Hyouka – 16

Satoshi’s stakeout is a bust, as Juumoji skips “ku” and steals from the Light Music Club (“ke”) instead. Oreki’s sister pays him a visit and trades him his mirror for a copy of “A Corpse By Evening.” The foreward announces the group of artists’ work for the next Kanya Festival will be called “Kudryavka’s Order” and based upon a Christie classic. Chitanda borrows the manga and shows Mayaka, who confirms the festival poster was drawn by the same artist: Council President Kugayama. Oreki comes to believe the manga’s foreward was an announcement of the Juumoji incident now occuring…

So now we’re done guessing when this arc will come to an end – having been proven wrong once again this week – but we’re definitely still enjoying the mystery as it deepens and begins to encompass all of the little details and events that inititally seemed unimportant. Oreki’s “Straw Millionaire” system has proven to be a crucial plot propellant, with the latest item being none other than the very manga Mayaka tore her room apart to find. Oreki is as impressed with its quality as she is. Leave it to Oreki’s sister to throw a vital bone into Oreki’s bowl for him to gnaw on. We’re not sure why her face is never shown, but it definitely adds to her mystique – along with her offbeat wardrobe.

Satoshi, who was on an indie streak last week, stumbled on the direct approach. You can see his frustration at failing, along with his exasperation with the fact that Oreki seeks to solve this thing without depending on connections to the clubs or mistakes by the culprit. He beleives the Juumoji plot is important to its makers, having been carefully planned since at least last year. Satoshi and the others can only sit back and hope Oreki can solve it. Also in this episode: Chitanda gets ready to go on the air, and Mayaka gets soaked in inky water, ruining her cosplay outfit and leading to a quiet retreat from the manga society.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 06

Argos Flight is on Guadalupe to perform joint environmental endurance tests with the Soviets. Tarisa and Inia instantly take a dislike to each other. On a day of dinghy racing, Yui’s partner Cryska collapses. Yuuya swims aboard to assess the information, and they row to an island as a large storm approaches. Yui sprains her ankle, so Yuuya carries Cryska then her to shelter. When he goes to check on the boat, Cryska asks Yui about him, and the boat is gone.

As soon as we heard “photo shoot for media materials to raise wartime morale”, we knew exactly what we were in for: a beach episode and transparent opportunity for the gals to show some skin. A side effect of such dawdling is that the urgency of the war – already lagging due to the lack of real combat the last few episodes – continues to erode. Once Yuuya was stranded on an island with two girls, the momentum of the  Beta War screeched to a halt. And while we had more than an inkling that beneath Yui and Yuuya’s tense professional friction they’re attracted to each other, we didn’t expect Yui to let her guard down so much this week.

Their stranding and her ankle sprain are obvious devices to get her in Yuuya’s arms, and on numerous occasions she’s blushing like a schoolgirl. At the same time, if you’re going to put them in this situation, at least go all the way and have them actually decisively act on their brimming feelings, which didn’t happen. It was nice to see a gentler side of Yui and Yuuya actually acting noble and not like a hotheaded ass, but while it’s nice to know there is more than ice water pumping through her veins, the impending love triangle with Cryska isn’t the most thrilling of prospects.

Rating: 5 (Average)