I’m a KyoAni fag so when I first heard about Hyouka, there was no doubt in mind that I would like. 22 episodes later, that fact still remained . . . and more I guess.
Hyouka is about four guys who pretend to be solving mysteries and such, but most of the time it’s just an excuse to laze around and waste time. Sounds boring? Well thinking about it now, a lot of Hyouka’s episodes are pretty damn boring when you state it. Episode 6: Chitanda gets mad; Houtarou figures out why. Episode 18: Houtarou gets a little curious; Chitanda is fascinated. Episode 19: Houtarou and Chitanda chitchat.
Objectively, Hyouka should be fairly boring. Well, in fairness, most premises of KyoAni shows are fairly damn standard too. The thing that Hyouka excedes on though, is its execution and the addictiveness. You CANNOT watch an episode of Hyouka without watching the one before. If you did, the episode will be fairly boring. The thing with Hyouka is, is that it slowly builds upon itself. Layer by layer, characterization by characterization, Hyouka grows on you like a mold in a bread. Houtarou slowly becomes more involved, Chitanda slowly becomes more open and involved, Satoshi slowly becomes a guy we can all probably relate it, Mayaka slowly becomes more compassionate. Character dvelopment isn’t forced; it happens naturally. Houtarou didn’t suddenly become someone who would care about whatever Chitanda did; He slowly went to that point (he hasn’t even reached it yet after 22 episodes) and it just makes it oh so real.
The thing that helped Hyouka pulled off what it did is its narrativistic/novel-like tackling of the dialogue, narration and monologues. everything is laid out, explained andthen laid out some more. At first I thought this was pretty annoying and boring (I mean did they really hae to spend a minute explaining why Houtarou conserves energy) with the way it tell more than it shows, and most shows that do this end up failing miserably since it doesn’t take into account that it has animation that can explain it (Hi Index, Accel World), but the thing with Hyouka is that it also shows. I guess it helps that a fucking awesome Animation studio is behind this (otherwise Hyouka wouldn’t work at all). Anyway kudos to Mr. FMP man for writing such a detailed script.
Another thing that Hyouka managed to do is to create the best Cultural Festival anime has ever witnessed. Better than School Rumble. Better than Haruhi. I guess it helps that they gave 6-7 episodes for it. Actually at the point of the cultural festival, I was pretty much ready to say that Hyouka is a masterpiece (just to justify how great that Cultural Festival was).
Animation = Self Explanatory. KyoAni in movie-levels except its a TV series. Overall, Hyouka ended up being one of the best series that aired in Spring and it was my favorite series throughout Summer.
Execution: 36/40 (Risky but worth it)
Engagement: 25/30 (Uses a lot of buildup and it pays off quite well)
Characters: 20/20 (KyoAni breathe life into them that no other studio, or series for that matter, can.)
Production Values: 10/10 (Almost Movie-like)
Overall: 91/100 (A-)