Hyouka – 07

The Classics Club goes on a trip to a hot spring inn run by the young daughters of a family friend of Ibara’s. Oreki has an early night due to the strains of travelling and being in the spring too long, but in the morning, Mayaka reports she saw a hanging shadow in a room across from hers. Chitanda also saw it and want Oreki to investigate. After piecing together all of the events of the night before and observing the behavior of their hosts, he concludes it was only a yukata hanging out to dry.

The Classics Club has an away game, and like so many old inns, the one they stay at has a ghost story attached to it, regarding the hanging suicide of an embezzzler. When the girls insist they saw something unusual in the night, it’s up to Sherlock Oreki to solve the case. What amazed us, first of all, was that a fourth grader and sixth grader could run a frikkin’ inn all by themselves, even if only for four teenage guests. Not a whole lot of American inns like that. What also caught our eye was, well…everything; the calm, picturesque setting was particularly pretty.

As for the mystery; naturally there was a perfectly logical and un-supernatural explanation for what Mayaka and Chitanda saw, and when they beg him to find it, he considers it a hassle but does his duty, making full use of his detective skills. Once again, nifty details abound, from the older sister writing her name on everything that’s hers, to the ladybugs landing on people then taking off. Oreki also proves a most astute observer of behavior, which he uses to connect all the myriad dots rattling around in his head to form a picture of what happens that fits the facts. The kid’s on a roll.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Un-Go – 10

A hearing is held, run by Diet Member Kuramitsu, to investigate the studio bombing. Rinroku and Rie attend via sattelite, and Shinjurou is among those questioning him. He harbors a consistent suspicion that he’s hiding something, and that he’s using Bettenou to bend reality. Bettenou is at work, but her loyalties are ambiguous. She does have contact with Inga, who has grown distant from Shinjurou and extracts vital state secrets from Izumi. Upon being discharged from hospital, Rinroku’s van explodes with him and his bodyguard Mizuno inside, but Shinjurou is convinced he faked his death. The truth continues to elude him.

This was a tough episode to follow, but by gum were we entertained. It frankly blew our minds with possibilities. As Rinroku says, there are as many truths as there are people. Indeed, every day, every moment we cultivate our own truths, which may change from one moment to the next. Those like Shinjurou live to find the truth, something infinitely elusive, and even though they may even know what he seeks is an impossibility, he still tries. No matter how much he uncovers, there’s always more. No single human lifetime is long enough; the search for truth is eternal.

Is truth an enemy? A foe to be defeated? Why is it he knows Bettenou is at work in the proceedings that surround him, but no one else does, save Rinroku? Throughout this episode, we were fed a lot of information, but like the Defeated Detective, we feel like we haven’t crafted a satisfactory explanation for wtf is going on. Things are getting very weird; abstract; conceptual. The episode where the author trapped Shinjurou in a fantasy world was only the warm-up; the real mind gymnastics begin here- and next week, end. This is one 11-episode series we wish wasn’t ending.

Rating: 4

Un-Go – 09

Renroku Kaishou agrees to make a rare public appearence on a panel TV show debating the nationalization of the energy industry. Kaishou ducks out for a commercial break, and the entire studio explodes in an apparent act of terrorism. All the other panelists, many at odds with Renroku’s politics, are killed. His daughter Rie, who was watching him on live TV, is startled to see him at home, unharmed – a practical impossibility. Shinjurou determines that Bettenou’s reality-bending powers are at work, making lies true and vice versa, underlining how dangerous she can be if unfettered.

Good detective stories have enough twists and turns in them as they run their course from a crime being committed to that crime being solved. But introducing supernatural elements like a girl who can make anyone’s senses show them anything she wants add even more depth and complexity. Watching episodes of such complex and dynamic mystery can be unnerving, even exasperating, because you’re simply not sure who’s telling the truth and who’s after what. But it’s also why we’re so hooked on this show: sometimes its nice to not have everything spelled out.

And nothing is this week. Renroku Kaishou is an exceedingly enigmatic man; he’s pretty damn good at what he does, but it’s inferred or implied that he may have a dark side to him. He keeps his cards close, never revealing to anyone what he’s really about, even his daughter. Similarly, while we pretty much knew the ‘novelist’ wanted – to make awesome reality novels – we’re way more in the dark about what Bettenou wants. Does she just want chaos? Conflict? A resumption of the war that proceeded this series? We just don’t know. With two episodes remaining, we may well never know. But with Un-Go, not all questions need firm answers. Just enjoy the ride.

Rating: 3.5