Haruhi Suzumiya re-viewing: End, Sigh…

Beginning on June 21 of this year, AT-X has been re-airing the Haruhi Suzumiya TV anime weekly in two-episode chunks. Along with their schedule, Yumeka, Goggen, and myself have been re-veiwing the series and offering our thoughts on the week’s episodes. This week, we finish the longest (to-date) anime arc. As usual, any thoughts that are shared between us are coincidence. We each write our own thoughts separately. (Yumeka-Haruhi, Goggen-Mio, ultimatemegax-Koizumi)

Endless Eight (VIII):

This episode plows through the summer events at a faster pace than the previous ones, but still finds the time for the occasional new variation. I like imouto’s little insulted facial expression after Kyon tells her not to mention the ringing phone, for example, and Kyon’s line about “believers”. But of course, the important thing here is that Endless Eight actually, well, ends. And this is where eight episodes worth of repeated material pays off – by now, you’re so desperate for the story to move on already that any new material is greatly appreciated. Even getting to see something as mundane as the characters doing their homework feels like an epic victory now. And honestly, who doesn’t rejoice when Kyon finally – finally! – stops Haruhi from leaving the diner? It wouldn’t have had the same impact without the immense amount of build-up. Of course, there are further consequences of the Endless Eight arc coming later – but that’s another story.

It finally ended! The final episode both symbolizes the better parts of this arc and the worse parts. While we have some wonderfully animated segments, the omission of certain areas (yukata shop, any activities) made it feel weaker than episodes before, but that’s likely due to a lack of time. I like the use of BGM from Kousaki near the end to heighten the feeling when Kyon finally yells at Haruhi “I’ve still got something I want to do!” Continuing from there is a lovely piece entitled “Happiness from Ordinary Things” that soothes your feelings now that everything is finally over. I understand why the production committee wanted to pull this off, but it’s one of the most divisive strategies I’ve seen in a while. Nevertheless, it’s over and we’re moving on.

We’ve finally made it to the end of the endless summer! By this point during the 2009 broadcast, some people had speculated that the eighth Endless Eight would be the last…and they ended up calling it right XD I liked the call-back to Remote Island Syndrome with the gang wearing the same swim suits at the pool that they did at the remote island. A few moments of the usual summer activities were cut short in this episode, obviously to make room for the long-awaited grand finale of Kyon realizing the one last activity to satisfy Haruhi. Appropriately, his realization at the end was choreographed quite epically – the animation and music just screamed “Finally!” Fans watching the series after the 2009 airing have opted to just watch this Endless Eight while skipping the others, which is fine since it’s the one that technically follows the novel. Whether you have the patience to sit through all of Endless Eight or not, there’s no denying that it was one of the most unforgettable and daring feats of any anime, and I have do give KyoAni kudos for that.

The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya I

And so begins my least favorite of the Haruhi stories. While Sigh does play a big role for the series in terms of character development (which I’ll get to in later episodes), the trip getting there is rather bumpy. But anyway, after two episodes on a remote island and eight episodes of time-looping, our heroes are finally back at North High with the movie Haruhi wants to make for the culture festival being the next hot topic. The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina movie was many people’s first glimpse of the Haruhi series back in 2006, and it wasn’t until three years later with The Sigh in 2009 that we see exactly how it was made. Nothing of significance happens here in part 1 besides Haruhi getting the idea to make a movie and dragging the other brigade members around town to “obtain” supplies. I remember how surprised I was upon my first viewing of this episode when it ended literally right as Mikuru was about to talk – perhaps this shows how dedicated KyoAni is to adapting a novel so closely that they don’t care if they have to end an episode at an awkward moment XD

Sigh is not one of my favorite novels. Point 1 being the length at which it takes to show its hand. KyoAni didn’t aid the story any with the montage near the beginning of the episode showing the other clubs/groups preparing for the cultural festival. I do love the inclusion of the sports festival by this episode’s scriptwriter, Nagaru Tanigawa, as it helps flesh out the universe in something not shown novel-wise. The rest of the episode mainly sets up the plot of the story: Haruhi wants to film a movie. It’s a really plot-heavy episode and one that doesn’t carry very well in anime visuals, much less novel text. Unfortunately, it’s the last remaining pre-Disappearance story that needed to be animated. The one fun point that KyoAni added was to end/begin episodes as if they were one continuous movie. An interesting dynamic given the way they adapted the first and fourth novels.

Sigh is my least favorite of the longer stories, just because it takes so long before it really gets interesting. The SOS Brigade making a movie is a fun idea, but in this episode all that really happens after the sports day in the opening scenes is that Haruhi decides to make a movie, then she procures a camera. It’s not very exciting, though there is some amusing dialogue here, my favorite being the part where Haruhi asks Kyon about what is needed to make a movie. One thing I find interesting about the 2009 episodes is that the two major arcs, Endless Eight and Sigh have their own musical identities. They each have their own themes and compositions that are kept out of the other, with little to no cross-over, giving both of these arcs their own distinct feel and atmosphere. Sigh also makes appropriate use of some of the music from the 2006 episodes, but aside from that I like the moody Endless Eight music more than the whimsical tunes heard here.

Apparently Endless Eight struck us so badly we got in synch for our take on Sigh I. Nevertheless, the long paragraphs are back since we can finally say something about a new episode! If the broadcast had started one week later, this post would literally mark the end of summer (August 31) but that wasn’t meant to happen.

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