Putting words to that vague idea and (likely) wild claim that Hyouka might the best-directed TV anime of all time.
As I was watching this episode of Hyouka, a beautiful, ephemeral ending with all its implied beginnings, I couldn’t help but recall the lyrics to “Once Upon a Time” from the musical All American (my favorite version of the song, sung by Bobby Darin).
Once upon a time a girl with moonlight in her eyes // Put her hand in mine and said she loved me so // But that was once upon a time very long ago
The future is a terrifying thing.
In an episode where Hyouka switches up its normal format—instead of solving a mystery himself, Oreki has to create a mystery that someone else can solve—it’s appropriate that we also see a shift in terms of the stakes of the episode’s events. Where heretofore Hyouka‘s mysteries have been expressions of interior character realities, in episode 20 (which is really the precursor episode to the finale, in many ways) we see and feel the outside world starting to creep in on the comfy lives of the Classics Club.
And so, after an evening drenched in the dramatic light sunset, we return to the room where everything began for a playful episode lacking in the variety and affect of the one prior. Where episode 18 covered the span of an entire evening, episode 19 is something more akin to a mere half hour. It’s comfortable, cozy, and just a tad bit awkward.
All is all it should be, one might say.
I remember a handful of episodes back, as Oreki was going through the wringer induced by the end of the movie arc, that I renamed one of the episodes, “The Scourging of Oreki Houtarou.” For this episode, though, we’re facing happier times…
This is the Evolution of Oreki Houtarou.
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.
So, we’ve arrived at the penultimate episode of the Kanya Festival arc and the answers to all the mysteries are starting to slowly unveil themselves (some courtesy of Oreki). The Classics Club is still functioning as four separate units, but their moments of togetherness are starting to outnumber their moments of separation. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing…
Ultimately, I think Hyouka is a show about what happens when people run into each other, meet each other, talk to each other, get in each others’ way, and—finally—change each other. It’s never a graceful process and sometimes it can be annoying and hard, but so much of the people we become comes from the people with whom we have contact.
This episode of Hyouka is about that.
A short list of extremely good things:
1. This episode of Hyouka.
2. Episode director Naoko Yamada.
3. Finally seeing payoff in Mayaka and Satoshi’s relationship.
Note: list not exhaustive.