Hyouka – 11

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Kids, kids – there really wasn’t any need to get all that upset, was there?

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_11_[42DF00DB].mkv_snapshot_00.36_[2012.07.01_23.01.36]Hyouka is a funny series.  It can do stuff that would normally irritate me to no end, and I still don’t get angry with it.  In fact, I sort of shake my head and smile – but it’s still a smile.  I guess it’s the atmosphere the series is able to create that does it.  With that said, though, as far as I’m concerned this episode indicates that the show doesn’t really do serious very well, at least for my tastes.  And my goodness, does it ever take elevate the trivial to the status of epic importance.  But I guess we all do that in high school…

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_11_[42DF00DB].mkv_snapshot_02.46_[2012.07.01_23.06.47]My take on the tone of this episode was basically this: why in the world is everyone getting so worked up?  I can certainly understand Houtarou’s irritation.  He’s just been played pretty hard by The Empress, and he’s in the unfamiliar (and uncomfortable) position of being wrong in his deduction for the first time since we’ve been following him, anyway (and Satoshi has indirectly told him he’s being “controlled by a kindly woman”) .  But when his club-mates tracked her down and shared their concerns about his ending for the Class 2-F movie, it seemed as if this were reality being debated.  Not only wasn’t it reality, it wasn’t a even a real movie – just an 11th-grade culture festival project.  I know those kinds of things are important to us at the time we’re wrapped up in them, but the somber tone of the episode seemed a bit out of place to me.  Even the arc surrounding Chitanda’s Uncle – which actually did contain something serious – was much less leaden with gloom.

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_11_[42DF00DB].mkv_snapshot_03.21_[2012.07.01_23.07.21]I was glad someone (Chitanda, surprisingly) finally asked the titular question “Why didn’t they ask Eba?”  Or rather, why didn’t they ask Hongou-san, or ask Eba to ask her.  Hongou’s role in all this is interesting – again tying into the disproportionality of action/reaction here, would a student really feign an illness and miss school so as not to lose face over a culture fair project?  It seems rather extreme to me, but be that as it may, I guess we’re to believe it did happen – at least I have less trouble believing that Hongou’s initial ending for the story was a sort of sanitized version where no one gets killed.  Of course a gang of high-schoolers isn’t going to embrace that, and Irisu’s plan to get around the problem, at least, made perfect sense.  Try and get a better ending out of the rest of the crew and, failing that, go outside.

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_11_[42DF00DB].mkv_snapshot_05.11_[2012.07.01_23.09.12]Apparently, based on the chatroom sequence at the end, it was Houtarou’s older sister who pointed Irisu in his direction in the first place, and it was she that The Empress was chatting with at the end (how do they know each other, anyway?).  Interestingly Nee-san seemed quite confident that Houtarou the “idiot” wouldn’t have figured out the truth, which of course he did – though with some prodding by the others.  I think Houtarou would have gotten there on his own anyway, but it was Satoshi’s rather grave and indignant protestation that really sealed the deal (pretty good deduction from a “database”, I’d say).

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_11_[42DF00DB].mkv_snapshot_06.02_[2012.07.01_23.10.02]In the end this obviously serves the larger theme, which is Houtarou breaking out of his shell of apathy.  It’s nice movement for his character to see him so irritated at being wrong that he can’t sleep, and so angry at being used – even negative emotions are a healthy sign for him.  I just question whether it really merited four episodes to get there.  When you consider how little of substance really happened in “Why Didn’t They Ask EBA?” I think four eps is really stretching it, even by Hyouka’s languid pacing standards.  I think that amounts to a bit of a misstep.   I’m hoping that with this arc behind it, the series returns to a more whimsical and humorous vein, as that’s a style that seems to suit it much better.

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20 comments

  1. I

    My sentiments exactly, why were they get so mad (Satoshi and the other one included). Its a cheaply designed horror film, not a real murder case. Considering how Houtarou gets forced into doing things because of Chitanda was what Irisu did any different.

    Still I also took as more of a joke. Noticing more and more Shaft inspired scenes like the one in the auditorium.

  2. B

    Yeah, it's way different, Chitanda is forthright with her motivations and what she wants, she never lies to him to get him to do what she wants. He may see it as emotional bullying and feel forced into helping her but she doesn't manipulate him the same way Irisu did.

  3. I don't necessarily see what Chitanda does as right, but I agree that it's quite different from The Empress. Chitanda is a bit of a smiling bully, but she's direct – it's more of a case of wearing down his resistance until it's easier to give in than to fight. But she doesn't really use deception.

  4. e

    @guardian enzo can you please do a first impressions about tari tari i watched the first episode and i think you will like most of the things going on there the art and the story also the one who sing the opening is who was sing true tears opening

  5. Check later today…

  6. N

    I think Satoshi's anger comes in large part from what we saw leak out of him in the previous episode.

    He has this jealous admiration of Houtarou's latent talent, and is frustrated that Houtarou hasn't even acknowledged it until now.

    Satoshi probably views this as a betrayal of his expectations. He's upset that the person he wants to be (or at least be like) has failed so miserably as to let himself get caught in a trap that led him to the wrong "deduction."

    This would explain why he gets even angrier after Houtarou tries to justify his conclusion, even if he does catch himself soon after.

  7. A

    Enzo, Houtarou's sister was confident that he wouldn’t have figured out the truth, regarding Irisu's motive of not liking Hongou's script which he did not figure out.

    The Empress wanted a way to reject Hongou's movie in a way that wouldn't hurt her feelings. She was the one that told them to film it in the way Kaitou got killed and figured she would get someone else to write the end of the movie from the start.

    Houtarou was more concerned with himself and Irisu manipulating him so he didn't realize this but his sister did and called her out on it. So it is clear by now his sister is much smarter than him which is pretty cool IMO.

  8. C

    I second that. She was refering to Houtarou not getting her real motive for changing the script.

  9. A

    Nothing is Shaft-inspired. And even if it seemed to be, why not call it Utena-inspired instead?

    There was good reason for the bleakness in this episode. Mayaka's scene was bleak because she was the first to shatter Houtarou's theory. She was just trying to be sincere though. She tried to tell the truth without hurting Houtarou's feelings. But she knew she would.

    But in Satoshi's and Chitanda's cases, there was A LOT of subtext. Nyangoro talked about Satoshi. All that stuff was shown in the previous episode. Satoshi is shown to respect Houtarou, even admire him on some level. He's jealous of his skills. So that was a pretty big disappointment for him. A person who has something he wants uses it in a wrong way in order to satisfy himself.

    And I think, considering Chitanda's relationship with Houtarou, the subtext is obvious in this case.

    I bought everything. Hyouka has a sophistication in all aspects largely unknown to anime.

  10. L

    If there ever was an amine that perfectly showed a cool protagonist's "fall-from-grace", It's this one. Seriously, wtf?

    Also, I totally fail to see the point of this entire arc… and even if it does have some sort of bearing in the long run (his older sis being on the other end of the chat and all), it still was just too mundane a scenario!! I could have just watched Life & Times of Drying Paint (aka Kimi to Boku) if I wanted that. Who the heck cares about a highschool play that much anyway?

  11. A

    I agree, they should have thrown in an explosion here or there, or at least some fanservice! It's like, why are we watching subtle intelligent stuff.

  12. S

    "Fanservice" for Hyouka is extreme close ups of eyes and the surrealist backdrops when Houtarou is thinking. I think we just have to accept that, haha.

  13. C

    Guardian Enzo this reminds me of the chapter in Sherlock Holmes called The Final Problem where James Moriarity managed to turn the general public against Mr Holmes himself and his so called "deductive abilities" which leads to the Reichenbach Fall.

  14. P

    Houtarou wasn't mad at being used. He was mad that the world vision that Irisu offered and the new sense of self that hew as starting to embrace could possibly be all a lie by a manipulating woman. Perfectly understandable to our lack-of-confidence-16-years-old selves, maybe not so much to our current persona.

  15. P

    And as usual I loved the arc and the episode as much as I haven't loved any other series in recent times. :)

  16. I get what the arc was trying to do – it's all about the deconstruction of Houtarou's carefully prepared façade of indifference. I just think the tone of the piece was way too self-important. There was no sense of proportion to it. It may not have been much ado about nothing but it was too much ado about not enough.

    Proto, I think what you're describing as the reason for Houtarou's anger is exactly all about being used. The more self-identity he has the more he's going to be offended at seeing himself used as a tool by others.

  17. K

    Guys, these are high school kids, anything can be "Serious Business".
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeriousBusiness

    Poor Houtarou, it was kind of sad yet amusing to see his world tumble upside down around him for the first time, realizing he was nothing but a pawn in the grand scheme of things.

    And it's not just Houtarou that's shown a myriad of emotion. I find Kyo-Ani has portrayed everyone's emotional reaction quite well, from Ibara and Chitanda feeling sorry that they had to be the ones to tell Houtarou he's wrong, to Satoshi's frustration that Houtarou managed to get it all wrong despite his abilities, and finally Irisu's subtle indignant reaction (by typing her response quickly in rage) when Houtarou's sister exposed her ulterior motive of wanting Houtarou to take over Hongou's script, something which the novel itself could not portray as well given its written medium.

  18. Kinny, I understand that and even mentioned it in my post – when you're a teen and think the universe revolves around you, these kinds of things can seem incredibly important.

    I just felt, as a viewer, that the ponderous dramatic music and J-drama facial expressions were a bit over the top. In fact, I did suspect for a moment or two that this was meant as self-parody – but I don't think so, in the end.

  19. D

    So Houtarou's sister is playing Mycroft to his Sherlock. Amusingly appropriate.

    In a sense, this is almost "Sherlock Holmes: The High School Years", since presumably there must have been a point when Sherlock himself was less than perfect. And 'Mycroft' is clearly trying to bring out the full potential of her younger brother.

    On Houtarou's overreactions — I'll grant that they do seem a bit over the top, but only when viewed in the abstract, from the point of view of an outsider. I find that if I try to fit inside his head they make far more sense, and do a great deal to help explain his inner character.

    For example, the 'talent' that Irisu said he had, was important. Mycroft was, to Sherlock, always, and in almost every way, better than him. Smarter, more talented, better connected, and relied on by more important people. Houtarou's sister likely fits a similar position relative to him. To have someone completely unrelated (ie: not a friend who's likely to tell him things just to make him feel better), and presumably (though not actually) unconnected to his sister, see him and consider him to have actual talent of his own? That means a great deal to him, even if it's not something he'd ever want to admit.

    And then to find that it was all a sham? A cold manipulation of his own feelings and desires? That anger isn't just at Irisu, that's the bottled anger of his entire life with his sister. He's not good enough, and will never be good enough. And not just not good enough, but someone who can easily be toyed with and manipulated due to that desire.

    This is made even worse because of his friends in the club. They don't want to hurt him, but they still point out his failings: he missed factual information (the rope); he didn't consider the capabilities of the writer (narrative trick); and he completely missed the motivations for the event in the first place (why not ask Eba?). Add in being manipulated so easily, and basically he failed in every way imaginable in this little show. His 'talent' is a lie (both in the manipulative sense and the evidential sense), and any hope of being acknowledged for being himself rather than his sister's brother went up in smoke.

    So, the dramatic reactions? Those are the cracks that show that there's a lot more going on under the surface than might otherwise be obvious. We had a hint of that with Satoshi last week, and now we get the hints for Houtarou. There's the smell of more going on with Mayaka, which I expect will start showing up in the near future. Eru, I'm not sure of; we got one of her secrets out in the first story, so she might remain the idealized Fool, but who knows.

  20. f

    i agree with virtually all of what you said, but i think you are overstating his inferiority complex with his sister…up to this point, i havent gotten the feeling that houtarou's feelings of inadequacy have anything to do with his sister…symbolically, i think that the sister really plays out in the role that chitanda currently plays as the 'lion-tamer'

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