The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode Endless Eight III.
The view from 5930 miles away:
So here it is, the dreaded Endless Eight, and I’m going through the process of becoming 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?
Now that we’ve reached an episode that is functionally much the same as the previous one, I think it’s time to address this point. It’s difficult to find definitive information about exactly why this happened, although it seems highly likely that the decision to use the Disappearance arc as the basis of a movie was a factor, leaving a hole to be filled in the second season schedule. I have observed that there tends to be strong resistance to making up new storylines when making an anime adaptation of a manga or light novel series. Basically, if it’s not in a book, it doesn’t get made. At the time of making the second series of Haruhi there were no other available storylines, and eight episodes to fill in the schedule with only the Endless Eight as source material.
The director of the first series of Haruhi, who left before the second was made but was involved in the planning discussions, indicated later that he was against the idea, and argued for two episodes at the most. But in the end, eight got made. The viewers in Japan were definitely not happy about this, and made their feelings known on social media. Whether or not this was a factor in the non-appearance of a third season of Haruhi (although the available source material would make that a tantalising prospect) is hard to quantify, as there are plenty of other possible reasons.
Leaving aside any issues about being forced into making eight episodes of Endless Eight or not, you can kind of see how it might have been deemed to be a good idea anyway, if you squint. Time loop stories can be great fun, especially if you gradually modify events while the protagonist works towards a solution, as per Groundhog Day. The problem is that this doesn’t quite happen with Endless Eight. Everything seems to be going fine up until episode two, but at this point the development stalls almost completely, with nothing much changing other than Kyon’s sense of déjà vu becoming stronger. The decision to re-animate all the sequences rather than reusing footage is admirable, and also to re-record all the characters’ lines, although the actors are perhaps already struggling to find different line readings. I also wouldn’t be surprised if some ad libs are creeping into the dub.
So all of that’s great, but there was a pretty obvious way to do this better, and that comes down to gradually modifying events as I mentioned above. It’s like everybody gave up trying at this point and just focussed on the different outfits (just how many swimming costumes do these people own anyway? I have one!). But the opportunities were staring the anime makers in the face. The key is in what Nagato says, when she is talking about the different iterations of the loop. We have moved on by just one, to #15,499, but Nagato provides some additional information this week. We already know that there are variations to events, but now we know some of the variations to their jobs:
“Handing out balloons, movers, cashiers, handing out fliers…”
So why not show us some of those variations? It would be something, at least.
Let’s finish up by looking at the activities the SOS Brigade enjoy this episode once again:
Bon festival (Nagato chooses another different mask) and goldfish scooping
Making their own fireworks show
Cicada catching (Nagato catches a butterfly this time)
Part time jobs
Stargazing (followed by the night time meet up)
Test of courage
So we are back to the full lineup, but 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 are all represented just with still images.
I’ve also been enumerating some possible solutions that the episodes have offered so far, based on nothing more scientific than things I have noticed:
There are lots of shots of the sky, and Kyon wears a t-shirt with a big upwards arrow in #2. Maybe some kind of an aerial experience is needed?
Is the weird fourth wall break “stuff you can’t say on tv” significant? Is this more than a time loop? The odd line gets repeated again here.
Kyon never does his homework, and that keeps getting mentioned.
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.
Could any of those be important? Kyon seems certain that something Haruhi has said holds the key, but what gives him this idea?
“What’s she been saying all this time?”
Maybe he should be thinking about what he has been saying instead… RP
The view from 6,868 miles away:
By episode 3 of the Endless Eight, I admit I’m intrigued enough to want to know where we go, but I keep thinking, surely this can’t go on for 8 episodes. Who would sit through this more than once? And are there really 8 episodes like this? Than Haruhi tells Kyon to ride his bike “full speed ahead” to which he gives a very heartfelt “Damn it!” and I laugh enough to realize I could probably do this again when the time comes…
I tend to notice a lot of things when watching a series that I’m talking about. I watch some shows just for entertainment value without ever thinking about them. That’s not the case here. I notice things like the deep bell music that plays. Not that I think it’s significant to the story, but I find choices like that telling. This has an ominous quality. By contrast, I noticed how many scenes were “still life” and I did think that was a bit of a cop-out. Yes, to a certain extent, one might say that’s artistic, but once overdone, it feels like someone got tired of animating the images and just took the pics right out of a graphic novel (sorry, that should be manga, shouldn’t it?) and smacked them into the video. “Look I’m tired… the images are the same every time. I’m going to just take a single frame and we’ll hover on it”, I can hear the artist saying. But that loses something for me. And just as I start to fade away, one of our SOS Brigade does something brilliantly clever, like Itsuki repeating the time loop explanation as if he’s in a time loop at that very moment. Or a comical thing will happen, like watching Kyon splayed out on the ground from exhaustion, having Haruhi riding around on the back of his bike for so long.
But this particular episode did try my patience a bit and I think it was because of the still images. There were too many of them. And the whole “it’s classified” stuff, with Kyon asking if it’s just stuff Miss Asahina can’t “say on television” was a bit silly in an attempt to be meta. But when Yuki tells them they’ve been doing this same period for 15,499 days, and the very last episode was 15,498 days, I think “Oh, well there might be something interesting happening here.” We get two days right after one another. That will mean something, I’m certain. I guess we will see when these August days loop in the next episode.
Just as I took a deep breath to hit stop and take a day off from watching, I realized one last bit of cleverness. Endless Eight. What’s the 8th month of the year? Yep, August. Hmm… didn’t see that coming. Maybe I won’t take a day off from watching after all… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Endless Eight IV