Hyouka – 15

After briefly celebrating their Wildfire win, Fukobe, Chitanda and Ibara bring the Juumoji mystery to Oreki’s attention. Chitanda uses her catch phrase, and Oreki grudgingly agrees to participate. They determine that the pattern of crimes indicates the use of the ten first characters in the hiragana alphabet, and that the final theft could occur in the Classics Club. Chitanda reports this to the Newspaper Club, who are already on top of it, while Fukobe tries to catch the thief in the act, wanting to solve the crime without further help from Oreki.

So we were a little off: this episode didn’t comprise the third day of the festival in which the mystery is solved. Instead, the second day continues with the start of the investigations. It’s a day that concludes with a pretty solid theory in place for what’s going on, and whoever the thief is, he’s pretty clever. Chitanda takes Irisu’s advice amusingly literally, but beause the Classics Club could be the last target, the mystery nets them more free publicity anyway, which is good, because there’s a lot of anthologies still on that table.

In the meantime, Fukube starts to show signs he may be sick of playing second fiddle to Oreki. He stops himself when about to suggest something involving the case, then goes off on his own to catch the thief in the act, which he believes is the only way he or she will be caught. Mayaka’s Manga Society troubles continue, being teased by her clubmates and retreating to mope beside Oreki and at an isolated bridge where her prez tries to console her. But the overarching question is, who will catch the thief? If it isn’t Oreki, will he care? We think he will.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Chihayafuru – 01

High schooler Chihaya Ayase is very beautiful, like her model older sister, but her odd behavior at school earned her the nickname “Beauty in Vain.” She also happens to be a decent player of the obscure card-grabbing game Karuta, though it wasn’t always that way. In a flashback, she remembers her classmate Wataya being teased because of his accent and tatty clothes, but after a chance encounter while he’s on his paperboy rounds – and an incident where both she and Wataya are pushed down and ostrasized by her childhood friend Taichi – Wataya shows her how he plays Karuta, and his dream to become a master. She shares that dream, and back in the present, starts a Karuta club at her high school.

This is the second straight series debut to be dominated by a flashback, and why not, best to establish the character’s motivations right off the bat. This was a strong start. Chihaya had always dreamt for her sister to excel at something – modeling – but the awkward, bespectacled Wataya breaks her out of that. We liked how their initial one-on-one encounter was just pure chance: he was a paperboy on his early morning route, and she was outside waiting for the paper with her sister’s picture on the front page. Of course, to Wataya, it looked like she was waiting for him.

We tend to see Japanese society in best light possible, but this series shows that teasing and ostracism for being “different” is no less present there than anywhere else. We got annoyed when classmates talked about how Chihaya is pretty, but that that beauty is “wasted” whenever she “talks or does something.” Hmph. No matter, we like Chihaya, and this series, so far. We knew nothing about Karuta, but after watching this, we now know we probably wouldn’t be too good at it. Memorizing poetry in hiragana and rapid recall aren’t our strong suits.


Rating: 3.5