Mod Edit: Review may contain spoilers.
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.