Yeah, it's kinda like that.Hyouka
is a 2012 animated adaption of a mystery novel by the same name. Handled by the masters of moe themselves, Kyoto Animation
, and directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto
. At first glance, Hyouka seems to be just another slice-of-life - a charming and somewhat melancholic show to use as a brief escape from the humdrum and dillydallies of ordinary life, but don't let looks deceive you. Hyouka goes further than just a slice-of-life, and is actually KyoAni's take on the mystery genre, and what a masterful take it is.
The story begins with human Energy Star Oreki Houtarou, a boy who's motto is "If I don't have to do something, I won't, but if I have to, I'll do it quickly"(A fantastic motto if I do say so myself). The Classic Literature Club at his local high school is in danger of being demolished, and so at the behest of his sister, Oreki joins the Classic Literature Club to prevent this tragic event. It is in the hazy afternoon when school is finished that he enters the clubroom, and therein meets the clumsy, curious, cutie Eru Chitanda. There is something odd, however. Eru was in the clubroom, but the room was unable to be opened without the key Oreki received to open it. Eru is curious as to how this is possible, and it is here we witness Oreki's brilliant deduction skills, and a taste of the mysteries to follow.
The rest of the story follows the high school lives of Eru and Oreki, and finds the two along with human database Satoshi Fukube
and fourth club member Mayaka Ibara
, getting wrapped up in various mysteries that need solving, and overall problems and events that may well ruin Oreki's energy-saving ways.
One of the unique aspects of Hyouka is it's ability to mix that slice-of-life aspect present in many of KyoAni's anime, along with interesting mysteries that will keep you guessing. Oreki is a modern-day teenage Sherlock, but rather than solving more serious who-dunnits and living a thrilling life of intrigue, he solves mundane cases involving expulsions and petty high school thieves. Note, mundane does not necessarily mean boring(unless you're going by the first definition, but let's go with the second one). The mysteries that fall into their laps have quite a few twists, and actually make keep the viewer guessing.
Hyouka manages to balance the mystery with normal. A romantic plot begins to grow from the beginning, and develops in a way so natural you may not even notice it at first. Even without mystery, the interactions between the characters are enough to keep one interested. The show is also spruced with philosophical discussions on what it means to have "talent" and the negative fallout from such ability, for those seeking a more intellectual experience. All in all, the story and characters alone are enough to make the show great, but knowing KyoAni, it goes even further. However, even masterworks have flaws. Though, in this case, it's only one. An open-ended ending which works may or may not work great, works against the anime and may not leave one as satisfied as hoped.
KyoAni has always been known for their animation. Love their style or not, they never once get lazy with their art, and Hyouka is KyoAni at their finest. The backgrounds are gorgeous, leaves blowing in the wind and the town in which they live are drawn with stunning results. By the end, you will want to visit the real-life version of the town. The quality doesn't stop there. Character's movements are fluid. Small details are captured accurately, the way Oreki twirls his hair when he thinks, the natural sparkle within Eru's eyes, all these details are paid loving attention, and serve to fill the characters with life.
Sound is important too, and KyoAni delivers. Sound effects are spot-on, music is only played when it's natural. The music matches the scenes perfectly, and KyoAni knows when some scenes simply need no sound. The opening and endings are perfect, and the second ending especially is an ear-worm. The visual treat combines with the wonderful sound to create an audio-visual feast.
Yes, there's Vocaloid cosplay too. If that's not enough to convince you to watch this anime, then to hell with ya!
Hyouka is simply put, a masterpiece. The only thing preventing me from giving a perfect score being the open-ended finish. Still, Hyouka is KyoAni at their best(since Clannad After Story anyway). The animation, story, music, it's for all these reasons I highly recommend it.