Hyouka is a relatively lesser-known anime. Coming from the well-respected house of Kyoto Animation, you would think that it would be better known by the anime enthusiasts of our time. However, Hyouka has had a bit of bad luck in this department. Recently, I watched this anime out of pure curiosity. Before I knew it, I had completed the 22-episode long journey of an anime that is Hyouka. The anime follows the musings of the main characters Hotaro Oreki and Eru Chitanda, beautifully supported by the secondary characters of Mayaka Ibara and Satoshi Fukube.
The anime itself is a very well animated one. The beautiful colours that Kyoto Animation is known for come to life in this series and are sufficiently supported by the fluid and eye-catching animation. The trademark character design of Kyoto Animation can be seen in Hyouka as well.
The anime has a way of expressing the things that are unsaid through the subtle and sometimes hilarious actions and reactions of its characters. The directors do not pull any punches in conveying to us the heart of the story with each arc. Taking place in a high school, it has that youthful appeal that many other animes strive for but fails miserably at.
To describe the anime as ‘mystery’ would not be a total lie but rather present an incomplete picture of the show. This is not to say that the anime does not do justice to its mystery-based stories. The MC is the focus of the story and is presented as an extremely smart, albeit aloof, character. As the story progresses, Hotaro solves the different mysteries that present themselves to our group of high schoolers.
The anime handles the mystery-solving aspect much in the same way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did in his famed Sherlock Holmes novels. Its handling of the build-up to the big reveal is very elegant and satisfying to watch, which is especially visible in the Jun Sekitani arc. Hyouka, however, uses the mystery aspect of the stories to develop something else.
That something else is the slice-of-life aspect of the anime. The anime, at its heart, is still that of a bunch of high school students coming of age. The different interactions that take place between the characters evolve very visibly throughout the series. Hotaro’s aversion to the ‘rose-coloured life’ of high school is comfortably offset by the sometimes careless and sometimes serious character of Eru Chitanda.
The series revolves around these two main concepts. The mysteries presented in the series are not very big or flashy like a murder or a robbery. They generally involve events and things that you could find in any high schooler’s life. However, the presentation of the mysteries lets the watcher know that these things matter to our protagonists, and they are willing to work to resolve these mind-bending puzzles.
I cannot put this anime into any one category however much I try. It just doesn’t fit. Each aspect of the anime is there to support the other ones. Perhaps the best way to categorize Hyouka would be to call it a mystery anime wrapped in a slice-of-life wrapper with a hint of romance and comedy.
Hyouka is a marvellous anime, and some of the new animes coming out right now could take some inspiration from the art of storytelling it employs to tell the tale of one boy who wants anything but a rose-coloured school life.
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