The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is the fourth book of the light novel franchise. Kyoto Animation previously adapted its story in a movie of the same name. Everything begins one week before Christmas Eve. After a seemingly mundane day, Kyon finds himself in a terrifying situation. He now lives in a world where the SOS Brigade has never been; his class is left with the empty void of a missing Haruhi filled by someone else.
Though the world may feel the same, Kyon still has memories of how it used to be. There are a lot of incongruencies and things that appear to be out of place. This time, he has to figure out what to do by himself, as he can’t simply be saved by Nagato, Asahina, Koizumi, or Haruhi.
This situation could be compared to the end of the first book, back when Kyon and Haruhi slip into an alternate reality. However, when that happened, the two were alone and it was a dire situation, but things are a lot more subtle here.
This isn’t a messed-up world for anyone but the protagonist. To everyone else, this is normal, real life, which leaves Kyon in a frustrating position. He must deal with the loneliness that was once filled by the closed space experience he had with Haruhi.
As the story goes on, no matter how familiar everything is, this reality is but a fake to his mind. He lacks friends and learns what it’s like to live in an average reality that lacks all the wonder he was growing used to are things that he abhors and completely break his mind.
Unlike the previous volume, this book is composed of only this story. However, it’s also the most complete plot in the series so far. It’s well developed, using many of the best staples of the series, such as its creative use of sci-fi concepts and believable character reactions.
Another impressive aspect is how the story references the previous books and even brings to the table stories that have yet to be shown due to the non-linear nature of the Haruhi Suzumiya series. It serves not only as a refresher of the events (along with teasing what’s to come), but the circumstances of having to face a different daily life also make some feel natural.
The few art panels in the story from Noizi Ito are exquisite. They are clean setpieces that help visualize the characters and situations. It’s a big improvement from previous books, which feel a little haphazard in choosing what to adapt with its illustrations.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is the best volume of the Haruhi Suzumiya light novel series. A complete story shows the depth of how the protagonist changed over this time despite his denial. Not only that, but it’s also a creative and engaging way to explore the best aspects of its usual narratives, crowning it as a must-read.
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