Hyouka: Final Review

Well, here we are. 6 months and 22 episodes later, Hyouka has finished its story. What originally began as a quirky attraction to everyday mysteries with uncommon explanations has turned into a full-fledged dual-personality trait shared between Houtatrou and Eru. It seems a day can’t go by without them delving into the unseen and uncontemplated to over explain the mundane events that lead to the otherwise unnoticed minutia surrounding us all the time. And Satoshi was there too, along with Mayaka.

Together, the four consist of the once-fledgling Classics Club, though they’re soon better known for Houtarou’s uncanny ability to logically work around any conundrum or puzzle. But the solutions become more complicated as it’s not just the clues Houtarou has to deal with. Also taking in the feelings and impressions of his friends, especially Eru, he has to continually break his edict of “energy conservation” to meet the compelling demands of Eru’s curiosity, while preserving her air of innocence and purity in what’s he’s found to be a newly interesting world.

Hyouka’s entire premise seems to throw many off, as a “mystery” series devoid of any actual consequence of action. All the “disappearances” are of easily replaceable items, such as tarot cards, kitchen utensils, or a copy, amongst hundreds, of the yearly anthology. Even the ghastly turn into stories of minor cover-ups under the cloak of night. Though Eru’s own past wove a story of grim victimization tied into the history of the Classics Club itself, the message behind each of Houtarou’s cases proved to be that there’s always more than meets the eye and connections always exist whether or not they’re seen.

You can spin “mystery” around Hyouka until Houtarou is blue in the face, but the real motive behind the story is the character development between Houtarou and Chitanda, and Satoshi and Mayaka. Though the latter seems to at least set itself up in the final episodes (I feel like Mayaka would understand if Satoshi would be honest with her about how scared he feels), Eru and Houtarou’s relationship seems to only begin to blossom in the final moments. My heart skipped a beat when he made the offer to Eru, and then it stopped altogether when it was merely his imagination. As much as I’d love to see the two continue to grow closer, I feel like Hyouka was wrapped up nicely. Enough to give me a taste of the what the characters will become, but not enough to feel like the story is entirely finished.

Final grade: 91
A solid A minus for KyoAni’s latest work. Though I agree sometimes the lack of actual consequence made the mysteries…inconsequential, Hyouka gave me an appreciation for the long, twisting stories surrounding the ordinary things filling our day-to-day lives. Animation was brilliant, as to be expected, but Eru’s eyes took character design to new level, in my opinion. Has good re-watch potential, but I’m definitely going to miss catching it week-to-week. Highly recommended for SoL fans looking to branch out into something a bit deeper, or mystery fans who want to become astounded at the mundane.

Hyouka – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

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One thought on “Hyouka: Final Review

  1. Many viewers mistake the Mystery genre with Thrillers, Crime Fiction or Supernatural. Mystery fiction may incorporate elements of these other genres but essentially, a mystery includes: 1) A problem that needs to be solved, 2) An event that cannot be explained, 3) A secret, 4) Something that is lost or missing (no, I did not come up with these off the top of my head). Mystery fiction causes the reader or viewer to think and formulate theories given the information presented. There are a number of “rules” of mystery fiction that have been mentioned in passing during the Class Film arc of Hyouka. A mystery can be constructed around very mundane events such as many of those in the series or they can be about crimes or supernatural occurrences. Crimes or supernatural occurrences are not essential elements of a mystery. If you watch the episode of Hyouka where the Classics Club interviews the class members responsible for various aspects of the film production, you will note that all of class members make the elementary mistake of confusing Mystery with some other genre. Nevertheless, the mystery elements of Hyouka are simply, but not merely, a tool for story progression and character development. Many have, and will, come into Hyouka expecting it to be something of Death Note proportions but will be sorely disappointed. Death Note is a different beast altogether: Mystery, Supernatural, Police, Psychological and Thriller (MyAnimeList). Kara no Kyoukai, Higurashi, Detective Conan, Mirai Nikki and Gosick are all mystery mixed with with some other genre, usually Drama or Supernatural. The anime watcher, having watched all these anime or perhaps even having watched western mystery shows will be entirely confused about what Hyouka is trying to attempt. Hyouka’s method was to present information while letting the mystery reveal itself gradually. Information is presented both before and during the mystery’s realisation. While the characters are trying to piece together the answer, additional clues emerge subtly. While involved with the solving of the mystery, the viewer is given better insight into the characters. By the time the mystery is solved, one or more of the characters would have developed either as a direct or indirect result. Some character development is not even related to the mystery at hand and it is here that Hyouka’s Slice-of-Life and School Life elements come into play. Fine-tuning one’s expectations is essential to enjoying the Hyouka anime series, otherwise it would just be discarded as moe fluff as I’ve read from many of Hyouka’s harsher critics.

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