Monday, May 7, 2012

Hyou-ka - 03

[Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_11.50_[2012.05.06_21.13.30] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_15.37_[2012.05.06_21.17.16] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_21.07_[2012.05.06_21.22.47]

Wait a minute – a grouchy, self-involved layabout who solves mysteries with his team, usually based on the principle “everybody lies”?  Hmm…

While there’s still not all that much “there” there with Hyou-ka, it’s kind of fun being nowhere with it.  The formula could hardly be simpler, but it’s undeniably one that’s worked wonders for KyoAni in the past.  Basically it’s a show that continually amazes visually (how can a just-emptied coffee cup look so amazing?), and offers some excellent and tasteful BGM to boot (much better here than in the first two episodes).  There’s nothing else of much significance in the mix so far, but the pacing is so slow that it almost hypnotizes me into getting involved with what’s happening.  At least, it’s not nearly as boring as it probably should be.

And with that said, this ep was a couple orders of magnitude more interesting that its predecessors.  For the first time we’re given a mystery that actually has some real-life import, and that matters, especially for a show with so little action.  To call the mysteries in the first two shows trivial is an understatement (to call them “mysteries” at all probably generous) which more or less ruled out their being of more than minimal interest.  Here, we have an actual mystery that relates to Chitanda’s life – an Uncle missing in India, a forgotten memory of seven years ago, and a possible connection to the Classics Club.

At this point I’m more or less ready to assume that there are no coincidences in Hyou-ka, and that everything is connected to the club in some way.  Everyone is hiding something and the club obviously has a dark secret in its past.  I can only assume that Oreki’s sister knows this and pushed him into the club intentionally – and likewise, she’s intentionally decided it’s time for the kids to find the old anthologies.  The clue in her letter leads them to the biology prep room, where third year Tougaito Masashi (Okaiyu Ryotaru) presides over the News Poster club, and where the safe holding the old issues of the anthology (where the title “Hyouka” comes from) are supposedly kept.  There are some early hints that something sinister might be behind Tougaito’s reluctance to allow the Classics kids in, but it’s pretty mundane – a socially elite kid trying to make sure he’s not caught smoking in school.

If Oreki’s family connection to the Classics Club mystery is obvious, it’s no more so than Chitanda’s – her Uncle was in the club, and he’s mentioned in the second-ever issue, the 1968 (which sets Hyou-ka in 2008) where there’s a reference (written by someone with the same first name – Youko - as the librarian) to mysterious events involving the Uncle the prior year.  And given that the 1967 anthology is missing, there’s all the more reason to suspect someone is hiding someone – and maybe a lot of people are hiding a lot of things.  It wasn’t a given that this show was going to have a “serious” mystery element at all, so that’s a welcome change.

I’m still not wowed by any of the characters, or their interaction with each other.  Chitanda is mesmerizing to look at, but quite ordinary to listen to,  Houtaro’s pursuit of the slacker ideal feels pretty played out, and the predictability of his eventual warming up due to Chitanda’s influence robs that inevitable development of much dramatic impact.  As with Clannad, with Hyou-ka though the best friend character is somewhat irritating, the relative  blandness of the male lead makes his presence valuable – and I do think Hyou-ka missed Fukube’s energy this week.  Baby steps, though – this was better on the whole, and improvement is certainly better than the alternative.  With all the value for the dollar Hyou-ka provides with its visuals and music, episodes like this one are more than watchable.

[Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_07.46_[2012.05.06_22.06.06] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_09.02_[2012.05.06_21.10.18] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_09.50_[2012.05.06_21.11.05]
[Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_10.22_[2012.05.06_21.11.37] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_11.59_[2012.05.06_21.13.38] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_12.55_[2012.05.06_21.14.34]
[Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_17.45_[2012.05.06_21.19.24] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_17.49_[2012.05.06_21.19.28] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_17.53_[2012.05.06_21.19.33]
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[Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_20.10_[2012.05.06_21.21.49] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_20.29_[2012.05.06_21.22.08] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_20.58_[2012.05.06_21.22.37]
[Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_21.58_[2012.05.06_21.23.37] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_22.22_[2012.05.06_21.24.01] [Commie] Hyouka - 03 [CED1D963].mkv_snapshot_23.10_[2012.05.06_21.24.49]


23 comments:

  1. I was hoping the kid was doing drugs and all of a sudden it turns into enter the void hah

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  2. It occur to me that he might be smoking weed, which would have at least been a little more interesting...

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    1. yeah I'm not sure about underage cigarette smoking in japan, other than the min age is 20 instead of 18. Weed / other drugs will ruin everything though, so yeah, it would have been interesting, although I question how many Japanese viewers even know about weed. I'm sure it's not as mainstream as weed culture in the states haha

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    2. If that's what he was smoking, the guy might have gotten away with it. Tobacco is a very common smell, pot... not so much. That's especially true in some highschool in rural Japan (my big assumption, actually).
      Even if Chitanda didn't have a cold and could use her dog nose, there's no way someone like her would recognize the scent. "Why does it smell like pinecones in here??? I can't stop thinking about it, Houtaro!" XD

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    3. hahaha pinecones

      but yeah, the smell of cigarette smoke is a bitch to get out (let's just say my roommates had a fun cinco de mayo this weekend hahah)

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  3. I kind of find myself half agreeing with your comments on the characters and half disagreeing. I kinda see what you're saying about their personalities being so overused at this point, but for some reason in this show the formula just work for me. I can't see the characters being any other way than how they are.

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  4. I liked it because I was able to solve the mystery of the week.

    Also, "We'll have to search the whole school!" got me laughing out loud.

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  5. Plot picked itself up a bit this episode, but before that.
    Did anyone find Chitanda quite annoying in the first few minutes?

    I found her whole "act" to ask Houtaro to help remember something she can't quite frustrating. It ruined any scene she spoke in for the remainder of the episode for me. Houtaro was a saving grace though as walking through his head to a conclusion is still interesting to watch.

    I sort of get why some people hate Haruhi since I'm starting to find Chitanda a trying character.

    The mystery of the week was a more realistic one than the ones before it so that's an improvement although 22 episodes could be a bit too long.

    BTW Avengers is awesome. Wonder if the Dark Knight Returns can top it.

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    1. It's tough to top a Joss Whedon scripted superhero flick.

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    2. As well done as you can make a superhero team movie, but I'd still rather watch Hyou-ka. Probably says something that I was pleased to see the Prometheus trailer and the 12-year-old sitting next to me totally didn't grok it.

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    3. Heinlein refs, eh? Showing off the old-school cred...

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    4. Well, grok still has a fixed meaning, while awesome has become pretty mushy. (I do acknowledge that language is mutable). I deny any cred, old-school or otherwise.

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  6. Am I the only who thinks that the walking posture of Chitanda and other female characters are freaking ridiculous? I mean look at them walking around 11 minute mark, with their fists clenched, arms stretched to the sides, feet turn inward. If I didn't know better I would think they just took a doodie in their undies and thus walking gingerly, like some sort of a duck.

    Come to think of it, I've seen these sort of walking postures in real life; apparently it's real thing among "some" of Japan's fairer gender (I stress "some"). But if you ask me, it's like a page out of Monty Python sketch of Ministry of Silly Walks. Ah... John Cleese. No one can top you on those silly walk of yours. Not even silly walk of Japanese teenage characters!!

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    1. That was hilarious. If it is a real thing I assume it is among the very young, as I simply cannot imagine a teenage girl walking like that and not being taken to the hospital for constipation.

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  7. memersizing is indeed a good word to use Enzo.
    Just wondering whether there is hidden meaning in his sister traveling round the world? possibly to find something or someone. aka, chi-chan's uncle?

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  8. i actually liked fukabe's energy this episode...it fit the context of the situation

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    1. I agree, but I think we could have used a little more of it.

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    2. yea ur right fun, as of right now she's the most entertaining character to watch...she should be able to alleviate some of the boredom of the scenes she's in...not that the show is necessarily boring but some of the scenes can drag a bit

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    3. whoops in the last post i confused ibara with fukabe; i liek ibara's character..but i find fukabe a lil annoying...just a lil

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  9. Enzo, afraid the fansub you watched (Commie) has got the year wrong. The kanji on the passage clearly says 1968, but instead got mistranslated to 1964.
    http://lh3.ggpht.com/-E8craTwhqjM/T6dZSInjyWI/AAAAAAABIxo/2b3nUmZDGGs/s1600-h/%25255BCommie%25255D%252520Hyouka%252520-%25252003%252520%25255BCED1D963%25255D.mkv_snapshot_22.22_%25255B2012.05.06_21.24.01%25255D%25255B2%25255D.jpg

    The "event" that Chitanda is trying to find out in 1967 - "45 years ago". Do the math and you'll find that the anime is set in this year - 2012.

    The story setting itself has been updated from the novel, which was set in 2000 when the first novel was published.

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  10. I was hoping that all the members of Classics Club will contribute in solving mysteries and not just giving clues wherein Hotarou will piece up together. Anyway the show is visually awesome! KyoAni is really good in doing things like this! Hoping for another good episode next week :)

    OTOH Chitanda san looks like Mio of K-On when her hair is tied up

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  11. well of course smoking in school is bad. . .duh. of course to us it may not seem that much of a big deal but if I got caught smoking in school, it would be trouble of course. . .Although I just thought that he was just hiding an underage girl in there or something (because the lead dude mentioned the junior high scholl thing)


    and yeah. . .the best friend is such an annoying cock block, intentionally poking fun at them being together, such a jealous bastard. . . with friends like that, you dont need an antagonist lol

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