THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS
It's time to do what no one who has reviewed this second season has ever done before: actually give an in-depth review explaining why this series sucked. Not just: The Endless 8 sucks because etc. etc. therefore, this show sucks. Nor will I be "ok, the Endless 8 wasn't very good, but the rest of the series was pretty decent due to insert quick explanation here." No, this review will show why the WHOLE SHOW sucks, not just one part. I'm sick of just "Endless 8 sucks so automatically, so the show sucks by default". Forgive my aggravated rambling; I needed that off my chest. Do you wanna know why this show is bad? Do you wanna know why this almost ruined the franchise for me? Then, let's find out, shall we?
To be honest, nothing about this season added to the story of the series. It's 14 episodes of (mostly) pure, bona-fide filler. This show is a midquel that answers next to nothing about Season 1, particularly because Season 1 left little to be explained. This season takes place before the last 4 episodes of season 1. The 2nd season starts off well. It's a small adventure that only really becomes relevant in the Haruhi Movie. Then, the Endless 8 begins. Episode 2, is also good. Then, episode 3 redoes a lot of the previous episode with a twist! Everyone is in an absurdly high time loop spanning over 15,000 repeats. First off, since all of the following episodes of the arc literally go one repeat after another, why not start this off with say 50 loops, and then continually increase the number dramatically? It would be more like the show to do that. Then, episodes 4-8 repeat the exact same episode (episode 3) with minute changes. Finally, episode 9 breaks the loop in hilariously stupid fashion after terrible buildup with 7 episodes that show no progression towards the arc. This whole thing literally could`ve been resolved in three episodes. One for introduction, one for setup, and one for resolution.
As for the final arc, I've actually seen people DEFEND this arc, which really boggles my mind as to something just as mind-numbingly stupid as the Endless 8. Honestly, we'll save this one's biggest problem for later as this arc`s biggest sin is how badly it botched up the characters. Let's put it this way. Season 1 established that when Haruhi is visibly upset, a different field of the world begins to suffer the wrath of giant monsters, and that could prove dangerous to the real world. At one point, Haruhi is the most unhappy she’s ever been via confrontation that she effectively deserved, and NOTHING HAPPENS!!! First off, Haruhi brought this on herself, and Kyon was scolding her for being basically tyrannical to her friends, and he's forced to APOLOGIZE?! WHY?! Haruhi also gets off scot-free for being so horrible. also, for how "smart" she is, she should've put two and two together during the final scene of Season 2. I get that maybe trying to hit her was a bit out of hand, but still, she needed some repercussion for being so damn awful! This season was pretty awful by this point by this moment killed any chance of it recovering. The ending sucked too, just to let you know.
If you know Haruhi Suzumiya, you know that she's kind of a spoiled brat with an (understandable) god complex. She's a bit of an ass, a tyrannical one, but you understand why she's that way, and see her developed into a slightly more polite and caring person. Despite the fact that this season takes place after the events containing most of her development, this final arc, in particular, decided to DECIMATE all decency from her, and flanderize her obnoxiousness and bratty-ness to new levels. She actively treats Mikuru like a sexy slave, even more so than in season 1. She becomes a bigger dick than ever and ignores all sense of likability and development. Mikuru is reduced to a whiny moe slave for the series who only accomplishes following Haruhi`s demands, and only to varying effect. Itsuki is the same, only spouting off his stuff under unreasonable circumstances that only serve to make Haruhi a Karma Houdini, which sort of waters him down a bit. Kyon, is the same, only less entertaining, less intelligent, and less snarky, meaning that like almost everyone else, he is at least somewhat watered down here too. Yuuki Nagato is the only character with any improvement, as we see a more urgent and ambiguously caring side of her, as she does some risky things this time around. Unfortunately, the side characters are less present, and less likable, albeit, when Haruhi makes you drug your friend with alcohol, and you accept in a heartbeat, that's bound to happen.
Knowing KyoAni, brilliant animation to them is as simple as doing a worksheet of simple math problems. Takes a bit, but it's easy and leads to damn good scores. Not much was stepped up, other than slight changes to character models, though I kinda like the change. While this season didn't get to show off its creative muscles like Season 1 did, the animation was still really good, and if it got to show off some of the amazing stuff Season 1 did, it would've gotten a 10, for even the minute changes in the Endless 8 are appreciated, as they change the clothing, and give new angles for repeated scenes. This is always a highlight of the franchise, and even though this season sucks, at least it lived up to KyoAni's expectations in the animation department. Too bad it was wasted in this garbage-tier anime.
Unfortunately, the music isn't as good as in season 1. Luckily, it's still overall decent. The OP and ED themes are once again, great, really capturing the tone of the series, and are just as good, if not better than those of season 1, even if they'll never become as ubiquitous as "Hare Hare Yukai", season 1's ED. This season, otherwise, added nothing to the soundtrack, and the recurring themes aren't memorable, minus a few jingles in some of the themes. Also, while the dub has the same voice actors and talents, the repetitive dialogue for the Endless 8, along with Mikuru's aggravating squealing, bog it down a bit. Heck, Kyon doesn't even get any deliciously scathing monologues here.
This series had no right to be as long and annoying as it was, and the botched characters, nigh-useless story, and painful moments make me hate this show, no matter how pretty it is, or how good it sounds. Honestly, this is an allegory for how this season made me feel about Haruhi herself, attractive and with a nice voice, but a total bitch. Yes, the first two episodes are good, and yes, the Endless 8 had the potential to be pretty good if they cut large portions out and made the set-up more in line with the spirit of the show, but overall, this series can't stack up to its predecessor in any way other than production. Lastly, thank God for the movie since if not for that, this would've actually killed the anime franchise as a whole with it being such a gigantic pain. With that, I bid you adieu.