The Endless Eight Revisions of Haruhi Suzumiya
So I just finished watching the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I can see why so many people consider it so good and also why I brushed it off. I read the translated light novel of the first volume when I was younger and while I thought it was interesting it didn’t really blow me away. Even to this day, I don't remember much about it other than Kyon and Haruhi running away from the giant monster. Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed. But now that I’ve watched the anime, I kind of realized why it was so big. It was meta, it was experimental, and most of all it was stubborn. It didn’t really care that its story wasn’t original, or that its main character was just a few steps above a manic pixie dream girl. No, this anime was all about delivery and that’s what makes it great.
There are two arcs? episodes? that really show the craft of the show, the first being The Endless Eight arc and second, The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina. Putting aside Asahina for now, let me talk about the Endless Eight.
For those who haven’t seen it or understandably skipped it, the Endless Eight are eight nearly identical episodes that consist of the main characters stuck in a time loop doing the same summer activities over and over again.
The time loop has no plot and little point. It's boring yes but it gives a chance to experiment with tone and delivery, building character and tearing it down. After all, my opinion of Itsuki Koizumi changed drastically after realizing there is a possible chance that he would wear a speedo to a public pool.
(Just why Itsuki? Why?)
There is a craft in revisiting and experimenting, going back to the same scene and giving it a different tone. Because the Endless Eight is the same story, it plays with how the story is delivered rather than the story itself. Revision is very much like a time loop. There are 15,000 variations of the same story and it’s very easy to fall into the habit of writing the same thing over and over again, not making it better just making it different.
But I also say there is a value in practicing delivery. Being able to control how you say things, can very much help when you want to say something important. The plotless playfulness we see in Suzumiya is very much missing in time loops we see today, and maybe for entertainment sake that is a good thing.
But for art sake, I say it’s a travesty! So to commemorate the most frustrating part of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, I made a writing exercise.
Story Exercise: Write a short scene of your choosing, preferably something with dialogue and some action. Then without changing the dialogue and action, change the tone based on each of the endless eight episodes. (I chose pictures from the pool scene since it was brief and had the most noticeable variation when it came to tone.) You are welcome to interpret the tones as you wish but there has to be eight variations. Here are my interpretations:
Disconnection/Dream Trance/Stream of Consciousness
(It's funny to note that this moment is nearly identical to the first one, just with a different tone and coloring. Maybe supposed to indicate something?)
Hi. I'm back. I'm trying something new. This was my first craft piece. Of course, it's about anime. There will probably be more like these, though I will try to branch into other things. After all techniques and writing prompts can come from anywhere. And I'll still be writing stories.