will be put off until 2014 or so since they don’t have enough manga material to put out another series yet.

    Of course, seeing that Bandai is not going to release any new titles after February is troubling for different reasons.

    • Bandai has nothing to do with the Japanese side of production, so their news today is sad for a different reason as you said.

      Given Gatoh’s tweets and the fact that he’s worked both on Haruhi and Full Metal Panic! for KyoAni, I’d be shocked if one of those two wasn’t aired in 2013.

      I’m very curious as to what the TBS/Pony Canyon series will be. K-On! is pretty much exhausted for the time being (if not forever since the main 4 are out of high school now).

      We just have to wait and see.

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  5. Great article ultimatemegax!

    I have always been grateful for your Haruhi cinema Google Spreadsheet, but I’m surprised to find that you have an interesting blog as well. I was searching for info on K-On BD box and your name popped up 🙂

    Can you elaborate a bit about Shana? Any info on how the delay of the 2nd/3rd season is hurting the sales?

    • Sales went from around 12,000 to 10,000 to 7,500 to ~3,000 from 1, 2, OVAs, and Final. It’s a good thing Shana will be finished this season because it’d be unlikely to get another season.

      Hope you enjoy the translations I’ve been working on as well.

  6. I liked Haruhi as much as the next guy, but I really think the series takes a dive after book 6. I mean, in Intrigues Tanigawa takes like 250 pages to tell a story R.L. Stine could have crammed into a ten page prologue. And the story then completely cancels out what could have been a really interesting plot (the mutual distrust between Mikuru and Itsuki) before it even gets started. Indignation felt like two unneccesary filler episodes as well.

    I generally think Haruhi peaked WAY too early and is struggling to stay fresh. Tanigawa was great at introducing new story ideas but pretty shabby at following them through. A bit like when the trailer is better than the movie itself.

    • Intrigues is a hit or miss novel. It follows the same format that Tanigawa has for all of his stories (buildup, buildup, buildup, buildup, WTF event, climax, end), but there’s a lot of slice-of-life to it opposed to everything else.

      If you’ve not read the trilogy, do so. I think you’ll be pleased with how that story ended. My favorite chapter is from novel 11 now.

  7. I’ve read speculation online that the reason a new season of Haruhi has not been made despite the huge popularity of the series is that Haruhi is KyoAni’s Golden Goose. KyoAni is a business and Haruhi is their most popular and most profitable work. Nichijou was a financial failure and the KON! series (which was a licence to print money) has finished. Haruhi is KyoAni’s safety net in case things go wrong, in the meantime KyoAni animates new shows in the hope that one of them will be a hit so they don’t rely solely on Haruhi.

    I’m eagerly awaiting a 3rd season of Haruhi, it’s almost certainly happening, we just don’t know when. As strange as it sounds, the worse KyoAni performs financially the more likely we’ll get a Haruhi anime.

    • I really doubt that theory. While KyoAni is a big member of the production committees for their shows, they’re still hired by Kadokawa and TBS/Pony Canyon (/Key) to animate these works. It’s not 100% their choice what to animate, but there are times where they can choose. Takemoto really wanted to animate Hyouka and so Kadokawa let them work on it. Kadokawa wanted to promote an up-and-coming manga, and so KyoAni worked on Nichijou. It just varies depending on circumstances/staff.

      I think it’s more Kadokawa (anime division) that would be more worried about sales than KyoAni. KyoAni has many different incomes between animation funding, school tuition, their new LN division, and their own merchandise. Kadokawa hasn’t had a lot of good selling shows lately and so they may have decided to pull a trigger for Haruhi because of it. We won’t know for a while. At least with the announcement of Chuunibyou airing this fall, we know that they’re free after it to work on something new. What they’re doing next is a mystery.

      Thank you for your comment.

      • Interesting, I didn’t know that.

        From what you’ve said, I suspect that unless KyoAni animates another one of their LNs or animates another one for TBS, they’ll animate a new season of Haruhi since Kadokawa needs the cash. But alas no one really knows. All we can do is speculate. Thanks for the response.

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