Hyouka – 13

In the course of the first day of the Kanya Festival, Chitanda is able to get clearance to sell anthologies at other booths but must give the wall newspaper a good story to be included; Satoshi successfully advertises the Classics Club before narrowly losing the quiz show; Mayaka gets in a philosophical argument about manga with her senpai; and Oreki sells fourteen copies and trades a safety pin for a Glock 17-modelled water pistol.

The Clasics Club quartet is, for the most part, separated from one another this week; all in their own little corners of the Kanya Festival, trying to make things happen vis-a-vis getting all those anthologies sold off, while trying to have at least a little fun on the side. This reveals how everyones’ idea of fun differs. Oreki is naturally pefectly content to sit in the clubroom gathering dust. Chitanda takes her mission seriously, but of all the fifty or so clubs, she manages to visit and spend time with all of them. Satoshi wants to show off his skills, both as database and (next week) cook.

Finally, Mayaka just seems a bit uncomfortable in the manga society: clearly passionate about the material, but perhaps not so enamored of her clubmates. Her “debate” with her senpai Kouchi killed any chance of selling the anthology there, but was a nice character moment for her, and we hope it resolves itself later. This vary varied episode even includes a couple of mini-mysteries involving an artfully stolen tarot card and go pieces…though in our minds, the prevailing mystery of this arc is how in the heck they’re going to sell all those anthologies in the final two days. Can it be done?

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. What the hell kind of high school allows such life-like replicas of firearms to be allowed on school property?

Hyouka – 12

The 54th Kanya Festival has arrived, and all the members of the Classics Club are looking forward to it in their own way save Oreki, for whom it’s just another day. They over-ordered the 46th Hyouka anthology, so they have to sell 200 instead of 30, and their club’s low profile and isolated location will make that difficult. The club devises a strategy in which Chitanda negotiates for a better booth and Satoshi will advertise. Both get easily sidetracked by the many booths and events. Oreki, meanwhile, mans the booth, making his first sale to a punked-out member of the fashion club.

With all the guff and drama in the past relating to the Kanya Festival, it was only a matter of time before we witnessed the most recent iteration in episode or arc form, and here we are. And as is typical of Japanese cultural festivals in animes (and perhaps in reality as well; we wouldn’t know), the school goes all out. Every student is involved in something, and the school is alive with activity. The episode’s prologue shows Chitanda, Mayaka and Satoshi awake in the wee hours of the morning, filled with anticipation. Oreki gets his dream job: sitting at a booth in a quiet clubroom all day. We also briefly meet his sister, who is home, though we don’t see her face. She gives him a pen that comes in handy later.  Will she play a role next week?

Rather than have a fresh festival-related mystery pop up, the Classics Club is instead faced with a commercial dilemma: they ordered far too many anthologies, and must create extra demand for them where none existed – more than six times the demand, to be exact. They approach this problem the same way they’ve approached any problem: determine what needs to happen to sell those books, and make it happen. Easier said than done, as Mayaka is stuck in Manga Club the whole first day, Satoshi has his own festival checklist, and Chitanda quickly becomes overwhelemed by the variety of activities distracting her from the task at hand.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Hyouka – 05

After a brief phone call from his sister, Oreki begins to doubt his theory, and so tracks down the woman who wrote the preface to “Hyouka”, who turns out to be Itoigawa, the librarian. She shares with the club an account of what happened. The student protest of shortening the festival led to boycotts and bonfires, and one of the latter accidentally burned and damaged the martial arts center. Sekitani Jun, chosen as a figurehead for the movement, was expelled, and nobody spoke up for him, including Yuuko. Now that he knows, Oreki divines the meaning of the title “Hyouka” that Jun chose: in English it means “ice cream”, which sounds like “I scream”; the revalation triggers Chitanda to remember her uncle explaining the title to her, and the need for her to stay strong so she’ll always be able to scream.

The mystery of Sekitani Jun comes to a satisfying, elegant, and moving conclusion, much sooner than we expected. It’s hardly unheard of for a former student of a school to return to work there. It happens all the time, and in this case, Oreki is right when he said he required a lot of luck to solve the case. It was lucky the author of the preface remains at the school as the current librarian, and he was lucky his initial theory – itself an amalgam of the others’ theories – hewed so close to the historical truth as Itoigawa recalls. But some are simply born luckier than others – what matters is, Oreki made good use of his luck, and once he began dedicating near-Chitanda levels of energy to the mystery, he learned the rewards are often worth the exertion.

With the theory in place, Itoigawa was able to fill the holes: Chitanda’s uncle didn’t make a conscious sacrifice, he drew the short straw and was thrown under a bus. He had back luck, but he left the school with calmness and grace, not vowing revenge on his fellow students who let him be sacrificed. We found it particularly awesome watching Oreki unravel the meaning of Hyouka once he learned the truth; with his leg shaking nervously and energetically, he realized it was a pun. We also like how his sister didn’t give him all the answers, but only planted the seed that there was more to discover. As for his motivations for spending so much energy, beyond utilizing the luck he was given, there’s definitely a little desire within him to help Chitanda overcome her past trauma. He suspects his sister knew exactly what she was doing: getting Oreki into the Classics Club was to shake up his gray high school life and put him on the path of a rose-colored one. So far so good.

Rating: 9 (Superior)