When you’ve dedicated your life to energy conservation and putting minimal effort into things, your worst nightmare has got to be meeting a person who forces you to go the extra mile. All you want to do is take your days one at a time without having to worry about anything, but this beautiful stranger keeps roping you into her shenanigans. What is it about her?
I’ve watched Hyouka twice now, and the last episode a third time just to write this review. This anime, while I generally tend to forget it, any time I come back to it, I remember it as, “Oh yeah, I friggin’ loved this anime!”
Visually it’s more than just engaging; even though it came out in 2012, it still has higher quality art and animation than most of the newer anime that has come out 8 years later, at the time of this review being written. The story is enthralling and even though it’s clearly just a slice-of-life anime, the premise keeps you coming back for more, episode after episode.
Houtarou Oreki is a young man who some would consider the definition of apathetic. His entire goal in his life at the start of the show is to live a life based on energy conservation, where he puts minimal effort into everything. Despite this goal, however, he does obey his elder sister’s wishes when she asks him to join her old high school club, which is facing being disbanded due to a lack of membership.
Unfortunately, his life is shaken up by an energetic and inquisitive girl named Eru Chitanda, who is already a member of the club, when he shows up to join the club himself. Through a series of events, Eru discovers that Houtarou is quite an intelligent boy and good at solving mysteries. Eru, who loves mysteries decides to effectively turn Houtarou into her personal Sherlock and begins to throw any curious event she comes across his way to get his view on things.
The club ends up uncovering a number of interesting things in their school, including a strange cover-up of events that happened in their very own club some years ago. This plotline should probably be considered a vehicle more than the point of the story, though. Interesting as it is, this scenario lets us dive into the mind of both Houtarou and Eru as they grow and develop in the way they see the world around them and each other.
This isn’t a love story, and I honestly have to ding it for that. The story is beautiful and sits alone on its beauty for being a wonderful self-discovery and coming of age tale, but because the love theme isn’t followed through all the way, I’ve walked away from this anime both times I’ve watched it with a painful longing. As a hobbyist writer, I have to admit that this strong emotion that this story leaves in me is probably amazing and beautiful on its own, but I suspect it may also be the reason I forget having watched this anime from time to time.
The characters are all wonderful and even though Houtarou’s character concept may seem a bit unbearable, he’s well-written and sometimes you find yourself kind of wishing Eru would just chill out and let him take a nap. Unfortunately, Eru herself is so damn adorable and charming, that you start to quickly see why Houtarou is so willing to help her out.
The music in the show fit the theme, but it often felt like maybe it was stock music. It helped set the mood, but it wasn’t particularly memorable or impressive.
Despite forgetting that I’ve watched this sometimes, Hyouka is probably pretty high up there on my list of favorites. I wish a second season was released that gave me more closure on the romance aspect, but if you’re able to put that aside, and take this as a story of a high schooler learning a bit about who he is, it’s a beautiful story and worth the watch.
Also, if you’ve already graduated high school, and were a bit of a loner, I have to warn you, this show might hit painfully close to home on the nostalgia-o-meter; it did for me.