Hyouka Anime Review

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"Are you an anti-social person, with a rosy but otherwise boring life? Someone who deep inside feels you are charismatic and people of the opposite sex should be very interested in you, even if you act like an uncaring person that would normally make everybody to be fed up with you? Then Hyouka is the show for you!" @thatanimesnob

I like Hyouka. I have watched it a couple of times and I am still angry for not getting a proper ending for the romance in it. It evoked feelings of nostalgia for an old fantasy of a small group of friends who are perfectly complementary to each other.

Hyouka is a slice-of-life/mystery series. The protagonist Horeki wants to live a grey high school life by preserving as much of his energies as possible and doing his best to be average at everything and by not participating in any of the activities and yet even without trying he is shown to posses a knack for solving mysteries.

Satoshi Fukube is Oreki’s best friend (for reasons I can’t understand) and he also has a photographic ‘database-like’ memory(he also gets edgy midseason for dorama purposes).

Mayaka Ibara is the class representative sort of character(she also has a crush on Satoshi dun dun duun) and Chitanda is the deuteragonist of the story, the cute representative of the school’s Classic Literature Club, a plot device to motivate Oreki to socialize moar (under the guise of solving mysteries for her completely unrealistic curiosity).

When this anime was popular I remember there was some debate about whether Hyouka should be categorized as a slice-of-life or mystery anime. It is slice-of-life in that it is mundane and the mysteries are mundane too. There are no murders, robberies, plots to start WWIII etc… The stakes are low. I think that Sherlock Holmes said that the little things are the most important referring to his interest in things that most did not and these characters too seem to want to get to the bottom of a mystery regardless of how much unimportant it is, it is admire if not mildly autistic.

For example if I remember correctly the first ‘mystery’ they solved was about who accidentally locked the door of their club’s room after they had managed to open the door. They spent what felt like 10 minutes on this, it doesn’t matter that the door is now open, the combination of their personalities needs to know how it happened. In reality of course most people would spend maybe 30 seconds thinking about this and then would move on with their lives thinking that this was superfluous. And if someone did obsess over such things all the time; then it wouldn’t be a cute girl from a local semi-aristocratic family, it would be an unpopular weirdo.

Is this a deconstruction of the mystery genre, then? Not really because if it had been then the stakes would have been so high that everything including the detective’s life and everything he cares about would be at stake but the detective would just treat it as a puzzle. This on the other hand is the same old mysteries but in mundane crimeless setting of an ordinary Japanese high-school.

‘Remember that? Remember this? There were a lot of references to classic mystery novels, what-with all the main characters dressing up as Arsene Lupin and Sherlock Holmes in the second ending and some of the mysteries themselves were presumably derivatives of the plots of classic mystery novels although I am not an expert of these things in one mystery arc in which they try to figure out the intentions of a writer for a school they name drop various fictional detectives including Poirot and SH and some others I couldn’t recognize.

A lot of people found the mysteries lacking but I think that they were the best part of the anime, some people read mystery novels for the puzzle aspect and the charismatic fictional detectives and not for character development or for the high stakes. And I just happen to be some people. The creative cut scenes during the explanations of the mysteries probably helped too…

The romance is inconclusive. Not to put too fine a point on it. This is a fault found in many anime unfortunately – I know, I know, those of us who viewed this series did it for the cock teasing but don’t lie to yourself when you say that ant-climactic ending did not ruin it.

I give this anime a 6 out of 10. The presentation is faultless, even the episode in which the characters sit around a table and do nothing but talk was made interesting by the special effects, but there isn’t much here: sure you could write whole books about the student protests in the 1960s briefly mentioned as a plot point.

Or you could go on a tangent about the poorly discussed themes of the value of spending time with others when you are young(I say poorly discussed because Chitanda is bait to get this point across but only manage to negate the message of the show with her unrealistic character constructed out of thin air to appeal to lonely guys who think they are intellectuals).

In short, emotional manipulation and pandering are not a substitute for a good self-contained story and romances that go somewhere.