The Infinite Zenith

Victory costs. Every time, you pay a little more.

How I beat the Endless Eight

This post is pretty much endless. Skip it if you value your time.

By now, there is little doubt that the Endless Eight arc in the anime The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is one of the more controversial, if not outright hated decisions. Thus, when I first watched Haruhi a year ago, I watched the episodes that constituted the first season, then watched two of the episodes in Endless Eight, and quietly jumped to the film making episode. This pattern was simply for efficiency, as I was dying to watch the movie at the time. However, a year later, I came across my Haruhi collection and decided to watch Endless Eight in its entirety, where Haruhi’s regrets concerning summer end up causing an infinite loop. However, like all good algorithms, there is a method to force a program to terminate prematurely: in this case, Kyon must find a mechanism to ensure that Haruhi’s regrets are dispelled.

The decision to market Endless Eight proved to be a curious social experiment testing the community’s attitude towards anime: whereas I came in knowing full well how long Endless Eight was going to last and already had access to all the episodes, individuals seeing it for the first time would have been increasingly frustrated with the reiteration over two months, causing a great deal of complaining across the internet and from what I’ve heard, some hardcore fans to destroy their Haruhi Merchandise. I do not particularly feel strongly about the Endless Eight arc, but I was compelled to check out the remaining episodes that I had skipped earlier. So, if one raises the question of how I beat Endless Eight, the answer is perhaps disappointingly simple. Unlike other Haruhi fans, I merely had a priori knowledge of how long it was going to last, and mentally steeled myself to last longer.

Endless Eight 1

  • The first episode of Endless Eight seems normal enough, with Haruhi et al. doing various traditional summer things. Naturally, fanservice ensues, but I wasn’t even mad.

  • A lower quality version of this existed on my website until I got the motivation to replace the images with shinier 720p ones.

  • I want to try fried octopus balls. For each episode, I probably won’t have much to say, other than the occasional comment about reactions elsewhere.

Kyon’s relaxing summer vacation is interrupted by a sudden phone call. It appears that Haruhi wants the SOS Brigade to join her in summer activities and unfortunately for Kyon, Haruhi has a long list of activities she wants to try out. As such, the group is taken on a whirlwind tour of summer activities, from swimming pools to summer festivals, part-time jobs, and bug hunting. Finally, having gone through Haruhi’s entire list, the last day of August arrives. Though Kyon tries to make up for his lost time by doing his neglected summer homework, he eventually gives in to distraction and goes to bed without finishing it.

Endless Eight 2

  • The administrators of blogs that documented Endless Eight declined to comment on KyoAni’s decisions.

  • Some bloggers forced themselves to sit through all eight episodes for the sake of completeness, like Random Curiosity’s Omni. I came across Random Curiosity after he departed, and I must say that I prefer Divine et al’s writing techniques over his.

  • Back when Endless Eight was airing, I was preparing to enter my first year of University and awaiting the Gundam 00 Movie. My curiosity for Haruhi only began during summer 2011.

Like the previous episode, Kyon’s easy going summer vacation is interrupted as the group is taken on a whirlwind tour of summer activities. However, Kyon is wracked by a sense of déjà vu. Itsuki is likewise troubled, while Yuki seems even more detached than usual. They finally figure out that Haruhi has put the last two weeks of August into an infinite loop because she refuses to let summer end. They find out that the loop has repeated 15,498 times, but none of them can devise anything to stop the cycle from repeating. Though the repeating cycle changed during the 2391 and 11054th times when the SOS Brigade did not attend the Bon Odori festival, 437 times when they did not go goldfish catching and 9025 times when they did various part time jobs, which is divided into six different jobs. Upon their last meeting in a restaurant on August 30, Kyon calls out after Haruhi in a last-ditch attempt to stop her from leaving, but fails to think of anything he can do, and she leaves. As the last day of vacation arrives, Kyon, resigned to the loop repeating itself, goes to bed without finishing his summer homework.

Endless Eight 3

  • Apparently, the entire Endless Eight fiasco caused a great deal of trouble for the voice actors and producer Yutaka Yamamoto, with the latter apologising for the way KyoAni decided to handle things.

  • Internet controversies tend to pass rather quickly in terms of real-world time: when first released, disenchanted 2ch users sent death threats and ill-wishes to KyoAni. This behaviour represents otaku behaviours at the finest: lacking employment and any worth in reality, these individuals are the minority who hang around 2ch and cause almost all of the trouble online.

  • Here’s a curious point: Haruhi’s English voice actor, Wendee Lee, appears to have also done the voice for Naomi from MicroVolts. They certainly sound similar and also have similar characteristics. I’ve stopped playing MicroVolts for the time being owing to the bad vibes (read pre-MCAT jitters) I get from the game.

The same exact events in the previous episode once again unfold with slight variations and the gang wearing different clothes. Once again the Brigade, with the exception of Haruhi, finds out that they are trapped in an infinite loop. In this 15,499th loop, Kyon and the others once again are unable to discover how to escape the endless summer. In the same scene in the restaurant, Kyon is unable to stop Haruhi from leaving, hence dooming the world to another summer loop. Kyon again goes to sleep without finishing his homework on the last day of summer.

Endless Eight 4

  • From a critical, educated outlook, Endless Eight turned out to be a brilliant idea. While past media have dealt with the idea of a time loop, none of these other forms of media force the viewer to experience the same agony to the same intensity as in Haruhi.

  • In Endless Eight, viewers are specifically subject to what Nagato experiences living through all those repetitions and lacking the power to do anything, given her role as an observer. The audience is similarly unable to do anything until the set of episodes ends.

  • Those detractors will argue that subtle meaning is not what they’re looking for, and claim that KyoAni is merely being lazy. However, each episode contains new animation and new dialogue, reflecting on the effort that went into production. If it sounds like the social outcasts at 2ch are wrong, it’s because they are.

The previous time loop continues for the 15,513th time. This time, Kyon mentally senses an even greater familiarity with events and places from previous cycles. Once again, none of the Brigade members can devise anything to stop the cycle from repeating. On their final meeting in the restaurant, Kyon tries to call out after Haruhi but fails to do anything as visions of the loop’s events flash in his mind. As Kyon regains his senses, Haruhi has left. As the last day of vacation arrives, Kyon, resigned to the loop repeating itself, goes to bed without finishing his summer homework.

Endless Eight 5

  • As the episodes wear on, Nagato becomes increasingly tired: despite being  calm and reserved in normal circumstances, Nagato’s eyes reflect her desire to leave the time loop.

  • Kyon is totally all “I can’t believe we got zero cash out of this.”

  • Go back and watch the episodes again: in the backgrounds, Nagisa and Ritsu might be seen by the sharp-eyed observer.

The previous time loop continues for the 15,521st time. The scene prior to Haruhi’s dismissal of group activities is repeated, showing the same event happening in this loop, and the next two loops. As the last day of vacation arrives, Kyon once again goes to bed without finishing his summer homework.

Endless Eight 6

  • If each mask costs 800 yen, and there are a total of 15532 loops, Kyon and Nagato will have spent 12425600 yen on masks in total. This is around 155000 Canadian dollars at the time of writing, and would be sufficient to make a down-payment on a house. Casually note that in different episodes, either Nagato or Kyon buys the masks, and that the masks are different every time.

  • I’ve actually tried to diversify some of the screenshots to liven this page up a little. I think it works.

  • Truthfully, I watch episodes I enjoy repeatedly for old times’ sake. I imagine many people do that: for instance, the Assault on Memento Mori from Gundam 00 Season 2 is something I watch every now and then to relive the awesome that was presented.

The previous time loop continues for the 15,524th time. Kyon rides his bike and approaches Yuki. In that moment, he speculates his reason for doing so and simply lets her leave without conversation. Kyon goes to bed without finishing his summer homework once again.

Endless Eight 7

  • By July 30, 2009, all anime fans were totally worn out and too tired to even complain. This is the advantage  of being a casual anime fan: I can choose what I wish to watch and decide whether or not I should blog it.

  • The power of choice means that I’m generally happier about anime since I only watch what I like, and blog about the stuff I really like. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t watch it and therefore didn’t know enough about it to blog it.

  • Now, if Endless Eight were released during the school year, it’d be a simple matter of doing homework and skipping anime.

The loop continues for the 15,527th time. The scene where Kyon answers Haruhi’s call loops twice, the scene in which Kyon notices Yuki at the pool loops twice, and the scene where Haruhi says she left the last day of summer open just in case also loops twice. Kyon once again goes to bed without finishing his summer homework.

Endless Eight 8

  • The Endless Eight arc ended on August 6, 2009, a few days after I aged a little more. While I look upon Endless Eight with a neutral, almost dismissive attitude, I’m almost certain I would have considered the conclusion a reasonable gift for having aged another year were I to have been following this series back in 2009.

  • I’m going to deviate from my normal manner of speaking and say it outright: Haruhi is remarkably cute when she’s mad.

  • The entire moral of Endless Eight is summarised as follows: do your f#&*king homework. I’ve found that studying as a team is remarkably effective, and did so for two of the most challenging courses I’d faced in University in my second year. Similarly, I studied with several friends for verbal reasoning during the previous summer. The idea is that one is able to study more effectively, as they are able to both answer other people’s questions and get their own questions answered.

The loop continues for the 15,532nd time, but as Haruhi leaves on August 30, Kyon beckons the SOS Brigade to finish their summer homework together, thus breaking the endless loop of summer. Irritated, Haruhi berates him, but decides to come anyway even though she has already finished her homework. Kyon wakes up on September 1 to embrace a new school term.

End Game Opinion

While Endless Eight induced rage in countless reviews (of note is one reviewer who tried to justify his decision to not review it and ended up doing so anyways, and one attempts to convince all ‘worthy anime fans’ to complain about it as loudly and obnoxiously as they could), I personally have no qualms about Endless Eight. Recall my decision earlier to watch only two of the eight episodes and its motivations for efficiency more than anything else. Armed with a bit of time, I resolved to watch one episode per week since the beginning of August in my spare time until the remaining five were done.  Thus, it was fun to rewatch more or less the same episode repeatedly gradually, given I had full knowledge of what was to happen. Perhaps I would have dropped Haruhi if I had been watching it on a weekly basis back in 2009, but most parties by now have moved onwards with their lives. For parties interested in watching this, I would recommend the first two and last episodes for the sake of efficiency.

6 responses to “How I beat the Endless Eight

  1. beneficii May 4, 2015 at 16:54

    I’m in agreement with you on Endless Eight. It was interesting. Unlike you, I didn’t get into Haruhi until like the past couple weeks. I sat down and watched Endless Eight over a single night. I must say, I could understand Nagato’s increasing emotions, as I became increasingly tearful and admittedly frustrated towards the end. I kept on trucking, though, until I got to the end, which had me breaking down crying.

    It’s certainly an arc that inspires passion.

    Look at a Hitler’s rants video upon his finding out there is a 9th Endless Eight episode:

    • infinitezenith May 17, 2015 at 22:54

      The precise intentions of Kyoto Animation are unlikely to be known in the absence of any interviews they had partaken in after the Endless Eight arc was released. Whether they intended to or not, they succeeded in forcing the viewers to understand Yuki’s plight, and for all of the flak they drew initially, it looks like both Japanese and overseas fans presently see the event as a curiosity more than anything (barring the odd exceptions here and there).

      When I reached this point, I already knew what to expect, and consequently, spent most of my time pinning down differences between the episodes. This different approach means that I don’t necessary view Endless Eight as “192 minutes I’m not getting back”, and with nearly six years since the Endless Eight episodes aired, I’m tempted to say that the individuals who still feel ill-will towards Kyoto Animation could do well to busy themselves with other things.

      • beneficii June 15, 2015 at 16:31

        I agree with still being mad after all this time being a waste of time. I definitely do not begrudge either KyoAni or Kadokawa for Endless Eight.

        Nevertheless, the Hitler video is hilarious because his reaction to it is so over the top, and sorta creepy because one of the officers suggested that Hitler appreciate Yuki’s swimsuits and Hitler said he wanted to see Yuki blush. You get the sense that Hitler here _could do well to busy himself with other things._

        • infinitezenith June 15, 2015 at 17:04

          Hitler only needed to wait a few years at that point; Yuki blushes more in a single episode of the spinoff than she did for the first and second season combined.

  2. Ergoemos October 9, 2015 at 03:54

    Thanks for writing this. I enjoyed your commentary. I generally side with you on this. Most people really need not watch every episode of Endless Eight, especially if it is going to drive them nuts. Individual episodes don’t really contain significant portions of new information, so take what you will enjoy, and if you feel really bold, watch the first episode and second episode, and then the last one.

    That said…. I’ve probably seen the entire endless eight 3 and a half times now, including the original run. Most of these were research for fanfiction. I personally love the Endless Eight, but I don’t like it. What do I mean? I see the Endless Eight as an art piece that is painful to the viewer in order to demonstrate the pain of the protagonist of Endless Eight. Its a touchstone of 23 minutes repeated endlessly so the audience can feel that chill of starting a new episode, watching the screen and waiting… waiting… *groan* yep, its still the Endless Eight. That suffering and pain isn’t pleasant, but it can be cathartic when you see the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and you see what those endless episodes had wrought.

    I loved it. I didn’t like it. But I think that’s because I can enjoy the more arty film every once in a while too. Its like a horror movie, but the worst part is the same thing happens again and again, and the audience is the one who ends up losing as much as the characters.

    Anyway, rambling over. I just saw your review and wanted to say how much I appreciated it. Well written and good analysis.

    • infinitezenith October 13, 2015 at 16:16

      I appreciate your insights and thank you for taking the time to read the entire post :) If KyoAni had been trying to convey how Yuki felt to the audiences through Endless Eight, by all means, they had succeeded. With that being said, an unverified source stated that Endless Eight was most definitely not a social experiment, nor was it a deliberate decision. According to said source, the staff at KyoAni had originally planned on animating the Disappearance arc in the second season, but during production, the decision was made to make Disappearance into a full-on movie. The movie would have occupied around seven episodes’ worth of time, so instead of cutting the season down, KyoAni instead (and depending on your perspective, either cleverly or fiendishly) filled the space with variants of Endless Eight, resulting in what we’ve got now.

      Furthermore, I concur with you in that watching Disappearance becomes so much more meaningful and moving, having experienced firsthand the kind of things that Yuki went through.

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