Meddlin’ Kids: The dubious mysteries of Hyouka

Hyouka is, if you’re under a rock, the latest adaptation of a trashy kids’ novel into an anime, by perennial favorite studio Kyoto Animation and their hardworking director-san Yasuhiro “Not Yamakan” Takemoto. Kyoto is of course the logical choice for this cartoon because it covers some familiar ground for them: A disused clubroom with a worthless club, a hard-charging sleeve-dragging leader with a desire for a life more interesting, a protagonist with an even stronger desire for a life less interesting, sweets and treats eaten after school, the dude-pair of Nakamura and Sakaguchi, and perhaps an element of mystery.

I say “perhaps” because of course the mysteries thus far have been contrived by the protagonist to keep the girl occupied because otherwise she bothers him too much — or, as the case may be, because he likes her but is afraid to admit it.

Which might sound familiar to you as well.

The problem is, in two episodes I have yet to see any of the charm of Haruhi’s wacky SOS-dan. Bossy and arrogant and cartoonishly clueless as she was, Haruhi the character created interesting things around her. Likewise, as much as Kyon resembled any other boring insert-kun on the surface, his sarcastic running commentary and almost prescient awareness made him a pleasure to watch. So far, Oreki’s laziness and apathy borders on antagonistically jerky, even mean, in his interaction with the non-Haruhi Eru Chitanda.

I’m thinking the last scene of the second episode, in which the pair meet in a cafe. His snide comment of “What is this? A confession?” was pretty rough. I couldn’t help but think, what if it were? I would hope he’d feel like quite the asshole. So far, not an incredibly likable character, but worse — he’s just not an interesting character. You don’t have to be a good guy to be well-written or fun to watch, but Char he’s not.

As Keima would say, I can see the ending. Or at least, I think I can. I’m not sure what the newsbomb Chitanda’s about to drop might be, but I fully expect that before too long, one of these contrived home-brewed mysteries is going to backfire in more ways that just attaching Chitanda to Oreki’s sleeve. He’s going to have to solve a real mystery. That doesn’t make me Sherlock Holmes by any means (that’s what my unquenchable lust for cocaine is for), but I just don’t predict any major curveballs here. I could be proven joyfully wrong, though, and welcome the thought.

After all, regardless of the Haruhi-lite trappings and the admittedly astounding visuals (I mean, it looks really good), this is the same old story of a lazy lout with no ambition who is troubled by that greatest of all anime inconveniences, the attentions of a cute girl.

Fuck these (14) Comments.

  1. animekritik says:

    Do you recommend this then?

    • otou-san says:

      I’m actually not 100% sure yet. I appreciate strong visuals in an anime, but rarely will it keep me watching through a not-too-interesting premise. I think that’s happening right now, but it feels like the plot is only just now being set up. If my predictions of predictability (so to speak) from this post are correct, then I will seriously consider letting it go but as long as it doesn’t totally insult my intelligence, it’s so pretty that I will, in all likelihood, keep watching.

      tl;dr not sure yet but damn it’s pretty.

  2. Anon says:

    Dropped.

  3. sadakups says:

    I seriously feel that Oreki feels like he is for another show. I mean, he has notable deduction skills. He should be in his own series where he is a high school student who goes out and solves crimes. We never had that before.

    OH WAIT

  4. Hamano Yumi says:

    you made Hyouka sounds bad. This anime is interesting and quite popular. Oreki Houtaro is an interesting character. I don’t get why you compare this with haruhi. Haruhi and Hyouka are DIFFERENT, just a little things they have in common like they are in japan,attend high-school,ect. Worth-less club? If you join a club you like do you want your club call a ‘worthless club’? trashy kid’s novel…this one what you made me really mad…sigh, what kind of childhood do you have? I just read two of your article and it’s really disappointing. And you sound SOOO old!

    • That’s because he is ollllld! But that is why we love him! As for his childhood, he was raised by wolves, so you’ll have to be kind and overlook his less-than-idealistic feelings about the youthful portion of people’s lives.

      Also, popular does not equate necessarily with good. Hitler was rather popular in Weimar Germany, and we know how that went!

    • otou-san says:

      I don’t get why you compare this with haruhi.

      I gave quite a few reasons, I don’t get your lack of reading comprehension.

      If you join a club you like do you want your club call a ‘worthless club’?

      worked for Oreki. He didn’t want to be there either. I’m talking in terms of the plot here. The only person who cared was his sister.

      sigh, what kind of childhood do you have?

      I was routinely abused by light novel adaptations. It’s hard to talk about.