I have been watching a little bit more anime recently, thanks to Netflix. It all started when the streaming service got Evangelion and fans were all enraged at all the changes. I was planning to write up my take on it but I haven’t gotten around to finishing it yet. Why? Blame Haruhi Suzumiya. After I started watching Evangelion, Netflix recommended The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya… not once, but twice! For some reason, Netflix has two series with the same name, with the only real difference being that one of them had more episodes. I watched the first episode of the “shorter” series and what I saw mystified me.
After watching it, I turned to the Internet to try and figure out what the heck I just saw. It turns out the “shorter” series was the first season and the episodes were shown out of order. So I switched to the “longer” second season because the episode that I saw was just weird enough to be intriguing. I did eventually watch the entire longer season but, like all fans of the series, I had to go over the hump that has become known as the Endless Eight story arc. While I understand all the anger behind those episodes, I will have to say that, after I was done with it, I will say it was worth it.
Before I go any further, I have to mention that I will be revealing little bits and pieces of this controversial story arc. So I do have to put out the mandatory SPOILER warning! You have been warned!
In case you didn’t know, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya is an anime series from Kyoto Animation. It revolves around Kyon who befriends at whimsical and headstrong girl name Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi doesn’t want to believe that she’s just an ordinary girl and desperately wants aliens, time travelers and magic to exist. Little does Haruhi knows that she’s far from normal. She’s actually an God-like being who can change the world with a mere thought. In an ironic twist, the aliens, time travelers and magicians who Haruhi wants to believe are real actually exist and they have send their agents to befriend her to prevent her from realizing her powers and destroy our reality as we know it.
It is Haruhi’s powers that actually cause the Endless Eight story arc. This story arc has Haruhi having Kyon and her friends, collectively called the SOS Brigade, try to do as many fun things during the summer break. Unfortunately for them, Haruhi never feels fulfilled at the end of summer as she feels that there’s an activity that they haven’t done. Because of this, Haruhi unconsciously rewinds time until the start of summer and the group redo all of the events. The problem is the crew don’t really realize that it been happening for years… but the viewers do. The series had the guts to show us a snippet of eight episodes wherein we see Haruhi and the SOS Brigade repeat the summer over and over again!
I went in blind regarding the Endless Eight. I may have done research on the show but I didn’t research enough to learn about this really controversial arc. I did catch on by around the 3rd or 4th episode in and I got worried. How long was this going to go on. I was watching the series on Netflix so I could’ve skipped the entire but something in my head prevented me from skipping it. I didn’t bother reading the episode synopsis nor did I go on the Internet to find out how long this was going to last.
For some inexplicable reason, I wanted to experience how long it was going to be. In a way, I wanted to experience what first time viewers went through when they had to sit through the entire Endless Eight run. Of course, I knew what I was going to get was just a smidgion of the pain they went through. After all, I was streaming the entire thing on Netflix, which meant I jumped to the next episode of the Endless Eight right after the last one ended. They had to go through this for 8 or 9 weeks of this infernal loop! I can’t imagine how enraged they were feeling throughout this entire thing!
By the latter half of the Endless Eight, I was feeling tired. Not bored but tired of seeing the entire series of events happen over and over again. I will commend Kyoto Animation for putting out new animation for each of the repeated days and getting the voice actors to perform the same lines over and over again! I did feel some fun noticing all of the little changes, like Haruhi’s new swimsuits when they go to the pool and how, slowly but surely, the SOS Brigade figure out the time loop. Even so, there was a feeling of dread whenever each episode started and I would hear Kyon’s sister say “Kyon-kun, denwa” at the start of the episode! I know she was going to say that… because I heard her say “Kyon-kun, denwa” before!
I did run through the entire run of the story arc. I was surprised when it did with a mixture of relief and exhilliration! I can’t explain it but I felt a weird sense of accomplishment! I will even say I felt proud of myself, which is weird since all I did was watch through 8 episodes… but I did it without looking at how long it was going to take even thought that information was readily available online! I felt proud of doing it all on my own… kinda.
All through the entire Endless Eight, I was acting like Kyon. I was wondering what was that weird activity that would lead to Haruhi breaking the loop. I couldn’t think of anything that she would want to accomplish in the least. Little did I know that Kyoto Animation had been dropping a big hint to what Haruhi wanted. She wanted to do summer homework with her friends during the last day.
It may seem a rather lame twist but, in my opinion, this was unexpected and really intelligent. This was something Haruhi had never experienced during her summer breaks growing up as she was a prudent student who would do all her homework early. She never needed to cram like other Japanese students. So when Kyon suggested that the rest of the SOS Brigade go to his house to try to finish all their homework in one day, Haruhi went along, even if she had already done it.
This twist actually brought me back to my schooling days. I would remember sleeping over at my friends’ house to finish up a project, study for finals or something like that. While the purpose was to do schoolwork under some time pressure, I remember all those times fondly because, through all the hard work, we would still take the time to enjoy ourselves and goof off once in a while. This shows a general understanding of student life in that, even though school work is supposed to be frustrating and terrible, if you’re doing it with friends, it can be a fun and awesome thing.
This is why, after going through all of the pain and frustration of watching all of the episodes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’s Endless Eight, the ending made it so worthwhile. It made me actually feel nostalgic for a simpler time when sleeping over at a friend’s house with the excuse to do schoolwork was a wonderful experience. Endless Eight’s ending made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I might even say that I felt a tear of happiness trickle down my cheek as it really affected me in such as way that I didn’t expect. I don’t think it would’ve had the same effect if I skipped any of the episodes because all the hardship made the relief of Kyon breaking the time loop all the more sweeter.
Now, take us away, dancing SOS Brigade!
Did you go through the entire Endless Eight of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below!