Month (October) - Review time
Ok, firstly apologies for not reviewing these back in October, turned out to be a very busy month traveling over-seas and work being super busy. I also forgot about it due to other commitments I made for FGN for early 2016.
Enough of the excuses time for my reviews, these won’t be super long!
High school without a doubt has become the most ubiquitous setting for anime nowadays. Yet Hyouka manages to stand out amongst the endless swathes of high school anime that inevitably center around cute high school girls and mediocre slice of life stories.
“I don’t do anything I don’t have to. What I have to do, I do quickly.” - The motto of our protagonist Oreki Houtarou
We find ourselves in the Classic Literature Club of which Oreki Houtarou, our energy-conserving protagonist has reluctantly become a member and is soon joined by his eclectic group of friends, thus completing the groundwork for this “mystery” anime. When one considers what constitutes a “mystery” show, it is often associated with preconceptions of crime, horror and eerie suspense but Hyouka is not your typical mystery show as it centers on mysteries of little real-life consequence. These aren’t mysteries whose resolution will lead to justice being carried out but mysteries whose consequence lies in how it affects our characters. Nonetheless, Hyouka excels at executing these mysteries and in an atypical manner, with each of our main characters bringing a unique perspective in solving these mysteries, making the process fascinating as we observe the quirky and unpredictable methodologies being used. As the series progresses so do the depth of the mysteries which begin to have actual consequences to our four lead characters lives and relationships.
For most people, the short years spent in high-school are often the turning point and highlight of their lives; a time filled with introspection and change, where some dreams end and others are born to take their place. However, Oreki is not one of these people and is reluctant to allow change within himself as well as that which surrounds him.
But the world in which Hyouka is set, just like our own, is in a state of constant change. For Oreki this change comes in the form of a young girl by the name of Chitanda Eru. Whilst Oreki tries to deny it, Chitanda Eru has attracted his attention and refuses to let it go. With the simple statement “I’m Curious”, uttered by Chitanda, Oreki is helpless but to help her solve the mystery at hand no matter how mundane. Yet as Hyouka progresses the change which Chitanda brings is relieved to be an essential part in forming Oreki’s character.
Hyouka has its moments of slow story progress and cringe worthy narrative, however, what makes Hyouka so enjoyable is not the satisfaction of decrypting the mysterious but following the development of our 4 main characters throughout each one. The inner monologue and thought process Oreki has throughout the series had me hooked on the show the most and kept me watching throughout the slower moments. Hyouka is an exemplar of how the high school slice of life genre could be achieved as the relationships between our characters are captivating yet incredibly realistic with each action remaining true to the psyche of high schoolers and the ways they make decisions.
Kyoto Animation (Kyoani), must be lauded for how brilliantly Hyouka is presented. The atmosphere is prominently compelling with both the visuals and the sound contributing vastly in creating a well-constructed universe that entirely fits Hyouka’s quirkiness. The animation is also of the best I’ve seen – be it the expressions, movements or the background/setting, they are smoothly animated with appropriate lighting and a rich colour palette to fit the tone of each episode.
Hyouka, exemplifies the high-school/slice-of-life genre and proves why anime in this genre are worth watching and as an added bonus I found the fan service in Hyouka to be little to non-existent and that’s one of the reason I liked it so much.However, were it falls slightly short simply due to the sense of complete-in-completion, in other words the ending feels like the end of a single chapter, a chapter in our four character’s lives. I say no more to avoid spoilers but if you do watch it you may find out.
3. Zankyou no Terror