The beginning of the end for Haruhi

I was originally going to write this post a couple of months from now (for a reason I’ll explain later) but with the recent news that the Haruhi manga series will be ending on its next chapter, I decided that now would be just as good a time…

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya series and it’s been my favorite anime and light novel for over six years now. It’s one of the only series I liked enough to blog episodically, I wrote a very praising “Remembering Love” post about it, I spent weeks participating in a fan translation project for novels 10 and 11 when they first came out, I flew to San Francisco just to see the US premiere of the movie, and I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on Haruhi merchandise over the years. Even though it’s been a long time since the series became wildly popular in 2006 with its first anime adaptation, there were still many good years after that to be a Haruhi fan, even up until just a few years ago with the much anticipated movie release in 2010 and novels 10 and 11 in 2011. But 2012 and 2013 have been really empty for the franchise…and the outlook for future anime or even novel releases is looking rather dismal.

As for why the future of Haruhi seems bleak, first off is one of the big questions that tends to come up whenever there’s been discussion about it since the movie came out: “When are they gonna make a third anime season?” Though technically the rebroadcast in 2009 wasn’t an official second season, what people basically mean when they ask this question is when Kyoto Animation is gonna make a new Haruhi anime series to continue adapting the novels past Disappearance, novel 4, which has since been the last Haruhi anime material we’ve seen. The answer to that is one of the first strikes against a good future outlook for the Haruhi series, especially on the anime side of it.

As we know, Kyoto Animation provided the animation for the Haruhi episodes and movie, and it’s arguably the anime that hoisted them into popularity back when it came out in 2006. But just why haven’t they made any new Haruhi anime in the 3+ years it’s been since the Disappearance movie? There’s plenty of novel stories left to adapt – the TV series and movie have only covered novels 1-4 and some of 5 and 6 – so it’s not like they don’t have enough material for another anime season or two. And I’m sure they know that the series still has a big fan following and anything with “Haruhi Suzumiya” in its name is sure to make money…so why no new Haruhi anime, KyoAni? The answer to that has to do with how KyoAni has changed as a company in recent years. When Free! was first announced, my friend and fellow blogger ultimatemegax wrote a great post detailing this change in Kyoto Animation since they made their first anime, Full Metal Panic! in 2002, up until their announcement of Free! in 2013.

To summarize, this big change came when KyoAni decided to hold a contest in 2009 for novel, manga, and other scenarios to be published by them, eventually leading to their anime release of one of those stories, Chuunibyou, which they held both the publishing and animation production rights to. This meant a bigger eventual revenue for them as opposed to their previous works in collaboration with other companies like Kadokawa (Haruhi, Lucky Star, Nichijou, and Hyouka) and TBS (the Key series and K-ON), who took a much bigger portion of the profit from these titles. This trend continued with their next new series, Tamako Market, with KyoAni owning a bigger portion of the rights and thus gaining more profit despite Tamako Market not being all that successful. Now we have Free!, with KyoAni being the main rights holder and original creator, which again means they earn a lot more revenue than if they were to make an anime for a title already owned by another company. And now their next new anime series is going to be Kyoukai no Kanata, based on a light novel from their own publishing arm, KA Esuma Bunko. So it’s not hard to see the trend here of KyoAni making anime strictly for their own IPs and thus earning more overall profit for themselves than they did producing anime series for other companies’ titles. Since they’re earning more money this way, why go back to their pre-Chuunibyou titles like Haruhi and earn less profit? This is all good news for Kyoto Animation and their successful growth as an independent anime company over the years, but bad news for their fans craving more Haruhi anime from them.

Alright, so what if Kyoto Animation isn’t interested in Haruhi anymore? Why doesn’t another animation studio make more Haruhi anime then? It’s sure to be a hit after all. Well, that leads to the second strike against a good future outlook for the Haruhi series – the original creator/author himself, Nagaru Tanigawa.

When Tanigawa first started writing the Haruhi novels and publisher Kadokawa started releasing them in 2003, for a good three years they were released at a consistent rate of two novels a year. But things started to change after that when there was only one new novel in 2006 and one in 2007…and then novel 10, which was originally scheduled for a 2007 release too, got delayed indefinitely. So 2008 and 2009 went by, and still no new novel in those two years. Then in 2010 we get the first chapter of novel 10, but not the complete volume until mid-2011 (along with novel 11 in a double-release), four years later than originally scheduled! Tanigawa apologized for the delay but couldn’t offer any reason for it other than lack of motivation. So it seemed like maybe now he was inspired to get back into writing the series again after putting out a double release after such a long time…but once again, here we are over two years since then and still no word about novel 12 other than the fact that it’s being worked on (supposedly). And due to all the delays, the Haruhi manga series that had been following the novels pretty closely (except for having the occasional filler story) for the past eight years finally caught up with the novels, so rather than have its own version of how the story continues, it was decided to simply end the manga series. So pretty much the only reason Kadokawa would have for trying to get a new Haruhi anime made at this point, whether by KyoAni or anyone else, would be to promote new Haruhi novels they’re publishing, but with Tanigawa being so slow and inconsistent with his writing in recent years, they have little incentive to focus on Haruhi now as opposed to their other currently popular series that have more consistency.

With its animation studio, KyoAni, its publisher, Kadokawa, and even its original creator, Nagaru Tanigawa, lacking interest in the franchise for the past couple of years, the future of my favorite series is not looking favorable. The reason I was originally going to write this post in November is because that’s when novels 10-11 are going to have their official English release, meaning the English releases have finally caught up with the Japanese releases and thus it may be the last new Haruhi release I’d have to look forward to for who knows how long. But now that the manga series is going to end, I figured that was a better sign for the “beginning of the end.”

But it’s not my nature to be overly pessimistic even though the odds of Haruhi regaining its former glory are clearly stacked against it. I’ve come up with a few possible scenarios I think could play out for Haruhi in the coming years:

Best Possible Scenario:
- Tanigawa gets novel 12 released, and then subsequent novels needed to complete the series without having any extreme delays like he did with novels 10-11. Unless he gets a new spark of inspiration to write the way he used to, he should probably try and finish the series before too long. I think 15-16 novels should be enough to wrap up the story’s subplots, character development, etc., without seeming rushed, assuming he starts heading towards a conclusion in novel 12.
- For whatever reason, KyoAni decides to start making Haruhi anime again (even if it’s just to please the fans, maximum profit notwithstanding) and animates all the rest of the novel stories, starting either before or after the final novel is published.
- The manga resumes once the novels are completed and continues adapting them until the end.

Okay Scenario:
- Tanigawa gets novel 12 released, and then subsequent novels needed to complete the series, maybe with more delays than we’d like but he eventually gets it done and ends the series a bit rushed but somewhat satisfyingly, perhaps at novel 14 or later.
- Another respectable anime studio animates all the rest of the novel stories, starting either before or after the final novel is published, and do a decent job even if they’re not on the same level of quality as KyoAni.
- The manga resumes once the novels are completed and continues adapting them until the end.

Worst Possible Scenario:
- Tanigawa continues to have long delays with novel 12 and subsequent novels, decides to abruptly end the series earlier than he should have (volume 13 maybe?) and thus it feels rushed with too many loose ends, or worse, he just plain loses all motivation to continue the series and it never gets finished.
- Either no new anime studio decides to adapt the rest of the novels, or the one that does doesn’t do a good job of it.
- The manga does or doesn’t resume.

My “Best Possible Scenario” is the least likely, especially the part about KyoAni animating the rest of the series. But at least the “Okay Scenario” is likely…though the “Worst” one may be just as likely =/ But I won’t say that all hope is lost for Haruhi just yet. Tanigawa did write a short story for the Haruhi Hyakka artbook that came out just a few months ago, and even though it was just a short filler story, at least it shows he still has the series in mind. Even if there are some delays, hopefully he will finish writing the novels and give them a proper, satisfying ending before too long. At this point we’re more likely to see a new Haruhi anime once the novels are done, and if that’s the case and it’s not KyoAni, hopefully another anime studio will do good by it.

Lack of new material, waiting in vain, and continued delays and inconsistency are what make fans turn away from something and find a new favorite. So far that hasn’t happened with me and Haruhi yet, though the last two years have been testing my loyalty as a fan. The series is still currently my favorite despite all this, and that little optimist inside of me still wants to believe Haruhi will eventually get the satisfying novel ending and concluding anime adaptation it deserves.

33 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. anon202 says:

    I think that there’s a worse scenary, no new novels.

    • Yumeka says:

      I actually put that in my “Worst Possible Scenario” as the more worse possibility compared to just rushing the end of the novels and continually delaying them. Maybe I should have moved it to a separate category of an “Even Worse Possible Scenario” where there would be no new novels and no new anime XD

  2. The Kidd says:

    Sad to see the manga just end without a proper resolution. I would hope that the 12th novel is indeed the final chapter in the story.

    I have loved Haruhi since 2009 when I 1st saw it and have become an avid fan of both the series and KyoAni.

    Its been fun.

    • Yumeka says:

      The way novel 11 ended with expanding on a bunch of new plots that didn’t get fully resolved, I would say novel 12 should not be the last one. If it is, it’ll have to be a super long one or the ending would seem way too rushed.

      That’s interesting that you got into Haruhi in 2009 rather than when the first anime version aired in 2006. But better late than never XD

  3. Kai says:

    I have faith! I must! But yeah, I second anon202. Worst case scenario is we never hear about Haruhi ever again. :( That’s too bleak to think about though. Haruhi was my main push into anime. It literally changed my life. Here’s to hopin’!

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, everything I said in this post makes for a bleak outlook, but like you I still want to have faith! Here’s to hoping Tanigawa gets motivation again and another (good) anime studio decides to continue the series at some point.

  4. Toonleap says:

    If someday They do a new Haruhi anime series, my concern is about the seiyuus, especially Hirano Aya. I wonder if all of them can possibly return after all this years. I am optimistic because the Evangelion seiyuus still around and kicking, especially for the final eva movie.

    • Yumeka says:

      I don’t think getting the seiyuu back should be a huge problem. At least it hasn’t been for the anime I know that had multiple seasons with long breaks in between. As you said, they got all the Evangelion seiyuu to return, and also the Slayers ones after ten years between the first three seasons and the last two. I am a little concerned about Aya Hirano too, but as far as I know she’s not totally banned from doing voice roles or anything, as she’s still continuing the ones she had (like Lucy from Fairy Tail). I think she just can’t pick up a lot of new roles or something like that.

  5. chikorita157 says:

    I have seen some discussion about this on AnimeSuki or on some blogging site, but its kind of sad considering that I did enjoy the first season of Haruhi, which got me interested in watching Anime again. While I didn’t like Endless Eight for obvious reasons, I never got the chance to watch the movie since I have been focusing more on buying Japanese language video games and audio cds, although I did read Disappearance and it was interesting. Still, I think Kyoto Animation is focusing more on their own IPs, making me wonder if they are tying something that PA Works is doing and have their own IP to make into animation. Because of this, I feel that it’s unlikely that Kyoto Animation will do another adaptation as it seems that they are doing their own thing since 2012… but I do hope either they or someone else will make a new season or finish it off in a fashion that will be satisfying.

    • Yumeka says:

      You haven’t seen the movie yet? You can easily find it online I’m sure, so you should definitely check it out. If you like the Haruhi anime, the movie is certainly worth the 3-hour run time :3

      Yeah, I think the least likely thing I mentioned in the post is for KyoAni to make more Haruhi episodes again. I won’t say it’s a complete impossibility, as perhaps this animating only their own IPs thing won’t go on forever, and for whatever reason they’ll want to return to their old series, even if just for a season here and there…or maybe they’ll grow big enough to do both. Again, not likely, but not impossible.

      • chikorita157 says:

        I haven’t seen the movie because I am busy, but it will be something I will do in the near future once I can get it.

        But still, I think trends won’t stay like that forever… PA Works from my knowledge did an light novel adaptation last Spring, so I think there is still some hope that they might do it.

  6. I never started the comics, but I’d like to see more anime adaptations, unlikely as it seems at this point. I still have some hope for more since Haruhi is popular enough that there should still be money to be made on just an anime and related merchandise. (At least, I think there would be…)

    Ultimately, though, it’s the novels that concern me the most. As invested as I am after years of following the series I really want a satisfying ending and the long delays have me worried that Tanigawa’s written himself into a corner somehow, and can’t come up with a good conclusion with all the loose ends and foreshadowing he seems to love so much. I think I’d feel better if I knew whether Tanigawa has an ending planned. I know some individual stories and sub-plots were planned far in advance while some were more spur-of-the-moment, but I’ve never gotten an impression from his afterwords to the novels just how much of the overal story has been planned out.

    • Yumeka says:

      I’m concerned about the novels too and really hope that Tanigawa begins wrapping things up in novel 12 rather than start brand new subplots or waste time with filler stories. All throughout my reading of the novels I felt like he had pretty much everything planned out from the get go, since lots of things in the early novels referenced things that didn’t happen until later stories yet it all seemed to flow together fine. Hopefully he has the rest of the story planned out at this point and it’s just a matter of him writing it all out.

  7. Kal says:

    That would be a sad ending for the series… I have to say it is one of the series I have enjoyed the most. Let’s hope for the best… and prepare for the worse… But let’s just hope we get a decent ending to the novels at least. I do not think I would like to see another animation studio handing Haruhi. Just like with Little Busters, it just did not feel like a Key animation work to me. KyoAni can be hard to beat sometimes…

    I would at least like a decent ending to the novels, even if we get no more anime (that would be sad though).

    • Yumeka says:

      Because Haruhi’s high quality animation in the 2006 series are a big part of what made both the series and Kyoto Animation so popular, it will indeed be very hard to imagine another studio animating the rest of it. I guess a new studio is better than getting no new anime at all (unless they do an absolutely terrible job of it, but assuming that won’t happen). It’ll just take a lot of getting used to (and if they have to change any of the main seiyuu too, that will take even more getting used to!)

  8. froggykun says:

    What a bittersweet post this was. That little comic you had at the end of Haruhi vanishing just broke my heart. Oh, man. The feels!

  9. Mugiwara says:

    Thanks for that. Been a big fan of anime for several years but I don’t follow the business side all that closely so I learned a lot about the situation. It was always slightly puzzling to me how you have one of the most popular series ever and not make more when there is material to work with

    Was just thinking about Haruhi and Spice and Wolf the other day and wondering what was happening with them…I seem to have a real knack for loving series that aren’t likely to be continued any time soon.

    • Yumeka says:

      I didn’t know about the business side of things until just recently, especially in terms of why KyoAni isn’t making more anime for Haruhi. Though knowing why kind of makes it worse since I now know how unlikely they are to make more Haruhi, whereas if I didn’t know, I would still be hopeful =P

  10. Cytrus says:

    While an anime version would be nice (and yes, KyoAni would be desirable, not only for their superb quality and expertise with the series, bu also for the fact that changing studios after two series and a movie would almost certainly end up jarring), what really counts are the novels. If Tanigawa manages to finish things properly, at least fans of the anime can always pick those up and find out how it all ends, which is a prime concern :).

    Now, we all know the current situation is kind of worrying, what with the long delays and whatnot. (Tanigawa stating outright he lacks motivation is not exactly reassuring…) But despite most light novels being released at a high pace, they’re still novels and there’s nothing extraordinary in a writer taking several years between their novels. Asimov’s famous Foundation series went up to volume three, stopped for a whole ten years, and only then went on for two more (very good) books before reaching a satisfying conclusion. Of course, comparing Asimov to Tanigawa might not be the best idea, since Asimov was writing tons of books at an incredible pace during his ten year “hiatus” from the Foundation series, but still ;).

    Let us wait and hope. I don’t mind things wrapping out quickly or slowly over many years – I just hope Tanigawa can one day conclude the series at his own pace in a satisfying way.

    • Yumeka says:

      (For some reason I didn’t see your comment earlier so sorry for the late reply ^^,,,)

      As you said, an anime series would be nice but I’d be satisfied with Tanigawa just getting the rest of the novels out and ending the series well (whatever happens anime-wise is secondary). LOL, I hope it’s not another ten years before he’s able to finish it. If it’s that long between novels, a lot of the current fans of the series will have moved on and it’s doubtful the series would be able to regain its former glory…unless they try and bring it back and make it “retro” cool again (like what seems to be going on with Sailor Moon now). Well, as long as the novels end well and Tanigawa finishes them within this lifetime, I guess I’ll be satisfied enough XD

  11. Kai says:

    Here’s hoping Haruhi would regain it’s former glory as well. Writing lengthy novels can prove to be disastrous – lack of interest, writer’s block, illness, a lot of things serve as a reason for a novel’s delay.

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s why I’m hoping Tanigawa is heading towards a conclusion for the series with novel 12. I’m also hoping he didn’t end up writing himself into a corner after novel 11, since new subplots and loose ends were introduced, and can’t figure out where to go with the story from here. Most of the novels gave me the impression he had a lot of things in the story planned out from the very beginning…hopefully that’s still the case even with these later novels.

  12. Tony says:

    I’m not sure I agree that the sudden end of the story is a worst-case outcome (I’ll focus just on the novel series here, since I’ve been reading that – while I’d like to see more of the Anime made, I’m fairly content with just reading about it). Don’t get me wrong, I loved the story, and for me its a lucky thing I only picked it up relatively recently and didn’t really see any delays so far.

    The position of the story so far (as of book 11) could be considered an end of sorts. Obviously messy and with loose ends, but some of the writing there has an end of story feel to it (I do apologise for being so vague, its hard to explain properly with spoiling.

    If that is the end, its disappointing, but another book or two written just to wrap things up, especially on a languid schedule, might only achieve the story going out on a low. Personally, I thought 9/10/11 was a strong story. At least it would be a worthy end.

    To me, no more books would be a bit below an okay ending. Maybe a step up from that, if Tanigawa takes a clear decision the story is over, there is an “authors notes” release (sort of like the observation).

    • Yumeka says:

      I know there’s been an official statement that novel 12 is in the works and nothing official that 9-11 were the final story…so it’s just a matter of Tanigawa getting the motivation to finish novel 12 and whichever ones come after. But the fact of the matter is that he didn’t intend for novel 11 to be the last one, so if it ends up being the last one just because he never got motivated to finish the rest of the series, that would be very disappointing (since we know that it wasn’t supposed to be how the series ended). To me there are still too many loose ends left in novel 11 for it to be any kind of ending, especially with all the unresolved subplots surrounding the anti-SOS Brigade.

      • Tony says:

        Generally, I agree; the best-case outcome would be absolutely fine with me. I’m more concerned if, lets say,12 is a long time coming, ends in a cliff-hanger, and 13 doesn’t follow it in short order.

        I’m more curious about brigade details than the wider plotline now – for example, whether the novel one prologue is more than simple scene setting. Maybe I’ll find out in time.

  13. Ozzi says:

    There could be a third scenario where a 3rd season gets crowd-funded by a site like Kickstarter, but it’s unlikely.

  14. Coun't_think_of_any_nickname says:

    Hey!

    First time reading your blog and I just wanted to comment on the lack of motivation thing from Haruhi’s author.

    First things first, I’m also a big fan of the series. Watched everything there was to watch in 2007 (which means first season only) and that was like, what? My fourth anime overall? Totally loved it back in the day, and while S2 wasn’t up to snuff, the movie made me fall in love all over again.

    So, recently I’ve been reading the novels, getting the ones published in my country, the latest is volume 8.

    Now, and at risk of getting endless hate (pun intended :P) I think you can feel the author’s (lack of) motivation in these last two or three novels (Which would be 6, 7 and 8 for the guys up to date). Allow me to explain why I think that’s the case.

    There’s an ever-increasing number of “filler” little stories and the series is losing the sci-fi elements that made it so good to begin with. Book 7 must be the biggest novel since the 4th, but both 6 and 8 are filled with really mundane high school stuff. There’s an alarming increase of fake mysterious scenarios arranged by Koizumi, and that wasn’t all that needed in early volumes because Haruhi herself was so “unstable” that random magic things happened all the time without intervention : I mean, giant monsters inside reality marbles, or fantastic time warp travels (that novel 4 was the best!).

    I know I’m missing out 3 big novels out there, and they could be the real deal, but I’m guessing that somebody at Kadokawa (I blame the editor) doesn’t want the Haruhi novels to end too quickly and he or she is forcing Nagaru Tanigawa to hold on his best ideas. Then, he needs to come out with fillerish material. Therefore, the man lost all motivation to continue.

    And that’s a real shame, because up to novel 8 the writing is as good as ever (Kyon’s inner thoughts are HILARIOUS) but the “bigger plot” has stalled a bit. Book 7 gave me hope we were coming back to the fast paced sci fi of early novels yet one book later we’re reading about the SOS brigade writing an anthology. It’s not a bad story, but it’s not Haruhi at its best.

    Here’s hoping the end is near, though, be it in one novel or two or three. I can’t see the man writing Haruhi forever (he doesn’t seem to be enjoying it anymore) and I really want a proper ending at this point.

    • Yumeka says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and sorry for the late reply =)

      I agree that volume 8 seems like the beginning of the downfall of the series’ quality after the excitement of volume 7. But actually, once you read volumes 9-11, the plot really starts moving again and there’s a whole lot more sci-fi elements, character development, and other good stuff. I think Tanigawa just used volume 8 as a “breather” set of stories after the long and complex volume 7 before going into the big trilogy story of volumes 9-11. So yeah, you can definitely see that the “bigger plot” is still strong in the last few volumes…so maybe he simply wrote himself into a corner now and doesn’t know where to take the story from here after all the subplots introduced in 9-11 =/

    • Vanihm says:

      Gotta agree with Coun’t_think_of_any_nickname says although I personally found the writing from volume 7 onwards sluggish and dreary. Perhaps it’s just me reading the fan translations (I bught the book though so don’t look at me like that!), but I totally felt let down from Intrigues and onwards.

  15. Vanihm says:

    A lot of you are talking about Tanigawa recently “writing himself into a corner” – guys, he did that in NOVEL 1! – We know it’s going to end with Kyon and Haruhi, so he’s been desperately trying to prolong the enivitable. He’s got a set up that basically prevents anything big from happenning as that would reval to Haruhi what’s going on, and he’s been trying to keep the story in a basic high school mode which also prevents the story from ever really expanding on the sci-fi elements he’s introduced.

    You keep writing that he’s got it all planned out, but he himself admitted that he never intended it to be a series. JJ abrams and that other guy led everyone to think that they had the plot of LOST planned out only to severely disappoint the fans in the end.

    HS actually made tongue-in-cheek fun of the cryptic nature of sci-fi storytelling early on implying that we would never know the details, yet when the story became a huge success people were suddenly expecting it to finally make sense. I think Tanigawa’s slump is due to him realizing that he’s much better at setting things up than actually delivering a payoff. In fact, in books 9-11 he backpedals on a lot of the most promissing loose ends from the early novels making the world much smaller that it originally seemed. I other words, he’s afraid of disappointing his fans and has bitten off more than he can chew.

    • Yumeka says:

      Thanks for giving your input (I saw you wrote a post on the topic too, which I’ll take a look at soon when I have a chance).

      I know that the series was originally only going to be just one book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t expand on things and turn it into a series from novel 2 and onward. To me at least, it seems like Tanigawa did a good job doing just that – expanding the universe and developing the characters after novel 1. I still feel like he had some things planned out for possible later stories, since a few things from novel 1 are referenced in later books – for example, when Haruhi asks Kyon in novel 1 if they’ve met before, we see later in Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody that they did indeed meet before. You’re right that he pretty much established HaruhixKyon in the beginning, but we still don’t know how exactly things will turn out in the end: what will become of Haruhi’s powers? Will the other SOS Brigade members have to leave eventually and go back to their own world? Is anything more gonna happen with the anti-SOS Brigade? How will Kyon and Haruhi’s relationship lead to “that” scene in novel 11…there are a lot of ideas left for future stories.

      But what you said in your last paragraph could be right too…that Tanigawa is struggling to actually tie everything together in some kind of conclusion and with a good payoff. It’s a shame that it had to end up like that, but I’m still trying to hang on to the hope that he’ll be able to at least finish writing the series, even if the ending isn’t anything great.

      • Vanihm says:

        Thanks for the comment – yeah, I hope we get a good ending too so I haven’t completely lost hope. I’ve just been getting bad LOST vibes from the series for a while now (I dropped LOST after one season because I could sense something was amiss – and was proven right…).

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