It is still summer vacation, and Kyon has been feeling that something is strange. Haruhi drags him and the rest of the SOS Brigade to the pool and each the other activities that she had planned, and Kyon experiences a sense of déjà vu at every step. Then, on the night after the part-time job, he gets a call suddenly from a crying Mikuru who’s with Itsuki, and the three of them and Yuki meet up. It turns out that Mikuru is distraught because she can’t return to the future anymore, and Itsuki thinks that it’s because they’re in an endless loop of these last two August weeks. September will not come in their current world, and their memories are reset each repetition. Itsuki suspects that Haruhi is the unknowing culprit of this because she doesn’t want summer vacation to end and still has things she needs to do. And while he and Kyon experience déjà vu, Yuki is the one who remembers everything from each time. She reveals that they’ve actually looped 15,948 times, and there have been variations in what they do from time to time.
The four of them can’t do anything about this for the time being, but during the stargazing activity, Itsuki suggests that Kyon tell Haruhi that he loves her so that they can try to figure out what she wants. Kyon refuses, so Itsuki considers doing it himself, but he decides against it and claims that it was a joke. Later, during the batting practice activity, Kyon takes some time to ask Yuki why she didn’t say anything about the endless looping to them earlier. Her answer is simply that it’s her duty to observe. The group goes on to do everything Haruhi wanted to and finishes her list again by the end of vacation. Haruhi is once again unsatisfied, but she again accepts it and gets up to leave. Kyon tries to stop her, but he doesn’t know what to say and tries to look for a clue in what Haruhi said. He ultimately fails after being unable to come up with anything, and he goes to bed on the night of August 31st having given up on the homework that he still has to do.
Well that was a big surprise. As I mentioned last week, I thought I had completely spoiled myself on this mini-arc when I found out that they’d be repeating everything as part of the endless loop, but I didn’t think that they’d do it more than once. One episode of Endless Eight wouldn’t have given the déjà vu effect that two episodes would have (and did), and I was all ready to applaud Kyoto Animation on how they handled this, but now I’m just confused. They don’t gain much from repeating it all a second time, and I have to wonder if they’re just killing time or something because they don’t want to progress too far into the rest of the original story (more material for more episodes means more money in the long run).
On the other hand, maybe they were just trying to fool the folks who were familiar with the story and were expecting a two-part arc after last week’s episode. And it’s not like they’re skimping on production quality – I’m pretty sure everything in this episode was newly animated, and I liked the Itsuki and Kyon rooftop scene in particular because of the music they used. In any case, I’m not really curious how they will approach the third time through next week, and hopefully they won’t drag it out longer than that.