Hyouka – 01

Oreki Houtarou is a passive high schooler who isn’t interested in sports, socializing, or studying, but merely getting through school with a minimum of exertion. When his abroad sister makes him join the dying Classic Literature Club, he meets the extremely friendly and curious Chitanda Eru, who convinces Houtarou to stick with the club with her charms after solving two mysteries together, one real, one faked. Houtarou’s friend Fukube Satoshi also joins.

Hyouka is the final piece of our Spring 2012 picture. It’s a KyoAni series directed by Takemoto Yasuhiro, who also directed Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu, one of our favorite films period, anime or not; and his touch is evident here. Fist of all, the quality of the animation and attention to detail are first-rate; this is perhaps the best-looking series of the Spring. Hyouka is also conspicuous in its overall calm, quiet, natural atmosphere. This is a world that looks and feels very real. Hyouka’s protagonist Houtarou is not immediately likeable, however. He’s a noncommital, unmotivated misanthrope, and his friend Fukube is a bit of an annoying smartass.

They spend most of the episode conversing with one another, which gets a little tedious. Who we did like quite a bit was the warm and genial Chitanda Eru, the antithesis of Houtarou; her bright energy nicely balances his apathy. Still, he wasn’t able to say no to her, so maybe he’s in for a change of heart vis-a-vis interacting with people. We will say we like the very surreal moments from Houtarou’s point-of-view, the kid clearly has a vivid imagination beneath his droll, Kyon-like exterior. This is yet another school club anime, but we can’t dismiss something that looks this good; we’ll be sticking with it.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: As the end credits roll by Houtarou and Satoshi walk home from school, many cars and vans drive by in the background: a Honda Vamos, Zest, and Acty Van, a Mitsubishi Colt, a Toyota Sienta and Vitz, and others.