Posted by psgels on 30 April 2012 with categories: Hyouka

My big issue with Kyoani is their lack of ambition. They’ve got some amazing animators in house. The could bring the most amazing stories to life with that. But no, we need the random antics of high school girls! In particular it’s the series Lucky Star, K-On and Nichijou which all failed to capture my interest. worst of all was Lucky Star, which I actually finished in the hopes of finding out why people were so lyrical about it. I didn’t figure it out. And it was a chore. Hyouka features high school students talking to each other a lot, but finally it’s actually going somewhere. The characters aren’t randomly yapping about the same things over and over: there is progression. That’s what caught my interest for this series, and I want to see where it’s going.

Which brings me to another quirk of Kyoani: taking really long to build up and set up everything. This is a double-edged sword: if all of the build-up gets to the point of annoyance, then it will have failed its purpose. The trick with these kinds of series is to still have something redeemable when building up. For example I rate Kobato higher than Mirai Nikki because Kobato’s first half, even though it was random and often cheesy, still was very genuine and had interesting characters. Mirai Nikki meanwhile was a drag because there were too many characters who just weren’t. Kyoani’s series try to tackle this problem with realism: having characters act realistic and down to earth. It worked well with Air and Clannad, but Haruhi and Kanon suffered from characters trying too hard to be moe, leading to me dropping both before eventually giving them a chance to properly sit them out and appreciate what they were building up for.

Hyouka is looking good. The premise of this series hasn’t come up yet (that whole another-like premise of a student dying 30 years ago), and instead it’s keeping itself busy with random trivial mysteries. The way it goes to solve these is actually quite interesting: the train of thoughts of the character sin particular is interesting to watch, even when things are as silly as wondering why five different students would borrow the same book for five consecutive weeks.

The animation of this series is also very fluid and dynamic, but it’s especially the few scenes of symbolism each episode where the artists can really show off to make this a feast for the eyes.
Rating: *+ (Great)

25 Responses

  1. TheDoorIntoSummer says:

    If Clannad – or any Key VN, for what matters – has characters that act realistic and down to earth in them, then I’m Santa Claus.

  2. jzar says:

    I do find it interesting so far…..hard to say though if it can hold the long haul. I wonder if this has an manga source or is it original?

  3. AidanAK47 says:

    “Kyoani’s series try to tackle this problem with realism: having characters act realistic and down to earth. It worked well with Air and Clannad, but Haruhi and Kanon suffered from characters trying too hard to be moe, leading to me dropping both before eventually giving them a chance to properly sit them out and appreciate what they were building up for.”

    Psgels…you are doing it again. Remember. An animation studio adapts a work. They don’t write it. They can make changes here and there but any compliments on the story or characters go to the author. Not the animation studio.

    And yeah, Air and Clannad having realistic and down to earth characters? Not a chance in hell. As for Haruhi’s characters were more stereotypes than MOE. I believe that was intentional for them to serve as parodies of such overused stereotypes. Still doesn’t change the fact they are stereotypes though…

  4. akarimizunashi says:

    congratulations! now you can finally have a kyoani series with blatant development, but unfortunately it’s at the expense of the most generically uninspired writing and character interaction.

    explain to me again how chitanda isn’t simply pandering to lonely otaku and trying way too hard to be moe? I understand you may not have enjoyed haruhi, but why not be a little less hypocritical.

  5. Denizen says:

    It does piss me off when KyoAni gets so much praise. It’s animation is fluid, but not nearly as impressive as the stuff showcased in say Birdy Decode or those shows which bust out the sakuga occasionally. That can be excused, but the lack of ambition not so much.

    KyoAni gets love, and yet the likes of Brains Base or Bones who have been around for the same amount of time have covered a gigantic amount of genres, settings, demographics and animation styles. These studios have pushed the boat out and made quality work, yet apparently I am meant to be in awe of a studio that produces boring high school girl shows every year without fail, and has a financial interest rather than a desire to make cool show. Munto was great, but it seems not even KyoAni cared for that.

    Hyouka I hoped would be a step in the right direction, but it’s honestly just…boring. It’s like they simply took the utter irrelevancy of some of the dialogue and plot of others shows and injected it into a mystery setting. The mysteries so far have been absoutely terrible, there’s simply no reason to care – even in a deliberately mundane setting, you can write much better scenarios than that. The production values are good but they are just wasted.

    • Martin says:

      As a professional animator i would say Kyoani is a talented animation studio. Their shows dont exactly have the standard flashy action sakuga moments (Nichijou is an exception); their excellence is in their character animation which is something the common viewer takes for granted. Not to mention there’s also the excellent bg art and compositing. Their usual genre of choice is not my cup of tea but I can overlook that and take notice of the talented and cohesive group of animators they have.

      I did enjoy both seasons of birdy decode (more season 2 actually) and appreciated the forward thinking animation. I’d recommend Nichijou if you want to see Kyoani having fun with animation (if you can get past the moe of it like I did)

  6. LifeCarrier says:

    I sadly have to agree with you. I enjoyed Haruhi (more the first season than the second) and this show gave me a haruhish vibe on the first ep which kept me interested.

    Chitanda had my moe alarms ringing on the first ep, but I hoped it was only for the show introduction and she’d be developed further than “an eccentric belle” from then onwards. Seems that’s not gonna happen.

    I can’t quite point my finger at it, but there´s something I find haruhi characters had that’s been missing in some of Kyoani’s shows like K-on or this one, which made their moe traits less annoying. Sure Mikuru was moe but she seemed to have a personality, and her moe traits seemed to be in line with it. On these other shows it seems to be forcefully inserted and out of character at times, it’s off putting when a character acts so unrealistic to pander lonely otakus as you say.

    • LifeCarrier says:

      Oops this was meant as a reply to akarimizunashi

    • Puran says:

      You’re comparing something that had two seasons and a movie, with something that had a whole two episodes to develop the characters…

      Two episodes in haruhi we had the episode 0 (the movie) and the introductory episode…

  7. LifeCarrier says:

    I felt your concern for pacing on this episode psgels.

    Aside from the new character introduction we got a whole lot more of the same we got on the first episode, Chitanda is cute and excitable, Houtaro is stand-offish and collected, Satoshi is easy going and takes jabs at houtaro any chance he gets, a trivial mysery gets solved.

    Maybe I’ve become too accustomed to 12 episode shows but I felt this episode a little redundant and thus boring, not that much happened that wasn’t already seen or implied on the first one.

    I hope it’s not like K-On where the same tropes get repeated each episode supposedly entertaining.

  8. Orange says:

    Aside from eye-candy, there isn’t much else, is there?

  9. hoiut says:

    No comments on the ED, psgels, anyone?

    Maybe my memory eludes me, but I can’t recall KyoAni making such a… strange, yuri-esque otaku-pandering ED.

    And maybe I’m just seeing it ALL WRONG. But seriously, what the heck is with the ED?

    • Orange says:

      I believe it’s fanservice without fanservice? It’s very strange, but the term ‘otaku-pandering’ seems out of place. Certainly things like this have appeared in other shows and are more ‘intense’. I don’t think it’s breaking any boundaries.

    • B. says:

      I had a similar feeling.
      It was really out of place. :/

  10. wicked says:

    Having read the source material, the anime is on somewhat of a chapter per episode by the current pacing, maybe a little quicker. Light novel characterization are essentially like manga characters, having certain aspects pop for instant identification, though the same tropes works in most western television, just different traits are accentuated. However if you’re looking for murder mysteries, this will not end well. As the author and the material they chose to adapt specializes almost exclusively on “Mundane” mysteries, which loses it’s appeal sometimes if the “mundane” portrayed doesn’t resonate with the audiences’ own experiences on some level. I’d defend that it’s not so boring as each chapter presents its own little hint about the central mystery, but in the end, it’s actually not a mystery that audiences might get particularly invested in. Those expecting a high stakes situation for drama is probably not going to get it. Watch as a slice of life piece with mysteries infused is a probably a better mindset than watching it as a mystery piece with slice of life e;ements

    • LifeCarrier says:

      I’m glad I read your post, seems like I might be dissapointed by the end. What can you tell me about the romance part? Is it an important aspect throughout? Is there drama regarding the relationship that the four of them have?

      If it’s just them solving mundane mysteries without much romantic development I don-t think it’s gonna cut it for me.

      • wicked says:

        It would depend on how they adapt the source material. the volume they chose to adapt did not advance the romance. Hyouka was the first of a series of books featuring the same “scooby gang”, but due to the rather non-mainstream material, there’s unlikely any further adaptation of the series. According to the current pacing they have about a 2-3 episode leeway to add something more, and they have Shoji Gatoh, author of FMP! for series composition.

        The drama is not between the main cast at all, though it’s something that Chitanda has an intimate connections to. The main mystery will be revealed in the next episode, and for many people, that’d be the best jumping off point. The book is essentially about Chitanda, though most actions taken by her was she “forcing” Houtarou to solve problems and mysteries.

        The light novels are very much categorized as manga, and this work leans toward a shonen manga title(though the main character is the antithesis of a shonen manga lead character), any romantic interest is meant to be subtle so that it doesnt destroy the overall dynamic of the group.

    • rubix says:

      A show that isn’t overly dramatic, doesn’t have cheesy action scenes, or forced plot gimmicks? But decides to focus on a realistic portrayal of a normal high school life with realistic everyday mysterious that most people could relate to? If this is the direction this show is headed, I don’t think I’d mind. It sounds pretty mellow, something nice to cool your head off with. Undoubtedly, people who want some kind of hook would probably be disappointed, but as a person who’s a bit tired of watching high-intensity shows, this seems like a nice change of pace.

      • wicked says:

        There is a more central mystery at work that is somewhat dramatic, but it is nothing thrilling, rather it’s somewhat of a bitter truth.

        • Andmeuths says:

          Episode Three Rule seems to be in effect for Hyouka.

          Personally, I enjoy the ambiance in the show. For one, the characters are rather more realistic variants of several common archetypes.

          I really cannot grasp the hostility to towards the show, beyond… it’s boring.

  11. akarimizunashi says:

    I guess my post came off as negativity towards hyouka, but it’s rather a distaste towards people making excuses for present enjoyment.

    if you develop some RULE that whatever you label as purposeful ‘moe’ is inherently less-valued and a cheap gimmick, then stick to it. in your praise for one show that you are currently enjoying (possibly in comparison), why disparage other shows that are essentially doing the same thing that you supposedly object to?

    there is nothing wrong with personal preferences. if you personally cannot stand female characters that are trying to hard to be moe and accept that notion as your defacto creed in judging anime… then that’s just how you feel. I would never object to someone’s preferences but I’m totally clueless as to how chitanda or any of the characterization in this show should then be exempt from your established negative judgment.

    I certainly don’t intend this post to be mean spirited in any way as I always appreciate your dedication to this wonderful blog, but I’m slightly put off by your need to denigrate other works by kyoani in order to justify your affection for this show.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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