Kyoani annoy me at times. I mean, they employ some fantastic animators and they’re superb at keeping up a crisp and consistent animation quality, but they just keep making shows I don’t care about. I just don’t like pure slice of life series in which nothing happens or that just keep repeating themselves. Thankfully with Hyouka, they went for a series that had a dash of mystery, so for the first time in years I finally could really enjoy their work again.
And Hyouka still has a ton of slice of life. It aims to be very down to earth, and create believable characters. The difference here with K-On, Lucky Star and Nichijou is that there is something going on other than random slice of life. Each of its episodes is dedicated to the characters trying to solve some sort of mystery. And the mystery aren’t the regular ones that you’ve gotten used to in anime. The characters here are o crime solves, but instead the mysteries are all very mundane and simple, especially the episodic stories. Think of a kimono that is missing, or some other detail that just doesn’t fit right. It’s all about speculating and coming up with theories, while the characters live their daily lives.
The series is laid out with basically three major arcs, and all kinds of random episodic stories inbetween them. The episodic stories are nice and creative, but this series really sets itself apart in its multi episode arcs. The stories around them are simple, yet have very complicated stories behind them. They are full of people speculating different theories, and often getting things wrong. The storytelling takes a while to get going due to all of the slice of life put into it, but that allows it to put a ton of detail in these stories, examine everything on multiple layers, and the pay-off really manages to make use of its build-up.
And if it’s an attention to detail you want, then Hyouka really delivers on that. Whether it’s in the relationships between the characters, or the different environments. Kyoani’s animation really brings those to life. The characters themselves are all teenagers who at first sight seem like the usual stereotypes, yet develop into completely different directions. There is one character who will probably get on people’s nerves a lot though: Chitanda. She’s well fleshed out in some areas, but also rather forceful. Or make that very forceful.
Hyouka is just a very well made shows that loves to use its own simplicity as a smokescreen for a detailed cast of characters and setting. It’s subtle in a lot of different ways, so if you like these kinds of series, then definitely give it a show, because it has a lot to deliver in that area.
|Storytelling:||8.5/10 – Slow-paced, but very detailed and subtle.|
|Characters:||8.5/10 – Relatively little character development, but it’s made up for it by likable acting and excellent characterization.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Kyoani managed to really bring the characters alive with their animation here.|
|Setting:||8.5/10 – Loves the mundane type mysteries. Doesn’t really make for an epic series, but it’s most definitely very interesting to watch.|