Posted on 22 September 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hyouka



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.

Suggestions:
Hourou Musuko
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Hana-Saku Iroha

Posted on with categories: Hyouka

So Hyouka’s finale isn’t a big arc, but instead a collection of small stories. There’s a lot of character development in them, but nothing is definitively resolved. Pretty much a life goes on ending due to there still being a novel left unanimated, which I suspect will be saved for a movie if the sales go well enough. Kyoani has the tendency to announce those much later after finishing the series, so who knows when that will come, if it’ll come at all, so right now, I’ll just conisder this as the ending of Hyouka.

And while it wasn’t the best episode, both in terms of content of how far it pushed the relationship between Oreki and Chitanda, I still quite liked it. The parade was a very nice way for the animators to show some of their skills, and it was very well directed there, and it does serve as an interesting closure. The mystery itself was probably one of the simplest yet, and I feel like the creators could have done more during the cherry blossom scene at the end. I like how the creators toyed with the cherry blossom tropes by using Oreki’s imagination there… but it’s not quite there yet.

The one thing I also liked a lot about this episode is the detail it put in local customs, and the things it takes to organize them, the people who are all involved with them and the effort it takes to make everything go without a hitch. I didn’t care much about the mystery of who was behind the bridge, but the stress that this created was very well portrayed.

So yeah, Kyoani really need to so a non- moe slice of life series, however Hyouka was a very good compromise. Next season they’ll have Chuuninbyou, which unfortunately looks much more generic in terms of formula. But it has a great director, so who knows what’ll happen?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 10 September 2012 with categories: Hyouka

This was an interesting episode. I mean, movie or no movie: the series is ending next week, so Kyoani can pour even more budget than usual into it. The result is a really well animated episodic story with weird build-up.

I mean weird build-up in the way that this episode on one hand develops Satoshi, it explains his actions of some of the previous arcs, and on the other hand it suddenly turns Mayaka and Satoshi into a couple. Now, I know that my memory isn’t the greatest with these kinds of things… but have we ever seen hints to that twist before? I mean, it’s not something that blossomed overnight: they’ve apparently been going on for more than a year now. And with the incredible attention to detail that this series has, I find it hard to believe that they’d never hint at this. So did I miss something?

But whatever faults Hyouka may have had there, it made up for it by giving a very different meaning to his part in the school festival arc. What he did there wasn’t jealousy, it was a battle of him trying to win from his obsession. He allowed himself to dabble a bit with trying to solve things, but he never went far into it like Oreki did. It makes much more sense: if he’s such a large sherlock-fan, then why doesn’t he try to formulate theories or brainstorm? Well, that’s why. And that’s also why Oreki’s plan last week went wrong.

Also weird was Chitanda. I mean, the usual progression for a character like her is to done down: as she grows up she becomes more mature in the process. She however is completely different and after the school festival arc, she suddenly got more extreme, acting more and more on her feelings than she already did before. The animators really liked to exemplify that with a particular few scenes.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 3 September 2012 with categories: Hyouka

You know what? There is one volume of the light novels left, right? And it’s one continuous story, right? With this episode something dawned to me: Kyoani could be toying with the idea of making a movie for this show, couldn’t they? I mean, I’m not sure how their policy with movies is after they made one for Haruhi, K-On and… Munto, but Hyouka would actually work perfectly in movie-format with its slow pacing. I mean, I’d love to see it, but they’re not going to do a climax of only two episodes.

As for this episode, the mystery in it was completely different from any other episode so far. Oreki didn’t have to solve something weird that was going on, but rather he had to find something to get the attention of a specific person. His final solution was quite creative. It was also a realistic look at symbolism: what kind of symbols would someone understand if one spotted this randomly, and which symbols would just be too obscure?

But this episode was really there to flesh out the cast some more. Oreki and Chitanda got to spend a lot of time together, and Satoshi finally was useful for something. The whole set-up of this episode was also great and down to earth, in the way that everyone had different agendas throughout the whole episode beyond just the main plot. Touches like this show once more that the rest of the cast also have lives and things to do.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 27 August 2012 with categories: Hyouka

Once again a really nice standalone episode for Hyouka, so close to the end. I have to say: I’m really enjoying these episodes more compared to the individual episodes of the first half of the series. It’s not just because we now know the characters and that this show is now able to use this in its storytelling (most notably the interplay between Oreki and Chitanda), but the mysteries themselves also have gotten more interesting. I relaly liked the idea of piecing a story together from a random strange announcement over the school intercom.

This was just two people sitting in a room, trying to piece together something that happened, and I like episodes like this, especially considering how much detail the writers managed to put into it and how everything just started with one simple sentence: Oreki picked apart every single detail of it in order to get to his conclusion. Satoshi and Ibara were completely absent, so this was just about Oreki and Chitanda.

Now, I wouldn’t actually mind if the show ended on random episodes like these, or even a short arc of three episodes. In fact, it’s great for the variety in this series to play with the set-up like this, especially after the long school festival arc. Having a series in which the arcs are all the same length does get a bit boring, but here they are able to switch things up, and especially this episode was significantly different from the others. That’s great! Yay for variety!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 21 August 2012 with categories: Hyouka

We’re back to episodic stories again for a while, though this episode was slightly different from these kinds of episodes that we saw in the first half of this series. Instead of some small incident happening with Oreki having to solve it, it turned into a bit of a character-study for one of the teachers that the characters had when they were in middle school.

On top of that, this was a really interesting episode for Oreki and Chitanda. The two got to spend a lot of time together, and on top of that they both showed different sides of them in this episode: Oreki for finally being a bit mildly curious on his own accord, and Chitanda for sacrificing a lot of her time to just be with him in this. The end of the episode, in which Oreki explained why he went to the library to check things up really brought out something good out of both of them.

On a side-note: this has piqued my interest after that really long school festival arc: it looks like next episode will be a standalone story as well. That means that the conclusion arc for this series will just be three episodes long (Hyouka only has 22 episodes). So yeah, it’ll be short and sweet for this series’ standards, but I wonder: is it just going to be another arc like the previous ones, or one that actually feels like a really good conclusion?
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 13 August 2012 with categories: Hyouka

Well done, Hyouka. I applaud you. This episode brought things together perfectly and it gave everyone a conclusion after so much time of build-up.

Chitanda had her part with the broadcasting club, followed by that interesting advice Irisu gave her. After so long trying to advertise the club, she indeed ended up doing things a bit ham-handedly, and got pointed out for it, and I like that she too realized that she’s not going to do that again and that it was just something necessary to sell all of those anthologies.

Ibara meanwhile had this really genuine conclusion with that one girl, and I like how it indeed was true that there was a reason for her acting like that. That on its own was perhaps nothing special, but it removed so much stress from Ibara that it was really charming to see her, after how well the previous episodes portrayed her state of mind.

The real stars of the episode were Hotarou and the actual culprit: the vice president of the student council. My guess turned out to be half-right, I guess. Hotarou just went with his hunch speculated a bit and successfully managed to unmask the guy. And I think that that is the difference between him and Satoshi: imagination. Hotarou is really able to think between the lines. And the story behind everything was awesome, in which the whole plot was used as a way to ask a really good writer to continue with what he was doing.

This is really how you create a slow-paced series right. Instead of dragging things out, you use the extra time to give mode detail to the setting, characters, storyline. It’s because of all that build-up that this episode was so good, and I really like how believable the cast turned out here. If the creators can take this even further for the final arc, then it’ll really become amazing.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 8 August 2012 with categories: Hyouka

This arc still is going on? I thought that by now, the characters would have solved things by now, but they really are teking their time solving everything.

So this episode did something very interesting in terms of mystery: it toyed with its conventions. What I mean by that is that in this episode it provided the clues needed for the audience to figure out the culprit of the Juumonji case, but they did not show him whatsoever. They basically fleshed a guy out really well without ever showing him. Now that takes a very good writer to pull off.

So yeah, my theory: the student council president is behind everything, with the goal to spice up the school festival and have a bit of fun. Oreki’s sister probably talked to him last year when she bought that manga and figured out that he had something planned. That’s all pretty clear now, it’s just that the guy himself is an enigma.

Beyond that there also was some really good characterization on the rest of the cast. Mayaka’s reaction when that girl spashed water over her was particularly well done. Chitanda was as fun as ever, but who really caught my surprise was Satoshi. Is it me, or did this episode show a different side of him: a side that’s jealous of Oreki for being able to solve everything he can’t.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 30 July 2012 with categories: Hyouka

This episode returned to the mystery, mostly to building up everything for what will probably be the climax next week. For the first time, we’re also looking at a thriller, rather than solving a mystery that has already happened, because the classics club will be the last one on the list of clubs to be robbed. I have to give it to Hyouka: every major arc is distinct and different: the first was about solving a mystery of more than 40 years ago, the second about writing a mystery plot and Oreki being wrong, and now this.

I’m especially curious how this series will end up using the really slow build-up of the past arc. I mean, this episode diligently continued that: it shed more light on that annoying club member for Sayaka, it subtly developed Chitanda’s attempts to reach out to other clubs, and Satoshi’s classmate returned, on top of him trying out a few things to catch the culprit.

At this point, I can only think of how someone just stole things for the heck of it. Either to make some sort of statement, to entertain a bunch of people by spicing up the school festival or something. Beyond that I can’t think of why someone would steal these random things, and leave notes about them in the process.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Nice)

Posted on 24 July 2012 with categories: Hyouka

I was surprised that out of all people who Chitanda managed to find to help her, it was that one upperclassman of the previous arc. It made for quite a strange scene with Chitanda being intimidated and all by the tips she gave. Beyond that, this again was a very enjoyable episode in which the characters did all sorts of events. I have to give it to this series: it brought something new to the overused school festival.

This had this degree of detail that is just missing in all of the other school festival arcs I’ve seen. The pacing may be a bit slow, but because of that it could show as much as possible, with the crown being the cooking competition, which showed new things about all four main characters and showed a lot of detail in all of the different dishes that were made and how they were made. This is something that only Kyoto Animation can do, so I’m glad that they at least made use of their talents, as much as I’d like them to do something different from a school series.

I also like how Sayaka pretty much made a big fuss last episode for nothing. As for Oreki, he actually raised his voice. On top of that, I liked how creatively the creators tied in his whole trading subplot with the cooking contest. The next episode will finally be about actual mystery, but heck: this arc already served its purpose to flesh out just about everything in this series. The question now will be to actually use this. It’s of course one thing to have a well fleshed out cast, but what would make that even better is actively using all of that.
Rating: (Excellent)

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  • Friend
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 08:15 AM)
    :-)
  • Friend
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 08:11 AM)
    @Bam I’ve sent you the rough sketch via Deviantart. Don’t expect too much, It’s only done to show the perspective and lighting.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 06:43 AM)
    @Friend: I’m excited to see it, but unfortunately hadn’t had long access to desktop to draft mine yet :/
    You might wanna leave an indication on yours as to where the shaman goes if you can, that would be great.
  • Friend
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 06:34 AM)
    Woah, that was a long discussion about the Inca O.o
    @Bam I’m nearly done with the rough draft, maybe a few more hours.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 06:20 AM)
    @Vincent: That was pretty much the entirety of it. We were destined to cross Mississippi and inhabit the west, so why not take an active part in manifesting our supposed fate?
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 03:34 AM)
    @Vincent No shit.
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 03:14 AM)
    @Bam Slightly. Did americans use manifest destiny as an excuse to steal land from the natives?
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 03:05 AM)
    @Vincent: I guess we were slightly more honest about it. It is funny how we use the fact after the matter as evidence of our divine providence. It’s like holding a gun to somebody and saying “fate wants you to die”, proceed to shoot them, and then say “see! I was right” lol
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:56 AM)
    @Bam But unlike the american concept of manifest destiny, the Japanese used it as an excuse to wage what they were really doing: a war to hoard resources.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:52 AM)
    @Vincent: I see. A similar doctrine to Manifest Destiny.

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