The junkyard presents two articles about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode Endless Eight VIII.
The view from 5930 miles away:
“Hang on a second! We’re not done yet!”
The 15,532nd iteration of the time loop is the one where Kyon survives into the future and gets to keep his memories. We have moved on five iterations since last time, and the SOS Brigade have now worked 9056 part time jobs. The dialogue sounds more ad-libbed than ever (“Yum, it’s strawberry-licious”), and we rush through a selection of the activities:
- Bon festival and goldfish scooping
- Making their own fireworks show
- Cicada catching
- Part time jobs
- Batting cages
The yukata shopping is not shown, but obviously had to happen. Mentioned by Kyon, but not shown, are the fireworks show, fishing, test of courage, beach, movies, bowling and karaoke. Mikuru lets slip a hint about her time-traveller status, which Haruhi typically fails to pick up on:
“So this is what festivals were like back in this time.”
Maybe deep down her instinct is telling her it’s not important what she says in what will be a cancelled timeline, incorrectly on this occasion. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Endless Eight arc has been the way it has played with ontology, with Kyon previously ending each episode musing about a “different version” of him having to deal with “whatever happens next”. This week instead we get Kyon thinking about the other 15,531 versions of himself who didn’t survive, reflecting on their contribution to his ability to escape the loop and how they live on in that small way. There’s a great quote from Doctor Who that applies here: “a man is the sum of his memories.” Whilst the idea of all the cells in the body being replaced every few years is a myth that has captured the imagination of a gullible public, always keen to believe something that isn’t true (to the benefit of social media and detriment of human progress), it still seems fundamentally wrong to describe the essence of the human experience in terms of something physical. What makes us who we are? One of the more valid answers to that question is our memories, with the proviso that memories are unreliable and easily manipulated. Our experiences do play a major role in shaping who we are as individuals. So each time Kyon resets, is he truly the same person? Does he die 15,531 times on August 31st? Does he simply pop back two weeks and start again like a phoenix reborn from the ashes of his failed attempt to survive into the future, or is it a different person who gets created each time? There are no easy answers.
The answer to escaping the loop is easy though, and rather prosaic. Kyon needs to do his homework. But how does this fit in with the speculation about what exactly it was that Haruhi wanted? She was subconsciously responsible for the time loop, so it seems absurd to suggest that what she most wanted in the world was for Kyon to do his homework. Maybe the answer can be found in this line:
“I wanna come over too!”
It’s blurted out like something a toddler would say, and it’s a very funny moment. Perhaps Haruhi just wants to go to Kyon’s house for a day, and do something as simple as playing computer games with his little sister. Maybe she feels guilty that little sis hasn’t been involved in any of their fun, and she has taken Kyon away from her for a fortnight. Maybe she just wants to do something on the last day. Is the key to the loop making Haruhi feel like the group still wants to spend the last day together, even after living in each other’s pockets for a fortnight? Or maybe it’s just a feeling of completeness, and a readiness to move on. They’ve had fun, they’ve all done their homework, and they’re ready to go back to school. The homework contributes to a feeling of finality. They’ve not just done everything they wanted to do. They’ve done everything they needed to do as well. Summer is finally over.
But I wonder if it’s over for me. I’ve done what I never expected to do, and rewatched all eight episodes of the Endless Eight, for the purposes of writing for this blog. For anybody short on patience, looking for a recommendation, I would suggest that it’s perfectly valid to watch episodes I, II and VIII, and skip the rest. That’s not in my nature though. I’m too much of a completist, and I found the rewatch surprisingly enjoyable, trying to spot all the little details. Bizarrely, I think I actually found it more enjoyable than the first time round, when I found the lack of progress in the storyline between III and VII so frustrating. Will I ever return to the Endless Eight? Is there even such a thing as a person in this world who watches it all a third time? I wouldn’t rule it out. There’s something about Haruhi that just keeps drawing us back, again and again…
and again, and again, and again, and again, and… 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. Half a sec… have I typed the same thing 15,532 times now? How weird. Was I stuck in a never-ending endless evening blog? There’s no need to fear, the end of the time loop is here.
It strikes me with a supreme degree of certainty that Roger chose this series as revenge. When I asked him to watch Babylon 5, he felt season one was cliched and weak. In fairness, he’s not wrong about the quality. If seasons 2-5 were like season 1, it would never have achieved the place in the SF annals and would be just another space show. But for poor Roger, that means 22 episodes of which not all of them are winners, to be fair. And at 45 minutes per episode, hey, that’s a greater investment than 28 episodes of a half-hour anime. But when you have to see the same non-event happen 8 times, over and over, unending, endless, infinite, nonstop, repeated, the same except for very minor changes… well that gets really tedious. Even Soul Hunter has more going on in it than this 8 unending, endless, infinite, nonstop, repeated episodes. But that’s ok. The end is nigh and we can proceed with better stories again. Here it is… the answer to the loop. And the answer is….
The other day, my wife was asking my kid to do his homework. Homework that he said he’d do on the day she was asking him to do it. Know what he didn’t do? His homework. He claimed he “needed a break”. I decided I didn’t want to speak to him at all that day. I just wasn’t up for the fight. I too needed a break. So I put on the final episode of the Endless Eight. Or 8. Is it VIII? Whatever. And I almost wish my son were with me.
Did the cicadas that were released into the sky come back and “return the favor”? No. Was Endless, the store where Haruhi buys clothing, part of the solution? No. Was it the classified classifieds or the declassified classified unclassified classes? (What?!?) No!! Ah, the plane! Surely it was the plane? NOPE. The cycle is broken when Kyon calls everyone together for one last day of summer to do homework. My head went all Scanners and exploded all over the room which was going to be a mean cleanup job for the family when the time distortion rewound time and put my head back together. I laughed out loud when Haruhi announced that she wanted to come too. But this whole nightmare repeat was based on the idea of sitting together for one last day to do homework!
I’ve seen some underhanded tricks in my time, but man, an 8 episode repeat based on not doing homework?!?! Now if only I could explain this logic to my son… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya I