Hyou-ka: You can’t escape
What exactly was I getting myself into watching this show. I was expecting dime a dozen only to receive beauty and wit in one of the nicest surprises I’ve seen in a while. …god what a horrible betrayal of expectations.
Hyouka presents us with Houtaro Oreki, an energy saving lazy high-schooler with natural intelligence. Pushed into saving the dying Classics Club by his older sister, Oreki’s minimalistic lifestyle starts to crumble thanks to the whims of the other club members; old best friend Satoshi Fukube, Mayaka Ibara, and the ever curious Eru Chitanda. Thanks to Chitanda’s curiosity, the group end up solving mundane everyday mysteries with Oreki’s big noggin’.
See what I mean dime a dozen? ANOTHER SCHOOL CLUB ANIME: NOW WITH BORING MYSTERIES. OH JOY.
There is so much more beneath the surface and appearances.
So what we have here is a niche show that takes a curious spin on slice of life with mysteries, indulging itself in a suitably laid back and lackadaisical approach, one which it pulls off with grace. Hyouka rarely stumbles into territory where it drags on despite it’s slow pace, instead adopting a sense of lax intrigue which typically works well. I have to admit, that alone places the show in a category rarely seen, and personally, I’m a fan. It’s a fresh taste, and at it’s best, is jaw smackingly delicious. It doesn’t reach that high all too often sadly, but even on it’s normal days, it’s just wholly enjoyable.
Because when you get down to it, Hyouka is about teenagers who feel surprisingly real for anime standards. What’s kind of remarkable in that aspect is that most of development is done in a subtle manner, really unlike what I’m used to in anime like this. Treatment of typical coming of age issues, such as realizing others may have more natural talent than yourself, are treated with care along the full length of the series.
Hyouka does not hold your hand or forcefully drag you to the deeper end of the pool. The viewer can always calmly submerse themselves into what makes the show and it’s characters tick, and it feels great to have a show that simply let’s you understand the characters through their actions. They have a sense of being more than just 2D traits. All four of the main cast have distinguishable characters arcs which we can see develop au naturel, no lengthy awkward speeches to make sure the audience gets it. Makes for a fulfilling journey from start to end
And let’s get back to the surface qualities, because the show is actually, on a technical level, gorgeous. The atmosphere Hyouka creates is one its strongest suites, from scenery to creative “cinematography” and visuals oozing their pretty selves out of the screen. It’s luscious in all ways of the word, and the production values definitely show. The detail put into the animation is, well, really REALLY detailed. It’s eye candy plain and simple. It is the best.
As a whole, Hyouka is a testament what can be done with patience and slow painstaking care. The slow can be kind of painful, yes, but it always carried itself with charm and the sheer power of it’s atmosphere. So even in it’s laziest times, I could never truly call it dull – I was having fun. When it comes down to it, Hyouka captures a part of the teenage years and runs with it to its wits end. A real surprise for me, and something unique of its own.