Hyouka, Episode 17

An episode about silent screams. An episode of jealousy, insecurity, and darkness. An episode about expectations. An episode about light and dark. A hard episode, but perhaps a warm one.

The Kanya Festival has come to a close.

Hyouka

I suppose it’s appropriate that an episode that returns to the idea of things we want to say, but can’t—our silent screams, our own hyouka—at the end of the Kanya Festival which was the source of Sekitani Jun’s own agony. But, unlike Seikitani Jun, who needed Oreki to speak for him out of the past and into the present, those who wish to scream now are able to let their voices be heard. Not loudly. Not even, necessarily, by the people who they wish could hear. But even just making a noise, however small, can be good. It can bring healing on its own, even if that healing is laced with bitterness. Lemons beside roses, as it were.

The final crime of Juumonji is where things begin. A crowded room. A mass of people waiting for the culprit to strike. A plot that is only revealed later on in the episode. A lie, you could say. A keeping of people in the dark. And even those complicit, their reasons what you might even call pure, cannot fully rejoice in the triumph of their success—there are things more important to them imposing upon their consciousnesses and concerns.

This, you might call a silent scream. It’s good to see that it will be voiced by the end of the episode.

Hyouka

Irisu tells Chitanda to turn back (above: a reflection, and arrow to return to her prior way of doing things), to give up trying to make control people through expectations because she’s not cut out for it. Chitanda cannot deliberately make people feel as if she has expectations for them—it is something that comes naturally to her. It’s not a gap in skill, nor a need for someone else to fulfill what she doesn’t have.

But everyone, it seems, has their own definition of expectations and their own ideas of where they come from. For Sekitani Jun, it was the expectations to be a “legend.” For Satoshi, it’s his ongoing dialogue between wanting to follow Oreki and wanting stop “always looking up”—about giving up on his own ambitions. For Tanabe, it’s about a difference in skill and the obligations of talent. Expectations of the self, expectations of others, expectations of the world. Hope and despair. Dreams and reality. Masterpieces (of logic, of writing), and not.

The conversation between Oreki and Tanabe, with Satoshi looking on, is as follows (see captions on pictures in the gallery):

With all that said, with the execution of the mystery’s resolution so nicely packaged up, we turn to the screams. There is a certain beautiful irony in the efficiency of Hyouka‘s cinematography during Oreki’s indictment of Tanabe. Despite dominating his senpai visually and logically, Oreki once again fails to perceive the true depth behind Tanabe’s actions—as with Sekitani Jun’s hyouka, he cannot hear this scream until it is voice. For Chitanda’s uncle, it can through a pun. For Tanabe, Satoshi, Ayako, and Mayaka, it is something that can be uttered—or, at least, cried over.

Oreki wonders at the nature of Tanabe’s communication—if you want to tell someone something, why not tell them? But how can you tell someone that you’re both jealous and desperate for them to fly far in front of you?Just look at the weight of this shot, of expectations crowding around in the shape of bicycles and in the overbearing pressure of the roof. How can you let them know that the reason you’re screaming inside is them?

I don’t know if it’s possible. You either say nothing—as Ayako does—or you hope there’s someone there to understand (like Mayaka).

The division between the competing desires. That’s why Tanabe’s mouth (which desires to speak and be heard honestly, thus the straightforward shot) has to be parted from the rest of his head over a cut and by egregiously bold shot composition. You cannot speak. You cannot say anything. You know it’s selfish, so you remain quiet.

But you still want to be heard.

In an episode filled with cluttered shot composition, visual representations of the complexities of bottling up these silent screams, the moments when characters are backgrounded by the sky (as in the two shots below) stand out all the more in contrast. The moments of honesty shine through in simple clarity. It’s painful. It’s isolating. It’s lonely. You’d rather not say it, but it must be said. Even the power of the low-angle shot, which normally places its subjects in positions of power, cannot overcome the emptiness in the rest of the frame.

Even so, you may not be heard. You may stay silent to keep yourself from telling a lie to someone you care about. You may never scream out loud, or—if you do—it may only come in tears.

But there’s hope. Even if you aren’t heard by the one you want most to hear, perhaps there’s still someone who will listen and care. You might be able to cut loose and celebrate with your friends, an oasis of fun and of carelessness in the midst of your cares. Having screamed silently, just to yourself, be able to move on. The expectations, hopes, and the despair will pass for a bit. You can take a step forward. You may not need the things you think you need, may find other things that you can want.

Perhaps people are, in the end, meant to succeed. That’s what I think.

Hyouka

6 thoughts on “Hyouka, Episode 17

  1. I think it’s amazing how emotionally charged this anime can be even though it’s about such outwardly mundane and even trivial things. I think that if there’s one driving message to the whole series, it’s that it’s ok to scream, even if it seems like the things that make you scream shouldn’t matter so much.

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  2. I think you nailed everything here. Your whole summation reminded me of director Takemoto’s quote from the show’s pre-publicity back in 2012 where he talked about wanting to depict what he called the “thorns of youth,” both the fun things, and the things that prick our hearts but also strengthen them in the long run. Your visual of lemons beside roses is another great way to describe it.

    Other random thoughts:

    I can’t remember if it was a post or a tweet, but I remember a few weeks you wrote something to the effect that you didn’t want to see Mayaka cry anymore, and I immediately thought of this episode when you said that, because I already knew this was coming.

    I kind of feel bad for Ayako. Not because her friend’s a better writer than she is, but because she turns out to be one of those people who’d rather cling to her own stubborn worldview than allow any new views or experiences to change her mind. She’s going to end up missing out on a lot of good things in life that way.

    In my comments last week about Oreki not wanting to get Chitanda involved in what he was planning, I was thinking ahead a little bit to this week’s episode, and his reflection that Chitanda wouldn’t approve of him blackmailing someone. Of course, the funny thing is that Chitanda quite innocently helped his plan out anyway with her radio show spot. Although I don’t really think what he did with Tanabe rises to the level of blackmail, myself – the pressure he put on the smoker probably qualifies, but here I think this was more just a case of negotiating a good business deal that benefits all concerned parties. I wonder how much of the story he ended up telling the girls once Satoshi outed him, but that we’ll never know.

    Lovely scene between Mayaka and Satoshi. I remember thinking at the time how well they really do seem to “get” each other, especially that she apparently recognizes his internal conflict over Oreki without him needing to say anything it.

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    • I still don’t want to see Mayaka cry anymore. This episode in particular really hurt because you can just see all the wheels in her head turning to the point when she breaks down. And the fact that it’s internal this time, versus external, makes it even harder.

      As for Ayako, it’s definitely a tough place to be in. Envy is a cruel master, and creative types are notorious, I think, for comparing themselves to others (I know I deal with this quite often myself). But, you’re right. She’s going to miss out on a lot like this. Maybe one day she’ll turn around…

      Mayaka and Satoshi together give me strength. I don’t really expect a watershed moment between the two of them (this is Hyouka after all), but man, would I love one if I got it.

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  3. Perhaps I’m just too old, too long out of high school to be able to take all the angst of this arc seriously: such an adolescent thing to be so jealous of more talented friends that you can’t even bring yourself to acknowledge them, or get all sad about your own percieved lack of talent. It seems so pointless to be so wrapped up in the idea of having to be the best that you get discouraged if somebody better than you comes along, rather than inspiring you to try harder. Beautifully crafted as it is, it makes this arc’s central message ring hollow for me.

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    • Hm, well, yeah—I guess there’s not getting around a message that you simply don’t resonate with. Perhaps I’m not mature enough yet, but I’m not entirely over these kinds of small jealousies yet myself (although they take a different form now).

      Adolescent or not, the reality of coming to grips with the fact that you sometimes simple won’t be good enough is a tough one.

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