The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: Episode 1 – “Precious Place”

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is based on a manga series that is a spin-off of Nagaru Tanigawa’s Haruhi Suzumiya light novel series. This spin-off is based on the alternate universe that was featured in the series’ fourth volume and feature film, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American streaming rights for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.

In this series, Yuki is president of the Literature Club, and Asakura is her roommate. Kyon has recently joined the Literature Club, and Yuki has a crush on Kyon. This first episode works at establishing the characters through a plot of trying to come up with a Christmas party for the Literature Club. Yuki has become obsessed with getting a turkey for the party, and this comes to a head when they run into Mikuru and Tsuruya while they try to come up with one.

In this alternate universe, Yuki is depicted as having a fascination with food. Also, there seems to be a potential love triangle forming between Yuki, Mikuru, and Kyon, which is fueled in large part by both Asakura and Tsuruya.

This episode of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan relies very heavily on slapstick comedy and gags and not so much on telling an overarching story. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much of the humor included here to be terribly funny. It was at its worst when Tsuruya and Asakura declared that Yuki and Mikuru must compete in various competitions. Yuki and Mikuru are both on the shy side, so they don’t do things as Asakura and Tsuruya want them to. This leads to Asakura and Tsuruya demonstrating each competition and ultimately turning it into a competition between each other. This became predictable rather quickly, and the joke got old since there were five challenges shown.

After watching this first episode, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. There was a style to the story and humor of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that helped to make it stand out, and it felt like that series was truly bringing something new to the table. Unfortunately, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan relies very heavily on tropes and humor that’s been so prevalent in anime in recent years that there’s really nothing here to make this series stand out expect for the characters from the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. In a lot of respects, this episode felt like someone wrote a story for something else and just slapped some recognizable characters into it in order to bring more attention to their work.

When it comes to the animation, the character designer seemed like they were trying to maintain the basic feel of the characters from the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise as much as possible. Overall, they did a good job, except I felt that Kyon wasn’t quite right and wasn’t as recognizable as the others. The cast members from The Melancholy of Haruhu Suzumiya reprise their roles from the first series, but Kyon didn’t sound quite right. Fortunately, the other voices sounded relatively close to their original characters.

I have to admit that the glaring differences between The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and The Disappearance of Nagato Yuk-chan were distracting to me as I watched this first episode, and this could be an issue for other viewers if they haven’t read the manga that this new series is based on. This series might also be a little more enjoyable to viewers who have no previous knowledge of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, since they would be coming into it without any preconceived notions.

Even though this first episode didn’t grab me liked I hoped it would, I’ll keep going with The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. Hopefully the series will grow on me or improve over time.

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