Hyouka – Episode 1
April 26, 2012
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Hyouka is Kyoto Animation’s new thing, I guess, now that K-On has had its six seasons and a movie. As I recall, it was about a mystery investigation club? We already have one of those this season, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, and it seems pretty OK. But Kyoto Animation’s done some great stuff in the past, so it’s at least worth a shot. Let’s hope episode 1 of Hyouka isn’t as bad as Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai, because it doesn’t have the hilarious name to make up for it.
…thirty minutes pass…
That's what she said!
I’m a little conflicted about this episode. On the one hand, there are a lot of nice elements here. Kyoto Animation has done a good job animating the show, even if the character designs are nothing to write home about. Each of the three main characters seems interesting. You have the protagonist who is extraordinarily lazy but also very good at inference, and he’s constantly looking for ways to work smarter, not harder. You have the sidekick character with a great memory who is charmingly accepting of his role as sidekick and who gently pushes the protagonist into doing things despite his laziness. And you have the high-class ojousama who is naively excited by relatively commonplace things, and gets adorably worked up at the scent of mysteries, like a dog frantically wagging her tail. The high school setting is a little well-worn at this point, but they seem like they’re making an effort to at least flesh it out and make it seem like an actual high school with various attributes, rather than The Platonic Ideal Japanese High School. And I could see the basic premise of “lazy guy gets dragged into solving a bunch of mysteries by a cute girl” being a lot of fun.
But on the other hand, this episode left me completely cold. It had lots of things in it that I would have expected I would have liked, thinking about it rationally, but it failed to provoke an emotional response from me. Somehow the whole was much less than the sum of its parts. I think probably the culprit was the dry, wordy style of the writing? It felt stilted, it felt like the words were being written, not said. I guess this show is based on a novel, but even in a novel it’s a failing for your dialogue not to sound like dialogue. The writer planned his characters, said “yes! these are interesting characters”, and then proceeded to have his characters explain to each other how interesting they were. The protagonist says to himself “I’m pretty lazy, I live a gray life”, and his sidekick character says “It sure is awful that you are pretty lazy and live a gray life, especially given that you are here at an actual high school with various attributes, which I will now describe to you even though you presumably know them because you attend the school just like me”. Maybe now that the characters and premise have been introduced, the next episode will be less infodumpy? I probably won’t bother finding out.
Bonus Image Corner:
She kinda looks like Miho from Bakuman.
Yeah, you're a curious one all right.