What do you do after creating a disastrous surreal comedy series that nobody buys? Try your hand at something entirely different, of course. Enter Kyoto Animation's gambit to take up all the way through to the autumn, Hyouka.
The star of the series if Houtarou Oreki, although it seems that he's the kind of guy who'd rather not be in the spotlight as he lives his life always on the look-out for the path of least resistance to avoid him wasting needless time or energy. Thus, the start of Houtarou's high school life sees him determined to avoid any kind of club activities - an idea quickly put paid to by his sister's demands from afar that he has to join the Classics Club of Kamiyama High, her former high school and Houtarou's new place of education.
While Oreki contents himself with the thought that he'll have a clubroom to himself in a quiet corner of the school, even this idea doesn't last for long as he finds that he isn't the only club member - a girl named Eru Chitanda is already there are ready to sign up to the club for whatever reason. Add in Houtarou's slightly devilish friend Satoshi Fukube and we have ourselves a club, and with Chitanda's intense gaze and eyes you can lose yourself in even Houtarou can't find a good way out of the situation. That said, no matter the scenario, Houtarou's ability to find that path of least resistance continues to be his primary concern.
Although it's hard to get any real feel for what Hyouka's aims are from this first episode, it's certainly an intriguing opening - if nothign else we have ourselves a trio of compelling characters who bounce off one another well in terms of both personality and their potential strengths. Alongside that, of course, we have KyoAni's gorgeous visuals which happily break out into something a little different from the norm every now and again, which eases the progress of an episode that is really all about setting up those characters and little else. Regardless of this, between the characters and aesthetics I'm well and truly on-board with Hyouka for now in the hope that it can deliver something that makes it worth watching beyond these aspects alone.