Hyouka tries so hard to be an anime of mystery genre that I had to tag it as a mystery anime. It’s a beautiful looking sweet slice and life anime that tries to get out of conventional methods of being a regular slice of life anime and tries to do something different. Whether it succeeds or not is a very different question to which i will get to soon, but for now, I have to appreciate their effort, for making this anime a mystery anime and standing by to its regulations for the entirety of the show.
Aired On: 2012
Studio: Kyoto Animations
Hyouka is a mystery of the week type show that deals with cases that usually requires two or three episodes to solve. But, this show follows certain regulations. Unlike regular mystery anime, the protagonists of this show are not any detective or any policemen or even any adults, rather, the cast of the show are high school students (hail japan). Not that it matters much as the mystery that the show deals with might be the solid examples of, how to do a mystery right without violence. Yes, the show is a mystery show, but it doesn’t include violence, murder, supernatural or haunted cases, rather, most of the cases are pure mystery. Why did it happen, what caused it, why did he/she do this, do that? It answers these types of questions. Some mysteries aren’t that entertaining, but I have to admit, most cases they solve was solid and entertaining no doubt in that.
Meet our main protagonist Houtaro Oreki, a high school student who is so lazy to do stuffs, he even found a term for his laziness, he calls it Energy Conservation. I never understood the actual meaning of his quote, like why even bother conserving energy, it’s not like he does anything other than going to school and stay home. He does everything an average high schooler does, so why bother conserving energy, I don’t know. The character is not unique in the sense that he is lazy or something, no. Oreki is unique, because he presumably is the core detective of the series. His main job in the series is to deduct the mysteries, deduct all the possible explanations with the information’s he gets from his friends. And I gotta admit, as a character who deducts cases like in a matter of a second, he is pretty good at it. I like his deducting skills but I don’t like the stupid quotes that he gives, one of the core stupid quote of his has to be is this one, “If I don’t have to do it, I won’t, If I really have to do it, I will do it quick.”
The actual charm of the show is not Oreki, rather the female protagonist, who has an obnoxious curiosity, her curiosity level is so high that if it was a mountain, it would be somewhere close to Everest. Meet Chintanda Eru, the most curious character of the show. The reason Oreki does all the cases is because of her, Chintanda is curious at almost everything even the slightest stupid cases like, who locked the door! And most of the cases Oreki does, is because Chintanda forces him to do so.
Her curiosity is actually something that motivates Oreki to solve cases, whether he likes it or not. As I said, Oreki is a lazy character, surely he wasn’t going to do things by himself even if he was slight curious at anything, but, it was Chintanda who makes him solve the cases.
Every case starts with something happening without any solid explanation, Chintanda not understading why did it happen or why did someone would do this, her going to Oreki for help, Oreki would reject, and she would recite the glorious words by enlarging her amethyst eyes that instantly melts Oreki…….
I AM CURIOUS!
And the case solving begins from that moment.
The show features 2 main side characters that are honestly truth be told doesn’t feel like side characters rather, feels like a part of actual main cast. Satoshi Fukube is Oreki’s best friend, who is the obligatory jolly character of the show.
He has his own story for a time being but Fukube most of the time serves as a character for the mild entertainment of the show. Plus he is also the character who understands Oreki most. Oreki is a character that says something but means something else, and Fukube is great at catching what Oreki actually means, same goes for Fukube though. In one of the arc, Fukube fails really hard to let out what he actually meant, but Oreki being his best friend catches him and understands what he really means. Even though I would say the character was underdeveloped, his interactions with Oreki was one of the solid lifelike interaction, props to the writer on that aspect.
The last main cast of the show is Mayaka Ibara, she is hats off the second best character of the show. She is first and foremost a tsundere, let me clear that out. She is good at heart that can be easily recognized from her interactions with Chitanda, but she is also aggressive towards the boys specially Oreki (even though he is not her love interest.) Ibara is the character I enjoyed most in this anime and honestly without her I don’t think I would enjoy Hyouka this much.
Ibara’s portrayal is realistic at times when she clearly states in some cases that, this doesn’t make sense why are you guys going this far. Plus, in the mid arc of the show (the festival arc) she plays one of the core role. I can’t really give up info on her as that would spoil the experience for you guys but know this, I enjoyed this character and her interactions with other and I believe most will enjoy her as a character too.
Hyouka deals with cases that doesn’t include violence, rather, it deals with mysteries that are mystery for the sake of mystery (does this sentence even make any sense?). Hyouka’s mystery synopsis’s are told are from perspective of the victims (not really) and the art changes into from KyoAni’s typical colorful art to something that I would say doesn’t have any exact definitions. Parody Art? Experimental Art? Pick what you like, but these arts if not anything expresses the synopsis of the mystery extremely well, not even exaggerating it. Props to KyoAni for coming up with such extremely artistic ideas.
To even praise it more, every art that describes the synopsis of the cases differs from one another, you won’t find similarities in any of them, every artstyle is unique its own, this is where I would say Hyouka shines extremely well.
The show has extremely good characters, underdeveloped, yes, we don’t exactly experience much details of the characters background or their family background, but we do get hints. Plus, it’s not like the show puts the characters in same premise all the time, different premise brings different uniqueness to the characters and you will see them in new lights, from new perspectives. The premise shifts from regular high school premise to festival high school premise to mountain visits to village mysteries, to even Christmas festivals, all of the premises are great for mysteries and I enjoyed them really well as they introduced variety in the personality of the characters.
The art style of Hyouka is solid, I don’t even know if there is anything to judge. Kyoto Animations is a fantastic studio and it has all its charm present in Hyouka. The shadow effects, the amethyst eyes, the sunset scenes, the rose colored spring scenes, the experimental arts of the cases all of these together makes Hyouka a visual masterpiece!
Hyouka also shines with its sound department. Hyouka just like most anime’s has specific sets of ost’s that you will come to know soon if you are watching Hyouka. Specific osts are played during the synopsis of the mysteries, during gathering info’s, during suspecting someone, during solving the cases, or during leisure time when the characters aren’t doing anything related to any cases. My favourite ost has to be this one, a flute that plays Sicilienne by Gabriel Faure.
And this one, I couldn’t find the artist who’s piece was this one but just listen to the violin, it’s so immersive!
Hyouka’s features 2 opening and 2 endings, The first opening had a really great song but the clips didn’t make much sense though, but the second opening resembles Oreki’s state very well as he was shown getting dragged out of his gray colored life to rose colored life by Chintanda. The song that is played in the background is good too, but not as good as the previous opening.
The first ending of Hyouka is extremely good. Without exaggerating let me explain, the visuals that are shown in the first ending shows how strong the studio is artstyle. The song that is played is better than all 3 songs that Hyouka owns. But all these are not the reason I like this song most, I like this song most, as this song has one of the richest lyric of all time. No seriously, go ahead read the lyrics and keep playing the song on the background and keep thinking of your loved one, its really good trust me.
The second ending is good, the clips are very easy to adjust and the song has really good catchy chorus. But it is nowhere near the first ending truth be told.
All these pros I talked about doesn’t actually hide the fact that Hyouka; doesn’t have a good story. Its impressive visually, its creative with its sounds and characaters, but it at the end of the day fails to deliver a good story. For starters, it doesn’t actually have any story, it just shows the characters dealing with regular lives and solving cases in the meanwhile. Even in the cases, there is nothing on stakes, the mysteries are pure mysteries yes I get that, but I couldn’t care less about what the cases are and why it needs to be solved as, it doesn’t matter if it is solved or not. Nothing is at stake. It took no time for Hyouka to realize this fact and the instantly tried to shift the story to a murder mystery by including case where the characters have to solve a murder that happened inside a movie, but, I don’t know, you can actually include a real case Hyouka, I know it’s gonna break the immersion of the violence free show, but then again, they are doing a mystery show, how can a mystery show be entertaining without anything being in danger. Gosick had solid cases that has both mixture of high school premise and mild violence, do that kind of stuff. If they would have taken a path like the early episodes of Gosick and if they included at least a main plot, I swear it would have been a solid 9/10 anime.
But for now, Hyouka is an anime without any main plot. Plus the ending of this anime was stupid. It just ended, there was no climax, there was no conclusion to their journey. I know it is a slice of life and slice of life doesn’t really have any meaningful climactic ending, but, some SOL like Usagi Drop ended in such a way that actually feels like an ending, unlike Hyouka. They tried though, the last episode was colorful and rose colored, but, the way it ended, wasn’t satisfactory. Without spoilers, Oreki had one chance to say something and he didn’t rather imagined that in his head, which is stupid, if he would have said that it would have been a good ending I guess, a solid one. They did what they thought was right and for this reason, I am gonna say it again, Hyouka didn’t have a satisfactory ending.
But, keep in mind what I said, unsatisfactory ending doesn’t mean bad ending, it wasn’t bad, no way, it just wasn’t satisfactory.
Keeping all these in mind, Hyouka is an anime whose overall story doesn’t earn itself more than a 5/10, but, considering its fantastic visuals, great soundtracks, overall different premises, realistic interaction between the characters, mystery of the week genre, and lastly, characters being entertaining to watch, and also considering my own personal enjoyment, I rate Hyouka a
With a recommendation to buy it on blu ray as the show really deserves your money since it is a graphical masterpiece, and as it deserves a place on your collection. Hyouka is not worth watching without blu ray piece or at least 1080p resolutions, so if you are thinking blu ray is expensive, go to streaming sites (eg Crunchyroll) and stream it 1080p.
For alternate recommendation, Gosick is a must watch as it has the same mystery of the week style plot, but, the pros of Gosick is that it actually has a main plot (which is not that great, at least it has one), and it has a darker tone than Hyouka.
With all this I conclude my review for now. Thank you all very much for your patience. See you guys on my next review.