There's No Mystery to Why I Love 'Hyouka'

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hyouka

Studio: Kyoto Animation
Genre: Mystery, School, Slice of Life
Episodes: 22 
Episode Length: 25 minutes per episode

Energy-conservative high school student Houtarou Oreki ends up with more than he bargained for when he signs up for the Classics Club at his sister's behest—especially when he realizes how deep-rooted the club's history really is. Begrudgingly, Oreki is dragged into an investigation concerning the 45-year-old mystery that surrounds the club room.

Accompanied by his fellow club members, the knowledgeable Satoshi Fukube, the stern but benign Mayaka Ibara, and the ever-curious Eru Chitanda, Oreki must combat deadlines and lack of information with resourcefulness and hidden talent, in order to not only find the truth buried beneath the dust of works created years before them, but of other small side cases as well.

Based on the award-winning Koten-bu light novel series, and directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto of Suzumiya Haruhi no ShoushitsuHyoukashows that normal life can be full of small mysteries, be it family history, a student film, or even the withered flowers that make up a ghost story.

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Have you solved a mystery recently? Or create a theory? Then you're exactly like the Classics Club. 
Well...that sounds weird. But still. 
Hyouka is an anime about mysteries. It follows the four teenagers that make up the Classics Club. A club that is not about classics. At all. The four of them solve mundane mysteries about life and school and family.

Plot
The show is focused on short arcs that follow a larger mystery. It's mildly episodic, and the show doesn't follow a larger arc. (Unless you count the main point in time: the cultural festival.) The mysteries are highly dramatized. But they are interesting. Houtarou the main character of the show follows not many clues to figure it out. He uses good deduction skills and a heck of a lot of common sense. 
There are many filler episodes with one or two mini-mysteries in the episode. (For example, the doll episode at the end. Or the locked room mystery.)
My favorite mystery was got to be the mystery about Hyouka. It's the first major mystery. And this contains my favorite scene. The "I scream scene." It is the most bloodcurdling scene I've ever seen in my life. I shiver even thinking about it. But more on that later.
There is also the mystery movie arc which is okay. It's interesting, and I actually figured it out. Haha.
The other main arc is the cultural festival one. It goes across a lot of episodes. It's interesting, but without knowing "The ABC Murders", you really are left out.

The worst part of the plot is the awful ending. You're left with a cliffhanger and the hope for love. I want more. This show deserves a second season. We need more mysteries and romance! Chitanda x Houtarou! Mayaka x Satoshi!

Characters
The characters really drew me in. I liked the characters a lot. At first, they seemed bland, but you got really  invested in their lives.

Houtarou Oreki is the main character. His motto is all about 'energy conservation'. Aka he's a lazy butt. But he's smart. I know a lot about lazy smart people. You really get interested in his life and how he solves things. He felt a bit shallow too. Which isn't a great characteristic. He's not my favorite character, but he's really interesting. 
Chitanda Eru is a curious fool. If we're following stereotypes, she's the manic pixie dream girl. She's hyper and adorable. She's curious about everything and a great cook. She's smart too, but Houtarou's genius seems to hide hers. She's smart too. (Top of her class.) I like her. But not a lot. I wanted more depth to her.
Satoshi Fukube is the happy go lucky database. He seems to be the roll with the punches sort of guy. But he's really complex. He feels likes he's hiding in the shadows. He doesn't want to care because he likes not caring. This makes him interesting. I really like his character. 
Ibara Mayaka is library assistant turned Classics Club member. She's pretty brash but can be calm. She likes Satoshi. For some reason. (We've never told why. The romance seems way too forced.) But she's tsundere AF. I think tsunderes are cute, so Mayaka is awesome to me. But she doesn't have enough screen time, so we don't feel a deep connection to her.

There are four people. You know what that means...romance!
The Chitanda x Houtarou romance is adorable. But seemingly unnecessary.  As is both romances really. I do root for both of them. But Mayaka's reason for liking Satoshi is unknown. And we really get their emotions. One Valentine's Day episode isn't enough!

OP
Wow. This OP really seems to fit the show. The song and the art. The song is all about finding light which goes with the 'rose colored' lifestyle Houtarou seems to abhor. The colors appear as if ripples in a pond. Which works with the "I'm Curious!" thing. The ghostly images of Houtarou are really gorgeous. There's imagery within that. He seems like a ghost to everyone else. He's not really there and not really living. He's just passing through. 
The ED is cute and sweet like Chitanda and Mayaka. We get the female leads falling asleep. It seems more intimate. And feels like they're just being used for sex appeal. The song is cute, though.

The second OP is a bit more upbeat than the last. Which could mean a change in Houtarou's emotions and outlook on life. He's becoming more happy and rose-colored. He's also seen through a glass. Which could mean he is still separated from the rest of the world and the Classics Club. Until Chitanda brings him through to reality.
The second ED is so cute! I love the Sherlock analogy. It's upbeat, and we get all of the Classics Club members. What I think is weird is that the girls are the detectives, but the boys are the criminals. It seems better suited for Satoshi who is all coy and sly and cocky. But Houtarou seems annoyed with the situation more than anything else.

These are good OPs and EDs.

Art
The art is amazing. It's the best thing about this show. 
It's the style I like. It's more realistic. Reminds me of Nagi no Asukara. It seems normal on the outside. But certain scenes are gorgeous works of art. You see things in watercolors or with a certain supernatural lens.
Back to my favorite scene. The "I Scream" scene. It's Chitanda's uncle being turned into the scapegoat, the person who'll shoulder all the problems. He's the rabbit being bitten by the teachers. And the other students watch. This scene comes from the Hyouka arc where you figure out why it's called Hyouka and why the cover is so. The name thing was pretty easy for me, a native English speaker, to figure out. The rabbit scene is so heartwrenching. It's the most bloodcurdling scene ever. It sends shivers down my spine. I can't handle it. It's a gorgeous piece of work and imagery. 

Verdict
It's not mystery that I love Hyouka. Hyuk hyuk hyuk.

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