The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan is a spin-off of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. More specifically, it is a spin-off of the film, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. In that movie, Nagato creates an alternate reality where she is a normal girl, and strange things like aliens and time travelers don’t exist. The Disappearance of Nagato takes place in this alternate world. It’s an interesting idea, but the anime does little to justify its existence. While watching, it’s easy to think, “Why aren’t we just watching more of the real-version characters?” Despite an overall feeling of the show being filler, it’s still enjoyable. There are plenty of great character interactions, and it’s never boring.
Disappearance grabs the main cast of Melancholy, with some changes. Of course, the biggest difference is that the characters are normal humans. This hurts Koizumi the most. He was one of the most interesting characters in Melancholy, being an esper and having connections to what’s going on supernaturally in the world. In Disappearance, he retains his elegant personality, but is given little to do other than act like a servant for Haruhi. It is interesting that he has feelings for Haruhi here, but since it never really goes anywhere, it leaves Koizumi a shell of his real-version self.
In Melancholy, Mikuru is the time traveler. Besides that fact, she was given little to do than be put in fan service situations set up by Haruhi. One would imagine with her time traveler persona being eliminated, she would be even worst off in Disappearance. Actually, she’s given a bit more character here. Yes, she is unfortunately the victim of fan service once again, but there are two key scenes where she encourages Nagato. These were really good in showing Mikuru’s down to earth character. Meanwhile, Mikuru’s friend, Tsuruya, is given a much larger role than in Melancholy. It was definitely fun having her around to match dialogue with Ryoko and Haruhi.
As for Haruhi, she is pretty much the same character as in her show. What I personally liked is that she was given a bit more emotion than what was seen in Melancholy. In one scene, she consoles Ryoko, and in another, has some monologue near the end of the show. Speaking of Ryoko, one of the biggest changes from the original show is her. In Melancholy, we found out that she was a psychopath. Here, she is simply a person with a good heart who takes cares of her best friend. It takes true talent to make a character likable both as a crazed villain, and as a kindhearted person. Her relationship with Nagato is sweet, and makes us appreciate the Ryokos (the one in Disappearance anyway) in our lives.
One engaging scene was Ryoko sternly telling Nagato that she isn’t her mother or older sister, so she can’t solve Nagato’s problems, but she could help. At this point, Nagato was ready to give up on the Literature Club, so Ryoko had to say that because Nagato can’t rely on her to fix her own problems. It’s a great dialogue. The ongoing plot point is that Nagato has feelings for Kyon. Thus, this show is much more of a romance than Melancholy. This could have some good aspects, and in some ways, it has. We really do root for Nagato. But the trope of attempting to convey feelings to someone, only to be interrupted, is dated and annoying. The show could have shaved off some episodes in getting to the point.
There is some great drama to be found here, making The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan a good watch. The mini “amnesia” saga near the end was very compelling, as was Ryoko’s outburst at Haruhi during the Valentine’s Day episodes. The anime can also be genuinely humorous, like Melancholy. Disappearance lacks the overall quality writing of Melancholy however, and doesn’t really have a satisfying ending. So, it’s not essential viewing, but if you’ve seen Melancholy and the movie, it’s a pretty good watch.