Hyouka – 01 Review
Episode 01 – Revival of the Long Running Book Club
Episode 01 – Boy Meets Girl
Seeing as to how I am a sucker for detective genre series, it is little surprise that I had manage to find my way to this show.
Sadly, the series wasn’t what I had expected it to be. On the plus side, it wasn’t horrible either.
For those of you who have no clue what the series is meant to be about, this is the sypnosis from ANN:
“The story follows a boy named Hōtarō who joins the club of classical literature by order of his sister, although he prefers not to get involved in anything. The club will gradually nearer to the truth after some incident involving a boy’s uncle and the same happened 33 years ago. He eventually dragged seeing solve the mystery by another girl.”
Okay… so that summary doesn’t really make too much sense… Let’s see if I can find another one…
“A boy named Hōtarō who is not assertive about getting involved, but was ordered by his older sister to join the classic literature club. In the club, he gets close to the truth about an incident, involving a female member’s uncle, which happened 33 years ago. The “energy-saving” boy is joined by an inquisitive girl in this adolescent mystery. “
That’s the one from Baka-Updates Manga.
To sum it up, the series is looking to be a simply boy meets girl, boy is attracted by the girl, boy and girl solves mysteries and live happily ever after, sort of story. (okay, I made that last part up)
The first episode brings us through the introduction of, what I only assume to be at this point, the 3 main characters of the series. Oreki Houtarou is the main male lead who lives by the motto of being a pure minimalist. Persuaded by his sister, he joins the book club and meets Chitanda Eru who has a drive for the unknown that is the total opposite of Oreki’s motto: “I won’t bother doing thing I don’t have to, and I’ll just rush through things I have to do”. Joining them as they solve “mysteries” is Oreki’s friend Fukube.
The first mystery that falls onto their lap is that of the locked book club door. The answer to the mystery was quickly deduced by Oreki and the plot had moved onto the next mystery. The second mystery wasn’t so much of mystery as it was character development for the new group of friends. Oreki simply comes up with a solution to a ghost story in order to get out of having to go through a troublesome deduction with Chitanda. However, as Fukube had pointed out, Oreki’s long-winded handling of the situation had made things more troublesome instead of less. This odd character behaviour is meant to hint at the start of Oreki’s change in personality triggered by the appearance of Chitanda.
Disclaimer: Haven’t read the manga
I have been anticipating this series but haven’t had the time to watch it, now that I’ve finally found the time, I have to say that the series had left me pretty underwhelmed. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the show had tended towards a more slice-of-life approach as oppose to the darker and more “mystery” driven plot that I had expected to see. So if you are hoping that this would satisfy your inner detective, I would suggest either holding out until we get into the main plot or simply tweaking your expectation of the series. With that being said, this episode did have 2 “mysteries” in it so it wasn’t all that fluffy.
As I had mentioned, this series had tended to a more slice-of-life approach with it’s huge focus on the characters and their personalities as well as their approach to life. Take this character driven style and mix it in with the beautiful animation, it is easy for one to mistake this as being a SoL series.
The animation director of this series is Futoshi Nishya who’s previous works include K-ON!, Lucky Star, Haruhi, Clannad etc. You can definitely see hints of other series in the execution of the show be it in the background animation, or in the mannerisms of the character. The character designs will also definitely remind one of K-ON! with the huge eyes and similar facial characteristics. Whether this huge similarity in the character design is a good or bad thing depends on the person watching it.
If you are able to detach yourself from the emotions of K-ON! and the likes, then this series can be seen as having pretty animation. But I am a believer in the fact that people tend to attach certain emotions with certain looks and this simply means that it takes more effort to break away from the preconditioned emotions of the viewer.
The animation on a whole is really pretty and crisp but had also manage to delve a tad into the abstract realm during some of the story telling moments. Personally, the whole abstract feel reminds me of series such as Nisemonogatari and I would rather this show stick to the typical beautiful SoL style of animation that carries a warm and wonderful glow. Choose an art direction and stick with it, that’s how I feel.
The overall mood of the animation had also reminded me of a brighter version of Kamisama no Memo-chou due how lighting was used to create a nice contrast in the scenes.
Just a small fun fact: This series is directed by Takemoto Yasuhiro whose previous works includes Lucky Star and Full Metal Panic. I haven’t really much to say about this point so I shall move on…
The Plot and Characters
From what has been presented in the first episode, I am not all that excited for the second episode. One could argue that this series is merely taking the shape of satisfying the current trend in shows: boy meets girl >> boy gets sucked into the girl’s pace >> boy loses his individuality >> boy and girl do things together with the gang. Take this formula and mix in some nice animation and its a shoe-in for at the very least, a mediocre series.
The 2 mysteries that had appeared in this episode was over in a blink of an eye and it was more like watching a story unfold infront of us as oppose to engaging the audience in the mystery. It was pretty much a bunch of new friends gathering together to play detective whilst we were simply there for the ride.
I shan’t talk about the lack of depth in the mysteries since this episode is merely more of an character and series introduction as oppose to the it being part of the main plot. But what was fun to note was that Oreki’s weird hallucination when he looks at Chitanda reminds me of UN-GO. The way in which Oreki’s is absorbed into that invisible pull that he feels from looking at Chitanda reminded me of Inga’s convenient “soul-sucking-truth-stare-down”.
Taking the role of lead detective is the lazy Oreki who has no interest in life and has been “forced” into his current position. His character is pretty much a been there, seen that, sort of character. He appears to be the typical lazy character who would rather let life pass him by than to seize it. That is until he meets his fated woman of destiny who turns his life upside down. The upside is that the the whole hallucinating scene gives me hope that his character won’t be as dull as he wishes to be.
What I had found interesting was that despite Fukube’s rant on how smart Chitanda is meant to be, it was the lazy boy who had solved the case whilst the “intelligent” one merely got curious. When I had first seen Chitanda on screen, the first thing that came to mind was “shit, this looks like Kamisama no Memo-chou” and I honestly didn’t want to have to deal with a second Alice character in a detective series. Thankfully, Chitanda’s character reminded me more of a passing breeze that goes haywire once in a while – light and fluffy, but crazy like a dog when it’s interest is piqued, instead of how Alice is constantly giving me a migraine.
The last main character in this episode is Fukube. Fukube is probably the most interesting character in the show for me. Unlike the usual sidekicks type who’s either really helpful or highly annoying, Fukube is a nice balance of both.
His keen people observational skill brings us an insight to Oreki’s character towards the end of the episode whilst this is balanced out by his enthusiastic and lively personality. Usually characters that reminds me of him tend to go overboard on the enthusiasm and energy levels. However, Fukube knows when to dial it back and has the ability to actually appear insightful when need be. Seeing as to how he is more like a supporting character in this series, it is sad that he intrigues me more than Oreki’s character.
The series has got the animation side covered and one can hope that once we dive into the main mystery, the story will be taken to a whole new level. As of yet, the series seems to be on the bland side with characters coming off as being more like a mash of carbon copies, whilst the attempt at character development has yet to be properly explored.
With this season’s lack of appealing series, this is probably one to add to your watch list if it is feeling a tad empty.
Episode Rating: 7/10 – I have faith in the series getting better. The episode on the other hand was merely average.
The story of the Black Widow had reminded me of this Japanese case of the Black Widow – A woman who killed her 3 husbands in order to gain their fortune. She had used carbon monoxide to slowly suffocate them after having induced sleep via sleeping pills.
You can read more of the article here.
Question of the Week:
Was this first episode what you had expected it to be?
It’s always nice to know what others feel about a series’ first episode. I am a strong believer that the first episode of the series has got to be a strong one in order to capture the interest of the audience as not everyone is willing to give a show a few episodes to grow into itself.
After all, first impressions count right?
So what was you first impression of this series?