Posted by: AceRailgun | May 30, 2012

What the hell is Hyouka actually trying to achieve?

The genre of this anime is solely defined as “Mystery” and yes I can see that but it’s be no means a good mystery. It’s trivial problems at best and some of the questions are pointlessly asked and most of the time they don’t even need an answer. The fact of the matter is I find it hard for someone to become invested in a story where nothing happens yet for some reason some anime fans seem to love this. Why?

 

I’ve tried working out if there is something other than the story that is keeping people interested but I cannot work it out. Okay the art is nice but that can’t be the reason anime fans are watching this otherwise they’d go stand in an art gallery for hours instead.

 

It’s not cute girls either. Chitanda is cute but there is plenty of other cute girls this anime season which top her with ease. Urabe, Saber and the entire cast of Kore wa Zombie desu Ka just to name a few.

 

Then is it slice of life? No it’s not because in good slice of life anime something happens. There is trouble with families, relationships and school that the characters must overcome. In Hyouka the characters are all happy and don’t seem to have any serious problems or even complex relationships with each other.

 

The mysteries are awful to say the least and if that’s your reason for watching then may I suggest watching Death Note, Un-Go, Persona 4 or even something like Ghost in the Shell instead. If anyone cares about the mystery of why Chitanda got angry at teacher who is an asshole or why a door to nothing was locked then what the hell is wrong with you.

 

So to get to the point can someone please explain the appeal of this anime and why one of the best anime studios decided it was worth spending a pile of money to animate instead of just making more K-on or Haruhi that would make them a giant pile of money.

 


Responses

  1. Glad I decided to skip this one.

    Also recommending Detective Conan/Case Closed to the ‘small list of good mystery shows’.

    • I almost skipped it too and I have been on the verge of dropping it since episode 2 ended.

      I should really go watch Conan instead but that will be a huge effort that needs a good amount of motivation to invest into it.

  2. What a coincidence, I just wrote about the same thing too… And I’m glad that I’m not the only one that thinks that Hyouka is underperforming.

    Given Kyoani’s choice of investments, I’m betting that the story would have a good plot twist or ending as its main selling point. What of Hyouka actually have an ending that is TTGL or Madoka-level epic? That might make the boring build up worth it.

    Not that I’m enjoying the show it is now, but at least it’s something I’m kinda looking forward to. Hopefully kyoani doesnt disappoint.

    • So you did. I didn’t realize so I just went and read it.

      It certainly lacks a hook and I think that’s why it’s under performing.

      There is no way that this anime could end with a plot twist good enough to warrant at least 6 episode (So far) of boredom. It could build up to something interesting but then I’d argue why they didn’t start the story at that point and skip all the pointless stuff from the beginning. I’m dropping it for now and will only pick it up again if someone says the ending was better then Madoka.

      • Its hard to see how it can top PM3.. Stuff like that is awesome because it’s rare. But if Hyouka can be half of what PM3 were, it’s good enough for me… As I’m not at the point where I actually hates the show.

  3. Firstly, I find Houtarou to be a totally awesome and engaging character. I agree that the mysteries have so far proved to be pointless, but it’s clear they’re not going to continue solving just one mystery over and over till the last episode. I’m guessing at some point or another they’ll present us a more important mystery that will carry through more than one arc. Keep in mind that we only just completed the first arc, and the first arc is often just used to introduce the characters and the setting.

    I can understand why most people find this series dull, but the back and forward dialogue and info dump actually really interests me. I know I’m alone on that, no worries there.

    Anyway, so back to what this series is actually trying to do…well, I think part of the story that’s going to be developed is that Houtarou doesn’t want to be “grey” any more, and wants to have a “rose-coloured” life. Also, Houtarou clearly has a crush on Eru, so whether that will play a part later in the series or not, I guess we’ll find out.

    • Houtarou is fairly cookie cutter but he does have certain traits which are somewhat unique to the anime at the moment so I’ll give you that one.

      Six pointless episodes is a bit much for me which raises the question of why didn’t they just start with the second arc to begin with. They need a hook a bigger mystery could easy be that hook. We don’t necessarily need to see their lives before they became filled with drama. If you cut all the character interactions out of the text dumps and put them all together you’d get one good character building episode instead of six.

      Houtarou is definitely trying to become more active in school and his life, that much is clear but in six episodes he has not taken a single step towards that and if he has it was so subtle that it lost all meaning.

      It could get better but it’s wasting so much time doing everything at a snails pace.

      • Perhaps Kyoani got too used to the idle school life they were animating in their past few projects.

  4. >Okay the art is nice but that can’t be the reason anime fans are watching this otherwise they’d go stand in an art gallery for hours instead.

    I think you’re VASTLY overestimating the bulk of the fandom. Especially KyoAni fans. KyoAni is like Shaft now, I think.. the majority of viewers only tune in to see the studio’s quirks and artwork, not so much the anime itself.

    Personally I’m torn about their approach with Hyouka.. they don’t seem confident with the rest of the anime. The animation mostly feels like it’s trying to distract me from what’s going on, not to help tell the story. Maybe KyoAni is trying to find stories that are best told through a visual medium, but haven’t invested in storywriters good enough to do an anime original?

  5. Maybe I am over estimating the fandom a bit but I really wish I wasn’t. Unlike Shaft, KyoAni isn’t as unique when it comes to art so I find it hard to believe they would consciously try to appeal only to the art nuts instead of just making a regular anime with a story and artwork.

    The animation and surreal moments do feel distracting at times but they do give insight into the mind of Houtarou. it’s just that an unknown studio like Hoods Entertainment is doing that better with Mysterious Girlfriend X at the moment and that steals some of Hyouka’s thunder.

  6. Its still too early for me to say anything but yeah, Hyouka seems underwhelming for the same anime studio that produced K-On and Haruhi – heck! I even find akb0048 more worthwhile! I’ll give the 2nd arc a try before making any final decisions.

    • You have more patients then I do. Underwhelming is probably the perfect way to describe it but that doesn’t mean it can’t surprise us. Let me know if it gets better.

      • Will do :D

  7. I too find it pretty boring although I believe that part of the mystery is the relationship between Eru and Hotarou. Most KyoAni fans might just be in it for the romance. I know I am. As for the art, it is fantastic, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Eru grow plants again :P

    Oh and I agree. Mysterious Girlfriend X is looking pretty great compared to Hyouka right about now.

    • I was in it for the relationships too as the mystery can go jump under a tractor for all I care but I don’t see them going anywhere soon. It’s not like Clannad or Toradora where the relationships are clear cut and easy to follow so it’s kind of tiring to watch and wait for something that might not even happen.

      Mysterious Girlfriend X is really proving artistically with those crazy dream sequences. I’d say it’s one of the best this season for art style.

  8. I suppose I can copy a comment response I made earlier about this:

    http://altairandvega.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/to-be-dead-while-alive-to-have-no-mouth-yet-must-scream-hyouka-5/#comment-3896

  9. Probably the same appeal Dantalian no Shoka had back then – the hopes of a new cute mystery series to love, or something similar. And seeing how they’re going about with the pacing (mixing up volume numbers/arcs) Hyouka’s future is looking hazy.

    • Dantalian no Shoka had a unique premise but overall it was fairly shallow so in that regard they are similar. Hyouka lacks an interesting setting and supernatural elements; the two things that kept me watching Dantalian.

      Hyouka is still a wildcard at this point but chances are high it’s not going to pull off some kind of miracle save.

  10. Hyouka = mainstream series (not originally a light novel) + Kadokawa, both factors helping KyoAni get future mainstream sponsors and liberate themselves from reliance on a hardcore otaku audience. Everyone was ‘huh?’ about Nichijou, too, and that ended up getting reruns on a superior (not late night) time slot on NHK. KyoAni is going up in the anime world right now, but you need some knowledge of the current Japanese market to catch this.

    That’s for “why is KyoAni doing this”. As for why people watch this, they watch what they enjoy. I advise everyone to do the same.

    • You kind of dodged the question there which was really clever. Sure people can go enjoy it but why do they enjoy it? I’m guessing you like it and that’s cool but what’s the appeal?

      I assume Nichibros is getting a rerun because it is actually good and not solely because it was created by a certain animation group.

      • Nichibros =/= Nichijou

        I question the validity of your original question. What is it trying to achieve? It wants to be a good show. The fact that it doesn’t fit into the mold of typical mystery or slice-of-life actually means that anime as a genre is still evolving and looking for new paths.

        Because the final chemistry of a show is more important than its ‘specs’, everyone will point to different elements that they like here. For me its art/animation, convos and characters. But a successful show is more than a sum of its parts.

      • I guess I read that wrong but It doesn’t really matter because Nichijou is essentially Nichibros anyway.

        After carefully reading your comment and the post you wrote about the fact that everyone has mixed feelings about kyoani I feel safe agreeing with you about the characters and art/animation but I still think the anime is lacking. Without a clear direction or an overarching plot all the characters can do is toil in there classroom passing time without moving forward. I guess it really is the sum of it’s parts; too bad it’s missing the story.

      • Yes, that’s basically it. Hyouka does some things right, and some not so much. There’ll be mixed reactions about it and that’s all right. If KyoAni (and other studios) can learn from this experience and produce even better things in the future, we’ll all be benefiting in the long run.

      • That’s a good way to look at it. I’ve never been interested in anime studios until recently but now that i’m noticing trends and experimentation I find myself noticing them more and more. In particular I’m noticing the newer anime studios coming into the mix with surprisingly good content. Silverlink and Hoods entertainment for example.

        I’m curious as to what KyoAni will do after Hyouka. Will they keep going with unique ideas trying to find something new that works or will they just run away after this result and work on more typical anime again?

      • Well, we do know that KyoAni is booked for the near future (and near future might mean 2 years with a studio that puts out around 2 series a year) because the official reason given for them not taking on the offer of turning Little Busters into an anime was a packed schedule. One title that’s almost a given is Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, which I haven’t read but seems like your ordinary light novel. But with KyoAni, it’s mostly about ‘how’ they do it, rather than ‘what’.

  11. I reckon the appeal’s probably that the mysteries are easy enough for the Average Joe, i.e. me, to work out. Gives you a sense of accomplishment…
    Saying that, this is still my least favourite show this season!

    • I guess they are relatively simple mysteries but I though most of them had overly complex answers that you can’t really work out. Although I did guess the smoking thing in two seconds.

      It’s not my least favorite thing this season but it’s definitively not the best.

  12. The thrill is in the fun of being able to solve the mystery yourself. The story is for the lack of a better word, shit. However, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that all the clues are presented to you and can be solved without watching the show. Some may like this kind of story and personally it appeals to me, but I do not expect everyone to like it.

  13. Explaining to someone why you like something isn’t always a simple matter. I am one of those who loved Hyouka though I may not be able to actually put into words why I did. I do know that I was sad when it was over and would have loved to see it continue.

    In a nutshell I think that compared with your typical “slice of life” series, it’s on a bit more of the realistic side of things. Most “slice of…” anime’s(including the rom-com variety) at the end of the day simply aren’t all that realistic to me. Either the protagonist is overly naive, or the situations themselves just a bit far-fetched. Hyouka on the other hand seems to go for a true “realistic” angle, and that is what really worked for me. Nothing that happened in the series seemed improbable, and while some may find that boring I felt it made it far more engaging.

    It also doesn’t hurt that it was aesthetically beautiful to behold, had an equally great soundtrack and most of all believable characters that I actually cared about. I instantly identified with Oreki as I recognized a lot of my younger self in him. I also think part of my enjoyment combined with the above is that it was extremely relaxing to watch. Instead of being overly dramatic with plot twists and over the top action, it was refreshingly mellow… It was a welcome change of pace compared to 99% of the other anime out there. Maybe it was due to the state of mind I was in when I watched it while having been burnt out on the former. Unlike K-On! where nothing really happened by the end and the characters were typical cookie-cutter moe fare, Hyouka fleshed out the characters extremely well and brought them above generic archetypes and we saw some true growth occur across the 22 episodes.

    As for the mysteries; I found them enjoyable, especially when viewed from the right perspective. Most of us will never be faced with a hollywood style mystery, so we turn to fiction to experience it. What we are presented with on a daily basis are real life mysteries, however it’s up to us if we decide to ignore them or take them time to solve them. Oreki represents how most of us would normally react, but with Chitanda’s gentle(or not so gentle) prodding we are shown the possibilities if we stop to smell the proverbial roses. Life can be as boring or as interesting as you want it to be depending on the angle in which you view it perhaps?

    Not sure if any of that really answered the question, perhaps there is no definitive answer. All I can say is that I truly enjoyed this series and wished that there were more like it. With Hyouka I can honestly say it seems to be greater than the sum of it’s parts.


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