Monday, 10 September 2012

Hyouka - Episode 21

Valentine's Day is the subject of this week's episode of Hyouka - always a fraught time in the world of anime, and seemingly especially so if you're either Satoshi or Mayaka.

The reason for this is made clear right from the outset, as we flash back to the pair's middle school days to find Satoshi refusing Ibara's offering of chocolate on account of it not being home-made enough for him.  Never a good move, especially in front of an incendiary girl like Mayaka, who vows to win him over the following year with some chocolate par excellence.  We are, of course, now at that fated Valentine's Day, meaning that Mayaka is determined to make good on her promise of delivering some chocolate that even the fastidious Satoshi cannot refuse.

After putting a significant amount of effort into creating her masterpiece, disaster strikes as the finished chocolates are stolen from the clubroom while Chitanda leaves them unattended for a short while - but who on earth would do such a thing?  Houtarou reluctantly agrees to lend his abilities to tracking down the culprit; although even when the chocolates are seemingly nowhere to be found, Oreki can still pin down the culprit - a culprit who is far closer to home than Chitanda seems to have realised.

As perhaps the weakest "mystery" that this series has delivered us thus far (just one look at Satoshi's face gave the entire game away), this week's Hyouka instead had to rely on its characters to carry the story - something which thankfully it has proved to be consistently adept at.  As a result, this was time well spent with both Oreki and Satoshi, and particularly the latter, in terms of delving into their personalities and how time has shifted them.  While this focus has still done little to truly pin down Satoshi as a character (which seems to be rather the point; here is a young man who wants to remain detached about everything that goes on around him, which goes a long way to explaining why he looks up to Houtarou as he does), it still gave us some fascinating little insights into him in the midst of a tale which allowed all four of its main players to bounce off of one another in satisfyingly organic ways.  The only question now is to how the series is going to end in a few weeks time - will it choose to continue its focus on the group's romantic proclivities or shelve it for something lighter and fluffier?

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