Anime Recommendation: Hyouka
-written by GuntherAMVs-
If you can’t tell from all my Hyouka-related antics, this anime is one of my favorite anime of all time. I saw it recently, but it quickly worked its way to the top of my list. I am someone who loves romantic comedies and slice-of-life shows, so I was eager to test this anime out. However, it performs its genre in an innovative way that challenges some of the stereotypes I have seen in other anime of its stock.
The show is paced slowly, and functions a lot like a tame crime drama. Four friends end up in a club that is about to expire due to lack of interest, and they band together to solve somewhat mundane mysteries around the school grounds and community. The main character is a stoic, introverted male, and the anime is often filtered through his perceptions—usually resulting in the overly energetic female lead being playfully villainized as a threat to his “low energy” way of life. Because the show is segmented based on each mystery, there is little overall plot advancement. The true incentive to watch all the episodes is to see the growth of the four friends.
Hyouka has a well-defined cast; each of the characters weakly reflects their respective stereotype, but overall represents a stand-alone, unique personality. For example, Satoshi (the secondary male lead) may represent the “joker” character, but he also harbors deep feelings toward others that he keeps hidden by smiling. The viewer learns more and more about each member of the cast the longer she watches. Furthermore, Hyouka does not focus readily on romance between the characters. What sexual tension develops is believable and often overshadowed for the sake of individual growth. I myself am an avid Houtarou x Chitanda shipper, and I do respect the show’s choices surrounding the couple. I shall say no more, lest I spoil something!