Monday, 13 August 2012

Hyouka - Episode 17

With the Juumoji incident about to reach its climax, the Classics Club are also going out to make the most of the situation as Chitanda takes to the radio for an interview with Panty & Stocking's Brief to place her organisation at the centre of this mystery's finale.

If nothing else, Chitanda's infectious enthusiasm certainly does the job, as she invites as many people as possible to come along to the Classics Club's room to help guard the manuscript from theft, and before they know it copies of their anthology are flying off the shelves (well, the table) at an unprecedented rate in the packed out room.  Besides which, surely there's no way that Juumoji can strike and nab the manuscript which is the object of his thieving ways in the middle of such a crowded place?

Well, think again, as our culprit achieves his goal in spectacular fashion to bring the incident to an end with the person responsible never identified by anyone.  Well, not quite anyone... rewind a little and we soon learn that Houtarou already has the culprit's proverbial number; rather than going to the lengths of outing them however, he instead corners the suspect to verify his train of thought before offering a surprising compromise - to assist in helping Juumoji complete his task in return for the purchase of most of the remaining volumes of Hyouka.  It's a delicious piece of blackmail, especially coming from such unlikely quarters, and it also plays its part in squaring the circle for various other characters as their culture festival experiences prove to be both a little fun and suitably educational.

In spite my reservations about where this story arc was going and how long it was taking to get there (is this the longest culture festival story arc in anime history?), I have to say that this finale to said arc confounded all of my expectations and proved to be utterly brilliant.  On one level, there's a simple pleasure to be had from watching Houtarou ape the classic mystery novels that the show references by cornering a suspect, explaining his reasoning and have them confess and explain - it's hugely enjoyable in a very effective way that never seems to get old.  There is, however, a deeper enjoyment to be derived from this arc as a whole and its finale in particular, as it digs deep into the hearts of a number of its characters in what is almost a lament to those deigned never to be labelled a genius - whether it's Satoshi or Mayaka all the way through to the Juumoji culprit, the pain and frustration of looking on at someone with true talent and seeing them not make full use of that talent can be galling and is excellently depicted here.  I really hope that this is something that the closing episodes of Hyouka use to good effect, as Houtarou still seems at least somewhat blind to that fact that he is the target of Satoshi's frustrations, and it feels like there's still a lot to be said and discussed down that particular path.

Putting that aside for now however, Kyoto Animation's velvety animation has proved to be a beautiful backdrop to a story arc that has been a whole lot of fun to watch before really pulling out all the stops for its denouement, as something of a reminder as to why we patiently sat through the occasionally fluffy events that came before in the knowledge that at the end of it all this story would be capable of delivering something both entertaining and substantial.

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