Haruhi Suzumiya Re-viewing: Just Never

To play along with AT-X, a cable station in Japan that is currently re-airing the Haruhi Suzumiya anime, Yumeka, Goggen, and I are watching the same episodes aired that week and blogging our thoughts on a re-watch of the episode. This week, we break through the middle part of the dreaded Endless Eight arc. As always, each of us watch/write our thoughts on the episodes separately, so any matching thoughts are coincidental. (Yumeka-Haruhi/-chan, Goggen-Mio, ultimatemegax-Koizumi)

Endless Eight (IV)

By the time the fourth Endless Eight episode aired, I didn’t know what to think anymore nor where it would end. People were speculating away and while I didn’t appreciate Endless Eight back then the way I do now, I wasn’t so much mad that it was made this way as much as I was frustrated that it would mean less novel stories getting animated (until the movie was announced that is). But for some reason this particular E8 episode stands out to me because of the constant use of airplane and cloud symbolism. It doesn’t really make sense for the episode but it makes it more memorable to me than the others. A couple of other things that stand out to me in E8IV is Kyon relating the movie theater scene to himself and Haruhi, and the fact that this is one of the few episodes where Haruhi can be seen without her signature yellow ribbon. The déjà vu  in this episodes seemed particularly strong, too.

Another one of the pair that I dislike the most of this arc. When people refer to the “K-On!ification” of Haruhi, they commonly use screencaps from this episode as their proof. I don’t mind the character designs, but it can be jarring to those watching after the 2006 episodes. Another bunch of still image montages is used, but it’s not as bad as the previous episode. This is one of the rare instances where we get to see Haruhi without her headband. It’s a nice touch to differentiate the episodes. Other than that and a really really crying Mikuru, the episode is subpar compared to later episodes.

This version of Endless Eight is pretty straightforward. No big gimmick to really set it apart from the rest. Well, there’s the repeated imagery with the cloud and the toy plane, I suppose, but overall I’d say it looks, at least, more like a regular Haruhi episode than some of the other Endless Eights. I miss Kyon’s “kero kero” after taking off the frog suit, though. This episode begins the tradition of Kyon referencing mecha anime whenever he takes it off, which to be honest I never really cared for. I could be wrong, but Kyon never seemed like much of an otaku to me, so to have him talk about Gundam and Evangelion all of a sudden feels a little out of character. I realize, of course, that those lines are in there for the otaku audience to enjoy. Still, I like this episode overall.

Endless Eight (V)

After the past two episodes, KyoAni comes back strong in this episode. Not only do we get some interesting shots at the pool involving Haruhi coming out of the water and Mikuru being shoved into it, we get Koizumi showing off his watch, and Kyon’s changes in dialogue. Sugita had a lot of fun this episode. Not only did he pre-empt Haruhi’s request at the beginning, but the Eva reference and “this number is not in service” showed how much fun he was trying to insert into an episode people had already seen four times. The addition of the Brigade going to a shrine to release the cicadas was a nice touch and also helped differ this episode. Music-wise, Kousaki helped give a more positive tone in this episode than in the past two with more up-beat pieces. I like this episode a lot, mostly due to the two that came before it.

A handful of interesting things happen in this Endless Eight episode: the two girls that Haruhi meets at the pool bare a resemblance to Ui and Asuza from K-ON, Kyon makes an amusing Evangelion reference, Itsuki wears a speedo at the pool(!), and the scene at the end where Haruhi is leaving the cafe is repeated three times. Perhaps the repetition is simply there to hammer in the déjà vu even more, or perhaps the climactic scene is repeated three times to hint that the Endless Eight saga will repeat three more times before it’s over. A few other little unique scenes happen in E8V that don’t occur in the others, such as Yuki and Kyon walking through the cemetery during the test of courage and the gang riding on a merry-go-round. One scene I like is during the time-loop discovery at night where some thugs approach Yuki and Mikuru and then back away when Kyon and Itsuki return from getting drinks. Fun background scenes like this are one of the things I love about KyoAni~

Other than a few scenes towards the end that have a melancholic feel to them, at least partially due to the music, this episode is fairly light for an Endless Eight. There’s not much left of the sinister feel some of the earlier episodes had. I really like the music in this one. It makes heavy use of one particular theme that’s exclusive to the Endless Eight episodes, my favorite variation of which is the funky version heard over the last summer montage before the final café scene. I also like how in the last scene the “camera” is moving along with the clock in Kyon’s bedroom. There is a similar, though very brief, shot in Melancholy VI right before Kyon goes to sleep and wakes up in closed space.

And that’s another week of our Endless Eight re-viewing. I hope you’re as happy to make it through the third and fourth iterations as I am. Next week, it’s still summer vacation!

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