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In 2010, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was released and then now in 2022 the The Quintessential Quintuplets' movie will be released. The thing is each is a sequel to the 2 seasons of anime that already and recently aired.

  1. I think it's reasonable to ask 'How are people gonna understand what's going on if they haven't watched the prior stuff?' Question 1: So what's up with that? Why don't they just do a season 3 instead of a movie? Or, Hell, why bother making a TV series instead of just a movie series, like why not do 3 movies instead of 3 seasons or 2 seasons + 1 movie?

Well, for the The Quintessential Quintuplets' movie, ok probably it will be mostly self-contained, we'll see, but as for Disappearance, well, admittedly I don't really remember the specifics of the movie, but I do remember some things from the series were pretty relevant, like

Asakura, Endless Eight and closed space

. I don't think I would've understood the movie without having seen the series prior. But I remember reading recently many youtube comments that say they watched the movie before watching the series.

  1. Question 2: Was Disappearance really possible to understand without the series?

    • Guess: Well maybe someone, without having watched the series prior, would interpret the movie as like 'Guy wakes up 1 day and finds classmate is missing, and no one seems to remember this classmate.'

Further elaboration:

  1. Other anime: The above 2 examples are in contrast to say for, the, Death Note live movies, or even the Death Note animated recap movies, which are really adapting the Death Note manga from scratch. Similar for the Attack on Titan live movies (or animated recap movies) or the Code Geass animated movies.

  2. Other anime: As for anime like say Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokémon, I figure their movies are like MCU or superhero movies in general where they don't really expect the audience to have seen the previous movies to understand what's going on (with maybe some notable exceptions like Avengers Endgame).

  3. Non-anime: The only non-anime examples I can think of right now are Veronica Mars and Hey Arnold! (both of the HA! movies). In either case, yeah, I think those movies are pretty self-contained. But, I remember the series were mostly episode by episode with only a few overarching plots. And more importantly, they were revivals (except for the 1st HA! movie). The movies for Haruhi and TQQ are really direct sequels to the series, each of which finished airing just a year before the movie, like the opposite kind of sequel as a revival. Or, what, do we think of these movies the same way we think of 'revivals' ?

  4. (Edit) Anime: I don't watch that much anime in general compared to the seasoned veterans in stackexchange or reddit, soooo Haruhi and TQQ are pretty much the only ones I know, but I guess there are a lot more examples like Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (see here) and Psycho-Pass (see here).

More examples like Veronica Mars and Hey Arnold!:

  1. Liar Game The Final Stage - sort of series finale after once again two seasons. --> Also self-contained.
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    But does everybody watch Star Wars in the right order?
    – sundowner
    Mar 28 at 5:21
  • @sundowner Thanks for commenting. 1 - But Star Wars was never really a 'TV series' that had a movie sequel except EU or whatever afaik. 2 - I think Star Wars is in the same category as superhero movies: They don't really expect you to have seen the previous movies.
    – BCLC
    Mar 28 at 6:39
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    I don't have answer to your questions, but judging from web searches, it seems you are right in that the order has relatively large impact in Haruhi series. But the nature of Haruhi expects the audience to watch it many times so that they figure out the sometimes hidden details, so that the less self-contained nature did not matter too much.
    – sundowner
    Mar 28 at 7:14
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    Slightly different examples would be Dragon ball or One piece. I think they are now too long to start watching from the very beginning, today's kids should be enjoying just seeing it from where they come of age, I guess.
    – sundowner
    Mar 28 at 7:14
  • @sundowner Thanks for commenting. 1 - Wait so you mean Disappearance actually isn't self-contained but it doesn't matter because...the nature of Haruhi is like its movies or episodes are like...not something you watch just once? Please consider posting that as answer because that's exactly what I think of TQQ and consequently that may explain the upcoming movie: It won't be self-contained too, but it also won't matter for the same reason! 2 - I believe dragon ball and one piece are in the same category as Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokémon?
    – BCLC
    Mar 28 at 12:34

4 Answers 4

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According to this webpage

映画「涼宮ハルヒの消失」はアニメ「涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱」の続きにあたる作品です。

アニメに出てきた伏線を回収するようなストーリー構成であるため、 映画「涼宮ハルヒの消失」はアニメ「涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱」を見ておかないと内容がわからないです。

So the answer to 2 seems to be no.

Regarding 1, it is only possible to guess, but the following may suggest that the business people involved thought it would be profitable enough (and possibly even making a movie would be quicker than making another series).

  • Haruhi series was a smash hit, and the scale seems historical (according to this, the original novels sold 20 million copies, which is the third best selling series even today).

  • Also the anime dvds sold very well (source).


Just my opinion/guess. Dragon ball/one piece make movies, and I agree they are to an extent self-contained, but I doubt e.g. girls who know nothing about them can understand them (or bother to watch them).

So ultimately the fact only shows that the creators expected a large enough potential watchers and how popular Haruhi was in those days.

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  • Ah so perhaps if they make a movie that's a sequel to a series even if the movie is not quite self-contained then probably that series is really that popular?
    – BCLC
    May 2 at 12:49
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    Yes that's what I thought.
    – sundowner
    May 3 at 3:45
  • Ok makes sense. Thanks sundowner. Please consider adding this into your answer
    – BCLC
    May 3 at 11:23
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And the answer is: these things are not planned out.

How this works is that a bunch of anime are made each season. Some of them are successful, so they might get a second season. Or a movie. Or both.

Sometimes they make recap movies to watch before the movie that continues the story. Higashi no Eden and Made in Abyss worked like that. Haruhi had a second season airing in 2009, which contained the entire first season and led into the movie which released in 2010.

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  • For my Q1, that covers recap movies (which I wasn't asking about) but not quite movie sequels. Whe does an anime series get a movie sequel instead of a next season sequel? Like say haruhi, why is its 'season 3' a movie instead of a series? Also for TQQ why is it a movie instead of a 'season 3' ? I think we could ask the same for any season 2 or 3 (or 4, 5, etc) of anime, why not make it a movie instead? (s1 specifically vs movie is another altogether.) For my Q2 , do you disagree with sundowner ?
    – BCLC
    Mar 28 at 16:06
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    It all depends on what the production committee is deciding and how the source material works out. Movies are shorter than TV shows, so maybe a consideration is to avoid stopping on a cliffhanger. Movies also make more money, but getting one into cinemas isn't trivial. Movies do not compete with TV slots like TV shows. There are various considerations, but it all depends on the production committee. || What's the actual position of sundowner that you are asking about?
    – Ocean
    Mar 29 at 13:37
  • Thanks. For my Q1 - ok fine...makes sense a priori but as for a posteriori please consider adding some references or examples...like it seems any anime that gets an s2 instead of a movie means like, what, it's not good enough to be a movie? But I guess that's wrong considering, say, Attack on Titan. Or, maybe an AoT movie instead of another season wouldn't do well because it wouldn't be self-contained? Idk. Or really simply sometimes a movie is better but other times another season is better? Examples please.
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 15:06
  • For Q2, see here. sundowner seems to say the Haruhi movie is not self-contained, but it's ok still.
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 15:08
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    It's all guessing, the production committee might just roll a dice to decide. Who knows. Also, there are four Shingeki no Kyojin movies. I believe they only go for movies these days if the source material has a story arc that fits neatly into one. || I think you are supposed to watch the TV show first. But it's not the end of the world with anything if you start in the middle. Case in Point: the first Star Wars Movie: Episode IV.
    – Ocean
    Mar 30 at 13:34
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Outside Disney/Dreamworks.... Animated movies are not profitable in US. COntrast, Japan, movies based on Anime are huge box office grossers.

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    Do you perhaps have some sources to back up this claim?
    – Dimitri mx
    May 1 at 13:23
  • Aaahhhhh thanks LazyReader. So in general: 1 - Japanese production peeps would like to make a manga/an anime like 1st a series and then later on have a movie? 2 - American production peeps would do this way if it were profitable but it's not really outside Disney/Dreamworks, so they just do like all series?
    – BCLC
    May 2 at 12:28
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Just a cw answer based on comments:

sundowner:

(...) the nature of Haruhi expects the audience to watch it many times so that they figure out the sometimes hidden details, so that the less self-contained nature did not matter too much.

Me:

(...) so you mean Disappearance actually isn't self-contained but it doesn't matter because...the nature of Haruhi is like its movies or episodes are like...not something you watch just once? Please consider posting that as answer because that's exactly what I think of TQQ and consequently that may explain the upcoming movie: It won't be self-contained too, but it also won't matter for the same reason!

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