July 16, 2009

Endless 8: a reply

(Over at Chizumatic, Steven has put up a post regarding the continuing saga of the second season of Haruhi Suzumiya.  For those who don't know, the past four episodes have taken place in a time-loop, replaying the same two week timeframe.  Kyoto Animation has reanimated each episode so everything is visually different, and while the dialogue is mostly the same, it isn't completely.

And there's been a huge uproar by various people over how annoying this is.  I've been steaming about this uproar for a couple of weeks now; Steven's post just pushed me over the edge.  This was going to be a comment over there, but I decided to make it a post here instead.)

There isn't anything clever about this. It just shows utter contempt for the fans.

I completely and totally disagree.  I think it's experimental, very inventive, and quite fascinating to watch.  Trying to see how they're going to make it different this time, how much closer they're coming to breaking the loop (don't let anybody tell you different, Kyon & Co. are coming closer)... it's been quite entertaining to me.  Certainly better than Generic Harem Comedy & The Sword of Power, iteration #83.

I just don't get why people are complaining... you wanted Haruhi 2: The Wrath of Kyon, now it's here.  There was no way it could possibly live up to the expectations of those people who thought everything else should be put on hold until KyoAni made it.  Now that it's running, and it's not all Unicorns farting rainbows, it's immediately marked down as the worst thing EVAR.

I call bullhocky on that.  Is it as good as the first season?  No, no it isn't.  Is it offensive and contemptable?  No, no it isn't.  Would I like to see "Endless 8" end?  Yes, I would, but saying that KyoAni is disrespecting the fans because it hasn't ended is ridiculous.  So you don't like the plot loop.  Fine; I wasn't fond of the length of the Makoto arc in Kanon 2006, either, but that doesn't make it crap, or "poor judgement," or whatever.

Perhaps I'm the iconoclast here, because I'm enjoying the show.  So be it.  Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last. 

UPDATE: Yes, this is how much KyoAni disrespects the fans.  The setup is that the SOS Brigade visits a Bon Festival, and Yuki decides to buy a mask.  Here's what the scene looks like in the first episode of "Endless 8":

In the second episode, this is how the scene appears:

Third time around:

...and fourth:

Yes, in all four episodes, she's buying a mask.  But every time, KyoAni has given us a different look and feel to the scene.  The masks are different, Yuki's kimono is different, the camera angle is different, and while you can't tell from these shots, her body language is different.  Which, considering that in the storyline, she remembers every detail of every loop (over 15000, which works out to nearly 600 years), makes perfect sense. 

Every single episode is presented like this; everything is the same, but completely different.  If that's a lack of imagination from KyoAni and contempt for the viewer, then I'll take their contempt every single day of the week.  It's still better than most of the crap out there right now.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:18 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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1 I'll grant that it's clever and audacious and daring. And obviously they put a lot of work into it. It just isn't fun to watch.

Posted by: Jonathan Tappan at July 16, 2009 09:27 PM (7wFYN)


"It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."

And KyoAni is on the wrong side of that line.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 16, 2009 09:30 PM (+rSRq)

3 ...and that's where the disagreement is.  I'm enjoying "Endless 8", and quite a bit, to boot.  There's enough different in every episode that it's stayed completely fresh for me, and the dramatic tension in knowing what's going on, while the characters don't, is interesting as well.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 16, 2009 09:31 PM (NSDDW)

4 And KyoAni is on the wrong side of that line.

Seen the show, have you?

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 16, 2009 10:41 PM (NSDDW)

5 Technically, they're doing it right, no argument there. But in a 14 episode season, nearly half of the them have the exact same storyline, one right after another. Visually different, but the general plot and pacing are the same. And after three years of waiting for a second season, this is a huge let down. Maybe ducks have more tolerance for minutia than I have.

Posted by: John Smith at July 16, 2009 10:56 PM (sDvZi)

6 Mr Smith, I submit that just about anything would have been a letdown.  As I mentioned before, the amount of hype surrounding Haruhi I and the screaming for Haruhi II was so huge that there was no way that this series could have been considered a success for KyoAni.

Except for those who ignored the hype, took the first season for what it was (a very good show, but not the 'greatest anime ever', as some proclaimed it), and simply waited for them to bring it out when they wanted.

Given KyoAni's track record, I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 16, 2009 11:27 PM (NSDDW)

7 Thank you, Wonderduck, I could not agree more with everything you say in this post. The Endless Eight is rich and imaginative in its small but distinguishable changes, and I for one (not a Haruhi fangirl) am enjoying it. Do I want it to end? Sure, eventually. But I'm okay with the Endless Eight spanning eight episodes. Every new episode builds up more tension, so that we're approaching Yuki's state of mind as an "observer". I find this interesting and different, and it honestly keeps me entertained. Also, and I don't know how much truth there is in this, I've heard that this season will be longer than originally planned. In which case fans need not cry on that front.

Posted by: bucklemyshoe at July 17, 2009 06:21 AM (KFbf0)

8 The time-loop idea is a favorite amongst writers. It looks like Kyoani is trying to execute it differently than the traditional method.

By "traditional method" I mean the way the second time through the loop is usually shown in full detail right up to the reset. Each successive loop is shown in less and less detail, focusing in only on the key events (usually degrading down to a quick montage of one event repeated in its continuing variations from each loop), until the final breakout gets treated in full length. It's meant to give the audience the sense of futile maddening repetition without sending them through the whole thing X times and actually maddening them. (But you could argue they're attempting to do just that: put the audience through the experience.)

Kyoani looks to be floating a trial-balloon to see how audiences would respond to a different method of handling a classic trope. It appears that people generally enjoy the old way of doing business.

Posted by: Will at July 17, 2009 10:38 AM (WnBa/)

9 The reason people are complaining is that what they WANTED was the Book 4 story, and this isn't it. ;p Endless Eight is cute, but it's the lettuce on the burger, not the meat.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 17, 2009 02:58 PM (pWQz4)

10 I have to ditto Wonderduck here, too.  I have really enjoyed the Endless Eight sequence.  I find it suspenseful, and I love watching each episode to see what's going to be different.  I think KyoAni tried something different, and unfortunately not everyone likes it.

Posted by: Xinem at July 17, 2009 05:05 PM (5RyMk)


One interesting way out of this mess would be to skip the original (fairly weak) ending and segue right into /Disappearance/ - Yuki's boredom having finally induced her to do something drastic.  It isn't canon but then this arc isn't hewing too closely to the book anyway.


Posted by: mparker762 at July 17, 2009 11:15 PM (+tKOX)


Interesting argument. I've always though the reason S2 has taken so long is that Kyoani have been terrified of an Star Wars Episode 1 like backlash- whatvever it could live up to the hype.

Now there attitude seems to be 'You want something to complain about? We'll give you something to complain about!'

Posted by: Andy Janes at July 18, 2009 02:07 AM (lNf10)

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