after wincing through shows that plodded along on lame plots and story arcs that barely stirred my waning interest, Hyouka (Kyoto Animation) showed up in my radar like a proverbial needle in the haystack.
as crazy as it sounds, i initially latched onto Hyouka because it was a single-word title, and therefore easy to remember in case it turned out to be good. as 10 minutes went by without rousing my ire, i allowed myself to hope that here — at last — was an anime series to lift me out of my slump. halfway through the first episode, i knew i was on to something good.
with relatable lead characters (each with his/her own quirky qualities), excellent animation and storylines that occasionally throw you for a loop, Hyouka easily makes my list of favorites.
the series doesn’t deal with end-of-the-world scenarios, and the characters are not endowed with supernatural powers or qualities that would make them stand out in a crowd. there are no overt tragedies or over-the-top characters to hijack your attention. in short, it’s just a group of high school students who form a club in keeping with their interests (some more willing than others) and trying to make sense of changes/events around them.
houtaro oreki — a retiring sourpuss with finely honed deductive skills; wants to accomplish anything with the least amount of fuss and effort
eru chitanda — a pretty overachiever who shakes houtaro out of his comfort zone; her one overriding quality is her rampant curiosity
satoshi fukube — houtarou’s easygoing best friend who has a knack for collecting odd information; calls himself the “database”
mayaka ibara — another member of the Classic Literature Club; rather short-tempered and has a crush on satoshi
bottom line, it’s a blessed relief not to have to suffer through copious amounts of gore (for a story to be effective, sometimes less is more; and there are times when something that’s implied can be more powerful than something that’s obvious), pointless fan service or nausea-inducing stock characters.
the mysteries or “cases” aren’t of the soul-shaking or blood-curdling variety (in single- or multi-episode story arcs), but they’re compelling enough to make you want to stick around and see how things pan out.
Hyouka, which is set to run in 21 episodes, is still ongoing. hopefully, when the show ends (ugh! just thinking about it my teeth ache) there’ll be plans for another season or two (uhm, please?).