Monday, April 30, 2012

Hyou-ka - 02

[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_00.31_[2012.04.29_20.27.13] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_14.24_[2012.04.29_20.42.16] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_17.59_[2012.04.29_20.45.51]

Two episodes in, Hyou-ka is almost interesting, not quite boring, and still right in KyoAni’s sweet spot.

I guess in some ways this show is a little like “Seinfeld”, except it’s about four Japanese teenagers and it’s not really funny.  Monk’s Café is the classics room and the gender mix is off (Fukube is definitely Kramer, I’m sure of that much), but there’s a real sense that this is a show about nothing – actually a somewhat interesting take on the bored and unmotivated teenaged boy trope.  Of course it’s only two episodes in and I haven’t read the novels, so that could change – and there was a hint near the end of the episode of something deeper.  But for now it’s about wasting time and being bored, and nobody is better at that than KyoAni.

Hyou-ka has been compared to “Perfect Crime Party”, the fictional Shounen Jack manga that Ashirogi Muto were writing at the end of the second season of the anime, and that might be a good model too.  There’s a tendency with really beautiful shows for the first ep to provoke a kind of giddiness, sheer amazement at the beauty of the animation.  But a couple of bad things can happen – the quality can dip sharply with the budget (not too likely here) or, even if it doesn’t, one tends to get a little jaded to the eyegasm after a while and start to demand more of the plot and characters (there are obvious recent examples).  That’s going to be the test of Hyou-ka, and given KyoAni’s recent track record I’m not confident either way.

Was this episode’s “mystery” interesting?  To be blunt, not all that much – at least not to me.  It’s more interesting (though hardly riveting, yet) to watch the characters.  I kind of like the notion of Oreki being his trope exaggerated to its logical extreme, and watching the wheels turn in his head as he deals with this strange and insistent force of nature with piercing purple eyes.  I also enjoy watching him get to the tipping point, where he realizes that humoring Chitanda is actually easier than saying no to her.  She pushed it right up the edge of being annoying this week with her genki enthusiasm, but pulled back right at the brink.  Something to watch out for, though.  I get the feeling there’s something weird going on with her that we haven’t been told yet, something driving her to be so forceful and insistent with Hotarou and I don’t think it’s a schoolgirl crush.  I don’t think it’s what she was about to tell him as the ep ended, either.

This week’s little caper mostly took place in the library, so naturally it involved a book – and it was also the introduction to our fourth main cast member, Ibara Mayaka (Kayano Ai).  I tend to either love Ai-chan’s performances or hate them, and the jury is still out here.  She seems to have been crushing on Satoshi for a while and has an antagonistic relationship with Oreki that goes back even farther, so if there’s to be romance I guess the couples have an obvious place to start.  She’s a library assistant on Fridays, and it’s her boss, Head Librarian Itoigawa-sensei (Koyama Mami, historically quite an important seiyuu) who gives us the hint of a real mystery lurking beneath the fluff.  Oreki and Chitanda are looking for an old edition of the Classics Club Anthology as they’re supposed to do one for the culture fair, but have no idea what it is.  It’s her reaction when they ask that’s as interesting as the fact that no old anthologies seem to exist – she definitely seems a little taken aback, and leaves quite quickly with a frozen smile on her face.  Sensei knows something.

The three-episode rule will definitely be invoked with this show for me.  There’s enough potential here to make me hope that it’ll be a keeper, but the looming possibility that it will fall back on tried and true cliché and become repetitive.  My sense with KyoAni is that they’ve become very risk-averse, and until I see some reason to change my mind that’s always going to be a concern – they make a lot of money doing what they do, and don’t seem especially incented to take any chances.  The ED is about the edgiest part of the series so far – not the song itself, but the animation, which is an odd sort of soft-focus take on what I suppose passes for tasteful fanservice.

[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_09.34_[2012.04.29_20.37.02] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_10.15_[2012.04.29_20.37.43] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_10.45_[2012.04.29_20.38.13]
[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_11.26_[2012.04.29_20.38.54] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_12.29_[2012.04.29_20.39.57] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_13.09_[2012.04.29_20.41.01]
[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_14.32_[2012.04.29_20.42.24] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_14.46_[2012.04.29_20.42.38] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_17.53_[2012.04.29_20.45.45]
[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_18.21_[2012.04.29_20.46.13] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_20.04_[2012.04.29_20.47.56] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_20.44_[2012.04.29_20.48.36]
[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_22.43_[2012.04.29_20.50.35] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_22.59_[2012.04.29_20.50.51] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_24.00_[2012.04.29_20.51.52]

ED: “Promise of Slumber
[Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_24.29_[2012.04.29_20.52.21] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_24.42_[2012.04.29_20.52.34] [Commie] Hyouka - 02v2 [82AF6EF7].mkv_snapshot_25.24_[2012.04.29_20.53.16]


15 comments:

  1. I think a 5 episode rule should be used with Hyouka. The reason is that Kyoani probably want a long introduction phase, have a few more instances of light, playful mysteries and foreshadow the main story a bit before actually revealing it.

    Its certainly been safe, but it is based on a novel and no one makes a novel without an interesting plot. Kyoani will certainly try to bring about as much moe out of this without making it stifling, so fingers crossed for a rewarding plot to come sooner rather than later.

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  2. The subtitle for the novels, which seems to have vanished from the adaption, certainly seems to hint that there is much, much more going on here than meets the eye.

    Elsewhere, I compared Eru to Kuroyukihime, only with less poise and more hyper. She knows something, and she needs something, and she thinks Oreki can provide whatever it is she needs.

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  3. c'mon, if you can stomach the shows like Kimi to Boku (which is also a show about absolutely nothing and not really funny), you can give this one a benefit of doubt for 4-5 episodes instead of judging it harshly (which you haven't quite done it yet) and impatiently (which you are doing).

    BTW, Enzo, I noticed that you're much more patient and forgiving with slice of life shows of all male casts than the same of mixed or all girl casts (i.e. recently dropped Natsuiro Kaiseki). Nothing wrong with that, though; just exactly the opposite of me. In fact, the only all male cast slice of life show I watched all the way was dansi koukousei no nichijo. But then again, that show didn't really have main characters in the traditional sense, so perhaps that doesn't really count.

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    1. I don't know if your charge is true or not (I'd like to think it isn't) but I don't really see KtB as a good comparison for this series. KtB is quite a bit funnier (usually) but it has to be - because it really has nothing else going for it. It's not pretty, and it has no real plot. Hyouka is very pretty, and has at least the pretense of a plot.

      TBH, I'm hard-pressed to think of other slice of life shows with all-male casts that I've covered (and I hope you're not going to say Tsuritama, as it's so much more). Danshi Koukousei to some extent, but that's a pure comedy - and a damn funny one, too.

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    2. A mostly female cast slice of life anime is like a shounen action anime. The rule is seen one seen em all. They have to try much harder to impress, unlike say KtB which doesn't as it is very rare for a show like it to be released. The cliches that are widely used in female slice of life animes are widely known and make them predictable to a fault. The reverse gender version doesn't even have cliches (unless it's shounen ai), which adds some interest to it.

      KtB may seem boring to you as you still don't find the cliches of animes like A-channel predictable and boring, but to someone who does something unpredictable like KtB is a happy change. Also everyone has different tastes when it comes to comedy.

      This of course has little to do with Hyouka, which is a boring show because we expect something to happen, unlike other slice life animes where we really don't.

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  4. I swear her eyes has some mystical powers. Even I get affected by it :P
    And that voice. I do love Satou Satomi's voice.
    Anyways, the characters are fairly interesting and the mystery is somewhat okay. I just didn't like how Houtarou seems to pull the answer out of nowhere like in Gosick. Well, we are just starting and it seems like Chitanda is getting to business in the end. Or at least I hope she does.

    Why does the ED look like it's from K-On with Mio and Ritsu?
    Oh right KyoAni.

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  5. BTW ... to come to the defense of Enzo a little here ... part of the reason he values slice of life shows featuring a predominantly male cast is b/c of it's relative rareness in the past few years.

    Also - I am a big fan of all female cast slice of life series (Enzo and I like to poke fun at one another over this now and again) and I also dropped Natsuiro Kiseki.

    That being said - I am enjoying Hyouka a lot thus far. :)

    - Flower

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  6. I actually like this show, I'm not sure why. It's true that nothing much has happened in the first two episodes, but for some reason I find it really appealing. Maybe it's the character design. Either way I know I'll be finishing this one, it's got that special "something" that makes me want to give it every chance in the world to be good.

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    1. I'm with you. I'm really liking this series so far. It is just so easy to watch. After a busy day at work this show is a perfect way for me to relax. Character design and animation are top quality too which always helps.

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  7. This seems like a mixture of K-On's pacing (read: none at all) and Clannad's characters. At least it is no harem and Satoshi has someone who's interested in him unlike Sunohara.
    The topics run in circles for 5-8 minutes and before any kind of conclusion is drawn they move on to the next topic which runs circles of it's own. Sometimes they throw a "mystery" in between which is solved within 2-3 minutes.
    It was difficult for me to focus on the dialogue at times and the only thing that kept me watching was the great visual design.
    KyoAni surely wouldn't waste all these ideas they put in the animation of this show by letting nothing happen, would they?
    I hope we'll get to see four kids dealing with a major mystery and/or problem in the next episode.
    But before that happens they should put a sock in Chitanda's mouth. It seems like I'm not the only one who would appreciate that.

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  8. Grow up in a beautiful city + work with high quality animators = Hyouka
    The beauty of Kyoto must be what makes KyoAni great time after time.

    Japan is expensive, fun, addictive, and gives me withdrawal symptoms. And dangerous if you consider the half life of uranium.
    The only difference between Japan and a drug? It is legal!

    P.S. I would say he is more interested in her than she is in him. Surely there are easy ways to TRULY distance himself, yet he always returns to meet her in the classroom. Don't go for her!! You'll be stuck under her thumb and she is so much an airhead, she'll be conned out of money in no time.

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  9. Heh, the funny thing is people who live in Kyoto complain about it non-stop... But when you say "Would you move?" they all say "No way."

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  10. Why do they complain?

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    Replies
    1. The weather's terrible. There's too many tourists. It's not "old Kyoto" anymore. Etc, etc...

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    2. Thank you! =)

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