Anime-Manga, anime, review, mystery, detective, hyouka, highschool, curiousity

The Mystery of Hyouka

A Review of the Anime called "Frozen Dessert"

(From left: Eru, Satoshi, Houtarou & Mayaka)

Since my last review, I’ve been hard at work watching and reading anything anime and book related, which means I’ve got tons of work ahead of me! As promised, here is my review of Hyouka.

The Story

(Eru urging Houtarou to investigate)

In the vein of the previous anime I reviewed, Hyouka is originally a novel written by Honobu Yonezawa, published in October 2001, and is aimed at a male audience.
When Houtarou Oreki begins his first year at Kamiyama High School, his sister requests that he join the school’s Classic Literature Club, to keep it from being disbanded. Along with his friends Satoshi Fukube, Mayaka Ibara and Eru Chitanda, who also join, they solve mysteries that involve the school.

The Plot, Setting & Characters

(Kamiyama High School's Cultural Festival begins)

Hyouka is set in the fictional town of Kamiyama, which is based on the author’s hometown of Takayama in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan. Kamiyama High School is likewise based on the real life Hida High School. As suggested above, Hyouka is a mystery genre story set in a high school environment. The town of Kamiyama is a pretty simple town, with nothing major to attract large volumes of people. The high school is also pretty much normal. It is the mysteries the Classic Literature Club discover and solve that set this anime apart.

(Houtarou Oreki)

Our Main character is Houtarou Oreki. He is described as pragmatic, though Mayaka thinks he’s simply lazy. He goes by the philosophy of “If I don’t have to do something, I won’t, but if I have to, I’ll do it quickly.” He only joins the club at his older sister’s request. He actively avoids doing anything strenuous, or tasks that require effort on his part. Ironically, he is gifted with a mind that can quickly deduce things, and thus he is able to do things quickly and efficiently if he really has to. He is usually the one to solve the mysteries, though Eru, Satoshi, and Mayaka help quite a bit.

(Eru Chitanda)

Eru Chitanda is a young lady from a well-established family in the town. She joins the Classic Literature Club because her uncle used to belong to it. Her uncle has been suffering from depression and has been missing for seven years. Eru joins the club because she believes something happened during his time there that led to his expulsion from school and subsequent mental health issues. She is soft spoken and highly curious, and she usually initiates any inquiries about mysteries they come across. Houtarou often dreads when she says she curious (Atashi, kiminarimasu!)

(Satoshi Fukube)

Satoshi Fukube is Houtarou’s friend from middle school. He is very knowledgeable about mysteries and is a self-proclaimed Sherlockian (people who are huge fans of the original Sherlock Holmes works). He is also laid back and care-free, but not on the same level as Houtarou, as he joins a few other school clubs as well. His knowledge about mysteries and other general information help the group to solve the problems they come across.

(Mayaka Ibara)

Mayaka Ibara is a friend of Satoshi and is initially reluctant to join the club. She also volunteers in the school library. She’s headstrong and confident and doesn’t particularly like Houtarou as she considers him lazy, and thinks he wastes his talented mind. She becomes good friends with Eru, too. She has strong feelings for Satoshi

While there are a few mysterious incidents that happen throughout the series, the main focus is on the reason for Eru’s uncle’s reason for expulsion from the school. The Classic Literature clubs anthology, Hyouka, is one of the focuses of the investigation, as well as the reason why the school’s cultural festival had been shortened from five days to its current three. Following the resolution of that mystery, quite a few items are stolen during the festival, with clues being left behind and puzzles about where the next crime will take place.

Hyouka is not a fast moving story, which is to be expected from the mystery genre. I haven’t encountered another anime of this genre so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. Also, it’s not a genre I usually watch. That said, the mysteries were really well thought out for characters of high school level. The incident with Eru’s uncle really saddened me and reminded me of the terrible things happening in schools even in today’s “enlightened” age. At its heart, I think Hyouka is a story trying to entice the minds of the youth to question things that don’t make sense and to exercise their minds at deduction.

Last Words

It is a little tricky for me, trying to put last words to this anime. I know many people would not watch this in general, not with the plenty action packed and popular anime running. I think this anime caters to people who know what they like, despite the popularity of major ongoing series like One Piece, Naruto and the like. I really enjoyed this anime, though, and with 22 episodes, it kept my mind occupied for quite a while. (On a side note, I’m really peeved that practically every anime that comes out these days is a measly 12 or 13 episodes.)

The animation is good and clear, none of that saturated, bright and hazy stuff. It also isn’t dark and morbid. I recognized Houtarou’s and Satoshi’s voices as Okazaki and Sunohara from Clannad, which I think I’ll review sometime in the future (I’m not ready to go down that heart-wrenching road again anytime soon!) The mysteries were interesting and I was trying to solve them right along with the group. The soundtrack was appropriate for the genre and created a sense of suspense. The first opening song is catchy and lingers in your mind. I rate this anime 7 out of 10 pulses.

My next review will be about Big Order, the anime series. Keep a look out for that!

Wesley Jade

Author of There's A Prince in the Kitchen, A Certain Strange Wolf, & Avalon Moving On

Author of CEA Writers without Boundaries short story Fatal Performance