Endless Eight VI

screenshot010The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode Endless Eight VI.

The view from 5930 miles away:

This is the biggest offender from the eight episodes that make up the Endless Eight for not offering anything new for us to watch. We finally have the answer to who can hold their breath under water for longest (of course it’s Mr Smug) and other than Kyon’s sigma t-shirt, which I puzzled over and could come up with nothing intelligent to say about, that’s about it. In fact, this one seems to be a backward step, with the intensity of certain scenes lowered, particularly Kyon’s frustration when Haruhi leaves the café. We also don’t really have the distraction of the utterly gorgeous visuals of the previous episode. It’s just the same old story again, told competently but unremarkable.

So perhaps it’s a good time to look at some of the themes of this story, because it does raise some fascinating human issues if you stop and think about it. Koizumi speculates that part of Haruhi never wants the summer holidays to end. I’m sure most people reading this will have fond memories of those long, hot summer holidays from school. OK, sometimes they were long, rainy holidays (this is England, after all), but the sunny ones stick in the memory. The impulse to want the fun in the sun with friends to last forever is understandable, and it’s a theme that is strongly tied in with the end of childhood. Haruhi and her friends are on the cusp of adulthood (in fact, they are adult enough to be used for anime fanservice). Kyon and Haruhi are in their first of three years of high school, which makes them about 16, and Mikuru is a year above them, so she’s about 17 in theory, although her real age is a question of speculation for Kyon. Either way, they are at that age where summers playing with friends will soon be a memory and the boring adult world will start to intrude. Several anime series examine that bittersweet moment, with Clannad: After Story offering probably the best example of the struggles of leaving childhood behind and dealing with the harsh realities of adult life. But it’s a common theme in children’s fiction. The most significant work of childhood fiction of all time, Alice in Wonderland, plays with the theme of the loss of childhood innocence, something that haunted the author, who spent his life trying to recapture his own idyllic childhood, and mourning the successive loss of little girl friends who constantly outgrew their adoration for him as they became women not girls. Those summers spent boating with Alice Liddell and her sisters and making up stories for them were days he wanted to last forever, but life isn’t like that. For Haruhi, whose moments of depression become so severe that the universe is at risk, it’s not difficult to understand why a happy two weeks having fun with her friends would be something she wouldn’t want to end. She must realise that in little over a year Mikuru will be leaving school and her happy brigade will begin to drift apart, at least on a day-to-day basis. The next time they have their summer fun together, it must surely be tinged with the melancholy of that harsh reality.

Everything has it’s time though, and the world has to move on. Different stages in life bring different rewards, and when the solution to the problem arrives it will demonstrate Haruhi’s practical side (Koizumi has pointed out previously that she has a side to her that does embrace reality – the side that stops her truly believing in the aliens, time travellers and ESPers she seeks). Koizumi might think that deep down Haruhi wants her summer to never end, but he is forgetting her practical side. Deep down, she also knows that the practical considerations of life, however boring, have got to be embraced as well. It ties in beautifully with the theme. Childhood cannot last forever, and the adult world of work and responsibilities must assert itself eventually. It brings its own rewards.

That’s just one of several themes that are explored here, and we’ll look at some more next time, as the arc draws towards its conclusion.

To sum up as usual, this is iteration 15,524 (+3 from last week). We were unaware what iteration the first episode was, so apart from that the gaps are +1, +14, +8 and +3. The Endless Eight is so full of missed opportunities for clever little touches. These gaps seem to be random. Why not make them the opening sequence to a famous irrational number or something, another indication of infinity?

Let’s take a look once again the activities the SOS Brigade enjoy this episode.  We’re back to the original 15:

  1. Swimming

  2. Buying Yukatas

  3. Bon festival and goldfish scooping

  4. Making their own fireworks show

  5. Cicada catching

  6. Part time jobs

  7. Stargazing

  8. Battling cages

  9. A real fireworks show

  10. Fishing

  11. Test of courage

  12. Beach

  13. Movies

  14. Bowling

  15. Karaoke

We’re just missing the playground fun, which we only saw last week.  Never mind, only two to go.  The Endless Eight is 50% fun and 50% a test of endurance, especially watching it all for a second time.  It’s all too easy to end up feeling a bit like Miss Asahina:

screenshot014

But what about Nagato?  How must she feel?  And just why doesn’t she try to change things?  We’ll think about that next time.   RP

The view from 6,868 miles away:

I feel like I’ve seen this episode before.  Am I stuck in a time loop??  Damn it, I hate it when this happens!

I don’t know if I think the show is clever or pulling a fast one.  On the one hand, I’ve seen the cleverness of this show already, so I am pretty sure there is a clue in each episode allowing me to piece together the real answer.  On the other hand, I wonder if this was all one overlong episode that the animators took apart, touched up, and extended into 8 parts.  I’m hoping for the former, but beginning to suspect the latter.  Now, I’m not blind.  I have seen some things change.  There’s a heat haze in this one, during the part-time job scene.  There are subtle differences too.  I am not unaware of words changing on Haruhi’s list, but I initially got the impression that it was there to give the viewer ideas about what we were seeing.  Last episode I noticed the words “hamster fishing” when the group goes to catch fish, which is indeed what they do catch, so I wondered if that was a clue.  I feel like Watson; I am clearly not deft enough at deciding what’s a clue and what really is a trifle.

Now, at this point I have to say that the café scene wherein Kyon makes the realization that he has to stop Haruhi from leaving … yeah, that?  It started way too soon.  It would have been better to make its first appearance here.  I can’t imagine having to sit through this same thing 15,524 times, like Yuki does.  Good lord!  I’m on time 6 and I’m going stir crazy.  And I can’t help but wonder if Yuki has the answer and because no one is asking her for it, and our Thought Entity is there strictly to observe, she doesn’t say anything.  When Kyon talks to her on their way home in each episode, I am of the mindset that there’s a hint there too.  But my god, how can I tell a trifle from a clue.  As the Japanese have a bit of an affinity for Sherlock Holmes, I have no doubt this Endless 8 was a willful attempt to make the audience experience what it is like to be Watson, and they are doing an admirable job making me feel that way.  I’m sure by #7, the answers will be there and episode 8 will focus on the solution!

Damned Time Distortions.  I’ll have to wait.  I guess, as they say, time will tell.  It always does.

Damned Time Distortions.  I’ll have to wait.  I guess, as they say, time will tell.  It always does.

Damned Time Distortions.  I’ll have to wait.  I guess, as they say, time will tell.  It always does.

ML

About Roger Pocock

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

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