Hyouka – 22 (End) and Series Review

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There are plenty of things I could say to try and explain what’s so magical about Hyouka, but I’ll start with this – it makes me feel things no other anime ever has.

Simply put, this was a superb and completely satisfying end to a series that wound up captivating me in a way I never would have thought possible.  It’s one of my most overused catch phrases, but this episode – and series – fits the bill – “simple and profound at the same time”.  If you can pull that off, you’ve really created something special – and special is one of the better words to describe Hyouka.  There’s no other anime quite like it, and I’m not sure there ever has been.

You have to start with the love and care that Kyoto Animation put into the making of this series, and this episode was no exception.  “Spare no expense” is an obvious mantra, and it starts with things like getting top-rate seiyuu like Ishizuka Unshou (as Hanai) and Suwabe Junichi (Konari) to play relatively minor one-off roles – something KyoAni has done for the entire series.  But as it is with the visuals, it’s not just about throwing money at the show – these aren’t just famous seiyuu, but phenomenal actors (Ishizuka-san especially is as good as they come).  Likewise the animation isn’t just lavish and detailed – it’s art.  It has style, and grace, and whimsy, and acts almost as a kind of second narrative running alongside the written script like a stream running next to a mountain road.

If “special” is one of the most fitting keywords, then “beautiful” is surely another.  More so than with any other series except perhaps Seirei no Moribito I often myself dumbstruck by an image in Hyouka – so much so that I have to stop and play the moment back.  Sometimes it’s a capture of one of the faces – all four of the leads are beautiful in their way, like Platonic ideals of ephemeral youth – and sometimes it’s something simple like the residue on the bottom of a coffee cup, or a construction sign on an old wooden bridge.  Nothing in animation can equal Shinkai Makoto’s films in terms of visual artistry, but Hyouka is as good as any TV anime since Moribito in this way, showing a “more real than real” world that doesn’t impress you with it’s photographic detail – though that’s impressive – but with the way it captures the essential beauty of people and objects, even “mundane” ones.

I wasn’t necessarily expecting a definitive finale here, but KyoAni delivered an ending that made the series feel complete.  It demonstrated how far the characters have come over the course of 22 episodes, and how far they still have to go in their lives.  When you’re 16 life is rich with endless possibility, yet you sometimes feel as if the weight of the world is pressing down on you, forcing a certain path on you whether you might wish it or not.  More in this episode than any other – though generally much more in the last few episodes than all the ones before – we’ve seen a different side to Chitanda, and the burdens she needs to bear as a part of an old Japan that’s slowly dying, yet still holds a great power over the consciousness of the people, especially in rural areas like Takayama (the region in Chubu where the series is set).  In this episode KyoAni showed us both the great beauty of that old Japan, and the difficulty it sometimes has when butting up against the modern world.

I think it goes without saying that Houtarou (at some point it was clearly decided to show us his bed-head every week) wouldn’t have accepted Chitanda’s invitation to “hold her umbrella” at the Living Doll festival at the local shrine.  This seems to be a variation on Girls Day, held in April as the shrine is using the lunisolar calendar, a very ancient system still used in some Shinto rituals.  Houtarou’s relaxation of his normal “no work” policy where Chitanda is concerned has become old hat by now, but as is often the way with Hyouka, we take baby steps forward without realizing we’re taking them.  As is also often the case, the mystery is rather beside the point – more of a structural device than anything else.  Hyouka is about the mood it portrays and the atmosphere it creates, and the mystery is merely a tool to help in the process.  It’s a means, not an end.

The end, here, is to see a Shinto ritual depicted in heartbreakingly beautiful fashion, complete with out-of-season sakura blossoms and the usual Hyouka visual flair (I especially loved the soft-focus perspective during the procession, and the 360 degree slow pan as Houtarou and Chitanda were walking together after the festival).  The end was also to show Chitanda at her most ceremonial, dutiful and serious – effectively brokering a deal between two old rival villages now joined in all but ceremonial matters – and to give her a chance to give Houtarou a kind of declaration of purpose.  In a sense I think Chitanda was confessing to Houtarou here, showing him everything that she was and will be, and letting him know that while she might dream other dreams, she’s fiercely proud of her legacy and means to do her duty to delay the demise of the old way of life for as long as possible.  If Oreki was to decide to be with her, Eru wanted him to understand exactly what he was getting.

I never really expected Houtarou to definitively respond here, and he didn’t.  But the moment in his mind’s eye when he did so by asking if he might be by her side to help her in her task was beautifully executed – believable, powerful and beautifully drawn.  The mere fact that he thought what he did is a huge leap forward, and a sense that Oreki finally has some purpose.  As for Fukube and Mayaka, we have no firm resolution there either.  But we do get a sincere expression of gratitude from Mayaka to Houtarou for his help with the Valentine’s incident, and a new sense from Houtarou of just what Satoshi was going through – it’s not so easy to make that kind of commitment when the chips are down.  If the ending left things open-ended, that’s as it should be – life isn’t definitive when you’re 16.  It’s an endless array of possibilities that are both exciting and terrifying, and for a series that depicted what it feels like to be 16 as well as any anime has, it was a perfect mood on which to close.

Hyouka is going to be a hard series to grade when it comes time for the rash of “Best of” lists at the end of the year.  There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind – when this series was at its best, it was astonishingly good.  But compared to many of the truly great series, it wasn’t actually on top of its game all that often.  The second cour was far better than the first, but of the 22 episodes I’d probably rank only the entire Kanya Festa arc and the last two as truly great – and the gap between Hyouka at its best and an average episode was also wider than with most great series.  Taken as a whole it’s a lock for my Top 10, because those great eps were as good as it gets, and the show was always gorgeous to look at and smartly written – I’m just not sure how to weigh all of those considerations when considering it against the other top series of the year.

It must be said that I would never have believed after the first few episodes that I would have written the above paragraph. Hyouka was the classic slow build, a series that showed more patience than about any anime I can recall – sometimes too much, in fact.  Because so much of the series is about atmosphere, it wormed its way into the consciousness rather than overwhelmed – and it was only in hindsight, sometimes, where I realized just how amazing what I’d just seen truly was.  Like its protagonist it seemed that Hyouka wasn’t trying all that hard sometimes, but it’s not as if I disliked those times – there was a great sense of fun, and no series has done a better job of capturing what it’s like to be a bright teenager desperately trying to avoid being bored.  But when the pedal went to the metal with Kanya Festa, Hyouka soared to heights few anime dare attempt to reach.

One last word I’m going to label Hyouka with, and it’s one not everyone might view as a compliment – though I do – and it’s “sophisticated”.  It was apparent almost immediately that Hyouka was operating on a different level than most anime based on manga or LNs, not concerning itself with traditional structure but rather following its muse wherever it led, almost as if the stories were written as a stream of consciousness.  Character development was happening, but it wasn’t being explained to us in unnatural monologues – it just happened, and we only noticed when it manifested in the way the kids behaved.  That’s how people change in real life, but very few anime (or any other works of fiction, for that matter) are patient enough and trust the audience enough to allow the characters to grow in this natural fashion.  Satoshi was the standout for me, the most conflicted and complicated cast member, but all four of the leads had very satisfying and substantial characters arcs by the end.

I’m neither a fanboy or a critic of KyoAni.  I’ve liked some of their series very much (Kanon being a personal favorite) while there have been others – hugely popular others – that I’ve found unwatchable.  I confess that I’ve found most of KyoAni’s recent works to be trapped in a box of their own creation, and I was skeptical of whether Hyouka would be able to break out of that box – even after several episodes.  That it did so in such resounding fashion is a reason this is one of the real surprises of 2012 for me, and while I expect tremendous production values from the studio Hyouka exceeded even those much higher expectations – it may be the most beautiful series KyoAni has produced to date.  Whether we see additional anime produced in connection to the novels is an open question, though sales have been excellent – if we don’t, I’m more than satisfied with the elegiac way the series was brought to a conclusionHyouka is a series of tremendous style, intelligence and wit – a series that indulges its own creativity and treats the audience with respect.  It’s a series that I’ve come to admire greatly, and an achievement of which Kyoto Animation should be tremendously proud.

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56 comments

  1. E

    We need more high school life anime like this one! This might not be one of the best shows of this year but it's one of my top picks for best visuals and/or animation.

    Oh btw, When did you change your view about Hyouka? Is it in Kanye Fest? Because iirc, you said that how can you be interested with the series when the MC is not even interested in the first arcs.

  2. It was a slow build, like I said. The first "a-ha" moment was when Satoshi gave that speech to Oreki on the way to Eru's house, back in episode 3 or 4. That was the first moment I thought there might be something a little deeper going on here. But it was the Kanya Festa arc that first showed me the series had the potential to be great.

  3. A

    No we don't!

  4. d

    I guess I dont get the traditional view of beauty that the Japanese holds, cause the normal chitanda seems way more beautiful than the doll version. When I look at Geishas I can appreciate the beauty. But when the hair goes al bundled up and the large hair pieces come in….
    And more importantly the NAPE! Show Chitanda's nape!! I saw it the week before last and I wanna see it again, especially when she is all dolled up. If not, I really dont understand the beauty of that dressing. Well, KyoAni is at Kyoto so … some traditions stay the same I guess.

  5. d

    Apart from the beautifully crafted 'open' ending, the most interesting part of this episode is that we get an outsider view of the traditional ceremony. This matches more with the reality of most anime viewers. Most other series use an insider view.

    Regarding the entire series, I think the 1st cour gains a lot of value now that we know the characters and their backgrounds better. Especially Chitanda, as it is now clear that the Classics Club was an outlet in her otherwise planned-ahead life.

    "I also came to the clear realization that we would not be able to remain together. The overwhelming weight of our lives to come and the uncertainty of time hung over us." I think GE will get the quote.

  6. Depressing thought, Takaki.

  7. A

    As much as I loved that series of films, I honestly don't get the feeling that this is the direction this series is going to take.

    I mean yeah, the two are still in their early years, and for all we know it could end up being bittersweet as did the romance of two young friends despite their best efforts to stay in touch after that night on the train station … but you know, after the initial shock wore off, I started to remember the sort of kid Oreki really is. He's the sort of guy who when he starts to get even the tiniest bit of motivation can unravel any puzzle, be it 60+ years of age or just really tricky for anyone to guess, the sort of man that can run circles when it comes to thinking outside of the box, the kind of student who can construct any situation to be in his advantage … when I remember that, I realize that this is a good, no, great kid with a good head on his shoulders and will probably manage to get far ahead in life. Give him a few of years, he will marry Eru if he has to blackmail the entire city to do.

    Now, there is the issue of Eru's social standing, but as far as I can see it it is no less of a problem than Satoshi's own internal conflict and insecurities, and on both accounts the series left on an optimistic note, the same note that I took from seeing the transfiguration Oreki had undergone from episode 1 to 22;

    It is possible for you to overcome your limitations, no matter what they are, and you can change yourself into better, and no matter how you might think it's best to live life with your looking down, never doing anything of substance or trying something new, afraid of being hurt or not being worth it, nothing beats walking into the sunset with your head held high with someone you love.

    Minna, Ganbare!

  8. A

    I agree with Arabesque that there's no need to worry about the couple's future. Chitanda's constrained horizons are real world problems with real world solutions that Oreki can manage; this is slice of life anime with no monsters to slay or wars to fight. He's smart and capable enough to deal with the social distance, and I would not underestimate Chitanda's resolve. The series portrayed her as a princess, and him as the trusted consort who could carry out her will and manage affairs she had a poor feel for. His crafty solution to the problem of selling the anthologies foreshadows his business acumen (a more plausible career path than becoming a professional detective), and his deft handling of the valentines day chocolate shows that Oreki can stay calm and find a solution as everyone else loses their wits. Oreki's greyness is a strength sometimes, because it keeps him calm and collected, but it makes him unaware sometimes of his own emotional needs, and that's where the princess comes in, because she can show him that happiness is something he can have and *feel*.

  9. A

    Best of the year along with Tsuritama. Those were the two shows that put the most work on their characters.

  10. A

    Are you watching Space Brothers at all? lol
    Space Brothers may not be as "pretty" but it definitely does everything else better. I did like Tsuritama also.

  11. A

    I really enjoyed this series, great cast of characters that slowly develop and its done in such a fantastic way… ah, I'd sound like me repeating what others have said so I'll stop.

    I will say I personally thought I was ready for the long run with episode five, though didn't quite get why, by the film arc, I started getting hints at what the series was REALLY trying to accomplish but didn't get it in full, and by the kanya arc, it hit me and I was left to enjoy these last few episodes. If I made a list this year of top 10 2012 shows I don't have a percise Idea where it would be, but its definitly on it. Really hoping the 5th and final novel gets adapted in some way shape or form.

  12. H

    I truly adored this show from the first episode. And while I'm always a little disappointed when a show doesn't end up with (what I think is the right) couples, this one wasn't too bad in retrospect.

    Also, like dustshadow, I really came to appreciate how the weight of duty affects someone like Eru, yet I'm also somewhat surprised that it didn't go farther into something like an arranged marriage. That would have cut off a great bit of the tension and development tho. I was also struck afterwards at how much effort Eru put throughout the series into pulling Houtarou into her world and even testing his suitability for it, tests which he usually (and increasingly) passed.

  13. K

    This would be Kyo-Ani's most profound, if not best, adaptation so far, apart from their Key-adaptations. They practically underpromised (due to the near lack of hype prior to its airing) and overdelivered (as the series went from strength to strength quietly).

    For me, the soft focus perspective during the procession was more like Houtarou's batteries slowly being drained out, due to his energy-saving nature, anything so consuming as taking a long walk – while being mesmerized by a stunningly gorgeous girl in traditional garb to boot – takes a heavy toll on his batteries.

    In this episode, I particularly loved the expansion upon the novel of the continuation of last episode, with Ibara thanking Houtarou for what he's done, as well as the Irisu scene, which kinds of showed her in an apologetic mood to Houtarou. (LOL at Houtarou resisting being manipulated into solving another mystery for her)

    Series script coordinator Gatou Shouji certainly receives top praise for treating this novel with great love and probably made it a better work than the original, a reputation which Kyo-Ani is very good at. I would not be surprised if Kyo-Ani decided to reward Gatou by finally adapting the remainder of his Full Metal Panic series in the near future. :)

    " It was apparent almost immediately that Hyouka was operating on a different level than most anime based on manga or LNs, not concerning itself with traditional structure but rather following its muse wherever it led, almost as if the stories were written as a stream of consciousness. "

    Well, that's because this title is NOT a Light Novel, it did not even have illustrations. I've mentioned this before, in book stores in Japan, LNs are lumped with the manga section, whereas other novels like these were placed in the more "serious" fiction section.

    PS Having had my laptop fixed and my personal matters settled, translation of the novels at Baka-Tsuki will be resuming soon. The TV series covered up to volume 4, I shall seek to finish up to volume 5, the latest volume which was released months ago.

  14. I know it's not a LN – that was the whole point!

  15. A

    kinny riddle, thanks for doing the novel translations!

  16. S

    i have read in baka tsuki upto that point where juumonji was striking during the kanya fest but there are no translations in english after that.

  17. K

    I think this episode really puts Chitanda under a different light. Before, Chitanda just seemed like a little girl acting upon her emotions with relatively little restraint. We were told she came from an old and distinguished family, but it was only these last couple eps that Hyouka showed us what it really meant. Outside of school, she has to keep up appearances, and it is only at school where she can relax and be who she really is. What seemed like simple and overt otaku pandering turned out to to have rather subtle character dev behind it.

    That would have been some confession scene if Houtarou really did say what he was thinking.

  18. m

    But I don't quite think that Chianda has been testing Houtariu these past few episodes. I feel as though when Chitanda realized that she did like/love Houtarou she wanted him to know who she really was, all of who she was. So just as she said at the end of this episode I believe she had been introducing him to herself and her world, not to test him but to give him a chance to decide for himself if wanted to be a part of it.
    I think for Chitanda just her developing feelings for him was enough for her. I never felt she thought he had to prove himself to anyone. He never even met her parents, as far as we know.

    Well anyway, that's how I feel about that point mentioned earlier.

  19. A

    I agree that she wasn't so much testing Oreki as showing him her world, with some degree of trepidation that he might be scared of by it. Why else would she be so melancholic in telling him about it? It's clear chitanda accepts her fate. Oreki couldn't make the explicit confession, but I think she knew from the awkward blush, broken thought, and lame line about it being cold that he accepted her for who she was. Hence her reply about spring and a smile.

    Btw, Enzo, thanks for the great review, as always!

  20. A

    Thank-you Enzo…this is a beautifully written post and review. The end felt very satisfying and complete — in fact, I love the last two episodes a lot. The series is a eye candy to begin with, but I never have noticed how its subtlety has crawled and made a mark in my heart throughout the 22 episodes, and in the end, I just wanted to hold it tightly and closely.

    I also love the score of Hyouka — it's nothing really special or perhaps I just love classical music — it does accentuate the mood and atmosphere. Even at times when the episodes were not as brilliant as the last two, I could let my brain rest and simply enjoy watching and listening to Hyouka.

    I agree with you — Hyouka is a very elegantly produced series with a lot of care and heart. This is a series that I certainly will keep in my collection and re-watch… Thanks Enzo for covering it…the last 22 (or 23) weeks have been satisfying.

    ~Ronbb

  21. A

    as far as anime goes, hyouka has fulfills all the old conventions while setting up some new ones (kanya school festival arc). It was intriguing how quite the show was up until that point and how everything from there focused and soft character build up while using "mysteries" as a way to kill time ; a distraction if you will, from the character development. but as much as the show does right, it still has it's flaws and as much as i think that it can be interesting (the last couple episodes) I dont think the show deserves to be called a classic.

    It moves to slow sometimes that it becomes boring, the mysteries could be a lot more well written regardless of the fact that it is in a school setting, and the portrayal of the main cast of characters could have been handled a little better. Chitanda and hotarou especially (Mayaka and satoshi were far more interesting) overall it is a watchable series….but far from classic.

    It's good on its on right but i would not compare it to other classics from kyo ani

  22. A

    What hugely popular kyoani series are you referring to Enzo?
    And I might as well ask, what's your opinion on last year's Nichijou?

  23. I'll follow my mother's advice on this one.

  24. G

    You might consider disabling anonymous replies if you find them that distasteful

  25. I don't find this question distasteful – I just don't see a lot of point in ripping on series for it's own sake. I make my statement when I stopped watching them.

    In terms of why I don't disable anonymous replies, I have considered it – but I wanted to keep the site as open as possible (which is also whey I haven't banned certain trolls). But it does bother me when people use "anonymous" to make a bunch of shit up and use it as a blunt instrument of criticism. That's obviously not the case with his comment, which was a perfectly legitimate question.

  26. A

    Is there a way you can get gravatars to work? Or is there some way that I haven't tried?

  27. R

    Great read Enzo. Glad to see how Hyouka has slowly sneaked into your heart as the episodes went by. I completely agree with how you described KyoAni's recent works, how they were constantly playing a game they invented and didn't want to try another sport. Houyka truly is a completely different game than everything they did before. Possibly, different to everything there is to find in the whole medium.

    I'll paste my comment on the episode.

    Oreki couldn't speak those words because he could not guarantee that he would be the best guy for that job. He doesn't even know what he's good at yet and his life motto was being destroyed by his own desires concerning Chitanda. He completely understood that he would have to give up his past lifestyle to stand next to her.

    This would probably change him into a new human being, he was now living the same conflict as his best friend. So he swallowed those words out of fear, the commitment felt too big for him.

    Eru said that her place was not the most beautiful nor had the best potential, but she wanted to show it to Oreki anyway.
    I'm sure we could reword this as: "This is not the best place, but I want you to know that this is where I am and where I'll be". This is something similar to what was killing Satoshi from inside but with the difference that Chitanda already knows what will be waiting for her in the future. But would that be enough for the guy she admires?

    She already has her future set in stone, it wasn't the best and she was being apologetic about it. So, I think she's as afraid as Oreki, and Satoshi about her own feelings. She admires Oreki and doesn't want to chain him to a girl who's chained to such boring place.

    And this is when KyoAni displayed why they are one of the best animation studio in the world and why Hyouka is the best work they ever did.

    When the wind blew the out-of-season cherry tree's leaves, that place became, just for a moment, the most beautiful and the one that had the best potential. Just as Oreki imagined it a few seconds ago, it suddenly became the most perfect place there was for the two of them.

    Everyone, give that scene a re-watch or two.

    A very satisfying ending. True to Hyouka's style and heart. I'll never forget this show.

    Now, we wait for that movie announcement.

  28. A

    I agree that it was a leap of faith of sorts for Chitanda to talk about her limited options in life. As we know from the arc involving her uncle, she's reluctant to talk too much about her own personal life, and she was basically just laying it all out there for Oreki–and I think you're right that she worried about whether or not Oreki would want to stay chained to such a place, when he has no reason to. It's one thing to help her out on occasion; quite another to be part of her "high-energy" obligations full time. But it all worked out in the end, and I don't think she completely understood before how much Oreki had changed because of her (unlike Satoshi and Mayaka, who've seen the pre-Chitanda Oreki).

    I actually think Chitanda's very courageous in her own understated way–she was insistent she find out the truth behind her uncle's story to her, no matter how sad it might be–she's already confronted various truths about both her future, and her own failings–she revealed her uncle's story to Oreki, despite barely knowing him–and at the end of this episode, she basically puts her heart out there to be broken. But it all works out in the end.

  29. x

    This is something I wrote somewhere else, relevant to Chitanda's understanding of Oreki.

    I'm more optimistic about how much she can read him now.
    _____

    Chitanda's invitation was to learn more about her and nothing more. He accepted and learn he did.

    Oreki realized he wanted to be part of her world and not just as the guy who held the umbrella. He was exposed, his wish was going against the lifestyle he created for himself. He finally was curios about something, how Eru's face looked like. But for that, he would need to stand next to her. After all, many characters told him how those clothes were unfit to him, how it wasn't a good role for him.

    In the parent comment I wrote why he failed to say what he was thinking. Why he could understood Satoshi now. The cold may have been the chills he felt due to that insecurity or the reminiscence of valentine's day snowy day.

    >"It's getting pretty cold"

    >This surprises Chitanda for a bit, but then she puts on a kind smile.

    While Makaya and Satoshi knew him well from before EP1, it was Chitanda the one who had been discovering more and more about him over the series. He completely admired him by EP18. And understood how kind he was at the end of EP21 in that phone call.

    So, did Chitanda manage to read through him at the last scene? I think she did. She figured he was being the same as Satoshi and needed more time. She was feeling warm because of that. Hence, her correction.

    >No, it's Spring now.

  30. S

    I think it is very evident that Chitanda read through Oreki in the last scene. It had been portrayed over the series that Chitanda was someone that could or tries to understand people. In the mysteries solved, Chitanda was always interested in the "why" part and Oreki would provide the "how".

  31. T

    Biggest surprise: KyoAni seems to be learning subtlety. Or quietness, or nuance, or something of the sort. Anyway, I like Hyouka's first cour a good deal more than you do (especially as I know the characters well enough now to appreciate what we see there: I think a lot of the problems I had with the first cour came from not having come to know and like the cast yet), so this is probably my second favorite of the year so far after Tsuritama.

    Thank you so much for blogging this.

  32. This is clearly a series I should re-watch if I ever find the time (HA!), to see how the first cour would hit me differently knowing what I know.

  33. T

    I've got a bit more time on my hands, so a week or so ago I rewatched the I Scream and movie arcs, and I felt they were noticeably better on rewatch, partly because I could see the way they pointed to the overall character development down the line, and partly because KyoAni's eye for little details is wonderful here.

    Actually, it's definitely my favorite KyoAni series at this point, and that's saying a bit more for me than I think it would for you (K-On, lol).

  34. s

    If you don't have time for a full rewatch of Hyouka, just rewatch the first episode.

    I was curious what I'd think about the first half of the series now that I "know" the characters and popped in the first episode. I found myself liking it much more the second time. I'm going to have to find the time to rewatch Hyouka soon.

  35. B

    I honestly liked the show from episode one, and it's remarkable how it just got better and better over time. Definitely one of the most memorable shows of this year. I am especially glad that the last two episodes gave us a different side of Chitanda, I've liked her more than most others that have posted opinions all along and now I feel pretty justified about it.

  36. t

    One thought: doesn't the fact that Mayaka had heard about Houtarou's shouting at Satoshi show in a small way that he's started to be honest with her – given he was the only other person there at the time?

    I like to think that's a subtle indication that a little more has happened between them since the last episode

  37. J

    Oh man, this post brightened my day.

    I -again- didn't read it because of spoilers, but I'm commenting to say just how awesome I think this show is. No, scratch that–beautiful (up to here, twelfth time it's mentioned in this episode post…I guess that fact speaks for itself?).

    I began watching it last Friday, I rushed through them and I'm now by episode 19. Waiting for the right time to savor these final sweet, sweet episodes. Here's the thing though: I always though Hyouka had only 21 episodes. You can imagine my delight seeing the title 'Hyouka – 22'. This made my day. I didn't have KyoAni that high up in my list of esteemed studios, but Hyouka has definetly changed that.

    Fanboy rant over, is the so-called episode '11.5' out yet? If so, would you guys advice me to watch it ASAP, before going into Hyouka's final episodes?

  38. 11.5 is out… I don't think it's especially a great ep, but it does have it's place in the series continuity and you should probably watch it sooner rather than later.

  39. H

    The "mystery" of 11.5 is pretty dumb but it's a really good episode for bridging Oreki's character development in the film arc with how he's starting to act differently in the festival arc (and also shows that the club has begun to grow closer as well since all the characters noticed something had happened). Plus, that's when Oreki's sister actually shows up so I guess her sudden appearance makes more sense.

  40. J
  41. S

    Well, I obviously don't have a unique opinion on this series. But screw originality, I just want to say that I also feel very inclined to re-watching this series. I seldom feel that (and never do).

    It's for anyone who wants to visit something beautiful, and stay for something brilliant.

  42. j

    Which translation is "better", Commie or Mazui?

    I figured Eru would be the one to offer, and Houtarou once again showed he's a smart guy. Some manly tears were shed here.

  43. P

    Mazui, Promise 😀

  44. G

    I'm desperately trying to find the time to rewatch it. But Enzo, the review is pretty dead on! I'm having withdrawal symptoms lol. It is really a show like no other. The last scene with Chitanda and Oreki was incredibly beautiful, and what he said at the end there really reminds you how far the series has gotten since the beginning and how far it can still go. I'll most definitely miss the cast of characters.

  45. A

    I know I have watched a good movie when I walk out of the cinema feeling like I left a fraction of my mind and soul in it.
    The same thing goes with Hyouka. I love its characters, the portrayal of life, how it makes simple things look beautiful, or even important in all its insignificance. Subtlety truly is the series' forte.

  46. A

    The feet focus at the end reminds me of FMP-TSR ending sequence. I just knew they were going to end it with an "almost" "confession" (they had to! >:D) but uniquely Hyouka – subtle but meaningful. Yes, this series was truly beautiful. I am still tingling with that ending and the realization of having the opportunity to watch a series like it. Bravo!

  47. d

    Hyouka is, by far, the best SOL anime I have seen yet. Slice-Of-Life anime bores me because there is nothing significant in most of their content or plot.

    But Hyouka's different. Houtarou isn't some common kid: As we have seen, he's actually a genius. This anime is the story of an energy-conserving genuis. He can accurately understand a situation with only the slightest clues and information most watchers would have missed. Episode 19 is a proof. But Houtarou is only a piece of a work of art. Chitanda, his friends, his environment(a seemingly insignificant Japanese countryside town setting), the mysteries he was involved with seems to bring out the best of his character.

    However, this anime isn't without faults. I'm a bit disappointed that nothing came out of the boys' relationship with their pair(meaning I'm butthurt no SatoshiXMayaka and OrekiXChitanda). If only Kinny would provide a bit of spoiler of the LN… *sigh*

    Series score 10/10

  48. Thanks for the great comment.

    Let me just add, at the risk of sounding too much like me: doesn't it make a huge difference when you have a series where both the boys and girls are fully fleshed-out characters?

  49. d

    Actually yeah. It does. Usually in SOL it's either "just girls" and "just guys".

    I know there are a lot of SOL anime with both the boys and girls are fully fleshed-out characters, but, help me. I rarely watch SOL with highschool settings(I have never watched Lucky Star and I was into K-ON because my GF was) so I don't know much.

  50. I would disagree that there are a lot – I actually think there are very few, in recent vintage anyway.

  51. d

    So there's only a few? That's good. I almost thought I was missing a lot.

  52. S

    I knew Oreki was a businessman by the end of the Kanya arc. "Straw millionnaire" style trading from a broken felt pen to solving the Juumonji incident. On top of that, blackmailing to sell out 30 copies of Hyouka haha..

  53. d

    No comment on the symbolism of a man and a woman sharing an umbrella? I think that adds to the subtext.

    Thanks for this post. I was pretty ambivalent about the series, over all, but you've raised my estimation of it a good deal, especially with this capstone episode.

  54. t

    While I can't deny that I quite enjoyed the series, I have to disagree with you on a lot of levels.

    "I wasn’t necessarily expecting a definitive finale here, but KyoAni delivered an ending that made the series feel complete."

    Uhh, no it didn't? At least it didn't feel complete to me. Both of the "couples" (Houtarou and Eru, Satoshi and Ibara) almost get together but not quite, which is, as one of my favorite anime bloggers Riyoga (http://subtlechaos.wordpress.com/) once put it, "a shameless gimmick used by authors to artificially extend their series until the sales get too bad to keep going. They’ll just be stuck in their current position while going through a bunch of stuff until the author eventually has to make a final arc where the feelings are reciprocated. Essentially, you could watch this episode, and then watch what I’m assuming will be in the last episode, and you won’t have missed a damn thing. Everything from now until the end is basically filler."

    Secondly, the conclusion to the Valentine's Day Arc (or as I like to call it, "The day Satoshi's character shifted from happy-go-lucky sidekick to cowardly dick") was simply horrible. There is just no other word, and this is why: Satoshi doesn't treat Ibara as an equal. Also, he has apparently no backbone. The moment it is revealed that it was him who stole and even broke her chocolate, it also becomes evident that he never intended to accept her feelings in the first place. He kept her waiting one year, claiming he would take her chocolate if it was homemade, but obviously that was a lie. He was scared, which is understandable, relationships and commitment are scary stuff, I agree, but then he should fucking say so instead of deceiving her like the total douchebag he is. But this isn't even the worst part. Ibara never stands up for herself and tells him that he shouldn't treat people like that. The only person who tries (the emphasis lying on "tries" here) to talk some sense into him is Houtarou, who doesn't really achieve anything of value. Granted, he gets Satoshi to talk to Ibara, which is a step in the right direction, but as far as I understand it he neither apologizes to her nor does she get over herself in order to show him what a total asshat he's being. Basically, there is no development whatsoever. In the end, their relationship is back to square one.

    This lack of development applies to all of the characters, though. Houtarou is the only one of them undergoing any visible changes, whereas all of the girls of the main cast virtually stay the same over the course of 22 fucking episodes (seriously what the hell). I know you're of the opinion that the fact that Eru showed her home and her purpose to Houtarou in the final episode is some sort of proof for her evolution as a fictional character, but it's really not. She fell in love, yes. However, that doesn't mean she changed as a person. (Do YOU go through any major devlopments concerning your personality every time you crush on someone? Yeah, I didn't think so.) It just means she believes he probably likes her too and therefore trusts him enough to support her life choices. She is still the same bubbly, curious girl we met in the first episode.

    This is a serious issue, not just because of the terrible concept of gender it represents but also because of the fact Hyouka is most of all a character-driven show. It should be fairly obvious that it's extremely problematic if you deliberately moderate the plot in your story in order to highlight the characters when those characters remain unchanged throughout the entire series.

    Nonetheless, I still like it for the animation, for its unusual portrayal of the mystery genre, as well as for Houtarou (who is essentially my spirit animal), but that doesn't alter the fact that they completely butchered any expectations of character growth I might have had at the beginning.

  55. R

    Have to disagree about alleged lack of Satoshi's character development; Houtarou helped push him over the edge to have a focus in one area of life, the one thing he feared. And from Houtarou's memories of his friend Satoshi we know this is the "third phase" of his evolving. Oreki is gaining energy, and as a result changed his friends.

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