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.