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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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

Tari Tari 5-10: Red Ranger Wien, Hero of Justice!

Apologies for not covering Tari Tari so well, blogging has to take back burner lately as I’m being forced to actually give 100% at school. But now I’m ready to go, as are the Market Rangers! So far, Wein’s internal conflict is the most interesting. Not to diminish the value of the other character’s arcs, especially Wakana.

With only 3 episodes left and Wein’s arc seemingly closed, I’m guessing it’s time to put Konatsu in the limelight, or perhaps simply wrap up her choir’s story at the festival. I’m personally hoping for a big finale to Wakana’s personal bit when the group sings the song started by her mother before she passed away. I think I’d also like more of the Market Rangers. And Sawa still doesn’t have a solid closure as to what she wants to do in the future, either. Is Taichi’s story finished for that matter?

If Tari Tari is building like I think it is, all the closure will come in the last two episodes. I have high hopes for the ending as the series thus far has been quite the emotional ride and I just hope I’m not setting the bar too high, asking too much from the story.

I still stand by an early statement, Tari Tari is like K-On!…but with music.

Tari Tari – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Gundam AGE 44: The Limits of My Sanity

Less of a review, more of an open letter. I can see where this is going, now that Flit is in charge of what’s being deemed “the deciding battle” between Vagan and Federation, the moral dilemma will reach a climax soon, whether or not you should eliminate the enemy or try to work out your problems without fighting. And the metaphor boss guarding the EXA-DB has made an un-foreshadowed appearance, so either Zeheart will defeat it with the most advanced Gundam suit, or the monstrous, 3D-rendered machine will attack the conglomeration of Vagan and Federation ships conveniently fighting nearby. Leading to a figurative and literal battle between all of humanity and it’s mistake-riddled past…

It’s not that I don’t like the idea, but I can’t enjoy a series that seems to pull plot devices out of its ass just to keep moving forward. Some Gundam series use pre-existing facets of human history to create arcs and plot points, on more than one occasion Soviet-era nuclear devices were involved. You can use these without prior recognition because they already exist, but you can’t (easily) throw in a giant sentinel mobile suit that’s supposedly been orbiting the Earth sphere, guarding the supposedly forgotten collection of ALL of human military data without any hints or clues beforehand…seems like someone would write that down and pass a memo along. Something like “Don’t go to co-ordinates XXX-XXX-XXXX, there’s a big, f***ing robot up there”… And to top it off, the vengeful idiot is in charge of the fate of humanity.

I think Flit should be allowed to just murder all the Vagan in cold blood, it’d be more interesting than him turning over to Kio’s way of thinking. Meanwhile Asemu doesn’t agree with anyone, because he’s a pirate, and pirates don’t agree with regular people. And space pirates don’t agree with other people either, and instead fly around in giant robots.

I just wish Gundam AGE would stop putting mediocre characters through jumpy plot devices to force an ending that could’ve had potential. I’m so far into it now, I’m just waiting for it to end, it seems…

Gundam AGE – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 18: I really wanted to see the Dusk Taker conclusion

But I guess Kuroyukihime-sempai’s Okinawa exploits are interesting too, as we meet 3 new Burst Linkers fighting outside the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s stages. I think this is slowly rebuilding all the lost connections Kuroyukihime alluded to when she was consoling Megumi, as the red player drinking away his problems seems to be an old acquaintance of the Black King.

Ruka and Mana seem quite capable for middle schoolers who’ve never been to the large scale battles between Legion Kings in Tokyo, maybe sometime soon they’ll join up with Haru and Kuoryukihime. If they’re not immediately thrown into the fights, they might just be a part of a string of allies reappearing for some final battle (maybe against Haru if that armor brings itself to bare before the end of the season).

I think the “monster” roaming around Okinawa’s unlimited field might be some kind of beast tamer, much like Ash Roller’s primary weapon was his motorcycle, this Burst Linker may rely on a captured animal with immense power. If it traces back to what Nomi mentioned about a “new generation of Burst Linkers”, I’ll be very impressed. Slowly unveiling a rising rebellion beyond the Legion wars on the surface would be a great cliffhanger to keep me waiting for the second season. I just hope Kuoryukihime’s Okianawa arc isn’t too long, I really want to get back to Haru’s fight with Dusk Taker to get his wings back.

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Hyouka 15-16: Textbook Crimes

Juumoji continues to strike in an order outlined similarly in A.B.C. Murders, as Houtarou was able to figure out after the Classics Club becomes fully involved in the school-sweeping scandal. The clues don’t exactly add up and all this suspense is making me think Hyouka is about to drop some purposefully underwhelming conclusion (like Houtarou’s sister planned it all or it was a stunt to set up the Classics Club so they could sell more anthologies). Everything Houtarou gets just seems to have so serendipitously appeared, like the manga he got from his sister which referenced to a Christy mystery which is also the same manga Mayaka was going to show to other members of the Manga Society but couldn’t find at home. I can’t shake this feeling that Houtarou’s sister is behind all of this…but I have no theory as to how except that she planned and committed EVERYTHING.

It’s a bit far-fetched that she’d be behind it all, but I can’t really reach another conclusion. But that may just mean the plot is doing a good job not hinting the conclusion. If it were so simple, it wouldn’t be fun, right? I just wish this wasn’t such a convoluted situation. Why would someone start the thefts to begin with? Why would they adhere to a pattern? Why would they break the pattern (or have they actually followed it but not how Houtarou thinks)? They skipped “ku” and went straight to a theft from “ke” (the Light Music Club). I do think there’s already been a “ku” theft, but it’s as-of-yet unrealized. The thefts are definitely set up so the thief can be caught, almost like he/she wants to be caught. If they were just randomly stealing items, why leave a note? Why leave a name that reveals your pattern? And with the school whipped up into a frenzy, why continue? This is definitely a crime spree with a purpose in mind, and the purpose seems to revolve around the Classics Club…or at least that’s what the general theory seems to be.

Though the pressing mystery is a big plot point, I can’t let it overshadow the, admittedly, confusing tensions running through the Manga Society. Mayaka is at odds with other club members, and the rivalry takes an ugly turn when a small dab of brush water becomes a soaking in the middle of a busy festival booth. If the mystery ties back into the stress in the manga club, I certainly can’t see it coming. But I really want whatever these girls have against Mayaka to be resolved, it’s hard to watch sometimes…

Hyouka – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 16-17: More Than a Few Surprises

Haru doesn’t have to wait long for his rematch with Nomi. And for once his new ability directly effects his whole confidence issue (that so annoyingly likes to pop up in the middle of important fights). With the power of will, Haru can quickly override the limits of Accel World to push through faster and stronger. And it’s not some cheap one-trick pony, willpower pretty much won his fight against Nomi. Well, that and some good old-fashioned bro-bro teamwork (Topped off with a bro-fist of the highest caliber). All thanks to Sky Raker, Haru’s newest friend in Accel World, and an old ally of Kuroyukihime as well.

In traditional plot-twisting fashion, Haru wasn’t the only one fighting with willpower. Though, in the end, it was the drive of his wishes versus Nomi’s petty desires that won the match. Even without his original wings, Haru proves that it’s heart that wins fights, not dirty tricks. But even in victory, there’s a sore spot when Nomi mentioned he wasn’t one of the “first generation” of Burst Linkers, and that he goes by a different name. I can’t really tell what he may mean by that, whether it implies a wave of players fighting by cheating the system and forming a new legion to combat the old legions or something else entirely, but we’ve got bigger issues to deal with.

In yet another plot twist, Chiyu comes to Nomi’s aid, healing him with Lime Bell’s special ability. I personally want to think Nomi is still blackmailing her, and she’s just afraid of inadvertently taking Taku and Haru down with her, but you can’t really tell now that Nomi’s dropped this business about not being a “first-generation” Burst Linker. There’s the possibility she’s in on it too, and is sided against Taku and Haru. I really hope not…but it seems like the next episode won’t give us many answers as it’ll focus on Kuroyukihime-sempai while on vacation (and some Burst Linker stuff probably happens…).

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket