Welcome back to the 6th week of our Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing. As usual, Yumeka (from Mainichi Anime Yume) and K-On! superfan Goggen are re-viewing the Haruhi Suzumiya TV anime with me as we follow the cable station AT-X’s broadcast this summer. This week, we solve one mystery, and begin another. (Wait, didn’t we do that last week?) As always, each of us watches the episodes separately and writes our own impressions/thoughts without seeing what the other two have written. (Yumeka-Haruhi, Goggen-Mio, ultimatemegax-Koizumi)
Lone Island Syndrome (Second Half)
Opening an episode with the discovery of a stabbed murder victim is unusually grim for the series. It’s negated by the “it was all an act” ending, of course, and while that is not exactly a twist I haven’t seen before, it’s probably the only way to do a murder mystery with these characters. Had it turned out a man died because Haruhi wanted to play detective, it would have instantly made both the character and the show a whole lot darker. Watching her in this episode is interesting, though. Throughout it all, she is reflective, concerned and level-headed. It’s not until the explanation at the end that she goes back to being the energetic Haruhi we know. I do wonder, though, how Koizumi intended to end the scenario after the “culprits” were revealed. If Kyon hadn’t figured out what was going on, how would it have continued?
We finish the mystery with a bang. This was one of the more popular episodes from the 2006 airing, and it still remains a wonderful solution to a mystery. Again, Kousaki does a wonderful job building the suspense with the music and ending in a fantastic piece as Haruhi “solves” the case. We also get a hint at the importance of Kyon to Yuki as he overrides Haruhi’s order to her to not let anyone in that room. I didn’t comment on it last time, but KyoAni did a great job giving hints for the mystery without focusing on them as if they were saying “Here’s a clue!” It allowed us to speculate what was happening without being driven towards a certain conclusion. A really good episode.
While part 1 of Remote Island Syndrome is mostly fun and games, the majority of part 2 takes on a more serious tone as the gang tries to grapple with something surprisingly dark for the series at this point – a murder…that is until the end of course, when we realize it was all just a hoax. The series has focused on school comedy and sci-fi in previous episodes, and now we have the mystery genre, which it doesn’t fail to deliver well either. Like part 1, there were a few things in part 2 that were different from the novel, most noticeably the part where Kyon and Haruhi fall off the ledge, which was in the anime only (maybe they just threw that in there for us KyonxHaruhi shippers XD) Besides that, there were some good scenes between Kyon and Haruhi, for example, when he realizes she would never go so far as to kill anyone with her powers, and of course, the fact that she tried to protect him and the others by not speaking up when she realized who the murderer was. And, when watching this episode for the first time, was I the only one who thought that scene towards the end of Itsuki staring at the “mole” on Kyon’s neck was supposed to be foreshadowing something? Whatever it was supposed to be, it always weirded me out.
I can never watch this episode again without thinking “Ah, if only we’d known what it would turn into…” I episodically blogged most of the then-new 2009 episodes back when they first aired and it amuses me to look at my Endless Eight posts when neither I nor anyone else had any idea what the anime version would do with this story that was only one chapter in the novels. If one is willing to watch more than the final Endless Eight episode, I think this first one is the better one to watch. It’s supposedly the very first loop out of an eventual 15,532, and is the only one where the group doesn’t discover the time-loop. Without knowing what’s in store, it has the facade of a full-on and almost pointless slice-of-life story from beginning to end. It’s quite the deceiving episode.
So it begins. The infamous Endless Eight. I wasn’t around for the original airing, but I imagine a lot of fans were surprised by this episode – those who previously read the books, especially. The expected twist that occurs in the original story is nowhere to be found here. There’s no apparent sci-fi element, no mystery, no problem for Kyon to overcome. There’s only the SOS Brigade hanging out and doing fun things (and a few not quite as fun things) during summer. A slice-of-life episode in the true meaning of the phrase. That is fun to watch in and by itself, a deviation from the source material though it may be. Being only the second of the new episodes added to the series in 2009, this one also features the debut of the second opening sequence, “Super Driver”. I’ve always liked it, both for the visuals and for the catchy, energetic tune.
And now the moment everyone’s been waiting for. We begin a long, long journey today. Endless Eight (I) works incredibly well as an episode. The script (written by Gatou) allows us to really enjoy the summer activities by not including the loop discovery aspects. This puts more time in the fun activities, which provides the backstory for the episodes to come. While this is a huge step up in animation from the 2006 episodes, I was amazed at how much better Kyoto Animation’s later shows have gotten. We attend a Obon festival, and it’s lacking life. Two scenes has background movement by other characters. Compared to the movie, or the currently airing Hyouka, it feels dead. Kousaki nails the music in this episode. I cannot think of a piece that was not appropriately placed nor lacking in mood. I really really really enjoy this episode.
One down, seven to go. I confess that I have some ideas to ensure that each week’s paragraphs will be different (for me at least), so don’t tune out because of the Endless Eight issues. Next week: we end the loop right? Right?