Quick something about the seventh Endless Eight

Kyoto Animation’s Endless Eight stunt has been turning a lot of (rather unintelligent) people sour towards their most successful franchise Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. I’ve already dropped my $0.02 about the whole thing some time back, so I won’t be treading any old ground here. What I do want to talk about is the latest cylce in this Endless Summer that aired just last night.

There is something especially notable about (what we assume is) this penultimate Endless Eight cycle.  It’s not the expertly executed animation as seen in the first, second, and fifth go-arounds. It’s something that lies more in the direction and scripting. Those examples I noted are also extremely well directed, but this seventh cycle is a notch higher. There is a strong sense of cynicism along with–dare I say–melancholy present throughout the episode’s 24-minute runtime.

The cynicism materializes mostly in the scripting and voice acting. While obviously similar to the rest of the episodes in this arc, there is more variation. Kyon’s surprised response to Haruhi doing her homeworking in three days is not the usual surprised 「三日!?」 and instead an over done “THREE DAYS??” Similarly, Mikuru’s terrible confession about how she can no longer return to the future is reduced completely to unintelligible crying, and Koizumi’s happier than he’s ever been to find out that he’s stuck in a time-loop. Kyon’s “Tell me about these discussions, then leave” quip was probably the best. While these examples in and of themselves aren’t cynical or sarcastic, the way in which they come together creates a very sarcastic mood across the episode. You can almost hear the voice actors, animators, storyboard artists, sound engineers, episode directors and script writers all yelling at you through the television that they’re about as tired of this as you and the characters are.

The sense of melancholy is less present, but does come to the forefront in a few scenes. In particular during the Bon Dance scene and the scene in which Kyon narrates–for the seventh time–all the other things they did that summer. A slow, sad sounding piano piece sneaks up on you as you’re watching Nagato buy another 800 yen mask, and does well to highlight the monotony of the whole affair. Later on during Kyon’s narration, instead of scenes of the characters engaging in their activities, we’re treated to a landscape shot of the sky slowly turning from blue to red, matched to another slow, depressing piece of music brilliantly composed by Kousaki Satoru. The episode ends with Kyon writing 無理 (impossible) in big letters across his notebook.

I hate making an ass of both you and me, but given the tone of this episode, I would like to think they’re gearing up to end it with the next one. The sixth cycle teased us with fast pacing, giving us false hope that there may be an extra turnaround at the end, and this episode has a real strong undercurrent of GET ON WITH IT ALREADY. I still think this arc is rather clever, and I did pooh-pooh people who didn’t like it in the opening paragraph, but it sure would be neat if ended next week.

But it probably won’t!