Anime Review: Hyouka
High school. Mystery. Sparkly eyes.
That’s pretty much the main themes of Hyouka, an anime released by Kyoto Animation since spring. So fair warning, if you’re looking for high-octane action and fanservice (bewbz) they aren’t here. Sorry! Well…if you count a beach/pool episode then there is a little fanservice.
Now, I always try to make it a habit to watch anything that KyoAni releases. They’ve done the Full Metal Panic series and a bunch of classics like Kanon, Clannad, and The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. I’ve always enjoyed their production, artistic views, and the nuances they bring into the anime genre.
Hyouka is from a novel by Honobu Yonezawa of the same name. It’s the first volume of a series called Koten-bu. Also, earlier this year Task Ohna started a manga adaptation, which then leads to the anime adaptation I’ll be covering.
The story introduces the main character, Houtaro Oreki. He is an underachiever that likes to conserve his energy as much as he can. His motto is “If I don’t have to do it, I wont. If I have to do it, make it quick.”
Alongside of him is a friend since middle-school, Satoshi Fukube. Unlike, Oreki he is the total opposite in terms of drive and personality. Satoshi calls himself a human “database” because of his knack for remembering things no matter how useless it may be. On the discussion of joining clubs, Oreki states to Satoshi that he is actually joining the Literacy Club. This of course, comes to a surprise to Satoshi since this this seems so out of character. Of course there was a reason to joining. Oreki’s older sister had specifically requested him to join the club since it had lost all its previous members and was going to die out. If the request itself wasn’t enough, Oreki’s sister is pretty skilled in Akido so denying the request is out of the question for Oreki.
Upon entering the clubroom, he experiences the classic boy-meets-girl scenario with a girl named Chitanda Eru. Chitanda comes from a long-line of farmers and is very wealthy, knowledgeable, but somewhat of a klutz and very curious when it comes to things that peaks her interest. She coins the phrase “kininarimasu!” which means “I’m curious!” and uses her adventurous but innocent charm to convince Oreki to assist her in figuring out mysteries.
During their first encounter, they stumble upon a small mystery. With the help of Satoshi’s database mind, Oreki gathers enough clues to draw up a theory and then proves it. Drawing up theories and coming to convincing and accurate conclusions starts to become Oreki’s talent, which he brushes off as just luck. Yet, his talents seems good enough for Chitanda to request him to find out about a forgotten past of hers…
There’s also a fourth character the joins them in the 2nd episode named Mayaka Ibara. She also knows Satoshi (she calls him Fuku-chan) and Oreki from middle-school. She isn’t fond of Oreki, but has feelings for Satoshi.
Anyways, back to the overall anime…I’m pretty fond of slice-of-life anime and this follows the genre with a mystery twist. Though, the mysteries aren’t murder-related or finding ghosts. The mysteries are things like a lost memory and stolen items. The premise for each mystery is approached in a humorous or dramatic way, which engages the viewer. Then the process of gathering clues, creating theories, and coming to conclusions occurs in multiple episodes if needed.
Now, just from the previous statement, one can see that the content can be more verbal than visual. The anime does a good job of adding bits of comedic instances. For example, Chitanda clasps Oreki’s hands and pleads him to help her with something, then the scene shows Oreki’s imagination which shows Chitanda and her hair grasping Oreki completely along with some organic motifs and sparkles during the scene. Also, another thing that KyoAni has developed with their production is their skillful use of inner-monologues, which gives some quick-witted responses to dialogues or a situation.
Yet, if those gimmicks don’t seem to fit your fancy and if you don’t like long winded dialogues, then this anime might not be for you. The production value is great as well as the art, but depending on your interest it may or may not work for you. Still, if you find yourself saying “KININARIMASU” after this review, check it out for yourself.