The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Vol. 8

By Nagaru Tanigawa and Puyo. Released in Japan as “Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

It is not particularly surprising that, having resolved its main relationship in this volume, Nagato Yuki-chan continues. After all, the main Haruhi novels are still in limbo, and may remain there permanently. The anime, unlike this spinoff manga, is not allowed to use Sasaki (indeed, the anime of the Nagato Yuki-chan manga took pains to avoid having her appear). And Haruhi-chan, while fun, is still just a gag manga. Thus is is this title which has almost become the series flagship, despite featuring characters who remain, at heart, really nice and sweet. And so we continue to toddle along, vaguely discussing graduation plans and learning how to cook, and occasionally teasing the main continuity, such as when Yuki gets sick.


Now that Kyon and Yuki have resolved their affections, most of the stress in this volume is carried by Ryouko, who remains my favorite and gets a lot of face time this time around. She’s not made aware that anything has changed till the very end of the book, mostly as Kyon and Yuki are too embarrassed to say anything. And it’s honestly easier, when repurposing material that may have been used in prior spinoffs or the main series, to use Ryouko’s POV, as she wasn’t in them by virtue of being evil and erased. She goes back and forth between being a mom, a big sister, a shipper, and a nervous wreck here, and once again it’s Haruhi who is forced to play the minder to the minder and comfort Ryouko when she begins to cry in happiness at Kyon and Yuki’s relationship.

Speaking of Haruhi, she’s still trying to do interesting things, but she’s also the one who, along with Tsuruya, actually has her act together and is thinking about what comes next. She’s given up on Kyon, but in this title is OK with that, and appears to be content to move on. (Koizumi is still sticking with her, but again she appears to regard him more as a useful tool than anything else). Mikuru is useless in the original series, adult form aside, but here Tsuruya admits that she’s genuinely trying to change that, and give Mikuru the experience with people she desperately needs to move forward when Tsuruya can’t be there to take care of her.

And so it looks as if the next volume of the series (and yes, there is one) will discuss graduation plans. Ryouko is undecided, mostly as she really hasn’t focused on her own life as much as living vicariously through Yuki. As for everyone saying Yuki is the housewife type, given Kyon’s less than zero ambition, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. But of course this is a mild, sweet, happy title, so I suspect any crises of faith will be resolved in about 50 pages or so. It may not be the Haruhi we’d like to see, but if all we can get now is this continuity, I’m perfectly happy, and want to see what the cast will do in the future.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Vol. 6

By Nagaru Tanigawa and Puyo. Released in Japan as “Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

In my last review of this title, I seemed somewhat grumpy. The manga had gotten to a place that seemed ideal to wrap up, but trundled past and kept going anyway, with any love confessions quietly brushed under the carpet. I have no doubt that, with the main manga having ended in Japan, and no light novels or anime on the horizon, there is strong impetus to keep the remaining cash-cow spinoffs running. That said, I enjoyed this volume a lot more than the last, as Puyo settles in to do what he does best: take the Haruhi characters, soften them and give them alternate traits without quite turning them into another person, and write as many heartwarming, smile-inducing scenes as possible.


I had discussed Kyon’s confession (and Yuki not hearing it) last time, and while I’m annoyed he backed off, I’m pleased to see that his experience with the alternate Nagato has affected him. He can’t pretend to go out with Sasaki, even if it’s to help her deal with a guy that’s being too forward, because it wouldn’t be right to Nagato’s feelings. Not the Nagato he knows, but the alternate Nagato. This is very Kyon, and nice to see in a series which lacks his sarcastic inner monologue and thus sometimes has him be more of a cipher than necessary. As for Sasaki, like the rest of the female cast, she seems to be aware she loves Kyon but unwilling to admit it directly. You get the sense that the ‘date me to fend off my admirer’ plan was a bit of a ruse.

Possibly the funniest moment in the series involves Mikuru, another character who’s been reduced to a minor role in this spinoff due to the AU. Here she sees Nagato trying to decide what to do about Kyon seemingly having a better choice in Sasaki, and plays up the part of the wise older student, telling Yuki that jealousy is a perfectly valid feeling to have. That said, when Yuki asks how best to approach Kyon, Mikuru gradually falls apart, as it’s clear she has little to no experience in that area either. (Yuki and Mikuru in this series are somewhat defined by the friendship they have with more extroverted, pushy people who spur them on.) Mikuru being a “failure as a sempai” is hilarious, and Yuki’s response to this is sweet.

Haruhi spends most of the volume on the edges, as she’s pissed off at Kyon and Yuki for not letting her do a band with the literature club. Interesting, the ENOZ thing happened at last year’s cultural festival, where Haruhi was just a visitor, only with Tsuruya playing the brilliant guitarist. Even more interestingly, she gets Mikuru to willingly join the band on tambourine for this year (Mikuru is less shell-shocked by Haruhi here, even if she still has confidence issues). This all leads up to the last scene in the book, though, where Haruhi goes to get Ryoko to make sure she attends the concert. Ryouko snarks on her bunny outfit, but the important thing is Haruhi willingly thanking her for taking care of getting the band on the schedule, and Ryouko saying she did it as a friend, not as a class rep. (Also, ship tease out the wazoo, but that’s just me.)

I haven’t even gotten into all the tiny little Haruhi refs buried in here (I wonder if the Endless Eight joke was in the original Japanese…), or the fact that of COURSE Kuyou is at Haruhi and Sasaki’s school in this AU, and of COURSE she’s meek and shy just like Yuki is, and of COURSE she has an adorable meet cute with Taniguchi. This is not exactly a series to read if you want surprise, or, if I’m being honest, depth. But it’s got a good heart, which is pretty much its entire reason for being, and in that respect fulfills the reader’s needs. Haruhi fans should be pleased once more.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Vol. 5

By Nagaru Tanigawa and Puyo. Released in Japan as “Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

So when does one choose to end a cash cow? Particularly if the cash cow is a spinoff of an even bigger cash cow whose author seems to have dwindled down to 2 books a decade? Well, the answer is that you don’t – you need to keep the audience interested in these characters for as long as you possibly can, and if the main Suzumiya Haruhi series is on hiatus while its author deals with trying to wrap yup the monster he’s created, and the manga has to end as it can’t make up new Main Storyline stuff – well then, you keep the spinoffs going for as long as they are able.


(For the record, I have generally assumed that when dealing with spinoff titles like these, the main plot is being created by the artist, with the writer only signing off on suggestions and censoring plots he wants to handle himself. Thus I assume that Puyo is in charge of both this and the Haruhi-chan manga, but I could be wrong.)

This volume really reads like the author was intending to wrap it up here. Yuki and her AU counterpart have a talk in her mind, after which she’s back to normal with no memories of what happened before… which is a bit of a pain to Kyon and Ryouko. Luckily it’s summer vacation and Haruhi returns to drag everyone through a series of fun activities. You can see Puyo starting to wrap things up. Haruhi reveals how things changed for her 3 years prior, and shows how she developed in a different, slightly more sedate direction due to Kyon’s unthinking response. There’s a sense she’;s moving on from him here. Likewise, Kyon manages to resolve the awkwardness he feels around Nagato, and we finally get to the big confession…

…except there are fireworks, so she doesn’t hear him. And he immediately pulls back, noting that it’s OK if he said it, and now they can go back to their happy carefree days. We then move on to a slight homework arc, and return to the school for the 2nd half of the year, which features Haruhi trying to figure out how to inveigle herself into the culture festival despite not going to that school, and the return of a very familiar face.

Yes, if you write a spinoff featuring the most popular Haruhi character in a starring role, it makes sense to bring in the big breakout character of the last few years as well. So Sasaki’s back. What will her return mean for the relationship between Yuki and Kyon? Probably not a lot, to be honest. But it will at least keep it dragged out for another couple of volumes, which is all Kadokawa asks, really.

I really do enjoy this title. I wish the art rose above mediocre, but given the popularity of Attack on Titan, mediocre art is not a big setback anymore. Puyo specializes in quiet, introspective emotional moments, and the humor here is gentle and mild – it’s probably to contrast with the Haruhi-chan 4-koma he also writes. But I simply can never get out of my head the fact that this is a cash grab for a large anime franchise, and the addition of Sasaki and pullback from an obvious ending do nothing to assuage my worries in that regard. As always, recommended for Haruhi fans.