As a fan of the Suzumiya Haruhi novels and their anime and manga adaptations I was looking forward very much to the Nagato Yuki-chan anime this season, which is based on a spin-off manga of the same name. As an added bonus, Nagato is hands down my favorite character of them all, and her interactions with Kyon are some of the best parts of the series as a whole for me. Taking that as well as my familiarity with the spin-off manga I had a pretty good idea what to expect going in to the anime proper, but even then was both surprised and not surprised. I was not surprised because I was familiar with the spin-off manga’s art style, and knowing it was different than the art style of KyoAni’s anime (and movie) adaptation had a good hunch this anime’s visuals would be different. Even with all that, I was surprised at just how powerful and long staying the imagery of the KyoAni anime was. Even with all the former knowledge and expectations of different visuals and the like I was still initially thrown off. I guess in some ways it is an excellence to KyoAni’s work of nearly 10 years ago. Well, to use the old Japanese phrase “that is one thing, and this is another”. ^^

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 01Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 02Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 03Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 04

In any event, for those unfamiliar with with Suzumiya Haruhi franchise in general I think there will be loads of things that will be missed. I think one of the main draws for this series is the fact that it is very much a spin-off of a known, detailed ficional setting with very interesting and memorable characters. The viewers are expected to be familiar with the source material, I think, and it is very much an “in-house” adaptation. And with many such works that is both a strength and a weakness. When future events will begin to develop I wonder how meaningful it will be to those completely unfamiliar with the series as a whole? Fans like myself will be fascinated (maybe even drooling and savoring) by the contrast with the Haruhi franchise it so strongly reminds us of, but how much it will appeal to others is kinda hard for me to appraise; I am “too far in”, I suppose.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 05Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 06Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 07Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 08

The gist of the story presented to the viewers in the first episode seems fairly straightforward, and smacks of a light hearted, slice-of-life’y Rom-Com in a high school setting. The lead character is a petite, awkward, sweet-souled yet shy bookworm’y girl (bungaku shoujo in Japanese) named Yuki (her family name is Nagato) who is the president of her high school’s Literature Club, a club which was apparently on the verge of disbanding before two other students joined it; Nagato’s superstar friend Asakura (who apparently lives with her or near her – we hear nothing of Nagato’s parents in this episode), and Nagato’s love interest named Kyon, a curious combination of good heartedness and snark. The anime begins with Christmas just around the corner and Nagato is making plans and preparations for a Christmas party to be held in the Literature Club’s clubroom over Christmas.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 09Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 10Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 11Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 12

We meet a handful of other characters in the episode too, including a mysterious long haired girl tied with yellow ribbons that Nagato and Kyon pass on the street and a pair of girls they stumble across in the nearby shopping district while looking for turkey – Nagato insists on having turkey at the Christmas party. These two girls are named Tsuruya (another superstar sort like Asakura) and Asahina. Asahina is a young girl who is drop-dead gorgeous and who apparently has her own fan club and for whom Tsuruya claims Kyon is a member – Kyon’s nervous reaction when first seeing the two young ladies in the shopping district proper may prove this claim to be true. After some shenanigans largely on the part of the competitive Asakura (representing Nagato) and Tsuruya (representing Asahina – is she also interested in Kyon?) we hear later on that the two of them will also be joining the Literature Club’s Christmas party. By the end of the episode we also discover that Kyon and Nagato apparently first met at a library and Kyon helped her out in some way there, leading to Nagato falling head over heels for him, and that after the Christmas party she intends to confess her love for him.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 14Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 15Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - 16Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu - 01 - ED

As the lovely ED was playing I was reminded of how packed the references to the original series are in this work and how potentially difficult it could be for me to blog…kind of on the level of “cannot un-see”. This was one of my most anticipated series for this season, as I mentioned in my Spring 2015 preview, and thus far it is pretty good, but for me the deciding factor should be how it handles an upcoming “big plot event” – possibly in the next two or even three episodes? Depending on how well it handles it I may try blogging a second series this season In addition to Plastic Memories. For the moment though, the first introductory episode did a fine job.

Special thanks to Passerby from randomc for his screenshots – was too lazy this week, it seems. ^^

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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