The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya season 2
From the box: "These new adventures of Haruhi Suzumiya and the SOS Brigade fall into the middle of the original episodes chronology" (Details below)
I don't like to do reviews of shows already reviewed on this site, but to understand my feelings about Season Two, I have to say a few things about Season One. My feelings about Season One initially were fairly chilly. It was obvious that the show's creators wanted to make the cleverest anime ever- how many shows, in ANY genre, feature a staging of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead? But I found Koizumi insufferably smarmy; I was annoyed by Mikuru's simpering-idiot personality and never really saw what Kyon saw in her (besides the obvious, of course); and the sci-fi plots often seemed a bit contrived, with a few outright misfires ("Mysterious Sign", aka the "Camel Cricket" episode, comes to mind). On the other hand, I liked Kyon's droll stream-of-consciousness narration; I liked HARUHI, in the moments (usually with Kyon) when she dropped the domineering mask and let the vulnerable girl inside peak through; and of course I loved Yuki- how can one NOT love Yuki? I would have rated it four stars.
I was hoping to go at least 3 stars on the sequel, and the first episode of Season Two is not bad: Kyon actually gets to go time-travelling with Mikuru (she's STILL a simpering idiot, though, alas), and the whole thing comes across like a low-key tall tale. But this is followed by the beginning of the "Endless Eight" episodes...
Back in Season One, in an episode entitled "Someday in the Rain", we were given several minutes of nothing going on except Yuki reading a book. Apparently the show's creators wanted a more challenging exercise in audience patience, so now we have "Endless Eight"; 8 episodes of the same two weeks of summer vacation, repeated over and over. Yes, this is a Groundhog Day scenario, but the problem is that the only person who knows that the weeks are repeating also has no inclination to either change that fact, or to put it to practical use, or even to tell the others, though in some of the cycles the rest of the cast figures it out themselves. The problem is that even when it is discovered, everyone (even Kyon) seems to be suffering from indifference about the situation, and so it goes on and on. So the 8 episodes (yes, I get the joke, 8 is an infinity symbol rotated 90 degrees) are a trial for the viewer; a trial for the animators (the cast wears different clothing, and the scenes are conceived a bit differently, from one repeat to the next); but curiously NOT a trial for the cast, since they've only got a dim deja vu feeling about the whole thing.
If I'm going to ding Hell Girl Season Two for repetition, I can't let something like THIS pass, can I? If you do watch Haruhi Season Two, do yourself a favor- skip the second disk entirely. You really won't miss anything.
I'm not sure the final 5 episodes of the season are much of an improvement. We're taken "behind the scenes" for the shooting of "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina". Remember that, the incredibly inept film "Haruhi" made and showed in Season One? My first reaction is that "messterpieces", fictional or REAL, don't need amplification- the incompetence is all there on the screen already. Did we need a "behind the scenes" to discern the goof-ups in Plan Nine From Outer Space or Robot Monster? And the-uh-technical problems in Haruhi's film were pretty blatant the first time. The only value-added this time is that once again we find out that Haruhi is messing with reality, and we finally see Kyon and Haruhi about to come to blows over her inconsiderate and overbearing ways.
The other thing that IS interesting in the final episodes (besides Kyon's and Haruhi's quarrel) is that there is a hint that there are fissures in the SOS Brigade over competing ideas and strategies regarding Haruhi. Koizumi has toned down the over-ingratiation this time, which is a good thing, but by the end of the piece he seems almost sinister. Everyone seems to be trying to get Kyon on their "side" (except for Yuki, who warns him not to trust anyone), and I do believe this would have made a wonderful plotline, if they'd actually gone further with it. Maybe if there's another season...
A disappointing follow-up. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Some fanservice but nothing too out of the ordinary (even compared to season one). Kyon does stand up to Haruhi in one particularly intense scene, but there's little actual violence. Teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (14/14)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya season 2 © 2009 Nagaru Tanigawa / Noizi Ito / SOS-dan
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