First Impressions – Hyouka

Nobody told me this show would involve freaky hair-tentacles

Yay Hyouka! … You know, I have absolutely no idea what to expect out of this since all I know is that this is KyoAni and the mystery genre. Will this impress me? We’ll see. …Though chances are that it will.
Hello everyone! I’m so sorry for this really late post, I’m still in the process of battling against terrifying monster exams and projects, but I’m here now along with Kara to bring to you Hyouka’s FI! To be honest, I’m not sure what to expect other than pretty animation, but I have high, high hopes for this show!

Straight into the episode, we’re introduced to our main character oh ma shoe! Houtarou, a very low-key dude who doesn’t believe in doing anything unnecessary. The only person he seems to be willing to spend his precious energy to talk to is his childhood friend, Satoshi, the ever outgoing one who makes up for all his dullness. Houtarou ends up joining the Classics club due to a threat request from his sister, thinking that he would be able to use the isolated club room as his own private space.

ALL the bromance!

Contrary to his wishes, though, the isolated club room turns out to be not so isolated at all. He meets Eru, who happily introduces herself as a new member of the Classics club. Rejoicing at the fact that the Classics club was still going to continue regardless of his presence, Houtarou takes his leave, only to let it slip that the door was actually locked before Houtarou entered the room. Eru, however, states that it was unlocked when she arrived, explaining why she could’ve gotten in without the key. Eru becomes inexplicably interested in the mystery of the locked door, and eventually convinces Houtarou to help find an explanation with a strangely convincing aura. Satoshi soon joins in after being found eavesdropping, and the three join forces to solve the mystery. Or at least that was the plan, until Houtarou abruptly announces that he has already figured it out – Eru had entered the club room when the serviceman had unlocked the door to fix some lights, and simply happened to be unlucky enough to get locked inside when he locked the door once he was done with his work. With this, Eru gladly invites both Houtarou and Satoshi to the Classics club – a trio has been formed!

A fateful encounter between a boy and a girl…

…results in an irresistible attraction, and a touching confession…

…aaand the best friend ruins everything by interrupting. /anticlimatic

Once you can get past the creepiness of the fungi plant-infested long hair, this scene is actually really pretty

The next day, Houtarou and Satoshi tell Eru about the rumor of a secret club existing in the school. Each year, there is one single recruitment poster that doesn’t belong to any registered club, belonging instead to a secret club called the Golden Web. The story obviously gets Eru interested, and the trio set off once again to search for the one recruitment poster by this mysterious club… Houtarou eventually leads them to the notice board near the main entrance – the most conspicuous place the poster could be. Searching for it in a sea of other posters takes a bit of time, but Houtarou finally finds it hidden behind another poster – a short, succinct note that conveys all it needs to: Join the ultra secretive Golden Web! Satisfied at finding the note, the trio decides to leave it off at that and head home. As Houtarou and Satoshi walk back home together, however, it is revealed to us that the entire Golden Web rumor was actually entirely made up by Houtarou. For what reason, even he himself is not sure, even though he eventually convinces himself it was for the sake of upholding the status quo. Before they part ways, Satoshi leaves Houtarou with some bromancy advice: being low-key might be able to last him through the day, but perhaps it would in turn, cost him more in the future.

How I feel like when Sensei tells me to read a passage in Japanese class

Last night was fun, if you know what I mean

This story still has a lot of potential to it, but why on earth would they start this storyline with such a low key mystery? So the main guy doesn’t like to put effort into things, so he makes up his own fake mystery… All I’ve gotten out of this anime so far (plot wise) is that Houtarou is a lazy genius and Eru is your stereotypical all around perfect girl who likes mysteries. While I can’t say that I’m particularly attached to any of the characters at the moment, there’s probably a ton of room for growth. The lacklustre mysteries this episode ate up so much time that there wasn’t much room for anything else. While the Spider Council or whatever it was called was kind of interesting, I can’t help but think that this could have started better. It’s hard get into the mysteries that they’re solving when I barely know who the characters are or why I should care about them.

On that note, at least the setting is pretty realistic. My prior complaints about them being boring aside, at least none of the mysteries were over the top and all of them felt believable. They could have easily happened in real life and I guess they helped the viewer get accustomed to the school setting. The character Satoshi also helped with that since he’s like that stereotypical male friend who appears in every school themed anime ever. He seems like a pretty normal character thus far, so I wonder how he’ll fit in with the Literature Club. Normally the stereotypical male friend is just someone who gets involved with the main character’s life from time to time, but here it looks like he’ll be taking a more active role. From her scene with the hair, it’s obvious that Eru is going to be the one pushing the club forward and Houtarou is going to do his whole solving mysteries thing, but Satoshi and that other member (the female one who hasn’t been introduced yet)’s roles are still a mystery.

…The animation was REALLY nice. As expected of KyoAni. While they’re using the same kind of character style as they did K-ON, I’d say it works here without being THAT obvious…. Or at least I didn’t think it was too obvious (Eru looks so moe, it hurts, but at least Houtaro doesn’t fall under that same category). So yeah, while they don’t have me sold on the story or the characters just yet, this show still holds some interest for me since I highly doubt that the real plot has begun yet.

That… was quite a letdown after all the good first episodes many anime series have had this season. Of course, if we’re talking about the animation and the music alone, I’d say it was beautiful. But story plot wise? I am disappoint. The character introductions were done way too predictably and it was the typical first day of school thingum, anti-social guy and his less angsty best friend meets beautiful rich famous girl who also happens to have a weird ability to be able to convince people to do stuff for her through her mesmerizing eyes… okay. At this point in time I would say all the characters are stereotypical, although I can’t dispute the fact that they do have potential for character development – especially Eru, because we still don’t know much about that strange tendency of hers to influence others. Minor point but, I don’t know what to feel about those mottos… What kind of anime character has a “motto” that is repeated like 4 times in the first episode alone? Not sure if cheesy or unique. >.> If they continue to keep repeating it in future episodes though, it will get annoying.

Moving on, the mysteries were also… not very mysterious. The locked-door “mystery” was incredibly uninspiring, but thankfully the one about the Golden Web was slightly more intriguing. And then it turned out to be a fake. Y u cheat my feelings? ;_; I’m sure that the following episodes will have more exciting mysteries (probably involving that old building Eru spotted?), but I felt that the first episode could’ve at least given us some sort of introduction to the main mystery of this anime, which actually revolves around a old collection of works created by previous club members, titled Hyouka – that’s what caught my eye during the season preview. They could’ve left us off at a cliffhanger after they discovered the works or something – that would’ve been more effective in leaving us with something to think about so we would actually be excited to find out more.

To be honest, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but that’s mainly because of the gorgeous animation. I love pretty art (call me shallow), but I can actually watch something for its graphics alone. This is one of those shows. As expected, KyoAni gave us awesome character designs and scenery (loved both the music and the PV for the OP), and this was actually the saving grace of this episode. That being said, I really do hope that Hyouka will pick up its pace. Although I’m not expecting to see lots of bloody gore or madness that conspired in Another, I am looking forward to being drawn in by lots of fun mysteries. It would be a pity for such a beautifully-animated series to go to waste.


We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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23 Responses to “First Impressions – Hyouka”

  1. skylion says:

    Hmm, a less than stellar reception, but with good review questions being asked.

    To me the greatest mystery is why the boy bothered in the first place. Why did he want that reaction. Did he want her to take the clue to his home made mystery? Did he want her to take the clue period? If he is so keen on not expending himself, why not brush her off. After all, the club will still be in working order, then his sister won’t have to akido him.

    Is it romance? Friendship? A need he didn’t know he needed fulfilled? All of the above.

    This is one show that deserves to be watched at least twice. There is a bunch of carefully animated body language going on in so many scenes.

    I’m curious.

    • skylion says:

      Oh, forgot to mention. It seems the “mysteries” being solved were mostly for their own sake. Assumptions are made, and then they are tested. You see a thought process. And…you see how a mystery is indeed faked. This is probably a set up for the rest of the series.

  2. Bob from Accounting says:

    Not sure where this is trying to go but it did certainly look nice. And our protagonist looks a lot like a slightly broken and gloomy Rin Okumura. I would have liked it if the Golden Spider (or whatever) thingy was real. It just seems like quite a good idea for a school-themed anime and it’s kinda been wasted. Ah well, we’ll see how it goes.

    • Karakuri says:

      I think it will get better since apparently they’re all supposed to stumble on some big mystery that has to do with the title “Hyouka”… Plus if I remember correctly, one of the alternate titles to this is “Hyouka: You Can’t Escape” which seems infinitely more thrilling than anything this episode threw at us. Then again, titles can lie. Like you said, I’ll be seeing how this goes as well.

  3. Foshizzel says:

    Yeah I feel the same as you two the animation is great as expected from this impressive animation studio of course! And the world is very realistic like Kara said, but I was kind of bored with Satoshi! That dude would not shut up ahahah he loved to ramble on didn’t he?

    I have seen a few comments on other blogs calling this a basic Haruhi Suzumiya 2.0? I mean we have Houtarou Oreki who looks to be a copy of Kyon and then the main girl Eru Chitanda which acts sort of like Mikuru. I would peg Satoshi as the itsuki of the trio cause he loves to hear himself talk xDD

    Anyway I will watch more episodes just to see that fantastic art, but I have my fingers crossed for something good to happen for the story…I just hope this doesn’t turn into another Guilty Crown as in looks amazing but the story fails to impress us.

    • Gecko says:

      I was thinking Houtarou is Kyon, Eru is Haruhi, and Satoshi is Itsuki (took me a second to remember that Koizumi is Itsuki XD). Mikuru was too shy and got dragged into everything whereas Haruhi was running around getting stuff to happen. Eru is the one who gets interested and pulls the guys around to do stuff- really similar to Haruhi. She’s just more bashful and shy like Mikuru. Probably why I like her a lot.

      And I doubt this will be Guilty Crown-esque. They’ll avoid that route. And plus, there’s no Gai. Can’t have Guilty Crown without Gai. Or Ayase.

      • Foshizzel says:

        True about Eru she is way more outgoing and in your face, but in a way she could be a mixture of Haruhi and Mikuru? That is a deadly Hnnnggg combo! Oh man…

        Yeah I just meant that in terms of “looks great” but the “story” failed to grab out attention after the first few episodes, but who knows? Maybe Hyokua can pull off both at the same time?! I sure hope so.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    This was good for a beginning and the animation is excellent. I think it was a good idea for story to take its time opening up. The pacing is nice and slow for a good explaination of things. And the plot has potential to get deeper.

    I think Houtarou is a less-than-energetic protagonist because he has nothing challenging him. Because he’s smart, he feels no need to push himself but if given something to think about, he will see it through until it is solved.

    I agree with what Kara said about their world. It has this certain reality to it that just draws people in. While at the same time, relieving the tension built in retrospect by expressing Houtarou’s thoughts and emotions through the metaphorical imagination; one of being trapped by his captivation, and another from overwhelming self-impotence.

    Eru Chitanda is definitely going to become a favorite. I already can’t resist that cute face. She’s a curious girl and it’s already clear to see once a mystery is brought to her, she won’t be able to stop thinking about it until it is solved. It was funny seeing Houtarou having daydreams of Eru with ridiculously long hair. How many bottles of shampoo did it take to help grow it that long?

    I’m concerned about Satoshi. He already strikes me as the tolerant best friend with a good heart that anyone would like to have around but just wouldn’t shut up. I hope that doesn’t become a hassle.

  5. Rakuen says:

    I actually liked the pacing and the characters in this first episode. I think a large part of the bore here is having one of the best batches of first episodes in our memories. I mean, compare this to the first episode of Tsuritama. There isn’t a comparison, it blows it out of the water (hahaha…). It doesn’t make Hyouka bad, it’s just not as good.

    I’ve got hopes for this series, so let’s see how it turns out.

  6. anaaga says:

    Everything interests me, except the mysteries. I don’t know why but somehow they feel weak to me. Maybe I’ll be into it later.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Maybe the mysteries will get better as the story progresses. Right now it’s too early to tell which direction this will go since it’s the first episode. I just hope it doesn’t end up a trainwreck like Guilty Crown did.

    • skylion says:

      I don’t think these are mysteries, per se. They are routes to how the characters think. Eru provides the spark, Oreki the interest, and Satoshi the underlying purpose.

      They’ve built a pretty strong character narrative.

  7. Hawthorne says:

    I really liked Hyouka this week! I love the body language Houtarou uses, like when he was doing work and his eyes kept moving back and forth between his paper and Eru. I like such great detail to small stuff like that! ^^

    I agree with both of you that the mysteries were kind of … blah. Though, I had a little “aha” moment when I realized it was the janitor, before it was revealed. Trying to figure out the solutions is one of my favorite parts of mysteries, that’s probably the only one I’ll get though. xD

    Also … Houtarou reminds me a lot of Yakumo from Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, like his hand gestures and personality, and even his hair and face. ><

    • Karakuri says:

      I think we can all agree that the animation was spectacular. That one scene with the hair just absolutely blew me away.

      ….Though about the mysteries, I think one of the biggest problems was that they took so long. We’d see the janitor, but then the characters would then go explain it in extreme detail. I get it. It doesn’t need a huge explanation. The mysteries were too simple for that kind of detail. Ahaha I try to figure them out too though xD

      ….Holy crap he does. Let’s hope that Eru is nowhere near as annoying as that main girl from Yakumo was.

  8. Gecko says:

    I about cried with that beautiful animation. But I get the feeling the money went towards that instead of constructing real mysteries. Once I saw the janitor, I knew it was him who had locked the door. Who cares if he was fixing the lights- he could have just locked them as his job. Oh well.
    But seriously, they’re high schoolers. This isn’t Victorique in Gosick, where all sorts of crazy stuff can happen. I think they’re trying to be realistic with stuff.
    I also think that they’ve set up a really good trio- smart girl who will know all of the grade stuff and pull the boys around (so a really smart Haruhi Suzumiya), a guy who will figure stuff out and slowly start to use more energy (Kyon), and a student council member who knows all of the silly little facts (Koizumi v2.) I’m pleased that they’ve made a well-rounded trio like this. It’s not just one person dragging dummies around.
    Now, to wait for the Hyouka mystery section. I bet that building has something to do with it…

  9. lvlln says:

    Huh, I did not expect to, but I really enjoyed this episode. Maybe I’m not looking at it as critically as others because I’m still looking for KyoAni’s next Haruhi, despite not having liked literally anything they’ve pumped out since that other than the movie. The disenchanted and lazy lead who can’t help but be sucked into an adventure by this quirky girl reminded me a lot of it, despite the style being obviously very different. And this is also based on an award winning light novel, right? I have hopes for this show.

    I’m really curious, how is KyoAni so consistently so far ahead of everyone else in animation quality? Surely whatever they’re doing, others in the industry should try to copy. Besides them, PA Works always seems to deliver on the eye candy, but there’s still a large gap between those 2.

    • Rakuen says:

      Haruhi, Lucky Star, and K-On!, none of which have fallen very far out of popularity. In other words, they probably have a hell of a bankroll to use. Having those funds would probably attract and maintain talent as well, since bigger budgets mean more freedom for animators.

      There’s probably other reasons, but that’s the one I see. How else do you turn around from a (unfortunate) commercial failure like Nichijou and draw this?

      • Foshizzel says:

        True I have no idea what happened with Nichijou all I know is the dvd sales fell through, but they did animate the hell out of those short scenes I always remember the one where some girl visits an old library to find a book xD

        Oh and Mio versus the those green henchmen on the blimp? That was an amazing scene.

      • lvlln says:

        KyoAni looked really good before all those, though. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya of 2006 stands up to anything right now.

        And I wonder how simple funding can account for how big a gap there is between them and everyone else. Is there that big a skill gap between the top-paid talent and the more middle-of-the-road animators?

      • Joojoobees says:

        I don’t know if the issue can be boiled down to money or not, but there is no question that this episode looked great. It wasn’t just design, it was the ambition that wen into truly animating all of the little background details, and things like the effect of light. I agree w/ lvlln, KyoAni is at the front of the pack, and nobody currently looks capable of catching up (in terms of beautiful TV series animation).

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