Anime: Hyouka (Part 1)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 04, 2017
Retail Price: $59.99
The anime Hyouka is based on a novel by the same name (written by Honobu Yonezawa) in the year of 2001 that 11 years later would be created into the anime series after a fairly strong fan base that loves the romance series with traces of mystery. Hyouka is a 22 episode anime series (with an OVA) but this release contains the first 11 episodes - or first half of the series itself. The Kyoto Animation series that went unlicensed since 2012 finally found its home with the number one north american anime distributor Funimation, and seemed like a new exciting exclusive with it’s release that went years without the option of streaming and or buying.
In Hyouka, we firstly follow Hotaro Oreki, a young student who has a natural disinterest in his everyday life and joins the school’s Classic Literature Club at his sister’s request to keep the club alive. His sister (who is traveling in India at the time) explains that without members the club’s longevity will soon end and he feels obligated just to avoid the wrath it may cause from his older sibling. The almost empty club contains the other primary character of the series, Eru Chitanda, a young girl who instantly seems kind hearted by more inquisitive than most people could generally handle without getting a reaction (but honestly, I can relate.) Oreki’s life seems to become increasingly complicated with his new “friend” and club member, kicking off the series with a vibe all of its own.
The mysteries are what truly intrigued me about the series, having been a murder-mystery buff, but Hyouka’s suspense wasn’t exactly traditional points of mystique. The music adds to this thriller appearance on the outside, but they are more focused on small scale issues such as how Chitanda ended up locked in a room (not what you would expect either.) It can be fun or entertaining at times, but the proper buildup needed to make it a true mystery isn’t there - however that could have been the intent, to keep things more lighthearted. At this point, I would be interested in seeing if things change by the second half or if viewers should just take it as a (mostly) easygoing romance with curious individuals as the focal point.
The characters of Oreki and Chitanda both play a major part in the progression of Hyouka, as two opposite forces that come together for a similar interest in the club. As I briefly mentioned earlier, Oreki has a general dissatisfaction with his surroundings at school - only making his friendship attainable to one another before meeting Chitanda. From the pairing perspective, the two compliment each other perfectly as he is deductive and analytical when needed, the perfect opposite to Chitanda’s curiosity and intrigue about her peers and surroundings. At first glance, the two seem like they will be a traditional anime pairing (romantically speaking) but if given time they actually are like puzzle pieces that require each other for completion - a major success to the anime’s development for characters. The series mysteries may not have been the best - but the romantic dynamic between them makes the love connection apparent and quite strong.
Hyouka received an English dub treatment from Funimation with Adam Dibbs voicing Oreki and Madeleine Morris as Chitanda - perfectly playing the roles that accurately depict the traits we expect from the pair. The voice actors seem to have been strong selections given the almost five year gap from Japanese to English. The animation quality is above average, offering a range of bright beautiful colors to create a beautiful atmosphere with the budding romance. The moments meant to lean into those eerie scenes (almost jokingly though) shows a great tonal shift that is welcomed in Hyouka. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Hyouka and the series was definitely different than most; despite my legitimate wishes for more heavy mysteries, there is still a lot of positive attributes that makes it worth watching and I am curious to see how the second half of the 22 episode series will play out next. Check out Hyouka on DVD and Blu Ray now, courtesy of Funimation.
Overall Score: 7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- I didn’t expect to enjoy the Oreki / Chitanda relationship but the series proved me wrong.
- The second half would benefit by adding some overarching plot or ongoing mystery that can amp up the intensity even if it’s just a little bit.