Presented with the opportunity of success or failure as it led into its final stretch after the festival arc, Hyouka has surprisingly been striking balls out of the park as if defending its native home – striking most stunningly.
An episode of transcendence, something is notably unusual as the installment starts with a cute tsundere on screen looking even more adorable than the norm – she’s in an upset rage, yet has a visible sense of determination to her. Apparently, a Valentine’s day chocolate of hers was denied by Neon Lights – the fellow rejected, and it seems the reasoning was along the lines of store bought is simply not considerate enough, and lacking of the warmth of true homemade treats.
One can quickly presume that perhaps such an excuse was simply just that, Neon Lights’ means of glossing over another issue – although one needn’t actually guess as the series shortly shows us itself.
In real-time, it’s at least a year past the opening scene – which was in fact a flashback from days of middle school. Valentine’s has come around again – and the tsundere is quite enthusiastic, eager, and strictly intent on successfully conjuring up a chocolate of her own to give to her love this year. The moeblob is likewise invigorated, giddy at the thought of helping her friend – and the situation transpires fairly straightforward from that point. Moeblob and friend head off to make chocolate – meanwhile, Oreki ends up meeting Neon Lights during his trek home.
A scene of Oreki and his colorful comrade shows Oreki coming to note that his buddy has changed – his friend is no longer a fellow obsessed with winning an arcade game, something which formerly was the case when the two were in middle school. And in fact, the truth of the matter is that Neon Lights is no longer a man heavily immersed in anything.
Before getting into any of that however, we return to the dairy treat – the tsundere managed to achieve her goal, a cocoa based sweet sized quite significantly, and shaped in the form of a heart, looking rather delectable to eat. It’s Valentine’s day and she leaves the gift for her beloved Neon Lights on the table within the room of their club.
Not long thereafter, the moeblob comes crying that the present her friend had left for Neon Lights has been stolen – yet after a circle of nothing, one in which peculiar activities on part of Oreki and Neon Lights manages to hint at the real culprit well in advance, that real culprit is later confronted directly by Oreki as the two stood amidst the night. Neon Lights had stolen the chocolate which his tsundere friend and admirer had made for him – and the explanation behind this is actually somewhat complex.
As Oreki came to realize earlier, his friend has changed – Neon Lights comes forward and says so himself. He formerly was one who sought to be the single best at what it was he did – yet one day, he found a new way of living, and became quite satisfied with it. That is, his current way of life – an easygoing road, accepting that he’s not prodigious like his friend. He cares sincerely for Mayaka – and his issue arises in that if he were to embrace her love, then he’s afraid, legitimately fearful, of again becoming one who obsesses over aspects of life.
He stole the chocolate as he’s not yet sure how to respond to her feelings – however, he didn’t want to abruptly toss them aside in person and have her mistakenly believe that he doesn’t care for her.
The depth of the tale presented this episode is an earnest “Wow!” – and something more. The visuals speak for themselves in how masterfully they share the feelings of each character all throughout this episode – and the story truly transpired in a manner of familiarity. It was in no way whatsoever a generic or predictable story – but it was one which gave so many clues and evidence in how well it developed the characters.
Or essentially, Hyouka has familiarized us with the characters to the point that we can recognize their dark and light as if we truly knew them – and this adds intricacy to the series in so many ways, it’s phenomenal. Recall for instance how Neon Lights didn’t seem to appreciate the competitive attitude of the nobody side-character during the festival arc – little could one have thought at the time that Neon Lights actually held a personal woe in regards to wins and losses. It has so much more meaning now as one is made aware what it meant to him – and why he seemed passive.
And again, that’s merely one single example of many possible.
Now as for what the tale may provide us with from here, that’s a matter not too clear – although it is more than likely that the tsundere and Neon Lights will see their wishes granted, and this would leave the mystery with what will come of Oreki and the moeblob as the single one which Hyouka has left to solve.