Type: TV (14 episodes)
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Disappearance Of Haruhi
Melancholy of Haruhi - S2
The world hasn't ended. Yet. Most people don't worry about this kind of thing, but for Kyon it's a daily concern... and annoyance. Saving the world from crazy people takes on a whole new meaning with the SOS Brigade.
The second season of Meloncholy Haruhi is something unique in anime: an animation studio trolling anime fandom. Who would have thought? I am of course talking about the infamous Endless 8 arc. You can skip to the bottom if you really don't care, but it's strange enough to talk about in detail.
The second season starts fine. It's more Haruhi, and it's fun. Then comes a story concerning having fun on the last days of summer vacation. Not a great episode, but not bad. This begins Endless 8... part 1. Part 2 is nearly the same episode. So is Part 3. You can see where this is going. It's a repeat of the same episode EIGHT TIMES. Let that sink in. Could I watch my favorite episode of anything eight times in a row and enjoy it? No. Never mind a Haruhi episode that wasn't great to begin with. This is one of those times I regret being dedicated to reviews: I watched all of endless 8. One episode a day is all I could take, but I did it.
Day 1 • There isn't much to say about the first iteration because there isn't much to it. The SOS Brigade simply does various activities during the summer. This episode provides the foundation to understand exactly what happens during summer break in detail.
Day 2 • I like unusual things, the more experimental the better. Many things are similar, but different (yes there are differences). It's realized they're stuck in a time loop over the same 2 week period, now on 15000+ iteration so far. It's intriguing and I'm starting to worry I may actually like endless 8...
Day 3 • Some scenes are cut short, and others have variations in them. Different perspectives change things up, but knowing what happens makes it hard to care. This is essentially the same episode as the second one. Already not feeling it by this point...
Day 4 • I was kinda tired today. Felt like relaxing before going to bed. But then I had to watch yet another episode of... the same episode. I still feel sorry for Nagato as the only one who retains her memories (now having experienced nearly 600 years of the same thing over and over). The rest is really tired.
Day 5 • That feeling you get when you're cooped up with someone too long in one place; quirks about a person you didn't notice before become magnified when you can't get away from them, and progressively get more and more annoying. I'm getting that feeling now. With no new story to keep my attention, the characters come into focus more then they should. Mikuru is getting on my nerves, and I want to tear my hair out at the part where she cries. Haruhi is abusive, Kyon is becoming a downer. I guess the way the characters gel with the story and environment breaks down when... there's no new story or environment. Interestingly, the piano music lightens the mood this time, contrasting with the ominous music used last episode.
Day 6 • I think this is seriously burning me out on the series. I'm at the point where I can't stand Mikuru. Why don't they ask Nagato to help them proactively? She says she's an observer, but she has intervened in activities before when asked. Instead they keep stumbling through the loop...
Day 7 • Some interesting use of colors to make it different, backed by elevator music. If Kyon bothered to do his homework, he'd have the answerers memorized over the thousands of iterations. Feeling indifferent about the show today.
Day 8 • In theory, this should be the climax, but I just don't care. All of these repeats for a resolution which is basically "Haruhi helps out with homework" and a completely LAME explanation why that probably saved the world. It's telling how effective Endless 8 is due to the lack of fulfillment by this point.
Endless 8 captures the death of enjoyment from sheer repetition. I've watched them. It's a waste of time. Some people claim to like Endless 8 for various reasons. If you watch anime and are okay with watching episode after episode of monotonous repetition: seek help. Better yet, GET A JOB. I admit it was kind of novel at first, but gone way too far. Repeating the same episode with subtle differences can work 2-3 times if done right. Seraphim Call (5 & 6) for instance, did this brilliantly. This isn't like the movie Groundhog Day which explores possibilities of reliving the same day differently, Endless 8 is simply repeating the same thing. They figure out the time loop is well over 15,000 repetitions. We don't watch the same episode 15,000 times so why not cut to the chase in 2-3 iterations? It's repeats 8 times because both 'endless' and 'eight' start with the letter 'e'. Yeah, all of this pain and nerd raging because of the letter 'e'.
It's curious why an animation studio would do this, especially with a series as popular as Melancholy of Haruhi. Kyoto Animation has never said anything on the topic, although a former director has apologized (even if he wasn't directly involved). If you want proof of how scary group-think can be, this is it. Who thought this was a good idea? Certainly not the staff who would have to make the same thing over and over. It certainly doesn't make sense when considering fan reactions when your paycheck depends on your product. While not amusing for us, an animation studio treating fans like lab rats is a gutsy experiment. They're either geniuses or assholes... or possibly both.
The fan perspective is also fascinating. Kyoto Animation must have known fans would get riled up over this. Did they think fans would eventually say "haha, boy that was fun?". They should know better than anyone pissing on a franchise like this is a lot like desecrating a religious figure to obsessive anime fans. Fans were already freaking out by episode 2. By episode 6 things had reached a low in despair, as people realized it would really stretch to a full 8 episodes. Haruhi fans went the full spectrum of emotion. In the beginning, cheerful and unaware. Then confusion by 2-3. This turned to defiance and anger (serious nerd rage) at 3+. By the end it was despair and pleading for it to end. Much the same as prison torture. I'm not joking either. Look it up. The parallels to prison torture are uncanny.
For years I heard the fallout over this season, and I didn't get it until I saw it for myself. So what if you didn't like the repetition, the other stuff isn't bad right? When people discuss season two, there is usually a common level of fatigue (after ranting about endless 8). Now I understand. Endless 8 simply burns you out. For that reason I highly recommend not watching Endless 8, or possibly just watching the first and last episodes of it.
Aside from Endless 8 taking the wind out of the sails in the series, it burns up most of the season too. 8 out of 14 episodes! These are about as good as the first season. Not much to complain about, but.. not much to watch.
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