At the time this post is released, it is 19:00 PST on May 21, 2012. This is exactly 2 years since one of the most important events that I had the privilege to attend: the North American premiere of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Licensed by Bandai Entertainment in April 2010, the story is the feature film of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime franchise. It originally premiered in February 6, 2010 in Japan, but the May 21, 2010 showing was the first international viewing of the film. I was lucky enough to be able to take a vacation from work around that time to see the film.
As a huge fan of the franchise, I was debating taking a trip to Japan to catch the movie while it was in theatres, but I couldn’t justify going by myself to Japan and other circumstances forced that trip to be cancelled. When Bandai licensed the film and announced that it was to be shown on May 21, 2010, I thought it would be fun to go see it. Due to Skorp not being able to take time away to see it, I made a decision to go opening night. I bought tickets about a month in advance and booked a flight+hotel for the stay. It was time for Haruhi!
After some scheduling mishaps (I booked a flight a day later than I thought), I finally made it out to San Francisco on night of the 20th. I was able to look around Japantown and scout where the movie would be playing before meeting Yumeka at the airport on the 21st. We arrived at the theatre at 17:00 and there were already people waiting. I was able to chat with a couple of other fans, but the real fun wouldn’t start until 18:00 when the producers from Bandai arrived carrying goodies. Yen Press was kind enough to give out copies of the first light novel (paperback) or first volume of the manga to everyone in attendance.
After getting a copy of the novel, we were able to head to the front of the theatre to meet Christina Vee (a member of the ASOS Brigade) and receive an autographed poster of the film. It was a delight to meet her and I was surprised at the size of the poster! Yumeka and I found a couple of seats and watched as everyone filed into the theatre. Prior to the film beginning, Christina sang a couple of the songs from the franchise, including her dubbed version of Super Driver. She introduced the film and the Bandai staff took their seats. It was time to Disappear!
I’ll confess that I did not have the patience to wait for this showing. Once I discovered there was a camrip of the movie (and a subbed one at that!), I watched it and was enthralled by the film. I say that because seeing the movie in an actual theatre completely overshadowed my expectations. Hearing the sounds of the school all around me, being able to sit in the setting, seeing everything so vivid on the screen; no mere camrip could compare. The movie was 2 hours, 43 minutes, and 53 seconds long. It felt like nothing. It was everything I had expected and more.
The film did not feature subtitles made by Bandai. Kadokawa Pictures hired one of my favorite translators, Quarkboy, to subtitle the film and he did a FANTASTIC job. I still hold all subtitling works in reference to this film because it was that well-handled. I was so happy to hear that he enjoyed working on it as much as I enjoyed reading them. I’m glad that most of them were kept in the home video releases by the English-speaking countries.
When it was over, I had another privilege that I wanted to accomplish. One of the fans on 2ch, a Japanese message board, had made this showing his 100th time viewing the film. Some people were having him autograph things, and I saw Bandai’s cameras in the background, so I had him autograph that novel. I included his name in my first post about this film, and it’s became and is still a meme on 2ch. If you’re reading this, thank you very much Takahashi-san.
After leaving the theatre with Yumeka and walking back to our hotel, I was on such a high. Being in a theatre with so many other Haruhi fans to see the premiere of the movie from my absolute favorite franchise? There’s still nothing that can top that for me. It was an absolute joy to attend. I wrote a hand-written letter and sent it to Bandai to send my thanks, and they put it on their Facebook page. I still remember that feeling.
So why write this post now? Last year was pre-occupied with another high in this franchise for me, so I couldn’t write it then. Yumeka and some other bloggers have been participating in a Remembering Love series, and it hit me: this is my most treasured memory in anime fandom. That is the one night I want to relive over and over again, but alas, it won’t ever happen again. Now, it’s only a memory…