STORY - 9
ART - 10
SOUND - 8
CHARACTER - 9
ENJOYMENT - 9
Amidst the ever-growing number of high school shows out there, Hyouka is a shimmering key with a gleam bright enough to catch my attention. It opens up a lock to a teenager life full of mundane things and trivial mysteries. So be curious. Be laid-back. And why not bring out the deerstalker cap and magnifying glass with you too? Acting like your own Sherlock Holmes can be fun every now and then.
We start off with an energy conservationist who joins the Classics Club, though more out of obligation than his own interest. Being lazy and indifferent, his dull life is in for a rosy change upon meeting other members who join the club, thus marks the start of the slow-paced story. If there's one way to describe Hyouka, it really is an enthralling journey through the small mysteries of life. Although these mysteries are usually sparked from trifling curiosity than something like a crime, seeing them unraveled piece by piece brings engagement to the story. The variations and well-constructed build-ups are not only there to provide diverse entertainment, they also provoke thoughts, give a sense of satisfaction, and reference details related to the mystery genre. But the biggest takeaway here is that these puzzles complete the framework needed to drive the characters themselves. As they spend their time together, each member of the club undergoes change on a gradual basis. Their distinct personalities pave way to a whole range of interactions that segue into the next, and in turn, it establishes this complementary back-and-forth dynamic that is enjoyable to watch. How they react and influence each other all add up into a collection of scenes with plenty of fun, youth, and even some delicate romance. It helps to construct these characters as realistic people than mere simplifications. Though exaggerations are present at times and can jar the realism, they didn't linger too long to become overbearing. The characters have mostly remained as the strong pillars of the story, giving this show much of its enjoyment and vitality.
What can also be said as the other supporting pillars are easily found through our ability to see and hear. Hyouka is an excellent example of how a reliable audiovisual can immerse one with the storytelling. Right off the bat, the atmosphere relaxes itself as the sunset-stained lighting gives off a vintage tone fitting for the Classics Club. Throughout the whole show, this pleasant warmth mesmerizes one's gaze onto the story and the lifelike backgrounds. The animation is another praiseworthy work by Kyoto Animation as they proved themselves to be the masters of realistic characterization. Seeing the myriad of character personalities through the smooth movements strengthens them as people. Combined with the strong expressions and solid voice actings, their interactions feel as natural as the high school dynamic we might find in real life. There's also no doubt that the show's visual and auditory elements come out strongly during the sequences when they're trying to solve a mystery. It usually involves some unique stylistic choices along with different sound effects to emphasize the nature of each puzzle. As these presentations are well-made, they are able to place our imagination into the world of the show itself, thereby simulating the reality needed to make the experience even more immersive. And the soundtracks further contribute to the whole transfixion with their soothing nature. Being gentle to the ears, the classical ambience is a great source of relaxation. Both the opening and ending songs are quite similar too, having pleasant melodies to delightfully initiate and conclude each episode.
While Hyouka is a school mystery, its intrigue lies deeper than just the puzzles themselves. Take out your magnifying glass, look through it, and you will find a mundane-turned-dynamic world driven by all sorts of character interactions, significant developments, and youthful lives. Coupled with the spectacular audiovisual, this show is undoubtedly a title worth experiencing.