Hyouka 4 ~ before everything turns into the past
May 17, 2012
I seem to have gotten a different impression from Hyouka episode 4 than I have seen floating through the aniblogiverse. To jump straight to my conclusion: I think Oreki intentionally misled everyone for his own selfish reasons.
First, recall that Oreki has intentionally misled Chitanda before. The mystery of the illegal club’s sign was pure fabrication that Oreki used to trick Chitanda so he would be able to head home without going to the music room.
As this episode opens, we see Oreki manipulating Chitanda into letting the other club members do some of the research. He knows she doesn’t want to reveal her personal issue to the others, but he basically threatens her by saying, “Even if we can’t solve the mystery, sooner or later it will become a thing of the past.” Chitanda, who doesn’t want to lose this connection with her uncle, agrees to let Fukube and Ibara assist with the research.
When it gets to be Oreki’s turn he realizes that he isn’t prepared to meet the expectations of the others. He did the minimum research possible, and didn’t prepare a hypothesis for discussion. His exact thoughts are, “I need a way out of this.” He excuses himself to the bathroom, and tries to think up a theory. When he returns he has a story that plausibly fits the facts as known (with one tiny inconsistency). It is my belief that he was not off trying to come up with a solution to Chitanda’s problem. He was trying to make up a story that satisfied the facts as they had discussed them that day, so that he could call it quits and go home.
The fact that Chitanda’s childhood trauma is not explained is a good indication that there is something wrong with Oreki’s story. The fact that he didn’t take into account her tears upon hearing what her uncle said, is a pretty good indication that he is thinking less about Chitanda, and her need for a resolution to her childhood memory, than he is about his own desire to wrap things up.
The cover of Hyouka volume 2 could well be a reference to the events of 1968. In the illustration, rabbits are standing around as a wolf kills one of their kind. The rabbits around the edge could possibly be the student body, and the rabbit being devoured is Chitanda’s uncle, Jun Sekitani.