Hyouka 3 ~ a conclusion beyond my imagination
May 7, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.