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Old 09-20-2016, 10:45 PM   #337
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 20,548
Finished reading "Endless Eight" the other night. Currently making my way through the corresponding anime episodes. Spoilers for Disappearance, and of course for Endless Eight as well.

Spoiler: show
Having read the book chapter now, I feel comfortable proclaiming that neither got it quite right. Kyoto Animation shouldn't have done eight, but Tanigawa shouldn't have done one either. "Eight"? "One"? Why, of course I'm talking about the number of run-throughs of August 17 - August 31 each medium offered audiences.

I've always defended KyoAni's controversial decision to do an eight-episode treatment of Endless Eight. And my defense has always been, "Because it's the best way of getting audiences to truly, personally relate to Yuki and to understand why she did what she did in Disappearance." But in having watched the first three E8 episodes recently, I now feel like that might not have been the director's primary motive. Which is unfortunate. :\ Because I now feel like what I've argued for all this time, was in fact only ever to him secondary to the cause. I feel like his true cause, his primary motivation for doing what he did with Endless Eight, was simply this: to show off his chops as a director. Selfish self-promotion. "Oh, look at me! I'm Captain Amazing Director Man! Watch as I take the same story and re-do it six different times!" (I say "six" because I'm not counting the first or the eighth episodes.) Remember how, back when Endless Eight was airing, we used to say, "Hey -- at least it's semi-palatable thanks to the animation and voice acting differences. ^^;" Well, I now think that that was probably just the director's way of showing off to his colleagues. "Yeah, I'm such a visionary. Look at me. Look at aaaaaaaaall the different ways my brain can approach the same book chapter and have it be animated, voice acted, etc." Now, I could be wrong. I sure hope I am! But yeah ... I no longer think he was doing this with getting us to sympathize with Yuki in mind.

But that doesn't mean it's still not a damn good reason to tolerate Endless Eight, the ride that doesn't stop for eight episodes. By making it be eight episodes long, you really, really get audiences to suffer -- and to reflect on the fact that their suffering is literally only one one-thousandth of what Yuki went through.

But that in turn, I've reasoned, is still not necessarily a compelling argument against paring E8 down to, say, just three or four episodes.

Which brings us to the book. Say you take it all the way to its extreme and argue, "Endless Eight should only be one pass! It should only be one episode!" Then you have the book. Because that's exactly what the book did: it introduces this idea of being caught in an infinite time loop ... and then immediately solves it in the very same chapter. That's not exciting. That's dumb. I reflected earlier today that I might not have felt this way had I read the book first and only the book. But I didn't read the book first. Or, more importantly, even if I had, I didn't stop there. I saw the anime version too. And my eyes were opened to the artistic possibilities you get from exploring the time loop multiple passes through.

Telling us we're stuck in a time loop ... and then not having the characters agonize and fail to get out, but instead only to have them very briefly agonize and then immediately get out of their predicament ... This is what Tanigawa wrote, but it doesn't achieve Endless Eight's full potential. Endless Eight's full potential is achieved by having the characters 1) be introduced to the fact that they're stuck in a time loop, 2) have them desperately try to get out, 3) have them fail, 4) have them fail again, 5) by doing so, have the audience questioning how on earth the characters are ever going to get out of this, and then finally 6) having them successfully get out. Three passes I think would be a good number. (First pass don't realize more than weak déjŕ vu; second pass realize they're in a time loop, need to get out, but fail; third pass have them desperate to get out and they succeed.) I think four would be even better, though I acknowledge it risks irking too many people. So I'm willing to compromise with three. I think we can all agree on three.

Which brings us back to the anime. While I think doing eight episodes of Endless Eight was awesome for the "experiencing art firsthand" angle, for making us suffer as Yuki suffered (and in so doing getting us to better understand her character), I have to admit now that I don't think it was the right move directorially or studioally or corporationally, you get the idea. I think the right move would've been to have done E8 over three to four episodes. E8 Episode 01? Perfect. Perfect way to introduce it. E8 Episode 02? Perfect. Perfect way to do the rising action. E8 Episode 03? The last one I've seen, and the first one that made me go, "Oh no. " Sugita is being too silly, and the director is wasting our time with shots that would ordinarily be rejected in favor of better ones. (I.e. 99% of the unique camera angles in Episode 03 are done better by another episode.) It doesn't really serve the purpose of "to know Yuki's suffering" anymore, and becomes just an exercise in dick stroking by the director (or the studio at large), saying, "Look at me/us, aren't I/we so clever?"

Hindsight bias is 20/20. I still think the eight episodes are mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to get the full experience out of Disappearance. But I also think that three/four would've been the smartest move.

Tanigawa got it wrong. Kyoto Animation got it wrong also.

Not one. Not eight. Three to four.
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