#19: Endless Eight

I know that sometimes these articles might talk about things which aren’t necessarily only in anime (as I have been called out on it a couple of times already) but I swear this time I have something which I can guarantee has happened only in anime. A moment infamous throughout anime fandom, that begs many questions. Why is this happening? What purpose did Kyoto Animation have for doing this? How did this happen? Apparently, since it’s December, I guess were writing articles about Haruhi Suzimiya (thank you Dil), so in honor of that:

Only in anime does an infinite time loop actually feel infinite, maddening, and irritating for its viewers, just as much as it is for the characters in an anime. For any Haurhi fan out there, I’m obviously referring to the Endless Eight. If you haven’t watched the series (somehow) than what I’m about to say are major spoilers for more than half of the second season. Saying half the season isn’t even an exaggeration, because the Endless Eight of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya lives up to its name and takes up 8 episodes of its 14 episode second season.

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So what is the Endless Eight and how did it come to be? Well what happened was that one day, the people at Kyoto Animation made one episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. But they didn’t like it, so they made it again. But they also didn’t like that version, and did it again, and again, until they finally got it right on the eighth try. They then went bat-shit insane, and released all those episodes, and boom half the season right there.

Okay, so that was all completely made up, but it still seems a bit more reasonable than what ended up happening. So in the Endless Eight, the SOS brigade are on summer break. God Haruhi enjoys summer so much, she wishes that it were summer every day, and unknowingly wills it so. The SOS brigade then becomes stuck in a time loop reliving the same two weeks over and over. They’re just doing the same activities again, and again, and again. What this ended up translating to, is eight episodes of the same stuff happening again and again and again. Literally, just eight episodes of them going to a pool, going to a summer festival, playing baseball, and many other normal summer activities. And nothing but those same activities, in the same order. For God sake, in the show’s universe they loop the same two weeks 15,532 times. Now I only watched Haruhi a couple of years ago, so I can’t even begin imagine how trolled the fans felt when it was initially airing on a week to week basis.

Despite this madness, I will admit the Endless Eight does some interesting things. Kyoto Animation didn’t just air the same episode 8 times. Instead, amazingly, they made each episode like any other episode. Meaning each episode isn’t the same episode, they are just the same events with some alterations. Some slight variations in each loop are details like where the characters are positioned, the clothes they are wearing, the type of mask Yuki buys, and a whole bunch of other little but noticeable things like that. The most prominent changes are how events are portrayed. What this means is that nothing changes about what is happening each scene in all of the loops; each character is performing the same actions and the groups do the same activities in the same order. And as far as I can tell characters have the exact same, if not similar, dialogue in each loop. However, the framing of the scene and the shots used, or sometimes even the music used is different in some of the loops.

Actually, one thing I found interesting was the background music playing when the characters realize they are stuck in a loop. In one of the earlier loops shown, the music is ominous and mysterious, which actually gave me goosebumps. In a later loop that same scene ends up having some cool jazz tune instead. That different music really changed the mood of the scene for me. I’m actually a bit familiar with the differences in each loop, and the reason for that is because on my initial viewing of the series I actually decided to sit through all of it. Which in retrospect was madness because I had prior knowledge of what the Endless Eight was. I knew how long it took, what happened, and how it ended. Despite knowing all of this, I still sat through and watched all of it. I guess I wanted to keep the experience real.

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Now personally I find the Endless Eight fascinating, but by no means can I say that it’s good. Hell, I think any person who thinks the Endless Eight is great are insane (this coming from the person who watched it). The only great the Endless Eight is, is a great troll. That clichéd Albert Einstein quote that, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” couldn’t be a more perfect way to describe The Endless Eight. The last episode was called Endless Eight, so is this one. Would there be any reason to actually expect things to be different? Aside from the last episode of course where they are finally able to break the loop. Which by the way, remember to always do your homework (really?)

If there’s one legitimately positive thing I can say about the Endless Eight, it’s that it actually adds something to the film The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzimiya, a follow up to the series. During the Endless Eight Yuki Nagato was the only one to know the world was stuck in a loop the entire time. Only she remembers every single loop and even kept track of the number of times they had looped. The amount of time that passes for Yuki in the 15,532 loops is equivalent to almost 600 years. In that time, she starts to develop emotions like frustration and loneliness. This gives her justification for what she does in the film.

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When you think about it, watching all of the Endless Eight enhances The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzimiya because you understand where Yuki is coming from. If you can’t handle watching 8 episodes of the same crap, imagine being Yuki and experiencing 600 years of it. But is getting that experience actually worth sitting through 8 episodes? No, at least according to my cousin. You know, if time is money, I guess I (along with the other people who decided to watch this) must love setting our money on fire. Seriously, imagine the other things you could be doing in the time it takes to watch those 8 episodes. You could watch 8 episodes of another anime, watch Bee Movie 2 times, hell you could watch The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzimiya. Which actually their might be a reason why watching all of the Endless Eight takes about the same time as the film.

So to wrap up, how does something bizarre as the Endless Eight even happen? Well if the internet is anything to go by, it’s kind of weird. The most likely answer I found was that apparently The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzimiya was originally planned to be adapted in the show (you could probably divide that movie in about… 8 episodes). However, producers instead decided to make it into a movie, which I’ll concede was probably for the best. That left a lot of open episodes they had to do, so they went with what we got. However, I’m not sure if this has ever been confirmed, so perhaps my story of Kyoto going insane has some merit (probably not though). I guess we’ll never actually know.


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