The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode Endless Eight VII.
The view from 5930 miles away:
As the Endless Eight arc draws to a close we are back to a much more artistic way of telling the story. The moments of déjà vu are represented in black and white, with the colour draining from the picture, and Kyon’s anguish in the café is almost like a horror movie moment, with the picture distorting and blurring. The visual references to the arc are ramped up, with the “ENDLESS” banner in the shopping centre, and most notably the calendar page showing 8th August at the start (“Wrong!” – because it’s 17th). August is the eighth month, of course, but there’s more to it than that, because the final episode of the Endless Eight was originally broadcast in Japan on 7th August, so 8th literally does represent the end of the cycle.
This is iteration 15,527, moving on three from last week. The maths are back on track, with Nagato mentioning a total of 9052 jobs, an increase of 4 from episode 5 out of an additional 6 iterations. The jobs are clearly something that happen the majority of times but not all, but we have never seen an iteration where they haven’t worked. What do they do instead on the significant number of occasions where they don’t work that day? Something of a missed opportunity, I think. It wouldn’t have been all that difficult to add some more variety into this run of repetitive episodes.
Talking of repetition, exactly how must Nagato feel about all this? How much does she feel at all? Without getting into the realms of spoilers, because this question will eventually be addressed in detail, it’s worth remembering that not everyone wears their hearts on their sleeves. Just because somebody is quiet and apparently unemotional, it doesn’t mean they feel nothing on the inside. The moments where Kyon has observed Nagato sitting on her own, or tried to talk to her and failed to find the words, have been moments of pure melancholy, flagged up without exception by a choice of sad music, often depressing moments that puncture the massive bubble of happiness that is the whirlwind of activities.
Here’s the rundown of activities this week, because why break with tradition:
- Buying Yukatas
- Bon festival and goldfish scooping
- Making their own fireworks show
- Cicada catching (Nagato catches a weird bug thing on a leaf)
- Part time jobs
- Batting cages
This week we are missing the bowling and the karaoke. Mentioned by Kyon, but not shown, are the fireworks show, fishing, test of courage, beach, and movies. At the batting cages, Kyon once again asks Nagato why she doesn’t try to do something about breaking the loop, and receives the same answer as usual:
“My function is to observe only.”
There is actually plenty that Nagato could attempt, without blowing her cover. Everyone else is repeating their behaviour because they are in a time loop and are generally unaware of their previous actions, but that doesn’t apply to Nagato. So just why does she buy a mask at the bon festival each and every time, for example? Why does she refuse Kyon’s offer to pay for it, each and every time? Why does she catch something other than a cicada every time? That’s not Nagato being forced to do the same things because of the loop, it’s Nagato actively supporting the repetition by choosing to repeat her same behaviour. The thing is, she’s not just an observer. She’s an active member of the SOS Brigade, and her actions here are not the actions of a neutral observer, like she tries to make out. She is an active participant and her choices are supporting the loop. The most logical conclusion to draw here is that the thought entity is interested in the loop and wants Nagato to maintain it rather than break it, in order to see how it will play out and if the group will find a way to break out of it… and that’s clearly cruel to Nagato, forcing her to live the same events for nearly 600 years. It’s unimaginable. She’s a slave to an entity that has scant regard for her feelings. Can that be sustainable?
It’s a measure of the fascinating issues raised by this run of episodes that we are nearly at the end and I still have more to discuss about it than I can reasonably include in a blog post, especially in light of the dual-review nature of our approach. Perhaps the most fascinating of all is the subject of ontology, referenced by Kyon’s “different version of me” comment before he goes to sleep each time. That will have to wait until next week, when we will also find out the solution to breaking the time loop, and look at the implications of all that. I could write all that now, but… nah. What would be the point. Work can wait, right? There’s always another day tomorrow.
But will I be the same person tomorrow? 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. Like this time I noticed that the clothing store that Kyon and Itsuki wait outside is called “Endless”. That’s it! The clue has to do with the kimonos. Oh, wait, no, that can’t be right. That did not appear in all the episodes. Holy cow, was I supposed to keep track of when Yuki says in what iterations they’ve done things? This is 15,527! Maybe the times they go to the Endless shop are the ones that hold the clue! Yes, that must be it. Ha-ha-HAAA Clue!
Kyon is still the heart of the show for me. He’s funny mostly because of what he has to cope with. I love his groan into the pillow when he gets his late night call. Possibly the best groan ever! But I have one gripe with his character: sometimes, I don’t know what is internal monologue and what he is actually saying out loud. This is because the show aims for some seriously odd camera angles that completely ignore the actors. Maybe this is designed to put us off. Basically, something is not right but you can’t quite tell. But these camera angles are especially odd when you realize, there is no camera! It’s animation. We don’t have to focus the camera on a person or scene. Someone has to draw it. So who decided to draw the top of a head and keep that in focus while the character speaks? A Sadist? Or someone who drew a lot for one episode, realized they wanted to make 8 out of the one, and used one image that gets held in place for too long while a character speaks. This is what leads me to wonder if the show creators actually had a plan and were being super clever… or if they were taking us for a ride. As Itsuki puts it, a “never-ending, endless, summer vacation”. (Doesn’t never-ending mean endless?)
This episode ends again without any revelation. We are no closer to finding out the solution. These subtle changes do not hold an answer. They are there simply to show the girls in slightly different swimsuits every time. #8 better drive home a damned good point. Well, I guess time will tell. It always does… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Endless Eight VIII