I first came across the anime series Hyouka late last year when it popped up on the NHK’s poll of the Best 100 Anime of All Time (no. 25) as well as a western-style poll curated by Youtuber The Anime Man (no. 84). While I’m generally not a big fan of the slice-of-life genre, Hyouka’s art style and mystery themes intrigued me.
When I saw All the Anime was releasing Hyouka, I had a good excuse to check it out. So far, only Part 1, which contains the first 13 episodes, has been released. So, this review is of the first half of Hyouka only – and my impressions so far.
High schooler Oreki Hotaro is quite content conserving his energy by doing as little as possible and doing things only when necessary. That is, until his older sister writes to him on her travels to urge him to join the Classic Literature club, which is on the verge of closing down due to lack of members. His quiet life over, Oreki soon ends up solving mysteries with his three fellow club members.
Hyouka Part 1 is refreshing in that it doesn’t really follow the stale ‘one mystery per episode’ formula. One of the biggest mysteries is the origins and founder of the Classic Lit club itself, which the first few episodes give us some insight into. Presumably, we find out all the secrets in Part 2! The other big mystery that takes up a few episodes involves the characters trying to solve the end of a student’s murder mystery film, which is a different take on the genre. I really like the fact that Hyouka isn’t overly linear and feels more natural in how it’s told.
With only four club members, the cast is small. Oreki is my favourite, with his permanent genuine teenage ‘I just don’t care’ expressions. His supposed lack of caring is easily and regularly cast aside for fellow good-looking club member Chitanda Eru, whose signature catch-phrase “I’m curious!” is enough to get the plot rolling. The remaining two members, Oreki’s childhood friend Satoshi and Mayaka (who has a crush on Satoshi) really just feel like comedy relief at this stage, so I hope they get some more development in Part 2.
My favourite thing about Hyouka is its animation, which isn’t surprising given how Kyoto Animation is behind it. Just some of their other titles that you’ll be familiar with are A Silent Voice, Clannad and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
I still feel like there’s a lot left to discover with Hyouka, so will definitely be watching Part 2 once it’s released. It’s a different take on two very overdone genres, slice-of-life and mystery, and blends them perfectly.