This post is meant as a continuation of The Multiple Misfires of Haruhi Suzumiya, written back at the end of October. I highly recommend you read that post before you start this one.
Endless Eight. It was a fascinating time to be in anime fandom. Watching frustrated forums and bored bloggers as each episode rolled out, waiting for this accursed arc to end. It was certainly amusing to watch, or more accurately, not to watch. But the amusement I had was detached from the actual show itself. Any emotional connection I might have got with the franchise was killed there and then. I didn’t care what happened in Haruhi anymore. I was an outsider. Even as I watched the Sighs arc, it more out of obligation than anything. The episodes weren’t particularly good and, apart from that minor moment of genius where a cat disproved the entire concept of human speech, left no impression on me whatsoever.
Oh why not. This video still makes me grin.
There’s still another chapter in the anime of Haruhi Suzumiya out there at the moment. The movie. The fabled arc. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. First there was the shoddy camrip, only watched by the most devout of Haruhi-ites. Those who genuinely liked Endless Eight. Those who could be shown a video of Haruhi staring at the screen for half an hour and still call it a masterpiece. I was inclined to ignore reports hailing in from those sources, but more reports and reviews started filing in. As Haruhi was shown at conventions and eventually hit the fansub scene, everyone was going crazy over how great this movie was. Again though, these were those already faithfully converted to Haruhi-ism. The real test was could it convert a non fan like myself.
I gave this movie every opportunity to convert me. I waited for a decent 720p version that could be played on my laptop. I watched it at home where I had decent speakers. I sat in a damn comfy chair, a pre-requisite if you’re going to watch a 2 and a half hour long movie. I even made myself popcorn. Heck, for added special value I paused the movie at the end of the rooftop scene with Nagato so I could stand outside the back door to watch the New Years fireworks. I’ll admit that, even a non Haruhi fan like myself found something special in that. But could it convert me to a Haruhi fan?
Short answer: No
Long answer: The movie was flawed. The two and a half hour length did play in the back of my mind quite a lot, especially when they spent far too much time padding out scenes. The first 20 minutes or so felt like I was watching another one of those Haruhi fillers from the first season. The second half of the movie was merely a rehash of Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody. The way the movie was set up far too clearly for another season seriously bugged me. It was done in such an unoriginal manner too. It felt like the creators had simply run out of ideas and were rehashing old ones to the point that even Kyon was becoming plot savvy and reciting his lines he knew he’d have to say later on.
That said, the section from the half hour mark to the hour and a half mark was amazing. Kyon wandering around town, frightened and frustrated; the way the movie captured that was remarkable. The movie’s padding was much more clearly on display during this segment, but here it added to the inherent feeling of unease that Kyon was feeling. It seems odd to praise Kyon pacing around a table in a movie that was already way too long, but I was completely sucked in by the atmosphere. The entire way that alternate world was concluded in the computer room was brilliant as well, with the reunion and the creepy contrast between robot Yuki and moe Yuki. Yeah, count me amongst the ones who liked moe Yuki. I never particularly cared for her character in the TV series, but the contrast in personality added to the unease of the situation Kyon found himself in.
But no, it didn’t convert me. It retrospect, I don’t think it was possible. I was ripe for conversion directly after Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, but Endless Eight killed that possibility. The movie certainly had its spark of brilliance in the middle section, and was probably the best thing the entire franchise produced, but was bogged down by its other failures enough so I wasn’t converted. There’s certainly brilliance in the Haruhi franchise. From episode 0 to Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody to Kyon pacing around a table, there’s certainly signs in here that there’s a series I could have loved. If the stars had aligned, I certainly believed I could have been a fan. I’m not though, and the tragedy is that the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise only has itself to blame.