Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing: Eight Summer

Once again, it’s time for another week of Haruhi Suzumiya! This week, AT-X broadcast the 13/14 episodes of the television series, and we joined them on our re-watch. We’re halfway done with the series, but can we say the same for our current arc?! Joining me are Yumeka (of Mainichi Anime Yume) and K-On! superfan Goggen. (Yumeka-Haruhi, Goggen-Mio, ultimatemegax-Koizumi) Disclaimer: each of us watch the episodes and write our comments separately. Any overlap in comments is coincidental.

Endless Eight (II)

This episode was an experience in lighting. Near the beginning, we have a ton of lighting on Kyon as he’s watching baseball, and then we have an abundance of color sparkling on Kyon and Koizumi at the pool. From there, we gradually start to lose color after the late night meeting until our cafe trip on August 30 barely has any color and Kyon’s house is colorless on the 31st. It’s an interesting way to portray the despair starting to affect Kyon. Another effect is the sporatic instances where Kousaki’s OST is blank and all we have is Sugita’s monologues. A simplistic approach that works very well. Enjoyable.

The first Endless Eight might have seemed innocuous enough to the uninitiated, but it’s not until this second episode that the time loop concept is introduced. Even before the premise is revealed about halfway through, the viewer shares Kyon’s feeling that “something’s feels off”, and not just because what we’re seeing is a repeat of last week’s events. The slightly eerie lighting and unusual color palette creates an unsettling atmosphere even as the SOS Brigade’s merry summer days play out, and with repeated “déjà vu” scenes reminding us that something is indeed wrong, there isn’t as much of a mood shift as one might expect there’d be when Kyon receives his night time phone call. The creepy piano music in that scene does wonders for it, though. The biggest shock, however, comes at episode’s end when after identifying the problem, our heroes are unable to solve it and it becomes clear that we’ll have to go through these events at least one more time.

When the second installment of Endless Eight first came around, some fans were thinking “Okay, that last episode was just to tease us. This time they’ll fix the time-loop.” And it almost seemed that way when the gang discovered the time-loop midway into the episode and everything looked like it was going to follow the novel…until literally the last minute when Kyon failed to come up with the solution to satisfy Haruhi. While a lot of us were only somewhat perplexed at the end of Endless Eight I, the end of Endless Eight II was even more puzzling because it actually followed the novel very closely until the climax. One thing that does stand out to me in this Endless Eight episode is that, when Yuki goes to buy the mask at the Obon festival, there are Pokemon masks among them. My favorite game series having a cameo in my favorite anime series – how cool is that? XD

Endless Eight (III)

“We are going through an eternal loop of the same time period. We are going through an eternal loop of the same time period. We are going through an eternal loop…” That’s moderately amusing, Koizumi, but as this is only the second time we’ve been shown this scene, wouldn’t it be better to save the “funny” lines for later versions when we all know the dialogue by heart and could use some variation? Not that variation isn’t welcome here – I like how after the revelation of the time loop, this episode takes on a more melancholic mood as opposed to the sinister atmosphere of the previous one or the carefree and fun feel of the first. Not sure if the numerous still frame montages throughout reflect KyoAni’s best work, however. But hey, this is Endless Eight – if one version fails to impress, there are plenty more tries coming.

I remember back when it first aired that I really thought part 3 of Endless Eight would be the last. My reasoning? That E8I showed us a loop when they didn’t discover anything about it, E8II showed us a loop when they discovered it but weren’t able to fix it, so E8III should be the one where they discover it and are able to fix it. But alas, we were thwarted again by the last couple minutes of this episode. I remember paying close attention to how the katakana for “Endless Eight” would appear at the beginning of each episode, as if that would offer a clue as to which one would the last one. Around this point in the story arc is when fans not only started to really speculate but also to really rage against Endless Eight. July of 2009 was quite an interesting time amongst the anime community.

This is one of my least favorite of the eight episodes. This episode uses a lot of still image montages instead of animating scenes. The trip to the yukata store, fireworks, and activities are all told through these montages instead of showing animation clips. It feels very cheap given the previous two episodes. Again, my complaint with the Bon festival from episode 1 holds true again. It feels so lifeless, but it works for this episode more. It’s a very lackluster episode IMO. Of interest, this is the only episode of the eight where we get to see Kyon leaving his house since the OP animation occurs on the trip to the pool. I also like Koizumi’s “we’re stuck in an endless loop” repetition during this episode.

3 down, 5 to go! While I don’t care for the fourth episode much, the fifth Endless Eight is one of my favorites. Looking forward to re-viewing it. Also, I’m out of K-On! episodes for Goggen’s avatars. Any guesses as to what’ll come next week?

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