If you read our first article on the timeline of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, you’re probably well acquainted with the strange order of the episodes. However, if you were to just watch it by the DVD order, you’d see that it has a pretty straightforward timeline. Maybe you’re thinking that Haruhi’s notorious indecipherability was all hype.
Well, strap in. Season 2 is where things start to get really confusing, and it doesn’t get much easier.
Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (2009) (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) Season 2
The second season covers 3 stories over the course of 14 episodes: Bamboo Rhapsody, The Endless Eight, and The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Bamboo Rhapsody is the first episode of the season and takes place about a month after the chronological 6th episode of the first season (which, if you watched it in the broadcast order, would be the final episode)... sort of. It starts then, but involves a story about Kyon and Mikuru traveling back in time about 3 years. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya is the last 5 episodes of the season. It’s all about the creation of the SOS Brigade’s indie movie that kicked off the entire series, which if you’ve been keeping track is the 11th episode of the first season chronologically (which in the timeline puts it around November).
However, what we really want to talk about here is The Endless Eight, which takes place shortly after the Remote Island Syndrome story arc of the first season. This story is all about the same two weeks repeated over and over and over again—15532 times to be exact. Every episode plays out exactly the same with very minor alterations: sometimes Kyon or Haruhi will wear different clothes, sometimes Itsuki will alter his words slightly, and sometimes the camera shots will focus on different subject matter, but the stories play out the exact same every single time. For 8 entire episodes. It’s clear that Kyoto animation was attempting to capture the essence of how repetitive this event would be if you lived through it, but it’s an awful lot to ask of an audience to watch the same episode an extra 7 times.
For this reason, we recommend that, with season 2, watch Bamboo Rhapsody, the first and last episodes of The Endless Eight, and The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. We do also suggest that you watch this in the broadcast order and not be tempted to watch them in accordance with the timeline, especially with The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Part of the fun of that first episode of Season 1 is similar to a good puzzle in a video game: you’re familiar with the concepts that are in play, but you can’t figure out why it feels off. Watching The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya is like skipping the puzzle-solving process entirely and looking up a walkthrough. As for The Endless Eight, only watch all 8 episodes after you finish all other Haruhi Suzumiya material. It’s there for diehard fans and diehard fans exclusively.
Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya）
Ah, finally something straightforward! This is the first (and only) sequel to the original Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime, and involves a story with an alternate timeline… oh no, hold up, that’s not simple at all! Even worse, within this alternate universe, events take place that send them back 3 years into the same moment that Kyon and Mikuru traveled to during Bamboo Rhapsody! All of this just so that the characters can return to their original timeline from the original anime! None of this makes sense!
Look, at this point, if you’ve been following the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise for this long, you’re probably used to weird, confusing timelines. That’s actually one of the appeals of the story. You’re fine watching this one as a finale to the original story.
And that should do it! There’s no more confusing timeline junk that the anime has adapted!... Except…
Nagato Yuki-Chan no Shoushitsu (The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan)
Remember how we said that The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was about an alternate timeline? They made an entire anime spinoff about that dimension. In this story, fan favorite Nagato Yuki is the main character, and it plays out as if there were no supernatural elements to the original story. Yuki’s not an alien, but a shy girl with a crush on Kyon and has to compete with Haruhi for his affection.
Based on that you might think that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan might have some connections to the original story due to being a parallel universe. There are references and implications that it’s connected to it, but that’s largely for fanservice. This series mainly exists for diehard Yuki fans who ship her with Kyon. You can probably skip this one unless you are just really hungry for more material with these characters.
So to reiterate: Season 1 you should watch in its broadcast order, followed by the first 2 episodes of Season 2, then the last 6 episodes of Season 2, and finish it up with The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. The Yuki spinoff is fun if you’re really into it, but really, only watch the entirety of the Endless Eight arc if you’re interested in seeing why it killed the hype for the series dead in its tracks.
Did we miss anything? Do you want to go into how the Light Novel timelines get even crazier? Let us know in the comments below!