Since I posted the last entry I've finished the second season, downloaded and watched a translated cam-pirate of the film, and made my way through various shorts and spinoffs. These were not all universally fantastic, but they were all unusual in a lot of ways. Let me provide some background:
The original anime season of Haruhi Suzumiya came out in 2006 and plotwise, mainly told the story of the first couple of books in the light novel series. By the time the anime actually aired, there were already 8 novels and thus a crapload of material to work with for any potential followup. My impression from what I've read is that the first season was received so favorably by the masses that it was like digging in your backyard and hitting an oil gusher. Kyoto Animation, the company which made the show, could have printed money by spewing out a second, a third, or however many seasons they could get away with. I can only assume they were unprepared for the potential success and for some reason, 3 whole years would pass before there were more full Haruhi episodes. To keep the fans appeased, the produced a couple series of shorts, each a couple of minutes long during the interlude, both of which were parodies rather than actually picking up the storyline.
It's probably not much of an overstatement to say that when a second season finally did appear, the fanboi wank had reached near ridiculous and quivering heights of anticipation. The first season hadn't been presented in chronological order, instead it skipped around on purpose, telling the story in non-linear pieces. When Kyoto rebroadcasted the series in 2009, they played the original episodes in order and interspersed in the 'second season' episodes among the first where they fit chronologically. I imagine there were insane amounts of squee'ing when the first new episode actually showed up. This was followed by howls of disbelief and rage as one of the most epic trolls of any company against its fanbase unfurled. Enter, Endless Eight.
What every Haruhi fanboi wanted to see happen after being subjected to Endless Eight
In the visual novels, Endless Eight was a short story wherein the characters end up repeating their summer vacation over 15,000 times. The basic premise is that Haruhi doesn't really want summer to end, feeling as there were things undone and her subconscious powers made it so that whenever they reached the end, it would start all over again. Most of the characters were completely unaware of the repetition, though eventually feelings of deja vu leaked in much like that one Star Trek TNG episode which always began with them playing poker. This slow influx of information eventually allowed both groups to break the loop and return time to normal. The difference is that while Star Trek managed to express the entire story within their normal hour long episode time, Kyoto Animation decided to make 8 almost identical episodes of the same events. Every single one of the eight episodes follows the exact same plot and uses almost the exact same dialogue with minor changes here and there. The thing is, they didn't even take the cop out path and just reuse previous scenes. They actually animated the entire damn thing 8 separate times so if in the first episode you see the characters arriving at the swimming pool from left to right, in the next episode the exact same arrival would be shown with a perspective from above or from somewhere else. These were all simply stylistic changes however as nothing in most of the episodes fundamentally differs from any other past the first time the deva vu starts up.
To say that the fans were pissed off is a colossal understatement. Imagine it from their point of view. They've waited 3 years for more episodes to a favorite anime series. Chances are good that they've already read the Light Novels and are really looking forward to seeing the story advance so they can see the animated version of it. Finally, after 3 years, new episodes start appearing and they're finally going to get 14 more.
1) First new episode: Squee! New episodes at last! Praise Allah! (or whoever)
2) First episode of Endless Eight: Yay! Another new episode! Cool!
3) Second episode of Endless Eight: Umm...what the hell? It's the same as the last epsiode.
4) Third episode of Endless Eight: Holy shit! It's the same again. What the fuck?
5) Fourth episode of Endless Eight: Son of a bitch! Are they actually going to literally make 8 episodes of the same damn thing? WTF!
6) Fifth episode of Endless Eight: SHIT! SHIT! Fuck you Kyoto Animation! FUCK YOU!
7) Sixth episode of Endless Eight: I can't fucking believe I'm waiting a week between each of these fucking episodes. I also can't believe that I have to watch the exact same thing over again because I'm afraid to miss even a minute of it. What happens if something changes and something new actually happens?
8) Seventh episode of Endless Eight: Christ, this is awful. Why can't they actually change things even a little? At least make it so that the characters get more clues each episode or something. Fuck! It's exactly the god damn same each and every fucking time.
9) Eight episode of Endless Eight: Finally! Finally! It's over. At least this episode will be something sorta new since they have to break out of the loop. Umm..WTF? It's exactly the fucking same except for the last 60 seconds or so? AHHHH! I've just spent 3 years plus 8 fucking weeks of my life waiting for 60 seconds of something new? And now there are only 5 new episodes left? $^@^&@^&^*@!
And that's pretty much how I imagine it more or less went for the vast majority of fans. I don't think I've ever seen such an epic trolling of a fanbase by a company in my entire life. It puts all other examples to shame.
The funny thing is, Endless Eight didn't even bother me that much, well, not until the 5th repetition or so. This is one of those cases where they can only hurt you if you love them. If you loved Haruhi Suzumiya and had been waiting all this time for new episodes with lovestruck eyes and a yearning heart, well, it's like a girl putting up a personals ad in Wife Beater Weekly. I hadn't read the light novels and had no anticipation for what was to come, more or less willing to take it as it came. That pretty much shielded me from fan rage, though the repetition got boring and obnoxious after a bit. I might not have waited 3 years and change, but Kyoto Animation still dicked with around 3 hours of my life. What really drove me crazy after a while is that each episode _really_ is the same. There's no plan or even attempts to end the loop until the last 60 seconds of the last episode. One of the characters even keeps her memory through every single loop. You'd think you'd use her to keep track of information so they could work on a plan to end the loop, but it's like they don't even care. The level of apathy is just completely unbelievable, which only makes sitting through the repeats even more frustrating.
All in all, this is certainly the low point of Haruhi Suzumiya, even if I didn't suffer a direct hit like all the fanboi's out there. All I can say is that if I were a die hard fan, something like this would have had me foaming at the mouth and thinking about pipe bombs. Anyway, now that we've hit the lows, I'll talk a bit about the highs in the next entry.