Hyouka, Episode 13

Another lighthearted week with our characters all spread out across the campus of the school, which means another week lacking an overarching cinematographic code. Of course, when I say “overarching,” I do mean in terms of the entire episode. On a case-by-case (that is, character-by-character) basis, there are definite visual trends that accompany each member of the Classics Club on their trek through the Kanya Festival. It’s… not as easy for everyone else as it is for Oreki.

Hyouka

Before I dive into this episode, though, there’s an important note that I think it’s important to articulate. I think, on the whole, it can be somewhat tempting to assume (and I’m including myself here), when we talk about Hyouka‘s visual codes within episodes, that the cinematographic language has to be constrained to the unit of the episode. Said another way, I don’t think each episode has its own distinct way of doing visuals apart from every other episode. While certain episodes certainly do lean into particular motifs or specific system of lighting, composition, sequences, etc., on the whole they’re more similar in their techniques than I perhaps make it sound as I’m writing these posts. In a rather impressive way, Hyouka very intelligently walks the line between  using a number of the same techniques, introducing new ones (or new versions of old ones), or recontextualizing all of the above to create a new effect.

The point of saying this now, I guess, is that this episode was (like last week) one made up of efficient smaller sequences that communicate on their own, generally detached from larger patterns outside of the context of the scenes in which they show up. Of course, I say all this now, but it’s interesting to note that many of the tricks that showed up in the prior episode (the “head at the bottom of the frame, etc.” one, for example) were generally absent from this episode. Take that as you will.

And with all that said, let’s get into this week’s episode. While we await Hyouka‘s next watershed episode, we’ll be focusing in on particular sequences—because that’s what this episode was all about. In a way, I suppose you could note that the divergent visual patterns are emblematic of the way the Classics Club members are, for the first time in the show, operating individually.

I say all that, but I guess I lied because the quiz, for the most part, was dominated by long shots and long takes. In a sense, I suppose you could argue that the quiz was the most cinematically dull part of the episode, but to me the distant camera and the stretched times on a single shot were all about establishing the atmosphere of something like a school festival quiz—that is, something that’s not inherently all that interesting. Have you ever been a spectator at an event like this, where the amateur hosts stretch things out way longer than they should? Congrats, you’re right back there. Plus, it helps emphasize how hard Satoshi is trying to advertise when he punches through the pattern of long shots and medium close ups with his ridiculous costume and energy.

Interspersed with this primary line of action is a quick check-in with the manga club, which is lacking  visitors and hosting a Mayaka who really looks like she’d rather be anywhere else. You know, like, hanging out with Satoshi. Despite the briefness of the stop, it sets the stage well for the future conflict with Ayako—alerting us quickly to Mayaka’s emotional state and the setting in which the fight will occur.

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We also follow Chitanda for a short while, who’s pooped out from her frantic dashing around the school by the time she returns to the club room to drop off her stuff with Oreki. We get a couple of nice repeated shots when Chitanda enters and exists the club room, a cute visual representation of how she’s always on the move and Oreki… is not. Chitanda also finds her way into a tent where a mystery dwells, and although she puts it aside (it seems the same mystery has found Satoshi, as well, and maybe Mayaka) for the sake of the club. I have a feeling we’ll be back to it.

Anyways, all this is just Hyouka burning clock until we can get to the real setpiece of the episode, Mayaka’s showdown with the eternally infuriating Ayako (affectionately dubbed ‘Smugi’ by people on Twitter). The whole scene is basically a constant string of brilliant little sequences, so let’s take them as they come. Click the first thumbnail, then click through the gallery. My comments on each shot will show up on underneath the image once you’re in the gallery:

Welcome back! I apologize that I couldn’t find a more graceful way to incorporate my commentary along with the shots than that.

After this, the only real highlight left is Oreki and Chitanda’s infinitely awkward exchange as Chitanda realizes Oreki’s been look at the silly pictures she took with the Photography club. It’s a charged moment between the two of them, and the snappy cuts up until the longer take where Chitanda stares at the envelope and suddenly understands what’s happened set up a pace that’s comedically undercut by the awkwardly lengthy shot (relative to the ones immediately before it).

I’d be lax to end this post without chatting briefly about the wonderful, delicately-animated, verisimilitude-filled scene at the end of the episode with Mayaka in her room, hunting for the manga she said she’d bring the next day. This entire scene is filled with lovely animation details—like Mayaka counterbalancing herself as she pulls manga out of the box, or using her hand with the book to get herself out from behind her TV set. Kyoto Animation’s strengths were out in force, and getting to see them used in the service of my favorite character in the show. And getting to see a little Mayaka discover the joy of fiction she loves… well, that’s something I can relate to a lot. Just a few more points for Hyouka‘s best girl.

And that about covers it for this episode. Again, apologies for the awkwardness of the 35-shot analysis on that argument. I’ll try and figure out a better way to convey that kind of stuff for the next time. Hopefully you all enjoyed the shot-by-shot break down of what was really a fantastically directed scene.

Hyouka

12 thoughts on “Hyouka, Episode 13

  1. Fantastic analysis of the art direction in that scene – I’m right with you on everything you said there. It was kind of interesting to me that Ayako’s cosplay for that scene was Nakoruru from Samurai Shodown (though that wasn’t KyoAni’s choice; I confirmed it came from the novel), because Nakoruru is well-known for having a kind and gentle personality, which if you’re familiar with the character like me kind of adds to the tension of the scene with Ayako dressed as this cute/sweet character, and yet – at odds with her appearance – being so deliberately provocative and confrontational. Of course, once you see the shot of the poster outside the room actually advertising their argument, suddenly the whole thing makes sense. She was deliberately provoking Mayaka, and since the poster was obviously already done and set up outside before Ayako started in on her, that means at least some other people in the club (if not the entire club) must have been in on it too. Mayaka was the one crucial player in the scene who didn’t know it was a setup, since they needed her reaction to be genuine in order for it to work (which adds even more weight to your point about the cinematography showing how much more invested she is in the conversation than Ayako is).

    Mayaka, incidentally, is dressed as Frolbericheri from They Were Eleven (a Rokka-esque sci-fi manga about a spaceship crew of eleven that was only supposed to be ten, and they have to figure out which one is sabotaging them – it was adapted into an anime movie that I saw a long, long time ago). Frolbericheri is described as someone whose “small, delicate body and pretty golden curls belie indelicate speech and a fiery temper,” which also describes Mayaka pretty well. Each of the four Classics Clubbers actually fits one of the four ancient temperaments (choleric, melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic) almost perfectly, and Mayaka’s definitely the choleric personality of the group. Cholerics are passionate, strong-willed, and often quick-tempered; the diametric opposite of phlegmatics like Houtarou, the person she’s not coincidentally the least close to.

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    • Glad you liked it! It was fun to break it down in such detail, but I wasn’t sure if people would dig it or not.

      And I’m glad you pointed out that the whole scene was probably premeditated. For some reason I got it in my head that they made the poster as it was happening, but it makes way more sense that it was a plot by a few people in the club to get Mayaka worked up for publicity’s sake. Interesting how the theme of using people is reappearing in the show, just in a different context.

      And yeah, Mayaka is most definitely a choleric; although I wonder about your characterization of Oreki as the phlegmatic? I’d be more tempted to pin him down as the melancholic, since Satoshi is definitely the sanguine of the group. That leaves Chitanda as the phlegmatic, which (being a phlegmatic myself) seems to make the most sense to me.

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      • Actually I interpret Satoshi as a melancholic who wears a sanguine facade, or perhaps sanguine is his secondary temperament. Here’s some of the relevant stuff about melancholics (culled from a variety of sources):

        “Men and women with melancholic personality…tend to be loyal to their family and friends and extremely careful.”
        “These people pay attention to details. They remember special dates, anniversaries and events. They will remember details about their neighbors and colleagues.”
        “Melancholics need to be orderly even in their speech – they will express themselves precisely, accurately, providing all of the relevant information”
        “They are process-oriented and like to pursue their goals in a precise straightforward way. Before they start a specific task, they need to organize themselves and break down the task into manageable steps.”
        “Melancholics are persistent and patient. They don’t get bored easily and excel at tasks that require attention and repetition.”
        “These people are excellent managers and administrators because they follow the rules, stick to the facts, they are reliable and maintain their social ties. They are superb at managing people whether it is at work or at home.”
        “Melancholy personalities are people who have a deep love for others, while usually holding themselves in contempt.”
        “They may be calm and quiet on the surface but they are often angry and resentful. They tend to keep those feelings to themselves until they build up and eventually the anger explodes.”
        “Melancholies usually have a high degree of perfectionist tendencies, especially in regards to their own lives or performance.”
        “Melancholics need to learn to communicate their feelings; emotionally they are very protective and guarded.”

        That all sounds a lot like Satoshi to me. He’s definitely more organized than Oreki or Chitanda (like being the only one actively taking notes at the movie screening) and obviously has a head for collecting and remembering facts and details and names, being the “Human Database” and all (compare that with Houtarou, who’s great at seeing the big picture but not as good at trivia or with recalling smaller details, like the rope). We’ve frequently heard Satoshi’s self-deprecating remarks about his own abilities and limitations. We’ve also seen those moments where he lets his envy over Houtarou’s superior deductive skills slip out, before he quickly covers it over again, and being a melancholic explains why he’d try to keep that under wraps. Not just because being emotionally guarded is natural for the type, but also because of the loyalty factor and the importance melancholics place on their bonds with family and friends – I think because he values his friendship with Houtarou, he tries to keep his darker thoughts buried so it won’t damage their friendship.

        As for why I think he may have a sanguine secondary tempering that a bit, here’s some of description of that combination:

        “They are detailed and organized; the Melancholy is tempered by the outgoing and warm Sanguine. He makes an excellent teacher as his organized side is well versed in the facts and his Sanguine side makes him enjoyable to listen to…both temperaments can be fearful which may make this an insecure person with a poor self image.”

        “More friendly than the other Melancholy blends. They have high personal ambitions. This is a well-balanced systematic, precise thinker and worker who tends to follow procedures in both their business and personal life. They are attentive to detail and friendly…at times they can be sensitive, especially to criticism.”

        Oreki generally fits the phlegmatic description very well (calm, low energy, tends to be more of a watcher of life than a participator, intuitive thinker, imaginative, big-picture person, good at reading between the lines, conflict-avoidant, sometimes has trouble saying no to people), as does Chitanda for sanguine (energetic, optimistic, creative, curious, impulsive, disorganized, a bit scatterbrained, and the most ‘touchy-feely’ of the four types).

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  2. I really, really enjoyed the scene analysis by commented pictures. Must have been a lot of work, so you should know that it was well worth it. I remember the scene pretty well (I remember liking the way the scene included the classmates as individuals, with different people sometimes having different interests). Since I’m a fan of Samurai Showdown II (the fighting game series is good, but my favourite is the second), the Nakoruru cosplay and the irony Wireking was pointing out wasn’t lost on me. I didn’t get Mayaka’s costume (so thanks for the lowdown to Wireking).

    Most interestingly, my take on the discussion’s topic leans more towards Ayako’s side (though it’s really more near the middle of both the positions), but I like Mayaka and Ayako was so unbearably smug that I was pretty much taking Mayaka’s side while watching the scene. My default state watching discussion scenes is not to take sides at all, but to add my own position and see how I stand with respect to the characters, so that was a rather strange experience for me, actually rooting for a position I didn’t even hold, purely because I like the character.

    I still haven’t caught up with Hyouka, and at that point I doubt I will. Since I’ve already seen the show, I might just view later arcs on their own, if I have the time/motivation. I’m not that into anime this season; which is strange since I’m actually following more shows than usual (though a good number of them are shorts). But when I’m thinking of culling the numbers, I can’t decide what, because then nearly everything would go. Nothing’s really bad, very little is really good, and some days are just too filled up (while often the stuff I’d drop is on slow days, where I don’t need to drop anything). Is it winter already? (Winter looks much better for my tastes; especially Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, which I have high hopes for.) Also Sekkou Boys might take the cake for odd idol shows yet.

    Sorry. Off-topic rant.

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    • Yeah, SamSho II was also the installment that I played the most, and I enjoyed it although I never got very good at it. My memories of that game are tied up with when I was in high school and taking a summer class at a local JC in 1994. The JC had it at the student center, and I often stopped in after class to play two or three games of it before I went home. Amusingly, Nakoruru was actually my character of choice for that game (I’ve always done best with speed and air supremacy characters in fighting games; my best Street Fighter series character is Vega for the same reason), and she was the only character I ever got good enough at to survive more than one or two fights against the computer without having to drop another quarter.

      Anyway, Ayako must be an SNK fan, since her cosplay for the upcoming day 2 of the festival is King from King of Fighters. That series I hardly played at all, though.

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      • Funny how Hyouka leads to fighting game discussions. In SamSho II, I mained Ukyo Tachibana, the tuberculosis-ridden Samurai who faced away from his opponents – presumably not to infect them. I, too, play Vega the most in SFII. I never got good with Nakoruru, because she has to get up close and stay there, while my style is more hit-and-run. Also, I never managed to use her hawk effectively.

        I don’t remember Ayako being King, but it’s a somewhat better fit than Nakoruru, heh. (I never played too much King of Fighters either, though I was partial to Blue Mary and Vice when I did.)

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        • I like Ukyo. Him and Kyoshiro were the other characters I made some effort to try to learn, but not with much success. And actually I tended to play Nakoruru with a lot of hit-and-run and evade, taking advantage of hawk tactics and her quickness advantage, but also because she wasn’t a great character for combos, between her light damage curve and high percentage of knockdown attacks. Which suited me fine, since I was never very good at putting combos together anyway (that’s why my Killer Instinct career only lasted about two games).

          Maybe we can petition Bless to make sure one of the pics he puts up next week is Ayako in her King outfit.

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    • Yay, people liked it!

      In terms of the discussion, I think I lean more towards Mayaka’s position, if only because I think she’s actually arguing from a place of personal experience, while Ayako seems to be relying on more on some kind of appeal to numbers. And again, she’s super smug, so that makes me even less inclined to agree with her due to that and her harassment of my favorite character.

      I’m also looking forward to winter; we’ll have to see where our choices line up!

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