Whenever anything Haruhi-related is brought up online, chances are people start to talk about its spin-off series, Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (長門有希ちゃんの消失), a.k.a. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. I’ll say this right now: if you’re not a fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya series or a fan of the slice-of-life genre, then this anime’s not gonna be your cup of tea. If you are, however, then please stick around. Maybe you’re in for a treat.
As previously stated, this is a spin-off series of the more known and renowned Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series. This in particular is based on the manga of the same name. As the name suggests, it focuses mostly on Yuki Nagato, also featured in the Haruhi series. Nagato is a shy, unmotivated girl that wishes to have fun as a high school student with her friends in the Literature Club, which doesn’t do anything specific. She manages to recruit Kyon, a sarcasm-throwing, laid-back guy. It’s revealed (though pretty apparent from the start) that she has a crush on Kyon. Nagato’s best friend is Ryouko Asasuka, who is almost the polar opposite of Nagato; she’s sociable, competitive, and reliable. Asakura acts like a mother of Nagato, making her dinner, waking her up, and teaching her how to get together with Kyon.
That’s the essential premise of the series. However, as it goes on, new obstacles and issues arise.I’ll talk a little more about that later. The main part of the series isn’t all that interesting, to be perfectly honest. If you’re a Haruhi fan, you’ll spot all of the references and nods to the original series. If you like slice-of-life, the laid-back atmosphere is very welcoming. However, that atmosphere changes constantly whenever Haruhi Suzumiya is involved.
Haruhi is exactly like the Haruhi from the original series. She’s overly eccentric, bossy, inconsiderate, and obsessed with the supernatural. Haruhi’s inclusion is the biggest problem with this series. We, the audience, get the impression that this is going to be a relaxing romance series. However, whenever Haruhi is on-screen, she takes up all of the attention, and story derails until she’s out of the scene. If you found Haruhi annoying in the original series, then you’ll find her to be outstandingly annoying in this one. She makes the relationship progression slow to a crawl, actually making it go backwards in some cases. Quite an achievement. The show spends way too much time on her and not enough on Kyon and Nagato.
I won’t give away too much, but the show takes a completely different direction with its story partway through, and it’s by far the most interesting section. I call it the Disappearance arc. The Disappearance arc focuses mostly on the psychological state of Nagato, about the meaning of identity and self. It’s night and day when comparing it to the first bit of the show, making me question why that first bit even exists in the first place. To makes the structure of the show even more confusing, the Disappearance arc is then followed by absolutely pointless episodes of exactly the same kind of uninteresting stuff the first arc had.
The series ends on pretty much nothing. The extra episodes had no purpose. Most of the show seems to have no purpose. The only interesting bit of the show is sandwiched by a mess of slice-of-life romance and Haruhi’s antics interfering with the pacing. Even with all of that, the show isn’t all that bad. Humor is subjective, so everyone’s left to their own devices in that regard, as this show is a comedy most of the time. However, as if a final nail to the coffin, this show actually fails to provide what was originally proposed: a romance between Kyon and Nagato. Kyon and literally everyone else are shown having more chemistry than with Nagato.
In conclusion, I do not greatly recommend watching The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. It fails on a storytelling level, it loses focus on its goal all too often, and doesn’t actually have a story to tell. It’s mostly just generic slice-of-life romance filler with Haruhi characters to provoke the fans. It’s meant only as a thing for fans of the original Haruhi series to watch. I’ll be perfectly honest: I like this show. I found it to be genuinely funny a lot of the time, and Nagato is my absolute favorite character (at least, as of now when I’m writing this), so there is some personal bias in that regard.
Oh wait, there’s more? Yep, there’s also an OVA for this show as well. Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu: Owarenai Natsuyasumi (長門有希ちゃんの消失 第17話「終われない夏休み), a.k.a. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Incomplete Summer (Episode 17), aired shortly after the main series.
It’s filled with nothing but references to the original Haruhi series. It actually manages to add even less than what the filler did in the main show. If you’re looking for anything more, it isn’t gonna be here. I do not recommend watching the OVA.