When people talk about Christmas, they think of the season of giving gifts or the time to be with family and loved ones. Or maybe they think about an old man with a fluffy white beard, wearing a red coat and trousers, laughing merrily on his sleigh pulled by reindeers. This movie doesn’t have any of those. But what makes it fit for the Christmas season? Keep reading and judge for yourself!

It is recommended to know the plot of the original series (here) before you watch the movie and read this article, for reasons that will be explained below.

The events of the film happen a week before Christmas, on December 18. Even if you’ve never watched or read any of the “Haruhi Suzumiya” series, you’ll instantly be introduced to what makes the series unique: access to the main protagonist’s inner thoughts. Kyon is a man of few words, but he is often full of thoughts filled with cynicism and sarcasm, which makes up the bulk of the series’ comedy. This perfectly reflects the average person, who may not be talking with their mouths but will be saying thousands of words in their minds. The film introduces us to the other main characters by having Kyon meet them one by one on his way to their clubroom. The first person we meet is Koizumi, an esper who was sent by the ‘Agency’. Next, we meet Asahina, a time traveler from the future who went back in time. Third, he reaches the clubroom for the SOS Brigade and we meet Nagato, an alien who possesses supernatural powers and was created by the Data Overmind. They’re all there to observe the titular character, Haruhi, who we meet last. Unbeknownst to her, she actually has omnipotent powers with the ability to change, destroy, and reshape reality. However, the film makes no mention of this when Kyon meets them, nor does the latter try to introduce them to the viewers in his inner thoughts. It assumes that the viewers have watched the “Haruhi Suzumiya” series and already know these people, which for me made it more natural and realistic. For fans of the series, though, they would notice that the order that Kyon meets the members of the SOS Brigade is actually in the reverse order that Haruhi recruited them to the club.

The plot of the film can be divided into four major parts in my opinion. The first part is, like the main character says, the prologue. It shows us the usual scenario we see in the “Haruhi Suzumiya” series. At first, I thought it was very slow-paced considering that it took around twenty minutes. However, Kyon‘s narration suddenly made that thought go away when he directly addressed how long-winding everything was, and it was just the prologue. But he promises that it’s very important and will make sense later on. This method of breaking the fourth wall not only provided some comedy and foreshadowed the upcoming events, but it also refreshed the viewers’ attention that had been exhausted from the long prologue. The second part of the plot is the disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Everything in the world suddenly changed and no one but Kyon knows it did. During this part, they also developed Nagato‘s character, who in the series was usually very lowkey. You can see the stark contrast with the prologue because this part was very bleak and somber without any background music during the whole part, which lasted for an hour. The third part starts when Kyon gradually finds clues on how to resolve the situation, like discovering a hint left by the original world’s Nagato and finding out that Haruhi is still in this world, albeit in a different school. You would expect it to go by very quickly, but this part also lasted for an hour. The last part is the epilogue. Kyon has reverted the world back to the way things used to be, but he knows he still has a lot of things to do to really turn everything back to normal.

As can be inferred from the breakdown of the plot, this film is very slow-paced; the whole thing lasts for two hours and forty minutes. But if I was asked what part was unnecessary, I wouldn’t really be sure what to answer. The film spent a lot of time building the plot up, but I think everything was necessary and played a part in the end. Even the seventeen-minute prologue is important in the big picture because it shows how different Kyon’s life is with Haruhi around. Although he loves to complain about it, we can see that it’s bustling and vibrant, contrary to the dull mood when Haruhi disappears. So, if you plan to watch this movie, you’ll need a very long attention span.

Another flaw of this movie is that it’s heavily based on the series. If you’ve never watched the series, you’ll be spending almost three hours of your time completely clueless about what’s going on. The film also makes a lot of references to the series, so any new fan will not be able to see them either. Even for me, who was a big fan of the series years ago, I had to google some of the references because I’ve already forgotten about them, considering that the series is over a decade old. However, I personally see it as a strength. If you’re a fan of the series, then the references will give you goosebumps and cause adrenaline to course through your veins. It may also make viewers watch or re-watch the series if they’ve never seen it or have forgotten it, respectively.

The strength of this story is how it’s full of twists and turns. Even after Kyon has solved the riddle Nagato left behind to turn the world back to normal, it doesn’t magically just happen. Kyon had to work for it by bringing himself back to three years ago. You may find it weird because things only started to go awry a few days prior, and even when he was sent back to three years ago, he was just sent to a different time again. But this actually played a very important role, which is vital in any story that involves time travel: closing the time loop. The story did well in closing all the deviations, which some time travel stories neglect.

Throughout the film, we see things from Kyon‘s perspective. Everything was bright and bubbly while Haruhi was around, but gloomy when she was not. When Kyon found out Haruhi was still in the alternate world, everything suddenly became vibrant again. During Haruhi’s disappearance, Nagato wasn’t only charming Kyon to choose her, she was also charming us, the viewers. In this story, Nagato was the main character instead of HaruhiKyon does not act oblivious or difficult to read either. By the time the viewers figure something out, Kyon would have as well. We also know what his every action means because we get access to his inner thoughts even though he doesn’t say them outright. Although he explicitly says he prefers the world without Haruhi, the viewers know he prefers the original world much more. By the end of the film, he finally admits to himself that he likes the world with Haruhi because it’s more interesting.

If you’re wondering what makes this film perfect for the Christmas season, it’s because unlike many other stories that talk about family or lovers, this focuses on friendships. Kyon likes to complain that Haruhi‘s antics are troublesome, but when everything became “normal”, he also lost his only friends and became alone in that world. It took the disappearance of everything he cared about for him to realize how important they were to his life. Likewise, we should also cherish everything we have right now. Although we may think that some things are annoying, when we really lose them, only then will we see their true value. So, we should not wait for them to disappear and hold onto them now. The reason the world changed was also due to Nagato‘s loneliness, which brings us to the second lesson of the film about friendship. In our lowest times, we can always depend on our friends. We don’t need to shoulder everything alone. Our friends will be there for us through thick and thin, and we should always be there for them as well. I think these two lessons are heartwarming and enlightening things to remember this Christmas.

Story: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Music: 10/10
Animation: 9/10

Overall Rating: 9.5/10