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

Accel World 21-22: Burst Linkers v. Users of Acceleration

Got quite a bit done in this two episodes. The Incarnation System gets a basic rundown, the mysterious Users are uncovered somewhat, and Noumi is slowly getting backed into a corner. With the help of Niko’s maid-servant, Blood Leopard, Silver Crow takes down another visible burst linker, Rust Jigsaw, who’s been intruding Accel World battlefields in Akihabara. Though he managed to slip away, now the whole BG is on the lookout. The whole underground group of illicit linkers is starting to seem pretty small and unorganized, just like they’re a bunch of kids who shared a few tricks for trolling proper Burst Linkers.

While Haru makes strides elsewhere, Taku works on reaching his own incarnate powers. The incarnate powers, as Yukino explains, are derived from the fears and shortcomings of the user. There are four types, and a user can only access two as they relate the user, and the mark of a true incarnate user is a glowing upon activation. But these powers aren’t meant to defeat others, they’re designed to help defeat your own self, primarily, parts of you that are inhibiting you from reaching your full potential. Yukino warns that these powers are only to be used against opponents who also use the Incarnate System. The system also seems to be a precursor to the Calamity Armor seeded inside Haru, and Blood Leopard hinted that they were already aware he had it.

Now to the biggest question: can anyone explain the scene with Chiyu and Haru? Was she coming onto him? Or were the subtleties just lost on me? I really don’t understand the purpose of the stripping. I’m trying to figure out if she was just trying to code something for Haru to figure out so he could get a message Noumi wasn’t letting Chiyu deliver, but I got nothing. Perhaps the simplest answer is best: Just fanservice, nothing more. Either way, now Haru knows about Noumi’s bio-chip, which he caved in on rather quickly. But I don’t see how that leaves an even playing field; worst case scenario, Haru is pinned for peeping, but Noumi is convicted of using illegal tools and most likely cheating his way into school. One of these is much more severe than the other, considering there’s no solid evidence that Haru planted the camera, but was only caught peeping by said camera. I feel like I’m over-analyzing it, so I’ll digress.

Finally, Haru is reaching a climax with his conflict with Noumi. He seems pretty confident and I’m sure he’ll have a few strategies up his sleeve, but you can’t forget that Dusk Taker will be backed up by Lime Bell (unless Chiyu has some betrayal in mind, which I hope she does). Only a few episodes left, and it’s time for all of Haru’s growth to show and for him to man up or shut up. I have hopes for the former.

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Guilty Crown: The Savior Rose Above Evolution, and the Devil was an Angel in Disguise

Back with the much awaited and anticipated (for me, at least) 22nd and final episode of the Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 series, Guilty Crown. If you don’t want spoilers…why are reading? Spoiling is the like the only way to get across the sheer mind-blowing emotions and opinions I have right now. So I guess I’ll just apologize in advance. To make up for it, I’ll promise no spoiling in the final review coming soon. But if you haven’t watched yet, please don’t read this. Take 30 minutes to watch, take another 30 minutes to pick up your jaw off the floor, come back and read :3

This is the final chapter of the story, the world stands at a crux, Gai’s Fourth Apocalypse will either ravage the Earth and select out a new human race with the Apocalypse Virus, or Shu can become the king and savior, draw his friends’ voids, and stop the annihilation of the world as we know it. With Mana in full control of Inori’s body, she’s begun to spread the virus acros the globe, creating a genomic resonance not seen since the Lost Christmas incident. This time, the disturbance is great enough to interfere with the Endleave RC signal, causing units to drop left and right, including Ayase’s, which now leaves the Funeral Parlor crew sitting ducks at the mercy of Daryl and his massive Gespenst unit.

As it seems the entire world’s armies press assaults into Tokyo, Gai’s forces hold strong, including Kuhouin who uses her shield void to keep back intruding ground forces. The Apocalypse Virus is steadily covering the planet, virtually leaving no one left in its wake. Soldiers continue to fight, half devoured by the virus, as Shu and Gai lock horns in a battle of kings. Gai cuts down all of Shu’s attacks, rendering each of his friend’s voids useless. After a slash to arm, Gai stands over Shu to deliver the final blow, and as Shu lies numb on the floor, he hears Inori call out to him…here’s one of my few complaints about this final episode: Gai and Shu’s battlefield scenery seems to shift constantly. All of a sudden, a crystal flower (that I guess contained Inori’s essence or soul or void) appears, and Shu draws that classic sword-void. [Return to original hexagon staged field] Shu, with Inori in tow, takes his heavy strike at Gai, as Inori’s song begins to resonate, overshadowing Mana’s accursed virus.

As Inori’s song fills the air, Ayase direct connects back into her Endleave as Tsugumi retakes control of the bases computers (away from the double-crossing, two-timing mass murderer, Kenji).  Daryl’s Gespenst is impressive, but ultimately no match for a two-front attack from Ayase and Tsugumi. All of the GHQ defensives begin to crumble, and even Keido sees the truth of their defeat, as he injects himself with the virus. As Gai begins to fade away, he and Shu are taken to the utopia Da’at envision, a world where the human consciousness became immortalized in the crystal structures of the virus. Gai admits his true intentions from start, how he was truly afraid of going unselected, which is why he so desired to become Mana’s “Adam” into the new world. He knew the only way to truly stop Mana was to make her desire come true, and unleash the apocalypse, so Gai helped her achieve this, hoping Shu would be there to stop it, the true King becoming a Savior to the world.

In one of the most visually stunning scenes I’ve ever laid eyes on, Shu and Inori (taken back control from Mana), take on the void resonance and apocalypse virus, freeing the world from the ravages and double-edged swords of these heart manifestations. People everywhere, crippled from the virus, are restored to their former health, and voids Shu and Gai had released were returned back to their owners. It becomes a mad scramble to escape the crumbling GHQ base, Ayase and Tsugumi escape because of Argo’s sacrifice, and Daryl escapes with a final wish from Rowan, to be kinder towards others.

In a surprising twist, it seems Shu survived the apocalypse with only his eyesight and already-missing left arm taken in the fray.  The world has returned to the everyday norm we all know and love, as the group of heros celebrate the birthday of their tragically fallen friend, Hare. Though Inori didn’t survive the event, Shu still reminisces and carries her memory with him always. I feel like there are too many unfinished character stories, but maybe I’m just being greedy. (What of Daryl and Kuhouin? We’re all certain Daryl at least tried to get close to Tsugumi, and what will Kuhouin do now that Gai is gone?)

In the final review I’ll cover aspects from the spectrum ranging from plot to sound (best part of Guilty Crown) to animation and visuals. But as for this final episode, though the action and dynamic animation seemed to drag a bit in the previous episodes, this seemed to keep par and even set the bar for the series in terms of quality. My appreciation goes out for not slacking off at the end. If you want a sampling of the sound for Guilty Crown in general, they pretty much included the whole soundtrack in this one episode (not really, but you get my point). And I was afraid they plot would be wrapped up too quickly, but it was somehow pulled off if a very well-done framework of scene sequencing, everything (while technically happening simultaneously) flowed together very well to weave a good picture of the events unfolding around the Fourth Apocalypse.  A very fitting and well played ending to what has been, at times, a rocky and tumultuous series.

As stated, I’ll go more in depth on the series in a final review to come in the next week or so.
Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku