"I don't do anything I don't have to. What I have to do, I do quickly."
For most people, the short years spent in highschool are often the turning point and highlight of their lives; a time filled with introspection and change, where some dreams end and others are born to take their place. On the other hand, there are some who reject this notion and choose to spend their days as uneventfully and routinely as possible, never straying too far from their comfort zone and established lifestyle. After all, why waste the energy on trivial matters?
Oreki Houtarou is one of these individuals.
Set during the
dull and grey life of Oreki's first year in highschool, the story begins with an important change to his individual status quo — the joining of the school's Classics Club, albeit out of obligation rather than choice. Receiving a letter from his older sister asking him to join the club to keep it from being disbanded from lack of membership, he solemnly accepts his duties and sends in a club registration form, which appropriately causes surprise for his close friend Satoshi. For an individual uninterested by studying, sports, and socalizing, joining a club can be an arduous and painful ordeal. And indeed, if not for a certain girl immediately joining the club, Oreki could very well have maintained his status quo of living dully and freely.
But perhaps change isn't always a bad thing.
This changing force is Chitanda Eru, serving as the contrast to Oreki's behavior. Shortly after their first exchange, Chitanda drives Oreki into a set of mysteries involving the club and its later two members, a repeated occurence often instigated by her eyes lighting in excitement and being followed by her catchphrase, "I can't stop thinking about it!". These mysteries are what form the bread and butter of the story, so it's a fortunate thing then that the mysteries themselves are varied; involving fairly interesting situations such as a room being locked or ghost sightings during a hot springs trip, and trivial events such as why a student was suddenly called to the office after school. No two mysteries are the same, and while several of the episodes are independent stories, three distinct arcs constitute the bulk of the episodes and the development of the characters.
Fortunately (and not so fortunately) the fairly lighthearted formula established in the self-contained stories is mostly reversed into something more dramatic and serious in the main story arcs once things finally get heated. It provides a refreshing contrast between the two and prevents things from feeling too repetitive or stale. Problems unfortunately come as a result with this change in tone, however. The dialogue can sometimes come across as being cheesy with overdramatized and exaggerated reactions to some of the events, such as Chitanda gasping in shock like the world has just ended when a book is missing from the clubroom, Oreki yelling and giving a death glare when his senior manipulates him a little bit, or the other three members of the Classics Club treating Oreki as some kind of savant for solving what are often very simple mysteries. Considering the trivial and often lighthearted nature of these mysteries, the overdramatization in the script is something that stands out as being very inconsistent with the overall tone of the series.
Another flaw exists with the mysteries themselves, and those watching the series primarily for that aspect are very likely to find themselves disappointed or bored, especially with the self-contained stories whose mysteries are often so trivial and juvenile that they are more equivalent to a curious question than anything else. They lack the depth necessary to truly become something well-written and engaging, and have very little in common with the mystery novels that the anime frequently references. Though these mysteries don't qualify as being bad, they're mostly mediocre and certainly don't stand well on their own. Instead, much of the appeal and enjoyment of Hyouka comes from the relationship between the characters and their interactions with one another.
Similar to the dynamic between Sherlock Holmes and Watson, three of the main characters in Hyouka each fill a specific role in the club: Chitanda instigates the mystery, Satoshi provides information, and Oreki deduces. While the early episodes may give an impression of this being formulaic, the characters soon break from the mold and begin to do things that don't strictly pertain to their accepted role and behavior. For example, Oreki may decide to instigate the mystery himself or in one specific case Satoshi attempts to be the one to unravel and deduce. One main character even ends up being the culprit in one episode which makes for a fairly surprising conclusion.
Luckily, there's enough substance to their interactions that they come across as normal human beings rather than simple stereotypes, though Chitanda's eccentric traits and curiosity are often exaggerated for comedic effect. The characters all show a wide spectrum of emotion and get disappointed or angry depending on the situation (despite problems with the aforementioned overdramatization) or joke around and playfully criticize one another when things are going well. What mainly shines, though, is Oreki's and Chitanda's relationship, stemming from how heavily their personalities and behavior contrast with each other. Seeing him react and deal with her curious and capricious behavior always makes for some endearing and amusing scenes, with blushing and romantic moments abound.
Then again, none of this would be very interesting in the first place if these characters didn't stand out by themselves or possess any distinguishing qualities. It's thanks to the writers' aptitude that the main characters undergo a considerable amount of development over the course of the series, resulting in something that is fundamentally more complex and dynamic. The majority of this development is focused on the protagonist, Oreki, as his dull life slowly changes into something more colorful and vibrant. At the start he's very reluctant to expend energy on anything that isn't absolutely necessary which is what causes him to repeatedly rebuke Chitanda for roping him into these situations. Mainly a result of the enjoyable time he has with Chitanda and the Classics Club, Oreki begins to realize that being involved and competent with something might not be such a bad thing after all. He starts to willingly pursue these mysteries through his own effort and curiosity, without the need of Chitanda urging him to investigate. For a person so bent on doing nothing with his days and conserving all time and energy possible, it's only natural for the rest of the club members to point out his change in behavior.
Change isn't only evident in Oreki, though, as Chitanda, Satoshi, and Mayaka also experience it to varying extents. In particular, Satoshi — often serving as the comic relief — becomes unsatisfied with his role and lack of recognition in comparison to Oreki. For several episodes he trails off into the mystery by himself in a mostly unsuccesful effort to duplicate or better Oreki's deductive skills. The jealousy being portrayed in some scenes is a somewhat unneeded and perhaps cliche, but this arc in the story provides a pleasant change to Satoshi's character and is successful in fleshing him out much more than in the early episodes. The second-to-last episode takes this further as well with even Satoshi understanding his change and becoming happy with his new lifestyle. Mayaka also gets some much needed screentime during the third arc which involves her status in the Manga Society club and her relationship with its members, with the outcome of this sidestory being something fairly satisfying and conclusive. Chitanda on the other hand changes surprisingly little over the course of the series though perhaps it's for the best. After all, she fills a necessary and important role in the story as the foil of Oreki and catalyst for his change and development. If Chitanda wasn't her usual self, where would Oreki be?
Now, there's one thing that can be agreed upon in regards to Hyouka, and that is that Kyoto Animation has made this show absolutely stunning visually.
The presentation of Hyouka is one of the most outstanding aspects about the series. Mood and atmosphere is set by the prominent lighting and by the events and monologues which are heavily stylistic and surprisingly abstract at times, occasionally taking the viewer away from the normality of the situation and into a place much more surreal. There's a distinct visual element present in Oreki's thought process with the layer of each mystery being carefully mapped out to the viewer, which serves not only to make the mystery more clear but to provide a much more immersive experience than the characters simply speaking to each other. Some scenes also possess a very dreamlike quality, with a couple particular examples including Chitanda's first inquisitive moment which succeeds in captivating Oreki or the dozens of little curious Chitandas crawling and tugging on him in the sixth episode. This type of dichotomy between the normal and the abstract is what makes Hyouka a very unique experience.
The underlying animation and designs are also phenomenal. KyoAni has long been lauded for the standard of detail and animation set in their works and this is taken even further with Hyouka, with the entirety of the anime feeling very much movie-quality throughout of all its episodes. The realistic and lifelike movements of the characters is praiseworthy but what stands out most is the focus on eyes and facial expressions. The characters of Hyouka are easily some of the most visually expressive seen in an anime for quite some time. Even the side or background characters receive much of the same detail to animation and character design, making nobody seem bland or the derivative of another. It's surprising then that KyoAni managed to keep to this level of quality for all 22 episodes, with no noticeable decrease visual nor artistic quality. The seemingly limitless attention to detail here is really something commendable.
But it's not all about visuals technically, either. Hyouka boasts a very fitting and eloquent soundtrack that accentuates the atmosphere set by the visual design. Composed mostly of classical tunes and eerie or quizzical melodies, the music is what creates the inherent sense of intrigue within Hyouka. It perfectly manages to capture the principal feeling of mystery in both the relaxed and dramatic moments of the series, never feeling overbearing nor out of place.
In the end, Hyouka does fall short of some of its potential due to issues with the script, but what the anime lacks in mysteries it more than makes up for with its characterization and presentation. It's just a bit of a shame that many people will choose to write the anime off and treat it as something weak and disappointing because the mystery aspect didn't hold up to their expectations. A misconception exists where people treat Hyouka as a strictly mystery title, and while it does hold true to some extent, these mysteries are instead used to develop the characters and have them interact in a remarkable manner, distinctive manner. This is an anime that essentially amounts to mundane events presented in a stylized and intriguing way. For those looking for something fresh in an age of uninspired rom-coms and homogeneity, Hyouka is a title that is easily worth your attention.
There's this sweeping notion that deep and action-oriented storytelling is necessary for a quality experience, but titles like Hyouka can safely disprove that line of thought.
High school – It is probably not incorrect to suggest that this is the most ubiquitous setting for anime nowadays. Yet even amongst the endless swathes of high school anime that inevitably centre around cute high school girls, there are always exceptions and Hyouka is one of them.
We find ourselves in the Classic Literature Club of which Oreki Houtarou, our energy-conserving protagonist is reluctantly a member and is soon joined by his eclectic group of friends, thus completing the groundwork for this “mystery” anime. When one considers what constitutes a “mystery” show, it is often associated with preconceptions of crime, horror and eerie suspense
but Hyouka is not your typical mystery show as it centralises on mysteries of little real-life consequence. These aren't mysteries whose resolution will lead to justice being carried out but mysteries whose consequence lies in how it affects our characters. Nonetheless, Hyouka excels at executing these mysteries and in an atypical manner, with each of our main characters bringing a unique perspective in solving these mysteries, making the process fascinating as we observe the quirky and unpredictable methodologies being used.
Hyouka does not have one unrealistically prodigious detective that can unravel and deconstruct even the most intricate of puzzles but a range of characters, some unique to each case, that all contribute key aspects leading to the solution. This makes for a more fulfilling and genuine resolution as you feel part of the process rather than a bystander in awe of some amazing detective. The solutions themselves are meticulously well-written and thus accurate and realistic yet simultaneously complex making you feel slightly more intelligent by the end of every one. Some may find the lack of ramification in the mysteries innately boring as the characters aren’t actually usually directly involved in them, for they act for their own various reasons but they at least create a desire for you to solve them.
However, what makes Hyouka so enjoyable is not the satisfaction of decrypting it all but the development of our 4 main characters throughout each one. Hyouka is an exemplar of how the high school slice of life genre could be achieved as the relationships between our characters are captivating yet incredibly realistic with each action remaining true to the psyche of high schoolers and the ways they make decisions. The pacing is slow but constant and we can see a smooth progression in the development of our characters which tackle real-life issues that high schoolers face but nonetheless in a Hyouka-esque fashion, usually amongst the mysteries. Besides the hyperbolised curiosity of our female lead, the dialogue is extremely genuine and for me at least, indistinguishable from your real life conversations with friends at school. As the characters interact more with one another and face their problems, we are shown a vast array of emotions and considerable depth to their actions and motivations which are relevant, accurately portrayed and likely to be issues that you yourself may have faced.
On the technical aspects, Kyoto Animation (Kyoani) must be lauded for how brilliantly Hyouka is presented. The atmosphere is prominently compelling with both the visuals and the sound contributing vastly in creating a well-constructed universe that entirely fits Hyouka’s quirkiness. The animation is also of the best I’ve seen – be it the expressions, movements or the background/setting -they are all smoothly animated with appropriate lighting and colour palette to fit the tone of each episode. Hyouka’s episodes are visually stunning to behold in particular when mysteries are being solved, as it involves the use of experimental animation that diverges completely from the usual crisp style to a tailor-made style suited for each different mystery. To top it off, complementing this is a fantastic soundtrack that consists of light instrumental pieces which further amplifies the ambience in each situation. The majority of the pieces share a "playful mystery" theme and whilst lacking in variety, the entire musical score is definitely a strong one that can instantly be identified as "Hyouka's OST" rather than forgettable music which lacks the identity of the show it aims to enhance.
Ultimately, I feel Hyouka is an excellent anime. For me, it fell slightly short simply due to the sense of incompletion in the way the show ends. I say no more to avoid spoilers but if you do watch it you may find out. If you’re looking for a unique mystery or slice of life show whose fortes lie in its characterisation, production values and its take on the mystery aspect - this is one to watch. If you’re however looking for a serious mystery (à la Death Note) then this might not be for you as the satisfaction you receive derives from observing how these mysteries are solved rather than the fear of heavy consequences, and the impacts each one has on the development of our characters. Some anime attract an audience through heavy fanservice, others via an action-packed plot and others with a deep/profound plot. However, Hyouka is an anomaly. It shows us how even seemingly mundane things can be made fascinating. Whilst I obviously cannot guarantee you'll enjoy it, if you’re looking for a distinctly novel anime experience in either mystery or slice of life, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend Hyouka.
Are you looking for an adrenaline pumping mystery anime about murders,deception, and crime? Are you looking for a mystery anime that has a badass detective? Are you looking for a mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat? Well look somewhere else. Because Hyouka isn't that kind of anime.
Story-Hyouka revolves around a boy called Oreki Houtarou. An apathetic guy who has little interest in anything or anyone. His life motto is "I don't do anything I don't have to. What I have to do, I do quickly." But when her older sister who lives in
india sends him a request to join the classical club to keep it from being shut down. He accepts, thinking that the club could be a good place to stay alone and conserve his energy. But his conservative life is in trouble as he finds out that the club is also occupied by A curious girl by the name by Chitanda Eru.
Overall, the story and mysteries for this anime are well crafted. Most of the mysteries were interesting and enjoyable.But sadly, A few of the mysteries were poorly made and downright boring. Luckily, these mysteries are only a few and were rather short. There is also a good bit of romance and comedy in this anime.
Art- Kyoto Animation is always praised for it's good art and animation. But Kyoto Animation decided to take Hyouka to another level in art. Hyouka is by far one of the most beautiful animes I've ever seen. The characters design is designed so well and fit with their personality almost perfectly. The backgrounds were created with such detail that it felt like I was watching an anime movie instead of a tv show. Movements are also fluid and small details like the wind blowing the character's hair is also greatly done.
Sound- The soundtrack fits the anime perfectly. From comedy to drama to the start of the mystery the soundtrack fits the mood perfectly and only brings more enjoyment to the viewer. The first and second openings are also great songs that went on my ipod after first listening to it. The two endings are also quite good for endings and I enjoyed them.
Character- Now the true reason this anime is so enjoyable is not only because of the mysteries.But also character interaction. In this anime we have four main characters. Oreki Houtarou, Chitanda Eru,Satoshi Fukube, and Mayaka Ibara. Three of the four people have different roles in solving a mystery. Satoshi is the database.Chitanda is the person who raises the question and opens the mystery, and Oreki is the person who solves the mystery. But these roles do change at times. Sometimes Satoshi would be the one to try and deduce the mystery, and Oreki would raise the question himself. Each character also goes through character development through the anime. Especially Houtarou. He develops to the point that even he gets a bit curious throughout the anime.
I'll just say it right now. Hyouka is one of the best mystery animes for me. The mysteries are enjoyable. The character interaction was great.The animation phenomenal. Whats more there to say. I would definitely recommend this to people who love romance and mysteries. No, scratch that. If you like anime.Then definitely give this anime a try.
Alright folks, let's talk some Hyouka. Time to exercise your brains and turn that curiosity light bulb ON.
Hyouka (also the same name of the first volume of the Classic Literature Club that's also a implied term of “Ice Cream”) is an anime series adapted from the mystery novel written by Honobu Yonezawa. The story? Well, if you're curious like a certain purple eyed girl in the series, Hyouka details the Kamiyama High School's Classic Literature Club and its members having fun while solving mysteries and enjoying the time of their boring lives.
It all begins with the unenthusiastic young boy by the name of
Oreki Houtarou. He is the type of guy that is hard to make friends with because Oreki in his minds and his friend describes him as someone who is not keen in joining clubs, play sports, or socializing. Despite this, he is very intelligent and observant of the tinest events as well as having an insightful intuition. After joining the club reluctantly by his elder sister, the mysteries, fun and, Hyouka stories begin.
Of course, Hyouka wouldn't be much fun without the other members of the club, right? We have the calm and happy girl with the keen curiosity. With those large purple moe eyes, she is curious about various events and mysteries that often involves others and goes “watashi kininarimasu!” (I'm curious!). She is a fun and happy go girl who despite being annoying at times brings the fun and entertainment in the story. On other hand, there's her best friend Mayaka Ibara who calls her affectionately “Chi-chan”. Mayaka is sort of the opposite of Chi-chan as she seems to be the type of girl who wants to avoid confrontations and if possible, end it as peacefully and swiftly as possible. Last but certainly not least is Satoshi Fukube. He's the happy guy who is carefree about life but deep down a great guy as he cares about others' well being. With a powerful memory, he is a useful as well as a compatible partner of Oreki who balances out the cheerfulness and moody mood of the duo/club.
Now at this point, you might be as curious as Eru Chitanda herself or even had a thought of “watashi kininarimasu!” on whether the series is worth to watch.
Overall, the arcs and story is well crafted. Detection fiction stories involving a group of friends is never new in the anime industry. Series such as Detective School Q, Heaven's Memo Pad, and Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning also have such elements. What makes the series more interesting seems to be the interactions between the four main members of the club with each other that goes beyond the typical mysteries. The actors plays their roles well with their voice acting that reflects the personalities of the characters. With nearly all the characters having different characteristics, it's amusing to see how they all get along in the club. Surprisingly though, it actually does work well. But of course adaptation an anime always has its problems of the script not flowing or losing its touch in some of the filler like episodes. Personally though, it works out fine.
Because the series takes place at a school life setting, there are other characters in Hyouka that interacts with the club. These are often included in some of the mysteries and requires the clubs' various skills to crack that case.
If animation was part of a popularity poll this year, Hyouka would take the grand prize. Kyoto Animation (Clannad, K-On!, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) does a pretty damn good job with its production quality and that's not an understatement. I remember watching the first episode and the first thing that popped into my mind was “wow, that animation is out of this world!” No but seriously, the production quality is top notch and Kyoto Animation does not disappoint. It even includes word play illustrated in the minds of Oreki and some of the other characters during cases to depict clues in a more realistic way of telling the story. With its gorgeous artwork and beautiful style of presenting the characters, it goes on without say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
The soundtrack of the series is smooth that is well coordinated. When a mystery case scene is presented, the soundtrack flows. When a comedy scene (usually involving our curious girl Eru Chitanda), an OST of rhythm is played. Even when Oreki is bored, it shows that he really is bored through the soundtrack. Talk about unenthusiastic. The two opening songs are also well orchestrated in the series. The first OP song, "Yasashisa no Riyuu" by Choucho presents a smooth flowing song that gives us a lighthearted feeling of Hyouka. The second OP song "Mikansei Stride” by Saori Kodama presents a more humorous way of the series with Oreki peeking around with curiosity himself. (somewhat similar to Medaka Box's Opening). And of course, the ED songs are also there to make us feel the mystery. Well, not exactly. The first ED song seems to be quite naughty to say the least. Chitanda and Mayaka in those curious positions?! Turn that imagination bulb ON. The second ED song though fits more within the mystery genre and is generally entertaining to watch.
Overall, Hyouka is one of those lighthearted series to watch by the end of a long weekend. The series does have flaws such as the the repetition in some of the intertwined arcs as well as mindless word plays that goes on in some episodes that can be bothersome to watch. Chitanda's signature phrase “watashi kininarimasu!” is also infectious at times and gets annoying. Additionally, some of the mysteries are a bit dull and not realistic as it seems. If it's a real mystery, why not involve some real murders and crimes? Needless to say, it's why Hyouka is rated PG-13.
Hyouka is a school mystery series that involves...guess what, mysteries. If you're not into detective fiction or that sort of genre, then hit that drop button. No one is stopping you. But if you're curious like Eru Chitanda, then sit back, relax, and watch some mysteries as well as the members of the Classic Literature Club do what they do best at.
Curiosity kills the cat but Hyouka is what kills the boredom.
Hyouka, also known as "Hyou-ka: You Can't Escape" is the latest series by acclaimed studio Kyoto Animation, who, despite their huge fanbase, generally produce work of more style than substance. Hyouka unfortunately follows this trend, though superficially it doesn't fit in with the rest of KyoAni's back catalogue very much, as Hyouka is generally very dry in tone.
Hyouka is a mystery series, revolving around four high school students in the Classic Literature Club (an aimless club that happens to end up solving mysteries a lot). The students in question are main character Oreki Houtaro, whom I am about 99%
certain has some form of autism. He has zero interest in socialising, fun, or... well, anything. He deliberately tries to live life as uninterestingly as possible. This is hampered a bit by him being insanely gifted at solving mysteries. This gift goes untapped until he meets Chitanda Eru, a plucky, cheerful girl with an insatiable curiosity who refuses to let the even the smallest of mysteries go unsolved. They are joined by Satoshi Fukube, a cheerful happy-go-lucky human database simply full of useless facts who is seemingly Oreki's only friend prior to the series, and Mayaka Ibara, a library assistant who's known Oreki since childhood, who is probably the most level-headed member of the cast.
Now, remember how I said Eru refused to let even the smallest of mysteries go unsolved? Well... that's the big problem Hyouka has. The mysteries really are the smallest of mysteries. Each and every one revolves around a very trivial subject, and just about all of them could have gone unsolved without any real problems. Something so down to earth could in theory have been a good idea, but unfortunately Hyouka doesn't really deliver. As a result, Hyouka is, in a word... dull. With the exceptions of one or two mysteries, Hyouka totally fails to be entertaining.
But that isn't to say they didn't go the extra mile to make Hyouka more interesting. KyoAni's huge animation budget is flexed quite a bit. Random quirks in the presentation show up every now and then when Oreki is explaining his theories, sometimes in rather trippy fashion. The unusual techniques in the directing aren't limited to these, though. Hyouka plays around with angles and closeups a lot, to try and make every scene more dramatic.
It doesn't work.
While they occasionally spice up a scene a little bit, they really don't do much to save Hyouka from being very, very bland. And often, the harder they try, the worse it gets. It's most "dramatic" moments end up being, if anything, idiotic for how hard they're trying to sell something so insignificant.
Directing techniques aren't the only thing in Hyouka intended to spice things up, though. Character-driven subplots are also involved. All of Hyouka's cast members are likeable, if nothing special... though Oreki's disinterest with everything can be irksome, and Chitanda can be more saccharine than cute sometimes. Romantic subplots flare up between the characters, as well as some mild feelings of envy from Fukube towards Oreki, and these would all help a lot more if it wasn't for the fact that all of this goes absolutely nowhere and amounts to nothing. Just like the directing techniques, it's an attempt to spice it up that at best is a mild amusement, usually falls flat, and at worst, is simply idiotic.
With all that having been said, Hyouka is not bad. But it certainly is not good either. At the end of the day it is simply very average. But there are really much better wastes of your time out there than Hyouka.
Final Words: For the biggest of mystery enthusiasts and diehard KyoAni fans only.
At first, I really wasnt impressed. The characters, especially the two guys, talk as if they are hinting the deeper theme to each episode. That was a little unnecessary. I didn't mind the plot though. The trivialized version of mysteries interested me more than the big mysteries that are either too fake or too unreal. I understand that this might be disappointing for mystery fans, but I feel like hyouka is a breeze that can change the stagnant mystery genre.
I honestly look forward to this a lot each week. I got used to the talkative characters and the lack of character development. There are
some changes in the main character so far, but I wouldn't say it's development. However, the literacy club itself is developing and moving forward as a whole. The club grew on me, so I began to see the characters less individualistically and probably accepted their way of talking.
The animation and sound are pretty impressive. I like the animation style, especially when the main guy starts to solve the cases. It makes even the most trivial case interesting. The background music approprately fits each scene, and I find the ending especially cute. I understand this animation style has been used before in the past, and sometimes I even feel like its an act of stealing. I wouldn't forgive it if it's been used badly or didn't improve on it. However, it did improve on it, not in terms of style though, but in terms of where and how it's used. I don't like the idea of using creativity for its own sake. Some people may like it though, but I do not. Randomness, uniqueness, or craziness for me cannot stand alone. They are only for enhancement, not for the real substance. (Im excluding comedy on this one) I've offended some people and their love, but thats my belief.
Having said that rather irrelevant detail, I want to talk lastly about the plot that made me fell in love with hyouka. Beside the obvious downplay, I think as a consequence, you can detect a trace of elegance in mystery solving. The art and sound helped too, but I think the elegance would have been lost if the cases were big scale murder cases or a national crisis because they would usually give away obvious hints, some distracting, and you would be too busy guessing the culprit. Hyouka involves the audience in another way. Hyouka makes sure that you can't guess logically until the guy solves it. Yes, you'll realize how stupid or trivial the solution turns pout to be and the story becomes anticlimactic, but isn't exactly this anticlimactic feeling telling you that it's reality? People like to cook things up, and the bigger the scandal, the bigger the followers. Reality is often trivial, grand in scale only in how trivially detailed it is. The elegance of hyouka is therefore how trivially detailed it makes the cases to be. In the anticlimactic conclusion, you might start to find the trivially detailed reality more interesting on its own.
Hyouka is a slice of life anime that does a very good job of referencing famous mystery novel authors, yet fails to be a good mystery itself. Hyouka is a Kyoto Animation show with a generic high school setting (of course) and features trade mark, cute, moe, animation. I am not a huge fan at all of slice of life shows as they offer little to no substance plot wise but, I was oddly excited to watch this series because I am a huge mystery fan. On top of this, I heard Houtarou was a very cool and laid-back character that resembled
Kyon (Haruhi Suzimiya). But, sadly, I was extremely disappointed after watching the show unfold with its dreadful pacing.
The art here is very similar to other Kyo-ani shows such as K-On!. It has that moe, cutsie style like K-On! and has very detailed backgrounds. The colour tones of this show is what can be described as “lazy” which relates very well to our main character. The character designs were not too out of the ordinary either but, one note to make is that our main female lead, Chitanda, looked a little too much like Mio (black haired lead) from K-On!. The animation was also very nice and fluid. Overall, the art and animation were both solid while the character designs were a bit too generic.
All of the opening and ending themes for this show were forgetful and boring. The opening and endings sounded like generic pop music and I honestly skipped them most of the time. The background music for this show was mixed. Half of it was happy slice of life music while the other half was more mystery themed. The mysterious background music playing while Houtarou did his deductions actually did a very nice job of making the mystery itself seem more suspenseful than it really was. The other slice of life type music was not very memorable and actually wasn’t played that often giving the show a more mysterious feel at times as well.
Characters (this is where the bashing begins):
The show features 4 main characters... first up, you have our main protagonist, Houtarou Oreki who is a laid back, lazy guy who likes to conserve as much energy as possible (by not doing anything). This makes Houtarou very boring. Houtarou is not special in the least; he doesn’t have any interesting ideas or deep monologues and rarely provides comedic relief unlike other characters who are similar to him. All Houtarou can do is solve mysteries and only does it (usually) when the main female lead forces him to. That brings up another point about him; Houtarou believes in always conserving energy yet is always falling victim to Chitanda’s pleas to solve pointless mysteries. He can easily avoid this but, he doesn’t, instead it seems like he grows feelings for her yet he continues keep up the charade of conserving energy which brings up yet another point. He gets little to none character development. During the film mystery arc, it had appeared that there would be some character development for him but, sadly, it lasts for about one episode and he goes back to being his old self again, never changing and never expressing his true self. The next character, our female lead, is Eru Chitanda. There is not much to say about her other than the fact that she is extremely annoying. In the beginning, her curiosity was sort of cute but, after a while it really gets frustrating because all she ever does is get curious. She is an airhead girl who apparently is, somehow, one of the smartest people in the school. She doesn’t provide much other than the occasional suggestion for a mystery, being Houtarou’s master, and doing absolutely nothing. The male side character, Satoshi Fukube, is your average overly energetic character, albeit he does have the most depth than anyone else in the cast. He is constantly struggling with being better than his best friend, Houtarou, and also has some love issues with the female side character. Though, none of this is actually that deep at all and it really just seems more melodramatic than anything e.g. they were crying over the fact that Satoshi broke some chocolate for Valentine’s Day that the side female character made. The last character is Mayaka Ibara (the female side character mentioned earlier). There’s not much to say about her, she’s just a basic tsundere type character who really loves manga; doesn’t provide much more than some manga club drama.
This is where Hyouka really fails miserably for me. Basically, Hyouka is set up in a way where there are multiple mystery arcs and these mysteries are what the plot consists of. The thing is, Hyouka starts off pretty strong with the first real mystery of the show (which is what the show is named after). This mystery is more serious and more important than any of the other mysteries presented but, it only lasts about till episode 5. After this one there are some other mysteries that are completely useless until we get to the film mystery. This one was actually quite intriguing and suspenseful and it was fun trying to figure it out with the characters. Disappointingly though, this is where all the good regarding Hyouka’s mysteries and plot ends. After this we are left with the big build up towards the crazy school festival. Now this is what really bothered me about this show. For 4 or so episodes we get no mysteries at all! During this time all we see is “fun times” at the school festival and extremely slow build up/set up for the school festival mystery. In fact, the mystery is solved in 2 episodes! I wouldn’t really say it was solved either since in those two episodes there was no deduction process by our main character, he just figured it out. In contrast, during the film arc, it took the main character quite a lot of thought and effort (which we actually saw on screen) to figure out the mystery but, here we just see Satoshi trying (and failing) to solve it himself and then all of a sudden Houtarou solves it. Even more frustrating is that, after this arc ended, the rest of the mysteries, I wouldn’t even consider mysteries. They were even more useless than the earlier more “important” big mysteries. Basically, towards the end of the show nothing happens at all (this is about 5 or 6 episodes). To top it all off, the series ends incomplete with no ending in sight and an open ended “romance” where Houtarou is too scared to actually admit his feelings. Overall, some mysteries were very fun to watch (two or three) but, in the end most of them were completely useless and mundane. Also, this mystery show stops showing mysteries for about 4 episodes just to build up to one lack luster conclusion for one bad mystery. Other than the 3 main mysteries in the show, the rest is just useless with the main purpose of taking up space.
The art for the show is generic but, functional and the animation and detail is spot on. But, the character designs are a little generic. The sound matches the different tones of the show at times and the music playing while the characters are trying to solve a mystery adds a very fitting feel to the show. But, the opening and ending themes to the show are forgetful. Overall, the aesthetics are fine. The characters are dull and mostly generic with little to no character development. Some of the mysteries in the show are fun to watch but, most of the show is filled with useless fodder that does nothing and is “solved” within one episode. Also, the show stops for 4 episodes for a stupid school festival. The story and characters mostly fail. Overall, Hyouka is a mystery anime with more references to actual good mysteries than having good ones itself. And for this reason I am utterly disappointed and feel since it didn’t accomplish being good at what it was supposed to be that it is, in fact, worse than average.
I had looked at Hyouka a while back but saw a lot of negative reviews so decided to give it a miss and just recently picked it up due to a friend's recommendation. Having just finished episode 7 I feel that I can safely say I am glad to have decided to watch it. I felt compelled to write a review to hopefully clear up some misunderstandings people might have about the series.
I think the big thing that may disappoint some viewers has to do with their expectations going into it. More specifically, the show is listed as a mystery and while there
is a mystery to be solved in every episode, the mysteries thus far have been very mundane in nature. If you go in expecting a murder mystery type series, you should leave your expectations at the door or else you will be disappointed.
If I had to describe the shows genre i would be more inclined to describe it as slice of life as it follows the adventures of the classic literature club (which often feels more like a mystery club). There is no real apparent overarching plot and the character development is fairly slow as each character's personality is revealed little by little as we watch their day to day lives.
Characters 9 - The characters are nicely portrayed. While in many cases they are archetypes we are very familiar with, there is enough a personal quirk from them to not seem boring, rehashed or two dimensional. While no character is especially standout, I feel the entire cast is well done and very likable and they all interact well with one another. Specifically Chitanda and Houtarou are being fleshed out nicely, and play off each other very well. It would be nice if Satoshi and Ibara got more attention, but it is still relatively early in the series and they are side characters, so it quite possibly coming in the future.
Art 9 - The art style is simple and clean, using a lot of soft colors. The character designs are nicely done and the show does not have excessive fanservice. The backgrounds are simplistic, but nicely rendered. Overall I am definitely a fan of the art style; it differs enough from standard shows these days to have its own feel, but the style is not especially notable.
Story 9 - the show is a slice of life show, there is little significant overarching plot. Ones satisfaction with the story really comes down to how compatible they are with slice of life shows.
Sound 7 - The soundtrack is simple and plays well with the scenes. It always enhances the scenes, but is not exactly standout.
Enjoyment 10 - I'm a big fan of slice of life shows and I'm finding Hyouka to be very enjoyable. It is a simple, easy going show that is easy to watch. It's not going to give you any deeper insights to life, but if you like the slice of genre it should be able to entertain you.
Overall - Hyouka is not a masterpiece as it lacks anything that truly makes it stand out as being above and beyond other shows. That being said, it is still very well done, and quite a entertaining show to watch casually.
Hmm i suppose it may be a little too early to write a review considering that its still quite early in the anime so pardon me if my review isn't too good.
Story: Once again i'll repeat that its only been 5 episodes but i think that this anime has quite a good story. It has unpredictability and sometimes you wouldn't expect the things that did happen to happen.
Art: Character designs and background are decent at least. KyoAni as usual does quite a good job with the anime they produce. The art is elaborate and makes you feel like the place is real.
Sound: Hmm I
have to say i do like the OST's for this anime especially the opening ( probably coz im a fan of choucho though) I also find the voices to be decent ( especially Nakamura Yuuichi /o.o/)
Character: Characters are interesting and although may be not to a very large extent, unique. For example, we get a male character who helps others occasionally, not really special. That male character has quite good deductive skills, maybe not so special but definitely not common. He doesn't like wasting energy unless absolutely necessary, quite special. When he helps others it's normally because he has to do it or he has to waste even more time later, definitely not common.
Enjoyment: Definitely will help you kill some time when you're bored or want to watch something you should give it a try. It may seem a little plain at first but it slowly becomes more and more special.
Overall: First of all: confession. To be truthful i was rather skeptical when i started to watch this anime. After the 1st ep i thought it would be able to kill some time. Howerver, after watching 2-3 episodes i began to slowly find this anime more and more interesting and i can say now that while its not certain, this anime has potential to be the best anime this season and maybe even the best this year.
The real mystery here, is how could anyone produce 22 episodes for one of the easily most boring animes this planet has ever known. Everyone rating Hyouka over six is either biased or just really illusive. No, I'm not trolling; keep on reading.
Hyouka is your typical slice-of-life anime that deals with a group of high school students living everyday with their school club surrounding their little, personal stories. Over 22 episodes, the main protagonist (Oreki) is a laid-back, bored, and unmotivated teenager who's been trying his hardest to "conserve energy" by doing the minimum in every aspect of his life. That includes facial expressions, too.
He's got his happy-go-luck friend, a cute and naive classmate who is ideally the main love interest of the story, and her friend, too. Together, they solve mysteries that has been happening around the school.
Only, each episode (or most of them) that deals with a certain issue taking place on said episode is done really badly. The mysteries are so boring, I don't think anyone actually cared about them being solved. If you expected suspense of sorts or being somewhat intrigued, then parish the thought -- you won't find any of that here. Oreki is always the one to come up with the brightest solution to them and being the leader of the group whilst still being really uninterested in... well, any of it.
Yeah, I get it's slice-of-life, but there is practically nothing interesting about this anime whatsoever. The mysteries are boring and drag on and on, characters are likeable but really unrelateable, and even for the shippers of the main show -- neither Oreki or his love interest show any signs to each other whatsoever. If you thought you'd get anything in the ending, scratch that; anyone spoiling you what is happening in the last episode won't actually be spoiling anything, because /nothing/ happens there. Oops.
Hyouka is beautifully crafted, drawn and animated, with very nice character designs, theme songs and what not -- but otherwise, the show is lacking, and lacking big. I really wanted to love this anime, but the only reason I finished it was so that I wouldn't have to change its status to "dropped" on MAL.
After reading some of these reviews explaining how amazing Hyouka is, I thought I should set the record strait. Yes Hyouka has good art, likable characters, and does an excellent job explaining and executing idea's. However, at the end of the day the lack of any sort of interesting story really takes a toll on the show.
I'll start with the good because there is a lot of good in this show.
ART: for starters it's one of the better animated shows out there, the art is very well drawn, and they do a good job portraying the characters. Though i feel
bad that the artist's are being forced to draw such mundane settings all the time.
CHARACTERS: surprisingly enough the characters are very likable. I enjoyed Oreki, and how he contrasts with Chitanda. In general these characters are well acted, and well played. They defiantly stand out from other anime characters in there own way.
EXECUTION: If anime filler has taught us anything, it's proved that just because you have an Idea doesn't mean that you can execute it correctly. Hyouka proves that it can execute an idea with precision and care, when explaining a mystery.
there is really only one thing I can complain about and it's a big one.
to say that this story is boring would be incorrect because to be honest there is no story, it's just an ordinary kids life. Now to be honest I am slightly biased here, I can't really understand peoples fascination with regular high school stories. However, this go's beyond that because unlike in most anime's, were the characters are trying to achieve something of importance. This show is literally dedicated to some of the most mundane mysteries i'v ever seen. Might as well have made a show, about the mystery of how you tie your shoes because thats what the story feels like.
Now look I'm not saying you need to the next fate zero here, with explosions, and sword fights but I do expect something to happen in the show. Here is an example of which I am trying to explain, minor spoilers.
EX: episode 3 o wow that kid was smoking SO INTENSE!!!!! “pot” would have made more sense. episode 2 who cares about a dam library book. episode 1 wow how did that door get locked "it's a mystery".
not since Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan (IE: all about bread) have I seen a show so dedicated to the most trivial things, no one cares why people have been taking the same library book out """NO ONE CARES""".
I don't expect this kid to be solving murders, but give me something, give me anything that will let me say wow I actually care about this mystery.
this is a love hate anime, it will draw people in because of it's interesting character's. However, because It does not seem to be getting interesting any time soon I expect viewers to drop off in the long run. The show can be summed up like this. "do you place more of an emphasis on how the story is executed, or do you place more of an emphasis on what the story is actually about."
story 3/10 poor
art 7/10 good
sound 6/10 fair
character 8/10 very good
enjoyment 6/10 fair
overall 6/10 fair
It’s retro-review time again, and today I’m going to be talking about an anime I was afraid to go back to because I was sure it wasn’t going to hold up over time. And really, can you blame me? After sitting through so many coming-of-age/character-based anime that most people consider to be good, but I consider to be shit, Hyouka looked like a prime candidate for “don’t believe the fans. It’s nowhere near that good unless you’re under that fanboy delusion that character interactions/development is good enough to entertain on its own”. And you know what? I am not.
In fact, I’ve come to really despise
character stories for the sake of character stories over time because I have enough boredom trying to examine my own miserable life and I don’t need the f*cking Oscars to complicate said examination with their own shallow input, let alone anime. So whenever I hear praise regarding how Durarara is awesome because watching Vorona chat emptily on about how intelligent and violent she is, only for that exact same person to criticize the upcoming Yuki Nagato-chan anime because it contains the same empty conversations except replaced with nostalgia and moe, I feel the urge to ring my bullshit bell after swatting their head with the barf bag I just filled up. Who cares what the subject is about if both conversations are empty go-nowhere crap at the end of the day? I certainly don’t. Just because “moe conversations” set the bar so goddamn low doesn’t mean I want to watch an entire show consisting solely of a travelling furry and his foxy love interest exchange romantic quips that is ultimately cock-teasing for a resolution we’ll never get.
Sorry, what was I supposed to be talking about again? Oh right, Hyouka. Anyways, when this anime first arrived on the scene, it got a bit of a mixed response for its dull conversations and over-directed nature, but it was the latter that got me through the show because I was a lot more shallow when it first came out and the animation tricks along with the hilarity of the two males being the Clannad protagonists with better personalities was funny to me. I ended up loving the thing, considering it to be one of the few anime from KyoAni and 2012 that were actually good, but now that three years have passed and most of my revisited favorites had to get the axe, I was worried that Hyouka would join their ranks. And you know what? It almost did.
Whilst the banter was still indeed charmingly smart – although Chitanda might grate on some people – and the direction continued to be top-notch, the first seven episodes of the show fell under Steins;Gate syndrome of starting on a really dull note because said good aesthetics weren’t being applied to anything the least bit interesting unless you’re a fan of Houtarou flexing his thinking muscles and Chitanda wanting to revive the club because “vague reason”. Whilst a bunch of people have complained about the mysteries being weak, it’s less the fact that the mysteries themselves are too simplistic and more the fact that the reasoning behind them was too simplistic. Because if murders and kidnappings were all that was needed to make a good mystery, we’d be watching Kindaichi Case Files.
No, the problem with Hyouka’s first few episodes is that the underlying story is one we’ve seen before: the lonely introvert will get cured of his loneliness through the girl (and the other two members of the Scooby gang) with a mission and they’ll fall in love. And just like mysteries, action, and character porn in general, romance for the sake of romance is really boring to me. There were few jokes and whilst there is some Japanese commentary mixed into the whole mess, it wasn’t the kind of commentary that I cared for – and even when I found it kind of intriguing (Chitanda’s family situation, the fact that you can’t smoke in schools, etc.), it was surface-level stuff at the end of the day. But most damning of all, the mystery elements were just “there”. You could have exchanged them for f*cking DDR elements and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Whilst I’m not going to deny the character porn was good, that means nothing to me without a use for it.
Eventually, I realized the rewatch wasn’t going too well and was worried that my only attachment to KyoAni from this point on would be an anime they made over a decade ago. So in desperation, I skipped ahead to the second arc, which I remembered being the point when the anime really clicked with me. And you know what? I liked it alot.
Yes, the “plothole” regarding why the students couldn’t just ask the writer was noticeable – although it does eventually get addressed in a way that was semi-convincing – but otherwise, the second arc had a strong enough plot to support the great aesthetics because it actually bothered to instill some goddamn complexity into the thing. The movie arc actually examined the mystery tropes along with how people see them today, as well as brought our main character down a peg when he realized his brains can’t outmatch beauty, which is the kind of substance that actually makes me give a shit regarding whether or not a film will be ready in time for the cultural festival, as well as the kind that will allow me to revisit your product again in the future. Also, it had a hilarious student-made film. It’s like Shirobako if Shirobako had something resembling conflict.
Relieved that the show wasn’t completely lost on me, I ended up watching the school festival arc and enjoyed it just as much as last time because it had everything I could want in a coming-of-age/slice-of-life story: good pacing, interesting narrative tricks, engaging dialogue, and really relevant/interesting themes about talent, dreams, and the roles people play in the mystery genre underneath everything to give them a sense of weight. Enough praise has been written about that arc, so I won’t go into detail regarding it other than it would be in my top 5 films of 2012 if it had actually been a standalone feature-length title. The final five episodes, on the other hand, were a bit of a mixed bag because they were supposed to function as random side stories to tie up loose ends and we all know how I feel about that sort of stuff in general. It’s nice to see couples form and everything, but whilst that’s what a lot of people like about Hyouka, that’s not what I personally like about it.
I like the show at its best because when it can, it mixes in all those fun character aesthetics into a plot that tickles my mystery-loving bone in a way that I want it to be tickled. It’s all about context at the end of the day, and that’s what separates the good (not just in the slice-of-life genre) from that godawful Steins;Gate movie. It’s fine to like the show simply for those “fun” elements I described earlier, but let me reiterate that I don’t do “fun” shows – unless they’re Mobile Fighter G Gundam of course – because liking a show because it’s “fun” is everything I consider wrong/weird about fanboys. What can I say? I’m a huge believer in Sturgeon’s Law, and when you define something as “fun”, you’re using a reason that can be applied to 99.9% of all entertainment (with a 3.1% margin of error). Yes, even total dreck like Superman 64. Brrrrrrr.
So in the end, I still do like Hyouka - or to be more precise, the middle two arcs of Hyouka. Thankfully, they’re separate enough from the arcs I find kinda dull that I don’t have any guilt in pretending the show is a series of four films where the middle two sit among my favorite anime. Most people consider Jojo to be a favorite despite the fact that it only has one good arc that hasn’t aged well at all (as of this writing). Babe: Pig in the City is a great movie and I couldn’t care less about the first film. There are people who have no interest in seeing Urusei Yatsura that love the second film. And whilst I love Lupin, if you think I’m going to watch all of it…okay you get my point by now. It’s not really “it gets better” with the later arcs so much as “it gets different”. I won’t blame people if they don’t care about the difference, but I personally do and that’s all that matters, along with the undisputed fact that anyone who stills think Kuragehime is a good show is a raging nostalgia-blinded hypocrite.
Anime are known to usually be over-the-top no matter what genre they are. When I think of what makes anime great, I think of epic action, intense mind battles, heart-wrenching emotions, exciting drama, unrealistically awesome characters, and crazy plot twists.
Hyouka is none of that. It’s nowhere near “over-the-top” in any way. Hyouka is the definition of subtlety. It’s serene, relaxing, beautiful, funny, and smartly written. But the best thing about Hyouka is that it makes you think—and not just about the mysteries.
The mysteries are small-scale cases that manage to be incredibly intriguing, causing you to become “curious”. No, the writers don’t try to instill in
the viewer a burning desire to figure out the solution—they elicit from us a compelling curiosity that will drive us to want to figure the mysteries out. To me, sometimes mystery stories are so grand and dramatic that I feel like I can’t solve them on my own. But in Hyouka, the understated enigmas are so accessible yet simultaneously complex. The peaceful atmosphere draws you in until you find yourself becoming the detective, trying to ascertain the truth. I thoroughly enjoyed this format for the mysteries—it was a breath of fresh air from the mind-boggling conundrums of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes.
Though the mysteries are well executed, it’s really the characters that shine in Hyouka. As the story progresses, each of the four main characters gradually undergo great changes in character. These changes are masterfully portrayed—while most anime will just slap you in the face with character change, the evolution of these characters is so subtle and understated that you hardly notice it until the end—which is when you’ll look back on the series and marvel at the beautiful transformation the characters went through.
The animation in Hyouka is simply beautiful. In fact, it is the most beautiful animation I have ever seen. Technically, Fate/Stay Night—Unlimited Blade Works has the best animation in terms of raw graphics, but Hyouka is more beautiful because of the idyllic, serene setting and picturesque locations. And the animations that visualize what Houtarou is thinking are bafflingly complex, creative, and artistic. Fate/Stay Night might have the better graphics, but Hyouka has superior artistic direction for sure.
The themes in Hyouka are elegantly expressed. There are so many of them, but each is hidden well within the mysteries and character development. I love the way they are presented—not like Naruto’s “Never give up!” speeches that straight up pound the themes into you. The themes in Hyouka are quietly implied and are there for the viewer to pick up on if they think hard enough about it.
Hyouka encourages you to think through things that may seem trivial, and to find meaning in the mundane. It’s when you get to the end of Hyouka that you realize that the whole anime was a hidden message that the author was encouraging the viewers to pick up on by analyzing the show, just like the main character analyzes other seemingly simple things.
When you look back on the anime and realize the themes presented therein, you realize that while Hyouka may seem to be a simple anime on the surface, it is in reality a masterpiece of subtlety, beauty, and surprising depth.
Curiosity. Whether you love it, hate it, or lack it, curiosity is an unavoidable human nature in all of us. Daily explorations and innovations are all often made due to someone's curiosity. Even the Internet was built upon someone's curiosity for a virtual universe. Honestly, Hyouka sparked my curiosity when Kyoto animation first decided to produce it. Because I've had many great experiences with the studio's previous works, Hyouka didn't seem it would be an outlier to this trend.
But, looks can be deceiving.
Hyouka, it appears, extinguished my curiosity just as easily as it had lit them. Hyouka played out as perhaps one of the most disappointing
mystery shows I've ever seen. But I don't mean that it ended up so terrible for a Series as a whole. Rather, the first 12 episodes of Hyouka alone out-shadowed any potentials of newer mysteries that could've matched some of the galvanizing story lines it began with.
The setting of Hyouka is also misleading in itself since it takes place in the typical high school era, where most students are just beginning to reach the realization of their own ambitions. In this seemingly normal, typical school setting, something about the atmosphere within Hyouka's artwork suddenly set an alarm off. Immediately after the first episode, we find out Hyouka's main focus: Mysteries!
Hyouka circles around the Classics clubs, of all clubs, to unravel several obscure cases. Although the reason for solving them is at first unknown, Oreki, a man sloth who only wishes to live his life by conserving as much energy as possible, suddenly decides to solve these mysteries for his beloved high school classmate, Chitanda. Following Chitanda are Oreki's two middle school friends, Satoshi and Mayaka. These characters all play significant roles themselves, but I'll talk about that after some bits. For now, all you need to basically know is: Trivial mysteries around the school easily provoke Chitanda's curiosity, Oreki solves them, and Satoshi and Mayaka speculates the scenes as Oreki ends up solving the cases.
Despite its oversimplified cheesiness, Hyouka's mysteries provide a great sense of suspense that even a woman could enjoy. Each episodes utilize typical mystery novel devices such as cliffhangers and over dramatic scenes. However, they are all placed in concise places which constantly makes you rethink thoughts as new informations are being presented. What if the evidence is faked? Isn't she lying? What if there's another person involved? Perhaps, it wasn't intended to be pranks but rather.. a message? Each items worthy of mysteriousness forced me to re-think each solutions of the mystery and essentially, each case gathered more and more details every single minute to the point that hypothesizing who the culprit is based on empirical observations became a rather naive thing to do.
Actually, it's almost like describing a painting. First, imagine that there's a grass field drawn with bright vibes of warm colors. You would assume then, that the painting takes place in a peaceful, sunny location where the quietude could not be disturbed, right? What if then, a little girl holding balloons and a teddy bear is drawn in? Wouldn't that help re-assure the peacefulness within the illustration? Lastly, you look at the final piece drawn into the art: a man resembling that of your worst nightmare is hiding behind a random bush, armed, and seems to be hissing at the little girl. Well, doesn't that ruin the whole illustration. Ironically, Hyouka does something very similar to the process described above; at first an obvious answer is presented, glimpses of other alternatives are shown, and finally the different, appropriate route will be revealed. Hyouka keeps you guessing, and sharpens your analysis skills to an extent. Sometimes it gets to the point that watching Hyouka became less of an anime experience, and more of a scrappy puzzle.
The musical aspects of Hyouka easily over-sieges many other productions with its greatly effective soundtracks. Whether it's the befitting contribution to the suspenseful atmosphere mentioned or stand alone chilling music, Hyouka accomplished them all. Some over repetitive soundtracks also created a sense of security as each episodes begun, but soon transitioned into snaky, backstabbing orchestra music as soon as mysteries were being solved. The two OP's and ED's are deemed to be rather classic J-pop styled music, but the animation took the initiative to even step up its creativeness a notch.
Speaking of which, I'm sure most viewers of Hyouka could at least agree that the animation in Hyouka is spectacular. Shadow drops on figures and faces masking their identity were really effectively done to provoke a sense of danger, and many productions of artistic productions often generated spontaneous amounts of emotions. Lots of scenes referring back to an older scene or flashbacks gave off the just right balance between romanticism and realism. It was truly amazing that Hyouka expressed the exact emotion it intended to gave off with the mixture of Kyoto animation and original OSTs.
"He has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right. Again and again [Sherlock] has taken a problem to him, and have received an explanation which has afterwards proved to be the correct one."
The prior quote described Oreki Houtarou, otherwise Hyouka's main protagonist, perfectly.
As a mystery Series, it's only natural for Hyouka to make references to the famous Sherlock Holmes novels. But instead of Sherlock, arguably, Oreki follows the path of Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock's older cousin) more accurately. Similar to Mycroft, Oreki starts out as someone who seems to be wasting his potentials. Oreki solves logical problems easily and applies appropriate solutions to most problems; but there's a major issue, Oreki is a sloth. By that, I mean Oreki doesn't like to waste time on anything trivial and rarely goes out of his way to do any outside activities. He's a smart guy who doesn't use his talents, and bored me with a rather dull personality as the series began.
However, once a cheerful, sparkly-eyed girl named Chitanda Eru intervened in the daily life of Oreki sloth, everything changes. Instead of being selfish, Oreki started reconsidering what he deemed as arbitrary matters around him and developed into a character who later inspected situations and cared for the resultant. The teasing relationship between Chitanda and Oreki is also one to be envied, as it gives a sense of hope that maybe even turtles can stand up for itself if given the circumstances.
In fact, someone could describe Chitanda as the ocean to Oreki's turtle-headed mindset.
Although, from even the first episode there's an evident amount of flirting & blushing between the two which suggests that the relationship between Oreki and Chitanda roots itself as a fatuous, romantic one more than anything else. Chitanda herself serves as an interesting comedy release, who gets intrigued by almost anything, in the quadruplet of the classics group. Chitanda has a pair of the most mesmerizing eyes in the world, and oftenly, she doesn't even realize her own curiosity being so infectious and transmissive through those hypnotizer-eyes. Chitanda even attempts to learn the art of seduction from a Senpai and though she doesn't successfully master it, we learn from a direct statement that Chitanda has her own charming, attractive qualities as a woman. Even so, Chitanda sometimes makes rather silly mistakes and it's within those memorable klutz performances that we realize Hyouka has a rather Slice of Life/Comedy side which can be as entrancing as its mystery aspects.
Besides the main duet, there were also other noteworthy characters. Hyouka specifically assigned most other (side) characters to a role which would either occur once or as a reoccurring pattern throughout the Series. Most substantially, Oreki's two elementary friend who joined the same high school as him, Satoshi and Mayaka's more dramatized relationship, played a nice contrast in addition to Oreki & Chitanda's more flirty one. Like many people, Satoshi is one who conforms with society but hides the secretive parts of himself, and as Hyouka progresses we learn more of him and Mayaka's past. As a female, Mayaka suppresses many of her feelings as well and only late in the series we find more than just what seems like her tsundere character. Otherwise, while solving mysteries, Satoshi and Mayaka both collect information for Oreki to solve and for Chitanda to be intrigued by. They also contributed to the unique storytelling technique Hyouka came up with, and became characters I absolutely respected even with their at times shady personalities.
Even with all these great remarks, I felt that Hyouka could've improved on some aspects.
What originated with Hyouka's initial premise came with a problem. Most characters in Hyouka are put in too perfect of situations and they are all given the most convenient excuses to somehow miraculously find and solve mysteries for themselves. Oreki, for example, got shoved into many crime cases by his sister and since her character was never really elaborated on, it seems as if his sister's whole existence was nothing more than an excuse to push plot lines across. Instead of saving the best elements for last, Hyouka also did the exact opposite. In the beginning of Hyouka, I barely recognized that Hyouka's mysteries were so realistic yet negligible. Only later did I find some of the writing to be unconventional and inconvenient in comparison to how over-dramatic some scenes were meant to play out. If Hyouka decided to suppress romanticism over realism, they could've at least attempted to make some of the mysteries sound more exciting. Instead, the producers decided to give Hyouka a rather dry, deceiving outlook.
All in all, Hyouka is like a cup of coffee. At first glance, one can only observe a pool of muddy, shady imageries. After the first sip, you began to taste the bitterness only realizing you forgot to add sugar. Once Kyoto animation is delicately mixed along with other sweet flavored ingredients can you finally taste the truly colorful quintessences of Hyouka Coffee. Of course, not everyone could grow accustomed to the taste. It certainly isn't everyone's cup of coffee. However, without a doubt, Hyouka truly prevails as a work displaying how nothing is as it seems.
As a fan of Slice of Life, I thoroughly enjoyed both the comedy and secretive aspects of Hyouka. As a curious being, you may desire to watch Hyouka because it produces splendid animation, misleading riddles, and ambiguous relationships. But in the end, I promise Hyouka will not be the enigma you expected. In most cases, it turns out for the better.
"I'm curious," says Chitanda Eru, and Oreki Houtarou, unable to resist the sparkle in her eyes, knows that once more he has to give up on his lazy ways to help her solve a new everyday mystery.
Hyouka is a series that takes elements of both the mystery and school life genres, mixes them together, and churns out a product that is a very interesting blend of the two. At heart it is very much what you'd expect from a school comedy, from the cast to the plot. The cynical, dry male lead with a sarcastc streak to his inner thoughts and narrating, the airheaded somehow-top-of-her-class
female lead with more energy than a hamster on coffeine, the male lead's goofy, easygoing guy friend, and so on. Episodes centering around onsen visits, pool days and cultural festivals, a carefree after-school life in a club that does relatively little, and so on. The cliches and stereotypes line up, but what it presents isn't as bad as the premise makes it out to be, in part because the characters carry something more than just their stereotype. Especially in Mayaka's story arc there's very interesting characterization, and the love stories that are presented don't feel forced or out of place, being subtly sweet rather than diabetic.
The most significant reason for the decent presentation lies in its crossover with the mystery genre however, and the way it handles this. Essentially what the main characters spend their time doing is solving everyday mysteries, be that a strangely locked door, mysterious disappearances of school property, or other such events. The main character, Oreki Houtarou, while strangely devoid of any other noteworthy talents, has an uncanny knack for piecing together bits and pieces of information and form a theory on the passing of events - indeed, he is the kind of detective you see in the classics of crime, only instead of crimes and murders he solves minor mysteries of daily life.
The sequence of events and the way hints to the mystery's solution are presented is done rather well, and while some can be missed easily, or relies on understanding aspects of Japanese language and culture, upon properly watching through episodes after a mystery's solution, most if not all the clues used to piece the mystery together are clearly there for the viewer to see, and pieced together the finished conclusion seems coherent and logical.
Visually the mystery solving is aided by creative visualizations of the characters' trains of thought, helping the viewer to understand and comprehend what is being reasoned more easily. This is a very good decision by the creators, because if there were only spoken words some of the explanations could easily go over the heads of the viewers, but with the visual element, it's very easy to comprehend.
Even putting that aside the art remains very lovely, using a vivid colour palette, which together with lush background, clear lighting effects and camera angles that are not often seen in anime series gives the series a very liely and engaging visual appeal, as should be expected of a school series, plus plus. The music is likewise very appropriate for a mystery series, with suspenseful and sometimes dramatic instrumentation and dynamics, yet it does not forgo some of the more typical tracks of school anime, from the exciting tunes of fun days to the goofy tunes of funny scenes. Of particular note is that it also uses a few pieces of classic music as
The opening themes are both decent, lively j-pop tunes, a little upbeat but nothing quite over the top. Thematically they draw on some central aspects of the main character's leading issue of him feeling a little gray and distanced from his friends and the 'normal', lively high school life, with some lovely colour and effect use mixed amidst the more standard anime opening clips. The first ending theme is a more bright, sung-by-the-female-leads pop song, while the animation is ninety percent silly fanservice. The second ending song is a very upbeat pop song that sort of screams "school anime ending theme", with bright backgrounds and the like, though it does an amusing job making references to older detective fiction.
Overall Hyouka is a decent series that brings something new and refreshing to the school anime genre, and while it doesn't point itself out as a very good anime, falls to a few stereotypes and so forth, it does stand out above the massive crowd of school anime that are less successful in their attempts to break away from the masses. It offers lovely visuals and music and does a very good job at visually presenting the characters' thoughts in a orderly but also fun fashion, and it's fun seeing the mysteries get solved. If you're a fan of either genre this series will probably offer you something interesting, without being particularly outstanding.
"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
In a world dominated by streamlined genres, few times does a series truly differentiate itself enough not to conform to rules subconsciously set out by the masses. Slice of life is perhaps the genre with the most to say, because it really conveys parts of our everyday "lives". However, many are quick to disassociate from this "genre" because the thought of watching an animated version of themselves completing repetitive, mundane tasks sounds like the farthest thing from entertainment. Hyouka seeks to mold an immersive experience by adding a lens to look
at the lives of the characters through. This lens, or mystery sub-genre exists as a conduit to explore the depths of the main four character's development. An anime appreciable in multiple perspectives, Kyoto Animation creates a visually stunning masterpiece that holds more weight than I could've possibly anticipated.
Hyouka wastes no time illustrating how different life can appear based on perspective. Oreki Hotaro lives life in the most pragmatic way possible. Going out of his way to do something or help someone would only waste energy, a concept he's not willing to validate. He reluctantly joins the Classics Club at his sister's request at the rumor that it could be shutdown due to low membership.
Everything changes when he meets Eru Chitanda.
The sequence when Hotaro first meets Chitanda is one of the most beautifully choreographed anime scenes I have ever watched. The entire scene is shown though Oreki's eyes, really emphasizing the perspective aspect i mentioned previously. The way it is animated embodies the feelings of seeing your true love for the first time. What transpires afterward is a truly remarkable journey of self realization, love and curiosity.
Many have been quick to judge (myself included) Hyouka's main plot for being "pointless" or "mundane". Sure, the execution is brilliant, but the surface subject matter isn't all that exciting. I mean, who really cares how the writer of a school club video's script wanted the story to end or why a student got called to the teacher's office after class? When I said the mystery genre exists as a lens to view the story from, I truly meant it. The mysteries themselves are not the main point of the series, but a catalyst to unearth the character's strengths and emotions. It's not all that exciting. That being said, Hyouka is a series best watched with an open mind, free of distraction, since the most you'll be getting out of it wont necessarily smack you in the face with sensationalized content.
To expound on the matter of perspective, Hyouka's messages can mean something entirely different depending on who's listening. That's not to say it's ambiguous, since there is no correct answer regarding its themes. It's entirely subjective, and a valid argument could be formalized in many respects. Hyouka can be about the power of observation, social hierarchies, growing up or even self identification, whichever suits the viewer. The narrative is honestly up to you. The mystery aspects actually detracted from my overall enjoyment after awhile. I ended up caring more about the characters than the overall point of the story. Without giving too much away, the ending was both dissatisfying and perfect at the same time. It was a juxtaposition of expectations versus reality, and it couldn't have been better written.
Some anime develop characters to suit a progression of plot, and are reverted back after the arc has concluded. Great character development separates itself from the flippant by creating a gradual change in a character's overall emotions and personality. This is what we witness regarding the characters of Hyouka. Chitanda evolves her innate curiosity by exploring the reasons for why people do what they do, while using Oreki as an aide. Oreki's apparent feelings for Chitanda make helping her an obligation, she's someone "he just can't ignore." With Chitanda's help, Oreki goes from avoiding wanting to assist others to actively pursuing it on his own. Perhaps the most important example of his change throughout the series is with the tree from the beginning and end of the series. His perception and feeling towards this image changes from disdain to hopeful, without even realizing it.
Satoshi reminds me quite a bit of myself at a similar point in life. He often puts on a facade by acting cheerful, but his inner feelings bubble over from time to time, with the viewer getting a first hand view of the struggle of silencing your emotions. He's a self-proclaimed database who plays second fiddle to most, interjecting helpful tidbits as necessary and not to disturb the ebb and flow. He and Mayaka never get closure, but more of acceptance with their roles in the grand scheme of things. They realize how it can be better to settle than to aim for the stars. This kind of bothered me due to their age in the anime. From personal experience, sometimes the most seemingly insignificant individuals get the biggest breaks. It's the hope that keeps things alive. At 14, it may be a tad early to rule yourself down for the count.
I could go on and on about Kyoto's animation in Hyouka. It's nothing short of breathtaking. When studios have this high of a quality, it's possible to emphasize the mood or theme of a series based on its art... Almost like creating its own aura. From the initial exchange between Chitanda and Oreki to the almost experimental animation shown while exploring the character's various hypotheses, Hyouka continuously produces stimulating imagery, entrancing the viewer. It may be one of the best looking anime in existence.
The soundtrack is also a must download. The alternative takes on classical music tracks close the gaps in the series' environments. There are few shows I can say that I've skipped back to enjoy the melodic ambience Hyouka's music creates. Simply remarkable. Voice acting is above average, and the second OP does something relative to shows like Barakamon: it tells a story. Most of the time, anime OP and EDs exist as nothing more than to showcase the various characters in a sensory overload. Hyouka was a nice change of pace.
Should you watch Hyouka? Well, although I initially didn't care for it, the outstanding characterization and art caused it to grow on me. If you're looking for a suspenseful mystery show because of its listed genre, you might want to look elsewhere. Sure it has the added flair of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, with "whodunit" mini arcs, but that isn't the meat of the show. Hyouka is a masterpiece for the right frame of mind, but can be overlooked as a dull, pointless dud if you watch it at the wrong time. Again, it's all about perspective. Don't make the same mistake I almost did and write it off. I enjoyed Hyouka for what it was, but I can't say it was the most "enjoyable" show. It's not necessarily something you binge through. A few episodes a night make its viewing experience one you'll surely remember for many years.
Hyouka.. Actually I feel sorry for this anime.. The anime is given a lot of negative reviews...
The way the anime anime started was pretty slow... When it was put in Mystery genre , I kind of expected it to be like its predecessors (Detective School Q, Gosick etc) ... When it turned out the anime was nothing of that sort, I was fairly disappointed at first and even made me angry.
Well you may be wondering why I gave it a rating of 9.. The first thing you have to do before you see this
anime is not to classify it as any other mystery animes... To be specific , the mystery genre has become a cliche.. It is well associated with thriller, horror etc and as a result the very base of mystery has lost its meaning.. As I said earlier, this anime does not have anything like that and this is probably the main reason why people started to take the anime in a negative way. When it comes to mystery, people tend to have lots of expectations and if u invest huge expectations when u see this anime , u will feel let down just like me at the beginning.
To do justice, I felt like continuing the series and not to judge it by seeing a mere 4-5 episodes. Well to my surprise, I loved the anime..The short story arcs were beautiful. And the cases were equally intriguing. The anime kind of radiated a warm feeling through out.. The cases are mostly mundane as some one put it earlier. Well for a real mystery fanatic, it will not seem to matter. Apart from the plot, the sound sort of gives a mysterious aura and an uncomfortable feeling that it may reach to a point that you want to badly know the answer. The art was also good and I loved the characters a lot.
These words best described how I felt as I swept through the Hyouka series. Though initially slow, as I watched more and more episodes, I began to feel myself pulled into the curiosity of Chitanda Eru and the mundane school life of our protagonists, Eru and Oreki. By the end, I found myself personally enjoying the Hyouka series greatly and wishing for much much more. But here's a disclaimer; If you're looking for a thoroughbred Mystery or Romantic slice of life, you won't find it here. In the words of one of the
main cast, (Fukube) - "I won't be the best at anything, or rather, I've stopped trying to be." and these words fit Hyouka perfectly.
Hyouka is not the heavy mystery we're typically used to seeing attached to that tag. There are no violent or ingenious crimes which require an equally ingenious protagonist to tackle, nor are there deep and dark underlying secret behind the characters' actions, neither are there floods of epic romance as with most other school / slice of life anime. But what Hyouka does succeed in is by maintaining a harmonious balance of the school life / mystery elements in a setting which we can consider completely average and mundane school life. And the lens through which it views the events which constitute this school life is what makes the show so amazing, albeit hated by some.
STORY: Let me get this straight. This is the kind of story you get from an average student plucked straight from school. There are no events which stick out all that much. It is an accurate portrayal of how one would expect a Japanese student to be. While this might be offputting for some, the way which these mundane daily tasks are viewed through the eyes of Chitanda and Oreki are what really makes the story shine.
While most would just move through their day without even noticing such trivial matters, seeing them through the eyes of Chitanda and Oreki allow the viewer to see mystery in seemingly meaningless and small events, making the smallest of things, like a school rumour or a library book the subject of an entire adventure with its own backstory and explanations. And though trivial, the boundaries of the mystery is usually highlighted early and the evidence is presented to the viewers early as well, allowing the viewer to play along with the mystery if they wish to. Ultimately, the mysteries are well crafted without overstepping its boundaries as a school-themed mystery, though specific incidents were rather boring. (Such as the first 2...)
However that being said, some arcs were also especially strong, particularly in my opinion the first arc and the third arc and may hit you slightly in the feels when you least expect it. All in all, a pretty well written story despite being completely average which still manages to achieve its goals, but suffers when the incident at hand fails to pique the viewer's interest or is simply too easy to solve.
ART: This quality of art is rarely seen in a slice of life anime. The reason being that slice of life is rarely an art or animation intensive genre unlike fantasy. Yet, the opening scenes of Chitanda's sparkling eyes and even in the OP, one can easily tell how much effort went into animating those scenes. The artwork is just gorgeous and the animation flows perfectly. You get exquisite detail and you can even see flowers and hair bobbing in the wind at some points.
SOUND: I have no complaints with the sound. The sound complements the moods of the show well, and OP 1 is a particular favorite of mine. Yasashisa no riyuu is playlisted in my anime playlist and it's been stuck on repeat in my head for quite some time. Not forgetting Mikansei Stride (OP 2) and Kimi ni matsuwaru mystery (ED 2) which are also excellent and extremely fitting tracks in their own right. I draw a blank when trying to think of ED 1 though, I didn't particularly like it.
CHARACTERS: The characters I felt contributed to my enjoyment of this series greatly. Though initially they felt rather stereotyped or fitting into certain archetypes, after awhile their quirks began to differentiate them from the bulk of other characters. Who could mistake the sparkly eyed 'Kimi narimasu!' of Eru and the hair twirling sigh of Oreki. Their quirks made them enjoyable.
As the series progresses, we also begin to see the backgrounds of all 4 of the main cast, getting insights into their life, their past and their philosophies. More importantly, it allows you to see how the four of them grow as the Hyouka series progresses, particularly that of Oreki and Fukube. Seeing them grow made me really glad to have invested in those characters and their relationships with each other (Particularly Chitanda x Oreki), though I must say the inconclusive ending was rather disappointing.
ENJOYMENT: As someone who likes to think and immerse himself in the world of the characters presented, I found this extremely enjoyable and I constantly found myself trying to theorize the explanations behind the mysteries presented and extremely eager to click 'next' and find out more after every single episode. It was the perfect treat, stimulating my brain cells without me having to tax them ceaselessly, as such I enjoyed it greatly.
With all these factored in, what else is there for me to say. Hyouka has been one of the most enjoyable school-life / mystery anime which I've come across. It's definitely not the anime for everyone, but if you're into a more light-hearted mystery series with a hint of romance and school life, then you'll definitely enjoy it as much as I have.
In retrospect, Hyouka only becomes a greater anime. My initial score was a 9. Now it's probably the most solid 10 I'll ever give.
The series is completely unpretentious and brilliantly executed. I know there are people out there who hate on slice-of-life anime because it's full of manipulative nonsense meant to make the viewer go 'aww'. Hyouka does none of that. Hyouka shows you why, ironically enough, considering the main character, ordinary life can be exciting and energising. That ordinary life, ordinary pleasures, ordinary amounts of logic, thinking, and effort can indeed result in something extraordinary.
The genius in Hyouka lies in its subtlety. The main
character, Oreki Houtarou, is determined to lead a lifestyle of serenity and peace, which involves expending as little energy as possible. The anime doesn't diverge from this - indeed, it is an atmospheric masterpiece attuned to the ideal world that Oreki craves. Everything is beautiful, everything moves slowly, and everything is surprisingly perfect. Even the most ardent of hearts will be calmed with Hyouka.
Oreki's task is basically that of solving mysteries within a very human context. Unlike Detective Conan, the focus here is less on the how, and more on the why. Human motivations are what drive the mysteries in Hyouka, and its up to our indolent protagonist to solve navigate the thorny path. We are taught that truth is by no means necessarily good and is more likely painful. We learn why humans cause each other pain and grief. We are guided by KyoAni's steady hand.
We do so, because much like Chitanda Eru, the female lead - we are curious.
This is less of a review and more of a short, spoiler filled analysis.
The whole point of Hyouka, from a character standpoint, is Oreki’s gradual development, as caused by his feelings for Chitanda. Mainly, his change from being comfortable in his “grey” life, to desiring a rose colored one. As the series progresses, we see, despite his slight reluctance, him opening up to Chitanda and her curiosity.
Jump to episode 21. Oreki has clearly become much more invested in the mysteries, but he has yet to realize this for himself, and still claims to be content with his energy conserving lifestyle. That last bit gets
hammered home in this episode; Oreki confronts Satoshi about the incident with Mayaka. Satoshi talks about how he used to be obsessed with being the best everything possible. To others, it seems like he has gotten over his obsession, but Satoshi explains his fear that it will return and consume his life once again. After all, despite everything, he’s still troubled by the fact that he feels inferior to Oreki. In every mystery, Oreki is the one who makes all the important deductions, not Satoshi, and this hurts Satoshi more than he shows. He is only a database; he cannot make conclusions. He believes Mayaka may act as the catalyst for its return.
To Oreki, Satoshi's situation is completely foreign. Considering the risks, Oreki cannot comprehend why Satoshi is going through such great lengths towards a more colorful life with Mayaka. It is much easier to maintain and be content with a gray life, after all.
This episode also emphasizes how far Oreki and Chitanda have progressed in their relationship. Oreki is furious at Satoshi because of what his actions did to Chitanda specifically, and how seeing her cry broke him. Soon after, during the scene Oreki and Chitanda are talking on the phone, Chitanda thanks Oreki for their day. Without any direct words, Oreki understands that Chitanda is aware of the entire situation that unfolded, showing how strong the bond between them two have grown.
Onto the finale. The first half is used to build up towards the climax and provide closure between Satoshi and Mayaka. During the procession, Oreki enters a heightened state where he can feel his lust for a rose-colored life finally emerging. For a brief moment, he is finally able to take in the full range of the vibrant colors around him. All the beautiful scenery around him is now magnified, yet, despite the wonders around him, his eyes are locked on Chitanda. Similar to the Sun above, Chitanda is the source of Oreki’s now rose tinted vision. Someone distant, who he struggles to look directly towards, but also someone so vital to his life.
We see a return of cherry blossoms to accompany Chitanda's monologuing, which is a parallel to the very first scene of Hyouka, when Oreki monologues his energy-conservation motto for the first time. These cherry blossoms serve two purposes; to show how far Oreki has come since episode 1, and, more importantly, to show how Oreki and Chitanda have switched places. Now, it’s Chitanda who is monologuing under the cherry blossoms, hitting us with the idea that it’s Chitanda who lives a grey life, while Oreki is on his way to a rose colored one.
Then, they go nuts with that idea. Chitanda stares, dead seriously at Oreki, and speaks about how she feels weighed down by her family and legacy. She goes on to say that her responsibility as the daughter of the Chitanda family, is not to maintain their current "prosperity," but to find ways to increase efficiency or to avoid bankruptcy. She later implies that she sees her family's outdated traditions and old rivalries not favorably, but as a sign that her family has fallen behind the times.
The visual symbolism goes further when you realize that, in this scene, the bike that Chitanda is usually carrying, is now being carried by Oreki. Symbolizing that Chitanda feels trapped on this road, but Oreki can be free and go anywhere. Chitanda tells Oreki that she doesn’t care about the cherry blossom field, nor does she have hope in it, but she wanted Oreki to see it. Oreki thinks of responding offering to take care of the “business side of things” for Chitanda, and the moment the thought crosses his mind, we see a beautiful, rosy shot of the cherry blossoms that could make a grown man cry. Seconds later, he tries to regain composure, freaked out at what he just saw and thought. Then, he realizes that he does want this life, somewhere in his heart. “Is this how Satoshi felt back then”, he thinks to himself. The moment of truth, my friends. Oreki finally gets it.
Just an episode ago, Oreki didn’t get Satoshi's desire for a rose-colored life, especially considering the pain he and Mayaka have to go through. But now, Oreki recognizes that he feels the same way about Chitanda. Sure, it’s simple first love, but, nonetheless, he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Obviously, he doesn't tell Chitanda this yet. Oreki is finally able to see the path he had always stubbornly ignored, and it’s stunning and rose colored.
The final emotional punch to the gut is the tag of the episode. Little birds can remember. Because, after all, it’s just become the spring. Little birds, trapped in a seemingly eternal winter, will always come around to being reminded of the spring. Maybe he’s not quite there yet, but we know he’s in the green. It’s gradual, but it’s there. If Oreki had actually said those words out loud, like so many people wish he did, then the whole idea of gradual progression would be thrown out the window. It may not be popular, nor does it appeal to waifu bait, but it’s the best damn ending I could have asked for.