Oreki’s personal crisis is over and the culture festival is finally here, bringing with it a batch of new drama pins and one big problem for the Classics Club. After the weight of the last few episodes, it’s quite pleasant to have an episode that leans more into Hyouka‘s lighthearted strengths. How this peace will last, however, remains to be seen…
On the whole, this episode was somewhat less intense visually than we’ve seen from Hyouka in recent episodes, which isn’t to dismiss the strength of Hyouka‘s comedy camera—merely to say that the cinematography this episode was frequently geared more towards functional, efficient usage rather than towards the intensifying and meaningful effects it produced during the movie arc. I do say “frequently,” not “always,” though, because whenever Hyouka busy sowing the seeds for future conflicts or character arcs, you can expect the camera to be there and doing its normal, excellent thing.
But before all that, whoa! We got to see inside Mayaka and Satoshi’s rooms, which was a real treat for me. Especially for a series that’s been as centered on school as much as Hyouka has, it’s great to get a peek into the private lives of a couple of our main characters. It’s kind of what you’d expect: Mayaka’s room is cute and a bit out of order in a few places (the darkness foreshadowing her negative emotions), while Satoshi’s is creative and energetic (and brightly lit, as he’s obviously excited for the coming festival). On the whole, the pre-OP sequence tended towards what I’d almost like to label “sublime” in its general feeling of trueness—and this of course includes the ever-responsible Chitanda’s night walk to the shrine to pray for the success of the Classics Club and the ever-lazy Oreki’s pre-sleep internet browsing. These are the kinds of things we expect from the characters of Hyouka, and as one of the first times we’ve been able to see the four of them separated out, it seems to me that it foreshadows the coming days of the club’s life.
And then, the culture festival begins! Oreki’s sister is back, but we barely see her (literally the camera is always obfuscating our view of her in one way or another—perhaps a representation of the way Oreki tries to block her out, but can’t fully do it) before he’s off to school. While Oreki and Satoshi’s conversation tends towards the mundane, it’s the suddenly subdued Mayaka that grabs the scene, accompanied by the episode’s main visual motif: the “head at the bottom of the screen and space above it” technique (yeah, sorry about the name). Mayaka, in particular, gets a lot of these sorts of shots throughout the episode, which highlight her discomfort with wearing everything else below the neck (aka her cosplay outfit).
I’m kind of hoping all this is point us towards a Mayaka-focused arc (seriously, that would be a gift), since she’s obviously got the most going on for her during the culture festival. But all of the signs right now—isolating long shots, canted angles at critical moments, and the aforementioned “head at the bottom, etc.” shots—are pointing towards the future without divulging all that much about the present. What’s clear, though, is that there was some drama in the manga club over whether or not Mayaka was going to cosplay and this has resulted in her being down, uncomfortable, potentially messing up the Classics Club order, and keeping her from spending time during the festival with Satoshi.
But we’ll see what future Hyouka does with all of this—for now, it’s comedy time. As I mentioned before, Hyouka‘s comedy camera was on point per the norm this episode. Here are some of my favorite moments:
If you’d like further elaboration on why these particular comedy moments work so well, feel free to ask in the comments! I think these are pretty self-explanatory as is, though. In case the teapot tweet isn’t clear, those four shots come in sequence and are subscribe to pretty much identical editing rhythms—just as a teapot blows steam when it gets “excited,” so with Chitanda. Or something like that.
Elsewhere in the episode, we see Mayaka get paralleled with Oreki in a somewhat surprising visual comparison, Chitanda fight her curious instincts to prevail in her quest to keep the Classics Club from failing, and Satoshi basically being the most worthless club member—which shockingly leaves Oreki in a semi-responsible state despite the fact that he basically does nothing all episode. But this was a set-up episode more than anything, so I suppose we can forgive Oreki taking a week off this once. Banzai, buddy, enjoy it while it lasts.
Assorted Cinematographic Observations:
A lot of the neat visual tricks this week wound up falling into the category of “smart and good, but not intensely meaning-filled,” so I’ve catalogued the tweets containing those moments here for you to check out if you’d like. I’ve chosen not to embed them all into the post to keep it from getting cluttered.
- Playing with the Frame: Using the borders of the frame to make Mayaka cute.
- Parallel Shots: Paralleled shots contrasting clutter (the problem) with spareness (the lack of a solution).
- Shot framing: Satoshi shares his advertising idea and the shot framing parallels the rest of the club’s respective reactions (Oreki is not impressed).
- Parallel Shots: Satoshi and Chitanda are paired, as are Oreki and Mayaka.
- Transition: It’s always neat when the audio-visual elements resonate like they do in this transition from Oreki to Chitanda.
Episode 11.5 in Brief
Ehhh, so…not much going on here. As expected from an OVA, this was pretty gratuitous and pretty weightless, although I do see the merit in it as a bridge following the movie arc. Basically, this is just a replaying of the final scene of episode 11 in a more drawn out fashion (and it gave the camera a chance to be ogle Chitanda in a bikini via Oreki, which I was neither surprised nor happy about). There were a few nice elements here—Chitanda’s explicit reference to Oreki’s “specialness” among them‚ but nothing that hadn’t already been accomplished with more grace and less fanservice in episode 11.
That all being said, we did get some good Mayaka faces, so… I suppose it wasn’t a complete waste.