I think the best way to describe Hyouka is that its essentially doing what Houtarou is doing: using the bare minimum energy to keep interest in this series. While it’s a pretty good strategy for a character to take, it doesn’t work as well when we’re talking about an actual series doing this. But unlike last week’s boring mysteries, this one was a step in the right direction and the introduction of Mayaka Ibara (Ai Kayano) definitely brought another angle to the differentiating mindset and personalities of the Classic Literature Club.
I get the feeling that Hyouka is saving its ‘energy’ for something much more grand – a real mystery or a game changing development. Something like that was hinted in the very last scene with Eru and Houtarou, with the former ready to make a ‘confession’ of some sorts. This week’s mystery focused on a particular book – the history of Kamiyama High – being returned every Friday after only being checked out for a week. Enter Mayaka, who works part-time in the library, who asks the gang for help (though she doubts Houtarou). Her attitude towards Houtarou is interesting because it’s usually the “I like you, but I don’t want you to know that” attitude but when he revealed to Eru that she actually likes Satoshi (?!), I was actually taken by surprise and it’s good to see that KyoAni manages to break away from some expected anime norms.
Yet I can’t help but feel annoyed by both Eru and Houtarou: on one hand Eru is very pushy (though not intentional) and won’t take no for an answer, and on the other Houtarou’s ‘energy efficiency’ strategy doesn’t really work in the real world and makes him seem like an inconsiderate jerk when he was going to leave Eru at the cafe. That scene with Eru as a waitress was actually pretty funny and really showed how..persuasive she can be. Again, the animation was stellar especially with the letter reading in the beginning, Houtarou explaining how to solve the mystery and the waitress scene. This is the kind of animation that separates KyoAni from say Shaft: while Shaft uses visuals to make an impression, the general consensus is that their process is more or less ‘cost-cutting’, but for KyoAni who since 1981 have produced only seven series, their animation is much more fluid and much more costly but they use their money wisely.
In fact, I think it can be said that even KyoAni is similar to Houtarou: both saving up their ‘energy’ (money in KyoAni’s perspective) for things that truly need the energy and not waste it on pointless trivial things. With such a metaphor, I’m actually really excited for what’s to come in Hyouka because this show has really been on reserve and things look to be really crazy soon.
Sidenote: What was with that ED? Fanservice?