Hyouka 3 ~ a conclusion beyond my imagination

May 7, 2012

That awkward moment when you realize you already drank the last sip of coffee.

Hyouka continues to impress visually. KyoAni truly defines the top tier of animation production quality. The great news is that episode 3 of Hyouka gives us some solid development on the over-arching mystery behind the episodic mysteries of the first two episodes. The characters also have grown on me.

Houtarou Oreki and Eru Chitanda sit in awkward silence.

There was so much that was amazing about the scene in the coffee shop. It really is impossible to cover it all, particularly in a still medium, like text and screenshots, so I won’t even try. I can’t resist pointing out a couple of things, though.

Surrealistic transformation of background elements.

First the clock’ in the background was used effectively on at least three levels. Visually it was used to keep the animation going in a scene in which the two main characters sat in awkward silence. On a symbolic level, it was transformed into a heart shape while Eru struggled to make her “confession”. Finally the sound of the clockwork in the opening moments, as Eru works up the courage to speak her mind, powerfully emphasizes the awkward silence. There is even a moment when the clock stops, as if one of the pair’s heart is skipping a beat.

Pop-up book storytelling at its finest.

I’m a sucker for this sort of sequence, in which a person’s story is visualized with a storybook. Recently I pointed out the picture play from Tasogare Otome X Amnesia 2. Here the pop-up book is not only interesting in itself, the animation of the pages opening and the cut-outs gently swaying are well animated, and the whole thing is tied in with a man reading a newspaper at the bar. It is really a great scene to watch, and it is only one part of the scene in the cafe.

So Hyouka turns out to be the name of the anthology that the Classical Literature club puts out each year for the Culture Festival.

As in any good Mystery, this episode takes us two steps forward, but one step back. We get some information about why Eru is “personally” interested in the club, and solving the mystery this week directly leads us to the Anthologies that are tied up with the over-arching mystery. Unfortunately the first volume, that seems to be key to resolving Eru’s dilemma, is missing.

Satoshi Fukube. “He said he was researching the latest Summer fashion trends or something.”

At this point I rather like all of the four main characters. I liked Satoshi from the beginning, because he seems like a trouble-maker. Eru’s earnestness has grown on me, and I think I understand why she is interested in Houtarou’s mind. She is searching for something, and despite obviously being a very smart person, she can’t find it. She has an inquisitiveness, but, as she says, Houtarou’s imagination leads him to ideas that she can’t discover by simple knowledge of facts. Houtarou was an easy sell for me, because I like the conceit of him trying to do everything with the least possible effort. The one I was most unsure of at first was Mayaka Ibara, who I was afraid would be annoying. It turns out she is a little short-tempered, but actually comes across as a decent person. It might pain her to acknowledge Houtarou’s detective skills, but she shows that she is impressed, nonetheless. Most importantly she doesn’t spend all of her time yelling and hitting people.

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7 Responses to “Hyouka 3 ~ a conclusion beyond my imagination”

  1. avvesione Says:

    While aesthetically magnificent, I am still struggling to appreciate the mysteries in Hyouka including the encompassing mystery that Eru brings to the anime. Everything so far has been building toward Eru’s mystery but none have really carried much weight besides pleasing a character’s simple curiosities. That to me is a bit troubling. I’m actually more interesting in discovering why Eru is so interested in everything and loses sight of everything around her to discover or solve something. I find that more intriguing a storyline than why people were borrowing this book from the library.

    Oh, and yes, that whole scene in the cafe was magnificent. The audio and visual experience this anime has is among the very best and every episode has been a treat for my eyes and ears. Seems you (and everyone else) feels the same after 3 episodes. Glad to hear you’re enjoying this and that you’re blogging this anime, too.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I’m honestly not bothered by the scale of these early mysteries. I have always thought it was a bit ridiculous when shows feature someone who can’t grab a cup of coffee without stumbling into a murder investigation. I don’t know how much weight the mystery of Eru’s uncle will eventually hold, but I think it makes sense to start small and build up.

      The way I see it, the purpose of these initial “investigations” is merely to show us how the character work together. We get to see Hyoutarou doing a pretty credible job of solving the mysteries, and we see that Eru is the enthusiastic one, without whom Hyoutarou would never do anything. It also has been established that she has a great sense of smell and hearing.

      In the meantime it looks AWESOME, so I’m happy to keep tuning in.

      • avvesione Says:

        Regardless of the purpose of these initial mysteries, I still want them to have some meaning to them. These few mysteries have all been largely forgettable if not for the fact that one has lead to them developing a cohort and the last one leading them to the anthologies (which you mentioned was also a step back). I’m glad there are some connecting lines and the series is progressing in a linear fashion, something that has plagued mystery anime in my mind, but the fact that these mysteries generate no interest in me keeps me from enjoying the anime as much as you. I believe all these developments (working together, everyone’s personalities, Eru’s smell/hearing) could have been done with better mysteries or through other means than what we’ve seen.

        But that’s just me.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        That’s kind of funny. We see it in two very different ways. I rather like the fact that the initial mysteries are low-key.

        I find it somewhat refreshing that the mysteries are things that high school students could be expected to confront. I mean, I liked watching Detective Academy Q, and Casefiles of Young Kindaichi, but it was pretty ridiculous that they would come across that many murder cases. Instead this show feels very grounded.

      • avvesione Says:

        I’ll give you that since what makes mysteries enjoyable for someone is usually subjective and it seems this caters to you more than it does me. Perhaps that also explains why I’m not enjoying this anime as much as everyone else but I attributed that to the characters (who have minor flaws for me).

        Anyway, looking forward to seeing what you have to say for this anime for the rest of the season. Enjoy!

      • Joojoobees Says:

        Mystery might be one of the tougher genres to pull off. We are a long way from knowing whether it succeeded in the end, so I’ll keep watching and see what happens.


  2. [...] of Eru’s request. I was particularly ~entranced~ by the heart-shaped clock in the background, and Joojoobees over at Abandoned Factory has explained the symbolisms of it very well. Adopting a different [...]


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