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)