Hyouka – 17

Chitanda very directly advertises the Classics Club and their anthology by declaring it Juumoji’s last target, specifically their manuscript. The clubroom fills with intrigued students, and the anthology is nearly sold out, when the manuscript explodes in a puff of smoke, and Juumoji leaves a note behind. Flash back to when Oreki confronts Tanabe Jirou and declares him to be Juumoji, laying out in great detail how he figured it out. Rather than expose him, he asks Tanabe to buy 30 anthologies, and in exchange, the Classics Club will help him stage the final theft, using sodium for the explosion. Once the four members each purchase a copy, the Hyoukas sell out.

All’s well that ends well! In fact, all’s well that ends fantastically. This concluding episode of the Kanya Festival arc brought everything together so nicely, and did so with panache and dramatic fluorish. Rather unfold in a linear fashion, we’re shown the ending first, and rather than watch Oreki’s process, we merely watch him confront, shut down, then enter into a pact with Juumoji himself that will mutually benefit both parties, including achieiving the primary objective – to sell all the anthologies. It’s an epic feat of both detective work and negotiation – and Fukube can hardly believe how soundly he is beaten.

At the heart of this episode is a subject that has been building up for the entire series, and while rarely on the surface until now, informs the relationships of the whole club, and how they see themselves. To put it perhaps too simply, there are passionate failures and casual geniuses in Hyouka. Oreki is a genius, yet doesn’t seem to care (though we know he cares more than he outwardly lets on) This is accentuated by how abruptly he’s shown wrapping everything up in a neat little package. Fukube is frustrated by always looking up to Oreki, and the reality that he’ll probably never be able to approach his deductive skill can be a crushing, hopeless sensation.

Similarly, Ibara learns that Kouchi was friends with Anjou, the writer of A Corpse By Evening – a work both written and illustrated by casual geniuses. She thought she was 100 levels below Kouchi – the author of Body Talk – but Kouchi thought she was 100 below Anjou. It’s all relative! Even Chitanda learns that the school of manipulation Irisu tried to teach her simply isn’t for her – she’s too straightforward, but like Oreki, she succeeds in getting things done without seeming to try. We could frankly go on and on about all the lovely details crammed into this episode (the OP and ED are even omitted to provide maximum airtime), but we’ll simply close by saying the mystery was solved to our great satisfaction, and gave us a deeper look into the lives and personalities of all four club members.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Hyouka – 11

The film’s ending doesn’t sit well with Ibara, Satoshi, and Chitanda, and they let Oreki know one by one that they don’t believe it was what Hongou intended. He agrees with them, and he can’t stop thinking about it, so he confronts Irisu and gets her to admit she wasn’t looking for detectives, but script writers, and determined that Oreki’s was the best. Later, Oreki tells Chitanda the story he thinks Hongou wanted to tell.

Last week, the mission was completed, but the mystery remained. This week, the mystery isn’t entirely solved, but the truth about Irisu’s motivations are revealed, and Oreki returns to the role of detective and not script writer. Satoshi turns out to be pretty spot on with everyone’s tarot symbols (they cartainly carry more weight here than in Arcana Famiglia). Even though Oreki doesn’t see The Empress in Irisu, a little quick digging shows that’s indeed what role she played in this arc. Recurring keywords include material prosperity, power, desire, and satisfaction, along with the more obvious sexuality, pleasure, physical attraction and beauty. Irisu used her powers of persuasion to achieve her own goals and prosper from the success of the film, irregardless of whether Hongou’s intent was preserved. The ends justified the means.

This four-episode arc is bookended by online conversations between Irisu and a mystery senpai labelled as “atashi” or “me”. Who is this senpai? We don’t know, but he or she is the person who led Irisu to ask the Classics Club. (We’re guessing it’s Oreki’s older sister, since she’s “halfway across the world”, among other hints.) Irisu warns Hongou that things won’t turn out the way she intended, and they don’t. When it’s all over, the senpai mocks Hongou and the others for falling for the ploy, and Irisu feels kinda bad about what she did, even if she believed she had no choice. It was a tangled web she wove, and served as a wake-up call to Oreki, who knew something wasn’t right with his conclusion. His friends confirmed his doubts, he called Irisu out, and he whipped up a new and more fitting end theory. Too late to change the film, but not too late to regain his confidence.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Hyouka – 10

Oreki details his dismissal of the amateur detectives’ theories with Irisu over tea, and she tells him she knew they’d fail, which is why she sought him – not the classics club – out. She coaxes him to stay on the case, and he comes in to school to do just that, shocking Fukube and Mayaka. Re-watching the video with Mayaka’s suggestions and Fukube’s notes at hand, he figures it out: the culprit is none of the six actors, but a seventh actor – the one behind the camera. With this in mind, the film is completed and shown to a satisfied audience at the festival. But there is one thing Oreki forgot about: the rope Hongou requested.

A student who is always ignored by his/her classmates follows them to a seedy theatre. They know he’s there, but aside from a momentary glance they pretend he isn’t. Suddenly, the kid pops, and when everyone else is out of sight, he kills one of them and makes it look like a locked room mystery. It’s a home run of conclusion that seems to fit all the facts, and even more impressive is how quickly Oreki comes up with it, drawing from everything he’s seen and everything he’s heard. The rope question is a hole, but as the original intent was to make a successful film, it didn’t matter. Or does it?

This episode was a turning point for Oreki. Chitanda wasn’t here this week to flash those majo shojo doe eyes at him (she was hungover). It’s Irisu who exhibits confidence in him he never had himself; who tells him to take pride in his talent; who calls him extraordinary numerous times for dramatic effect. Oreki’s never done anything he didn’t have to, but now he finds that solving mysteries is not only something he has to do, but something he wants to. He may have given the film a culprit, an ending, and even a title (Out of Sight, Out of Mind; heh heh), but the thing he wants and needs most of all is to find out the truth.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Hyouka – 09

The three “amateur detectives” of the film club offer their theories to the classics club, one by one. Vice director Nakajou believes it to be a simple matter of the murderer escaping through the window, but the grass outside wasn’t disturbed. Prop master Haba believes the culprit is Kounosu, also of the mountaineering club, because Hongou asked for a rope. Haba hasn’t watched the film yet, so doesn’t know how hard and loud opening the window from the outside would be. The third gumshoe, Sawakguchi, suggests it was going to be a horror flick with a slasher killing everyone save one couple, but there wasn’t enough blood ordered. With all three film club theories refuted, it’s up to the classics club to crack the mystery. On his way home, Oreki bumps into Irisu, who asks him out for tea.

This turned out to be only Part Deux of the film club murder mystery, comprised solely of listening to the three film club detectives rattle off their personal theories about whom the culprit may be. None of their theories survive the scrutiny of Oreki, Chitanda, Mayaka, and/or Fukube. Of course, it would have been awfully anticlimatic for one of them to come up with the answer instead of a member of the Classics Club. Instead, the presentation of their theories served to eliminate certain possibilities, if only somewhat.

While a wholly different mystery than that involving Chitanda’s uncle, due to it involving a much smaller scope of history (months, not decades), the series still manages to brew quite a stirring mystery here. We have no idea how it will be solved, and even if we had a clue, it’s likely it would be refuted by Oreki & Co. Quite amusingly, Chitanda snacks on whiskey chocolates throughout the episode, developing hiccups and eventually passing out after an apparent epiphany that “it’s like a kaleidoscope,” whatever that means. We’re also curious why Irisu wants to meet Oreki one-on-one.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Hyouka – 08

Irisu Fuyumi of the A/V Club enlists the Classics Club to attend a screening of the club’s mystery film. The writer, Hongou, took ill and was unable to finish the script. It’s a crudely-made affair, but Irisu believes Oreki & Co. can devine the culprit from the small amount of footage seen. Oreki balks at the opportunity, not wanting so much responsibility, but instead agrees that he and the Classics Club will be “observers”, listening to the theories of the A/V club’s ‘amateur detectives’ and advising them when necessary.

Perhaps the biggest mystery since “Hyouka” falls into the reluctant lap of Oreki and the Classics Club, thanks to Chitanda offering to help a fellow rich empire heiress in need, Irisu. Unlike a hotel ghost mystery, a lot of people in the A/V Club are now depending on Oreki’s investigative skills, and even if he said he wouldn’t take responsibility for failure, we’re as confident as Chitanda, Fukube and Mayaka that he’ll be able to solve the unfinished film’s mystery. The cold open was similarly mysterious, with two people texting and chatting online – who turned out to be Chitanda and Irisu. Clearly Chitanda’s vision for the Classics Club goes far beyong enjoying literature.

With Detective Oreki at her side, the club has become a formidable detective force. We really liked how much detail went into the depiction of the indie film: shaky handheld camerawork, wind noise, intermittent focus, and bad acting were all on display, but despite its flaws, the underlying mood of the film commanded our attention and respect. We also liked how horribly hot and muggy it looked when Oreki poked his head outside. Were it not for Chitanda meeting up with him at his house, he’d have retreated indoors.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)