I’m definitely OK with the relaxed, time-wasting appeal of Hyouka – generally speaking. But stretching this movie script mystery over three parts makes for some pretty watery gruel, even by this show’s standards. I guess KyoAni deserve credit for going all-in with this approach, but my patience was tested a little bit this time, and I was starting to drift by the end. And perhaps most disturbing is the fact that no one is asking what should be the most obvious question – why not just ask Hongou-san how she intended to end the story? There’s obviously some reason why they can’t, and that’s the real mystery – but why do none of the Scooby Gang seem to realize that?
The bulk of the episode is taken up by the three lame theories of the Class 2-5 production crew, and this provided KyoAni with another opportunity to brag that their budget includes name seiyuu for small roles – in this case A.D. Nakajou Junya (Kondou Takayuki) Props Master Haba Tomohiro (Abe Atsushi) and Publicity Director Sawakiguchi Misaki (Ise Mariya). Starting with the lamest first, Nakajou argues simply that the killer went in and out the window and is openly dismissive of the rules of mysteries. Haba believes the killer was to lower themselves by rope from the floor above, as witness the fact that Hongou told him to procure a strong rope. He fancies himself a mystery purist and derides Hongou as an amateur. And finally, Sawakiguchi argues for the horror route, claiming that Hongou intended for a mysterious seventh character to kill the others one by one according to horror film convention, leaving only the main couple left.
Each of these series is rejected for their own internal inconsistencies, and rightly so. As this is happening there’s a mildly amusing sight gag as Chitanda slowly gets drunk on whiskey chocolates, and some modestly interesting banter among the Scooby Gang where it’s revealed that Satoshi is quite the mystery buff (though it doesn’t seem to be doing much good here). Of course the title of the episode – “Why Didn’t She Ask Eba?” is a joke in itself – a play on the Agatha Christie novel “Why Didn’t She Ask Evans?” and a nod to the white elephant in the room during this arc. When The Empress intercepts Houtarou on the way home and invites him for tea, it becomes pretty obvious that the other shoe is about to drop.
There’s not really a whole lot else to say about this ep, really. The animation is fine, Godly even, but there are no standout sequences as there often were in the first several eps. Houtarou was astonishingly comatose even by his standards, and while I generally find his low-key demeanor and the lack of imperative tolerable enough, there does come a point where you ask – if no one in the show can be bothered to care that much, why should I? The conscious obsession with the trivial can be a little precious with Hyouka at times, and there was a whiff of that this week. All in all I think this arc would have been better served to be two episodes at most – last week’s and this week’s content could easily have been combined into a single episode without the loss of anything really compelling, and offered a more involving final product in the process.