NOTE: Please login to submit a tide. If you have already signed in, refresh the page.

The art of repetition and uniqueness within sameness - Overthinking Endless Eight

Endless Eight – possibly one of the most controversial phenomenons to have ever come out of anime. Ever since Kyoto Animation in 2009 decided to broadcast eight different versions of the same episode for eight weeks in a row as part of the second season of the widely popular series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a lot of debate has been formed around the subject. Particularly it made a lot of the show’s initial fans angry, and understandably so; not only must it have been frustrating to realize that the brand new season of your beloved show mainly consists of rehashes of one and the same episode, but having to sit through eight weeks of that episode can’t have been a too pleasant experience.

On top of this, multiple theories have emerged regarding what the point of it all was. Some say that it’s meant for the audience to experience the same frustration as Yuki Nagato – the only character in the show to actually live through the in total 15 532 loops without her memory being reset each time – and thus get a better understanding of her motivations in the later movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Others argue that it was just a giant prank that KyoAni felt like doing to the then borderline fanatic Haruhi fanbase.

Few people though seem to have done a deeper exploration into this arc’s potential artistic merit. In this post, I relate Endless Eight to two different concepts found within two different realms of art. The first concept is within music, and how through the practice of repetition one can achieve a sense of endless now. Here, Danish author and poet Niels Frank’s book Seven seals of silence is mainly used as reference, in which he describes how Bach and the minimalist composers use repetition in two different ways and thus achieve different forms of infinity. This is furthermore compared to the works of ambient musician William Basinski, who’s frequent use of tape loops works as a perfect example on this concept.

The second concept is found in French artist Marcel Duchamp’s art piece The Green Box; a box which he manually reproduced and sold as part of his other piece The Large Glass. By the fact that each copy of this box had slightly different qualities to it and thus was in one way or another unique (much due to them being manually reproduced), Duchamp wanted to highlight the fact that all things that are seemingly the same is divided by a slight variation, and thus he sought finding a therapeutic way of coping with the increasing sameness of modern society. Through this concept, Endless Eight can partly be drawn to the same subject on the mundanity of modern life, but it can also more closely be drawn to the seemingly uneventful slice-of-life-genre that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya embodies.

  • The funny thing is, I didn't pick up on a lot of the differences before taking a day off work and watching all eight back-to-back. It's an itneresting experiement but one where, despite artistic merit, I can understand how fans would feel elt down watching one episode a week. – mattdoylemedia 9 years ago
  • Interesting read! I honestly appreciate this new take on the series and the arc in particular. – CheesyJ 9 years ago

Want to submit Anime content?

Create writer account