Story - Okay, this is part of the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise so you would come to expect a well-crafted blend of light-hearted comedy, mindless fluff and intriguing sci-fi. Of course that is what is presented in the film but it is far more than what has been shown in the series.
Based on the fouth novel, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya takes on a decidedly more serious role than the rest of the series and thus is perfect for the anime movie treatment. It all starts with the SOS Brigade making plans for a Christmas party and as always Kyon begrudingly tags along. Everything seems the same as the rest of the series but then everything goes wrong.
I don't need to spoil the movie for you so I'll leave it at that and besides if you've already watched it you don't need a recap, you can just watch it again (Bloody oath I would watch it five times a day if I could, but I would have no day left since the film is quite long)
Now the element of drama is very well executed and as seen through the series which preceded it, they sure know how to portray drama well. But even with the much more serious tone of this film there are still plenty of laughs and no doubt you will feel that unnatural warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart by the time the closing credits start rolling. Also the romantic element is given more time in the spotlight in this installment and there is plenty of material to keep any and all shippers happy.
The plot is full of exciting twists and despite the aformentioned length the pacing is good and so the movie doesn't feel like it's dragging on.
Animation - This is an anime movie so there is no surprises here that it would score a ten. With a much higher budget and much more time at hand the art is perfectly rendered. The backgrounds are more stunning than usual, some of them even appearing to be real. There were quite a few times when watching that I had to blink and check twice that I was watching an animated film, such was the astounding realism of the art. It truly is a feast for the eyes.
Now of course all the guys will be pleased because Mikuru get's new costume! Yes there is still a few instances of fan service to please the male contingent of fans though not as much as the series, especially season 2 (Eight pool episodes in a row?! How do you beat that?!) But that isn't all we watch anime for.
The art is very well done and deserving of a perfect score.
Sound - First off, the music. There are some recurring themes from the series just to hold things together and a few new additions to the soundtrack as well just so you don't get bored. Everyone remembers Bouken Desho Desho right? Well the much loved opening theme makes a come-back in the film. Overall the music is good. Combining the best of the old soundtracks with some new favourites.
There is not much music throughout the film however. There are many long periods mostly through the middle of the film which are left without any musical backing but this brings focus on the story and thus even with an absence of music it still accentuates and complements the story and so eloquently serves it's purpose.
Next, the voices. I watched it in the English dub and haters can hate but I just love all of the voice actors in the dub. Crispin Freeman's performance is charming as ever and just so fun to watch. Michelle Ruff exercises a few different sides to Yuki in this as well which is quite a treat. Rather than the same stone-faced and emotionless tone all the time there are lapses of emotion as we are introduced to the shy and self-conscious Yuki Nagato. The other voices are well performed and everyone gives a solid effort so haters have nothing to criticise with this one.
Characters - What is there to say, but I love the entire cast. Few anime have such a loveable and wonderful cast of characters, much to the point where picking a favourite is an impossible task. From the designs to their mannerisms to their personalities they are all great!
Ryoko Asakura makes a comback as well which causes much tension and of course a thrilling few scenes near the end. Now in the story Kyon becomes trapped in an altered world where everyone is normal and thus many have changed completely. These personality changes, some slight and some drastic bring new light to the characters, especially Nagato who...
Sorry, where was I? Oh right! Nagato's adorable new side is just perfect. I must say in this film she scored way more moe points than Mikuru. Whether it is her sweet little smile or her nervous shifting glances or even when she cried, the newfound emotions are just captivating and make you want to reach through the screen and hug her (Or maybe I'm just crazy? Yeah that might be right, but you get what I'm saying right?) And of course there is the old Nagato we know and love as well. That's two for the price of one! Yay! Fanboy squeal? Anyone? No? Okay, moving on...
Overall - I bet you can guess what I'm going to say. Well, I loved this film. It has become my favourite anime film now even standing above Hayao Miyazaki's classics and that is saying something! It works perfectly as a comedy, or a romance or a drama or even as a sci-fi film. Hell, it's even a Christmas Special! What more could you want? Action scenes? Got ya covered! As usual the Haruhi franchise moulds together so many genres that it's just about impossible to not find something you like about it. Certain to please all fans and even recruit some new members to Haruhiism this film is a definite must see for any anime fan, a new staple in the anime film archives.
Just in case you haven't been paying attention thus far let me repeat myself: This movie is incredible! Everything about it is just perfect, a masterpiece of anime. If you haven't yet seen it then you are missing out! If you have already watched it, do as I'm about to do and watch it again! In short, 10/10. Five stars. 100%. Two thumbs up. A big green tick. Need I say it again? Well whatever, here goes:
I loved this film! And you will too!