Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ANIME REVIEW: Hyouka


Hyouka is a 22 episode anime based on the book series of the same name. 
This is a spoiler free review.


Plot

Hōtarō Oreki doesn't like to do things that he considers a waste of energy. However, things start to change when he enters high school because even though he does not want to join any non-compulsory school activities, his older sister requested that he join the deserted Classics Club so that it won't be disbanded. Unknown to him, another student Eru Chitanda already planned to join; but instead of being free from club obligations, Hōtarō eventually joined as he is strangely unable to refuse nor to escape from Eru's passionate gaze of curiosity. Together with his friends Satoshi and Mayaka, they began to discuss a variety of mysteries in school that only Hōtarō seems to be able to solve; including the mystery that lingered on from Eru's childhood memory.

Why I Chose It

I had heard a lot of things about Hyouka and read some reviews, eventually decided to take the plunge after wanting to learn more about the mystery solving nature of the show. I should also mention that the screenshots I saw showed artwork that was some of the best I had seen and that definitely helped tip me towards giving the show a chance.


What I thought

I really didn’t know what to expect with this series but I had heard so many good things about it and really wanted to take the plunge with a series after finishing up Accel World.

This couldn’t be more different from Accel World with the only common thread being that they are both set in and around high school. The theme of mystery solving and amateur detective work instantly got me hooked in making me watch multiple episodes at a time.

One major point going for this show is the protagonist, maybe it is just because I came to this from watching Accel World but it is so nice to have a lead with a strong sense of self even if he can get talked into all manner of things by a curious girl.

Going off topic for a second I find a problem with a lot of anime shows is protagonists that are almost blank slates with seemingly no thoughts of their own, you could never mistake Hotaro as someone without his own thoughts on life and while throughout the series his mind slowly changes you can see why he makes the choices he does.

I can’t talk about Hyouka without mentioning the mysteries that they gang solve, I found them interesting and engaging as well as very well laid out. You don’t get the TV murder mystery effect where we the detective announces some previously unknown fact that reveals the murderer in an instant, mysteries in Hyouka are solved by deduction which is impressive but believable.

High school politics Japanese style always keep me interested, the after school clubs that seem to mirror the traditional social groups of Goths, jocks et al in an American setting. I probably just wish that my high school was more like that (especially that whole co-ed thing but I digress) but I get that it is an idealised version of what most Japanese High Schools are nice but it serves as an interesting glimpse into a different culture.

In closing I can definitely recommend Hyouka but be prepared to spend a few hours watching those episodes in bulk. This anime showcases well that not every title is about energy attacks and intense action scenes sometimes it is just about friends coming together and helping each other out.

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