Endless Eight II

endless2The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode Endless Eight II.

The view from 5930 miles away:

So here it is, the dreaded Endless Eight, and I’m about to become one of the few people to actually sit through all eight episodes twice. So what happened here? What’s with this controversial run of eight episodes?

No, it’s still not time for that yet. This is only episode two, and it’s far from being just a repeat of the first episode. The storyline of this arc is developing at this stage, and developing fast. The first time I watched this I had some foreknowledge of the controversy surrounding this run of episodes, and at this stage was baffled. This is far from being stagnant, and is actually really interesting and exciting, so what was all the fuss about? But that’s a concern for another week. For now, let’s look at this episode on its own merits and see what we actually have here. What’s the real experience of watching this episode, before we start worrying about the six that are still to come?

Well, we do start the episode with a repeat of the last one, and all the same things are happening again. The animators haven’t been lazy though. It would have been all too easy to repeat the same footage, but instead every moment is recreated. In the pre-credits Kyon and his little sister are in different positions on the sofas, and Kyon is shirtless this time. Their lines are also re-recorded. Throughout the episode all the clothing is different, which adds an extra dimension to the fanservice element at the pool, with the SOS Brigade wearing different swimming costumes.

Almost immediately, though, we are reassured as viewers that this is not merely a re-run of last time. Even before the credits sequence, Kyon is complaining about a sense of déjà vu:

“It was like I knew what Haruhi was going to say before she said it.”

Then we have Kyon at the pool noticing Nagato “looking kind of bored like that, alone”, which also seems familiar. He tries to talk to her in the evening, but can’t find the words that he needs. We then proceed to run through the same activities as before, in the same order, but they are much quicker sequences. The episode hurries through them, making time for something new…

…and then Kyon gets a phone call in the night and Mikuru is in tears:

“I can’t go back to the future.”

What follows is our explanation of what’s going on, and it’s just as we expected:

“Currently we’re stuck in a time loop that seems to be infinite.”

They are repeating the days of their summer holidays, and the reason Mikuru cannot communicate with the future is that the world ceases to exist after their holidays end. Her “classified information” running joke pops up again, with an incoherent explanation of the problem, substituting the words “classified information” for anything Kyon can’t know about yet… and then Kyon says something very odd:

“Are all the classified information things you’re saying stuff you can’t say on TV?”

Wait, what now? I’m all for a bit of fourth wall breaking, but there has to be some point to it. This is just bizarre.

Moving on from that unexplained weirdness, Koizumi gives his explanation and has come to the conclusion that Haruhi is responsible for the phenomenon because she wants the summer vacation to last forever, and that “she feels there’s something else that has to happen before our summer vacation is over.” The problem is that the “something else” could be just about anything. We have already had abundant clues about what that is, but I must confess that I never worked it out on first viewing despite that, instead falling for some red herrings.

So far, the explanation is exactly what we expected: a time loop. And then Nagato drops a bombshell when she is asked how many times the loop has repeated:

“That would be 15,498 times.”

The shock of that moment is palpable. It equates to 594 years spent doing the same activities over and over again, but as we have seen by the costume changes there are differences, and Nagato enumerates some of them:

  • They didn’t go to the bon festival twice.
  • They didn’t do goldfish scooping 437 times.
  • They only had jobs 9025 times.

Then we hit a melancholy note, with Kyon wondering how this has all felt for Nagato, living the same life over and over again, and indeed that is unthinkable.

Let’s finish up by looking at the activities the SOS Brigade enjoy this episode once again:

  1. Swimming
  2. Buying Yukatas (different once, and more fanservicey)
  3. Bon festival (Nagato chooses a different mask) and goldfish scooping
  4. Making their own fireworks show
  5. Cicada catching (Nagato catches a different rare insect)
  6. Part time jobs
  7. Stargazing
  8. Batting cages
  9. Test of courage
  10. Bowling
  11. Karaoke

9, 10 and 11 are represented just with screen shots. This week we are missing the big fireworks show, the gobi fishing tournament, the movie and the beach.

We also get another couple of additional moments. The stargazing is now an opportunity for Kyon and Koizumi to chat, and Koizumi to suggest one possible solution. Then, during the bowling, Kyon shows concern for Nagato again, who simply explains her non-intervention by saying “my function is to observe”. Let’s start enumerating some possible solutions that the episodes have offered so far, based on nothing more scientific than things I have noticed:

  1. There are lots of shots of the sky, and Kyon wears a t-shirt with a big upwards arrow. Maybe some kind of an aerial experience is needed?
  2. Is the weird fourth wall break “stuff you can’t say on tv” significant?  Is this more than a time loop?
  3. Kyon never does his homework, and that keeps getting mentioned.
  4. Koizumi suggests a resolution similar to the conclusion to the original Melancholy arc, with Kyon confessing her love for Haruhi to bring her out of the loop.

We’ll leave those hanging there for now. Kyon’s frustration at the end of the episode is palpable. He knows if he lets Haruhi leave without stopping her and suggesting something else he will be doomed to repeat the summer again, but he just can’t think what to say.

“There must have been a clue in something Haruhi said.”

But what? Maybe we’ll find out next week. Or maybe not…   RP

The view from 6,868 miles away:

Anyone who has ever seen Father of the Bride with Steve Martin knows the silly little dance he does in the mirror before his pants split.  If you don’t take a moment to look up the trailer; it was in the trailer when the movie came out.

Ok, now that you’ve seen it, you know the dance I did when Episode 2 of The Endless Eight began.  My pants did not split.  (I was in loose fitting pajamas though, so maybe that doesn’t count.)   Without an audience, it’s less exciting to announce, “I knew it” but then I probably would not have done the dance, and that was cathartic too.  Instantly, I knew Kyon’s déjà vu was not déjà vu.  I knew I was right about the time loop.  But now we were going to do the whole of yesterday’s episode all over again?  There were subtle changes.  I was pretty certain Yuki’s alien mask was different, but I didn’t go back to verify.  The cicada scene (sans eating them) was there again and Kyon basically asked the same thing I did: what could a cicada do for them to return a favor.  This did nothing for my sense of solving a puzzle though.  I’m almost more certain now than I was yesterday that this does have significance.  But what did surprise me, knowing we have a number of these Endless 8 episodes to go through, is that they are already clued into their plight by the end of this episode.  So that means, episode 1 was effectively a necessary prologue and this is the main event.

Now, this leads to some really great lines too.  Kyon gets a call in the middle of the night and Miss Asahina is with Itsuki, to Kyon’s dismay.  “Next time, call me when you have a word with her!”   Kyon’s affection for Miss Asahina is becoming quite funny.  (“The blushing makes her cuter!”)  When Itsuki is discussing ideas with Kyon, I really laughed when he leans in and Kyon stated matter-of-factly “you’re too close”.  But all of this pales when we learn that the group has relived the same day 15,498 times.  Kyon knows that as soon as Haruhi walks out the door and into “tomorrow” there will be no way to stop the loop.  Kyon ends realizing, as terrifying as this is, that tomorrow won’t come and the version of him that will face it, will not be the one he is at that moment.

There’s a certain existential crisis here. Could I go to sleep knowing that the me I am now would be gone when I wake up?  I don’t think I could.  And yet, in some ways, that is what going to sleep does to us.  Hell, I wear a FitBit to bed and it “tracks my sleep” but it also says I do anywhere from 6 to 50 steps in the night.  I wonder where I go.  Perhaps there’s a giant cricket in my basement with an idea about that.  Then I think, if Suzumiya is able to accidentally create reality, maybe I should stop looking up Lovecraft stories before bed because maybe that’s why it’s been raining non-stop for days.  (I’ll put it to the test tonight!)  At any rate, I do want to know where we are going with this bizarre story.  The one fact I can come away with right now is this: I really want to watch more than one a night, but I don’t want to sway my writing.  So, one a night it is… ML

Read next in the Junkyard… Endless Eight III

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Anime, Entertainment, Reviews, Television and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Endless Eight II

  1. 7mononoke says:

    Wonderful, entertaining post. It’s great hearing both your thoughts on it.

    Liked by 2 people

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