Monday, August 27, 2012

Hyouka - 19

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Well, looks like Hyouka is back to proving it can squeeze 22 minutes out of anything, no matter how inconsequential.  Needless to say, that’s definitely a comfort zone.


[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_04.02_[2012.08.26_20.04.12]I suppose the highest praise I can pay to Hyouka is this: not only can’t I think of another anime that would have been able to pull this episode off, I can’t even think of another one that would try.  It’s certainly audacious to have an entire episode be one character spinning BS (even if it did turn out to be true) off a random PA announcement, and think people will keep watching and be entertained.  It requires a great deal of confidence in the material to trust that it can hold up when stripped bare like this, but then I think the confident writing in this series has been a strength from day one.  I haven’t exactly loved every arc, but I’ve never had a sense that the show was struggling to define itself.  It was more, “Here I am – take it or leave it.”

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_05.00_[2012.08.26_20.05.10]One way to look at this ep, I suppose, is that the whole thing was a pretense to show how far along Houtarou and Chitanda have come in their relationship since the string of “much ado about nothing” mysteries that dominated the first cour.  And there’s no question that they have – starting with Houtarou’s inquiry about Chitanda’s Uncle’s funeral, and his willingness to visit his grave with her.  We saw something of this last week, too – in structure the episode was very much reminiscent of the early part of the series, but with a different Houtarou at the center of it.  It would be hard to imagine a smaller kernel of plot to build an episode around than a 5-second announcement, but while they did a pretty solid job making that interesting, the dynamic between the two characters (the only two who appeared in the ep) definitely gave things an added air of significance.

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_05.40_[2012.08.26_20.05.50]There’s sexual tension between these two, of that there can be no mistake.  It’s tempting to believe that Chitanda is innocent as to the effect her increasing willingness to invade Houtarou’s personal space is having on him, but I’m not so sure (the blush doesn’t lie).  Houtarou is certainly aware of it, of that there can be no doubt.  The attraction is there, though just how much of it extends beyond the physical is still hard to say.  Both of them are playing a game with the other at the moment, both know it but don’t really talk about it.  Houtarou still isn’t especially comfortable being the center of attention, be it a group or a group of one girl with no sense of irony or attention span, but I think he enjoys the crash of his irresistible apathy against Chitanda’s immovable curiosity, and the mere fact that he’s enjoying it means that she’s already winning the war.

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_06.27_[2012.08.26_20.06.37]As to the mystery itself, it was quite impressive the way the writing managed to make a single stream of consciousness last for the entire episode.  It was all building up to a punchline, of course – Houtarou set off on the whole exercise to prove he could pull a theory out of his ass to match any situation, and it turned out that his theory was exactly right, and he forget that was his reason in the first place.  Now obviously once he gets started, Houtarou doesn’t want to be wrong – so he ends up trying even if he never meant to.  It wasn’t a bad mystery – my first reaction was certainly “shoplifting” and I managed to get to “counterfeit” before Houtarou said it.  There are a few holes for me – I still don’t buy Houtarou’s certainty that Student X didn’t use a smaller bill, and I think he was certain only because the plot required it.  But as with so much of the writing in Hyouka, it was elegant in the way it all fit together in the end – again, I can’t think of another show that would have attempted something like this.

[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_10.00_[2012.08.26_20.10.10]Now last week I admitted that my views on Hyouka have evolved, and that I’d like a little more plot now – and that’s still true.  I still can’t rank an episode like this, clever as it was, alongside the best of the series (most of which fell inside the Kanya Festa arc).  I still find Satoshi the best character and he and Mayaka the more interesting couple, and I think their absence leaves the episode a little poorer.  But I have to give the series credit for staying true to itself and believing in its own charms, and for doing what only it can do instead of what other series are already doing.  I’d like to get something a little meatier to chew on in the last few eps, but if all we’re getting is snacks like this one, at least they’re tasty.

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[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_16.36_[2012.08.26_20.16.58] [Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_17.47_[2012.08.26_20.18.08] [Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_19.39_[2012.08.26_20.20.01]
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[Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_24.36_[2012.08.26_20.25.29] [Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_25.19_[2012.08.26_20.26.12] [Mazui]_Hyouka_-_19_[D1759CAA].mkv_snapshot_25.21_[2012.08.26_21.02.01]


14 comments:

  1. Student X was a victim, not a culprit. He didn't buy anything. He was given the bill by Guy Y.

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    1. I know - I didn't suggest otherwise in the post.

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  2. I believe 18 and 19 are supposed to be anime original? With, apparently, either only 1 or 2 episodes left, I don't think we're getting any larger stories.

    It's supposed to be 21 episodes, so I imagine that means we'll get ep 21, as I don't think the OVA will count against that. Which means we get a Christmas/New Year's episode (next week) then one more to end. Kind of a lull in the way to end the series, but it'll go out about the way it came in. Which seems fitting.

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    1. I'm pretty sure this was in the novel - it was supposedly nominated for some kind of award.

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    2. This episode came from the novel, as the episode ended with the subtitle caption "Little birds can remember", which was the subtitle for the 4th novel volume.

      Last episode was an original as it did not contain any subtitle caption whatsoever.

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  3. I enjoyed this episode tremendously, but maybe that's because I really like Eru, and I really like the idea of Houtarou and Eru as a couple. I also liked seeing the difference in Houtarou now from earlier in the series. Whether this was part of a greater arc or not, it was still an enjoyable half hour for me.

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  4. The 10,000Y bill is the most often counterfeited, and the article was specifically about a rash of 10,000Y bills (pause at 0:32). Thus it would not be a smaller bill.

    I love how both characters have grown. Back with the student film arc, Eru was having a hard time keeping up with everyone else in the thought exercises. But now Eru is standing on her own, both questioning and providing her own information at almost the same level as Houtarou. She is now well beyond both Satoshi and Mayaka.

    We can see how Houtarou loves this interaction, actively seeking it out. He has gone from trying to avoid having such interactions, to goading her into them and forcing a back and forth. There is some great potential here relationship wise.

    I can't believe I am saying this, but I wish this were 50+ episodes.

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  5. I like how Kyo-Ani slowly but subtly develops the relationships between our characters here via many small actions.

    Even Chitanda is slowly beginning to realize her constant unconscious intrusion into Houtarou's private space is embarrassing.

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    1. Nice blog--just discovered it!

      As a lark (wife is away on business, so I'm eating noodles straight from the cookpot and watching anime), I watched the first three eps, and what struck me there compared to this episode is that Chitanda has *zero* realization of how inappropriate her intrusions into Houtarou's personal space are. It's my impression that this aggressiveness declines considerably after Chitanda's serious and bashful request to Houtarou to investigate the mystery involving her uncle, but the physical aggressiveness seems to come back in 19 with a vengeance. However, here Chitanda actually feels embarrassed by what she does, but she *still* engages in the behavior.

      It was always clear to me that Houtarou was mesmerized by Chitanda from the get-go; I still get a kick out of all those crazy scenes produced by his imagination. But always thought Chitanda only gradually found herself drawn to Houtarou, as she saw his abilities more and more in action, and her aggressiveness early on in terms of violating physical space was just part of her energetic and quirky personality.

      But in the first three eps, Chitanda acts fairly normal with all the other characters--even to the point of being a bit formal, although certainly friendly. And we later see in ep. 20 that Chitanda is actually comfortable in very formal settings, so it's not like she doesn't know any manners. And what struck me during the festival arc is how shy Chitanda can be. I may be mis-remembering, but outside of maybe once or twice during the festival arc when she's not acting in character, it's only Houtarou's physical space that Chitanda will invade.

      I now wonder if Chitanda has always had some kind of attraction to Houtarou, at least on a subconscious level. And that she's been flirting with him since ep. 1, suing the sheer excessiveness of her behavior as a way to mask it. And then there's the disappointment she expresses in the hot springs ep. that it isn't co-ed, which results in Houtarou passing out later from his imagination.

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    2. Welcome to the blog, and thanks for complimenting! I think your last paragraph pretty much hits it on the head - she's always been attracted to him on a subconscious lever, she's just more aware of it now.

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  6. Houtarou's bed hair was the highlight for me.

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  7. do chitanda and hotaru ever get together? I kinda stopped watching after episode. . .2 or are they just teasing the viewers constantly? it's more than obvious they like each other (unless most people watching dont have much experience with male/female relationships. . .you know like in the real world not anime.) I just sometimes wish they get over the will they wont they, and just put them together and continue the story from there, but most shows. . .98% of anime that IS the story, will they wont they, cause most writters don't know how to write good romances, or just stories where the main couple is already "together" or going out. Yeah there's a few good ones out there in animeland but really. . .in comparison to other mediums. . .yeah not much.

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    1. I would ask the novel readers not to answer that question...

      I really see shipping as secondary at best with Hyouka, so if you dropped it because you didn't think that was moving fast enough, I definitely wouldn't pick it back up.

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    2. My guess with the Houtarou X Chitanda is that it's going to be a "yes they will" except that this will be more of an after story or epilogue thing since serious romance and Hyouka just wouldn't seem to gel together very well. And I agree very much with your last statement. This episode was indeed a very tasty snack and I wouldn't actually mind just having these kind of standalone mysteries to finish off. I think the "diagram-like" animations really helped in this episode to keep the mystery flowing and kept up my interest. kudos to kyoani on this one

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