Don’t need to walk around in circles

After three years of lies and trickery, KyoAni’s follow-up to 2006’s smash hit Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu is finally playing on small screens all across Japan.

However, there is something of a catch. Beyond the first episode of this second series, KyoAni seems to be pushing something of a test of loyalty upon the fandom. We are now four episodes into the “Endless Eight” storyline–an arc in which the last two weeks of summer repeat for the characters many times over without them noticing it until it’s all too late. According to those familiar with the original work, this story is rather short, however KyoAni has opted to instead drag the arc out by reanimating the same episode over and over again, of course with slight changes between episodes.

This is both brilliant and frustrating.

The brilliant part about this is rather obvious–if you were to do a story like this, you’d probably script it so it could be taken care of with one or two episodes. However, instead of doing that, KyoAni is taking the same events and re-storyboarding, re-directing, and re-animating them over and over again in attempt to bang it into our heads just how endless this Endless Summer is. It’s brilliant. As far as I know, something like this has never been done before. The way each repeated episode builds upon the next, the way certain events are highlighted in a stronger and stronger fashion across the episodes, and the slight changes between each loop is pure genius.

The frustrating part is probably more apparent. While they are recycling nothing but the script, it is in effect the same episode over and over again once you hit the third episode of this arc. However, that in itself is not the most frustrating part. As I mentioned before, I do rather like how they’re doing this, but–and this is a rather large but–they’re wasting time. Out of the announced 14 episodes that this sequel is to receive, they’ve already spent four of them on this arc, and it seems that it’ll run for even longer. 2ch speculates six episodes! I wouldn’t mind if this sequel was, say, slated for 26 episodes, but six episodes is half of your runtime! You’re wasting this long awaited sequel that fans have held out so long for!

The one other even more frustrating part is also the best part of this whole affair– that they’re reanimating every episode. In addition to wasting time that could be used on other material, they’re showing quite clearly that they have the manpower to actually make these other episodes. Some people are calling this “trolling.” While I think it’s irresponsible for a business to engage in such acts, it’s getting the point where even I’m beginning to label this behavior as such.

However, it may not be aimed towards the fans. KyoAni is made of fans–I doubt they’d go out of their way just to be dicks. The eyes of frustrated fans are instead locked on to Kadokawa–according to 2ch (as such, this information should be taken with a grain of salt) Kadokawa asked KyoAni to spend six episodes on Endless Eight, and to do it in the cheap and obvious way. This is of course rather unlikely, but if this is true, I suspect that KyoAni as fans–and as passive aggressive Japanese people–decided to follow Kadokawa’s orders, but at the same gave them the finger by putting effort into completely re-doing each loop as protest. This is just conjecture of course, so don’t take this as any sort of absolute truth.

What it all comes down to is that right now–in the here and now–this is an awesome publicity stunt. I think that Kadokawa is trying to recapture the hype that the original made, but there is a huge problem–how the show itself will hold up. The first Haruhi was an accidental hit. It was never meant to be as big as it was. As such, the staff went into it just trying to make a good show–not something that allowed them to play with the fans through the TV set. I can’t say it for sure, but I honestly don’t think this arc will hold up on subsequent re-watches. While it is clever, it’s something that can probably only work once, in effect cheapening the series a little bit. It also makes it really hard for me to recommend this sequel to friends of mine who really liked the first one, but aren’t super crazy fans. I mean, who else but crazy people would put up with the same episode over and over again?

If only they shuffled them up, or something…