Hyouka’s second episode amplifies a mood present within the first – mystery gradually comes to rise, yet on a somewhat larger scale as a new character is introduced, and more meaning surrounds the incident.
A day which would otherwise be labelled average is made anything but as our hero is pulled into an endeavor unanticipated – the Classics Club apparently would output “an anthology” for each year of the school’s culture festival, and as our protagonist is now part of “the Classics Club”, the heroine, a moeblob by name of “Chitanda”, feels it only logical that he would contribute to the creation of such for this current year.
Of course, that’s more tiring an activity than our protagonist would like, thus he prefers not to engage in any of that – although as is seemingly to be common in this series, the violet eyed female companion of his pesters him till he rolls over in acquiescence. With a goal set, the subsequent course for them is to determine what their so-called “anthology” is actually going to be about – something which the moeblob heroine hadn’t decided on prior to getting herself and our protagonist, Oreki, involved in this unnecessary venture.
And so to figure a basis for their anthology, they determine they should examine one from a year prior – Oreki suggests the library, and unfortunately for him, Chitanda drags him along for this as well. On the way to the library, it seems that Oreki is concerned with the presence of the library assistant – as they arrive, we quickly see why. The library assistant is a tsundere who acts near-exclusively hostile towards Oreki – yet like a regular girl her age with anyone else. More specifically, it is said this girl has a crush on the bishounen friend of our protagonist.
That bishounen in question shows up, and then explanations are exchanged in several different directions till landing on the detail that our Kotenbu crew need to await the return of the librarian to progress their search of a previous year anthology.
Oreki, not up for the wait, makes for the exit – yet he’s kept from escaping.
Our protagonist’s bishounen buddy has his tsundere companion share a tale with Oreki and Chitanda. Apparently, there’s some book which is borrowed from the library in a consistent fashion every week – yet all by different individuals. This mystery, as arbitrary as it may be, riles up our leading moeblob character Chitanda – and in turn, just as she did with the perplexing subjects to sprout in episode one, she enters some creepily annoying state, hounding Oreki till he finally gives in and becomes willing to solve it for her.
At this point, Oreki realizes it would be more trouble to keep rejecting her – and thus instead he accepts the conundrum and begins contemplating. This makes for one of the more interesting aspects of Hyouka – the topic is broken down as details are examined, and then those intricacies are further weighted for their chance of possibility.
As this goes on, Oreki picks up more clues from his surroundings which contribute to his arrival at a conclusion – and it’s also intriguing to see him consider the very nature of his response, such as whether he should even bother seeking the legitimate answer, or instead conjure up something which could simply suffice to appease the girl with a fetish for miscellaneous knowledge. In other words, once a story point is laid out, the puzzle behind the book, it begins expanding in development immediately in all sorts of ways.
The visuals do not idle either – Kyoto Animation animated this series overall to a level unprecedented, yet they did something which is akin to how a vehicle uses NOS to receive a potent and effective boost at select scenes. All throughout the episode, at various key intervals where a motion or movement was deemed worthy by Kyoto Animation, the visual delivery technique changes.
Short, several second or less, intercessions of enhanced, abstract, or alternative aesthetics are littered throughout the series – and these provide a powerful impact in that they either elevate the emotions of the moment, or increase the sensation developing en route to the next scene. For instance, Oreki figured out the answer to the baffling history book – and as he did so, he, Chitanda, and the tsundere head out to see that very answer.
Now as they traverse the halls to their destination, the art room, one can notice that before they arrive, the camera goes overhead for a while – the visual perspective seen then emphasizes the long walk, the characters stay in the same fixed spot on the screen, yet the background revolves onward. Also do note the illustrative diagrams which occasionally replace the scenery – these are more self-explanatory in purpose, although it is clear to anyone that they do make what would otherwise be quite dull, more riveting than it would originally be.
Arriving at the art room, detective Oreki tells it how it is – girls use the fancy history book as a model in their portraits. Astounded by how Oreki could solve this obscure charade which they could not, both Chitanda and the tsundere glare at him with moe glimmers in their eyes – though in any case, the episode circles along back to the library where it turns out no anthology is present after all.
More importantly however, significance lies in Oreki’s side-thoughts – whilst back in the library, he starts trailing off on the idea that he’s not acting himself, or rather, he’s changed. This transformation in his personality is one of the central foundations of the episode – recalling the start, before the opening sequence rolled, the letter Oreki received from his sister was being narrated to us aloud.
The letter told him to join the club – a club which wasn’t foreseen to be as lively as it turned out. Oreki was never expecting much, and he had no reason to – yet he was ultimately met with so much.
Upon joining the Classics Club, Oreki’s life made one step towards change – it wasn’t what he anticipated, and that’s as Chitanda was an unaccounted factor. In Oreki’s mental scenario, she wasn’t supposed to be there – yet she was, and her presence is what tilted the axis of Oreki’s world, causing it all to go down a different line.
Reaching the episode’s finale, it seems Hyouka will show us first-hand the relation between hero and heroine – on a Sunday, Oreki is called early in the morning by Chitanda. It’s unsure how she has his phone number – but no matter, she asks to meet him immediately. She arrives late to a coffee shop which Oreki requested – and there, she dawdles in speech till Oreki becomes irritated.
She mentions she’s nervous however, and Oreki calms down – he sarcastically jests if she’s intending to confess her love to him, and in turn, she surprises him a bit by saying that what she will say may indeed come off as a “confession” to him. Most likely, Chitanda is going to share the reason why she joined the Classics Club. Various mannerisms and gestures seen throughout this episode, such as her spontaneous bursts of self-assurance, all imply that Chitanda is going to disclose why she lusts for fulfillment behind any random curiosity she may have.
On its face, Hyouka can come off as simple – for example, this episode can be said to be some highschooolers searching for information on a library book. That doesn’t sound particularly bizarre, nor very thrilling either. Of course there was more to it than that as we saw – yet the point is that the concept is something of an ordinary everyday life, on the other hand, Chitanda’s odd personality, and whatever she intends to reveal to Oreki, is more than likely bound to pull this series into a far stranger realm. The supernatural perhaps?
Whatever it is, there is certainly much to look forward to with Hyouka’s upcoming third episode.