Returning with a festival focus once more, Hyouka’s latest is a three-tiered piece of general amusement, point of curiosity, and a mix of blatant mystery to top it all – the latter two remaining at large for now.
As this festive arc continues, the spotlight is now around a cooking contest mentioned last episode – three of the four kotenbu members are competing, with Oreki still sitting back in the recesses of nowhere, doing nothing of value. He does little worthy of note this episode – yet admittedly, that which he does partake in is quite significant. And for the first of the two prominent aspects of his achievement to note, his seemingly worthless up-trading now finally pays off – proving coincidentally more meaningful than one would have imagined.
It was inevitable that his trading would be useful at some point with the amount of highlight it was given – yet end-result was the unforeseen bit. A false firearm he acquired last episode is exchanged for a pair pack of cookies, as well as a bag of flour – an item later proving quite integral to the festivities for the kotenbu.
Neon Lights and the moeblob dash off to the cooking contest, as all the while, the tsundere remains occupied with her otaku duties – yet this isn’t much an issue as the manner in which it all unfolds is quite expected, rather, the predominance of entertainment arises from the varying scenes of the cooking contest. The actual event itself is dull, there’s no mentionable physical occurrence or plot item of interest – yet the segment is made an enjoyable watch through the sights, something which accounts for a near entirety of the derived pleasure.
Those who take preference in certain characters will certainly find appreciation in witnessing their actions – although this holds true without any notable specifics in place, or in simpler terms, the quality is quite renowned across the board. The expressive nature of both the characters and atmosphere make for the central driving force of the episode as one will grasp the emotions being tossed around rather well without any explicit or direct details to evidence any of it – and this is realized incredibly easily.
Kyoto Animation’s character designs are not always the most original – yet they do sustain, at least till now, facets of potent visual definition, which despite one expecting to see standard in any series, are not often found elsewhere at all. And quite an exemplary aspect representing this is when the tsundere comes rushing down in a feverish state from her manga club and starts cooking – as time dwindles much against her favor, it’s impossible to not take notice of the sweat dripping rather intensely from her moe forehead.
Now on another note, one reason the tsundere was ridden with tension was that the imbecile moeblob expended all the ingredients by the time the tsundere made her arrival – meaning that aside from being late, her presence remained just as useless either way as the tsundere couldn’t cook anything regardless. This moment is painted out quite fittingly as the anxiety is felt rather strongly, and in a very resonate manner, thanks to a few factors – most prominently, the tsundere’s restlessness and the commentator’s continued babbling.
Yet it’s at this point that Oreki comes to the rescue, metaphorically of course as he definitely doesn’t actually go anywhere – he calls for Neon Lights from his window area and then drops down the sack of flour he managed to relevantly procure earlier. And when the tsundere is given the appropriate resources, she’s tsunstoppable apparently.
Victory goes to the kotenbu ultimately – and that miniature adventure certainly served its purpose of engaging the audiences both in the series and out, yet the episode’s closing note centers down upon a subject of wonder which has been spinning for a while now. Someone is playfully thieving assorted items of the festival whilst leaving attention starved letters behind for whomever stumbles upon the expected location of said stolen goods.
With the emphasis the matter is given, it’s now definitely to be the main subject within the subsequent chapter – however, one should also not forget another topic of question, the manga which the tsundere was to show to her sempai. The sempai made a peculiar reaction last episode when the manga was mentioned by the tsundere – and within this coming, it again managed to incite an intriguing response. One would like to think that surely, there’s a substantial reason as to why this manga is under the limelight more so than a passing extra.
Hyouka hasn’t been the most impressive series in its earlier episodes, although since a few episodes into the film mystery, it has been improving wonderfully – particularly as the balance has practically become impeccable, and in more ways than one. First of all, the characters all are given some respective camera time – and none of it is utilized wastefully, each one of them does something which either immediately, or at a later point, proves purposeful, such as Oreki’s trading.
Another area of excellence is that there’s simultaneous progression of key subjects – meaning that the most is made of the episode to expand the plot. Looking at this very episode for instance, it managed to give us a lighthearted cook-off for merriment – whilst also still building the characters, specifically the tsundere, Oreki, and the cruel bishoujo. Not to mention, there’s also the two aforementioned puzzles of manga and theft which remain to be answered – yet were worked up within the past few episodes.
Hope is truly high for Hyouka keeping this kind of pace as the series is seemingly exquisite when it can sustain such a trade of character accents and multiple story elements with varying weights – since the animation and visual quality is already superb, if such is poured into presenting an affair of this lofty caliber, the entire series becomes magnificent all-around with relative ease.