If Hyouka stays the same as it was in episode 2 I see viewers getting bored with it quickly. I can’t blame them, but I’m not one of them.
This was one of the laziest episodes of anything I’ve seen in a while. Not lazy like slice-of-life shows Kimi to Boku or Acchi Kocchi, where part of the goal is to slow down and smell whatever’s around. This is a show where they solve mysteries. Mysteries take work. They must be presented, clues given and discovered, insights made, and finally, the detective solves the case. Yes, all that happens in this episode. But it was a tiny little mystery with no danger or maliciousness behind it. I couldn’t possibly have solved it because I didn’t know enough about how the school runs, a serious problem if they’re trying to present a mystery to the viewer, but not if the mystery is secondary to something else they want to do.
And it didn’t take long to solve. They spend a lot more time being lazy. Houtarou is naturally lazy, and since he’s the main character we get a lot of moments where he doesn’t want to do something and is made to do it. The portions of the episode not spent on solving the mystery or watching Houtarou sit there is taken up by bickering. We get a new character, Mayaka, who hates Houtarou and is constantly peeved at whats-his-name. And whats-his-name and Houtarou usually find some time to argue. Put that all together and you get an episode filled with … nothing much. Oh, Chitanda has something mysterious to say at the end, but that’s for next week. Maybe it will be a story arc.
Yet this episode wasn’t bad in the slightest. It is deliberately lazy. KyoAni wants you to watch the characters in various stages of inaction, whether it be in the clubroom (and I can’t be the only one who gets a serious SOS-Brigade vibe from that room–wait, wasn’t Haruhi’s clubroom the former literature club?), standing around the librarian’s desk or wherever. And that’s fine, because our two main characters are interesting. Houtarou, in spite of his complacency, has something wrong with him. It could be a natural aversion to too much activity or something more. We see two odd and disturbing fantasies or hallucinations he has. And Chitanda has such a dogged persistence about whatever’s on her mind that she’s absolutely adorable. Last week it was that arm-pump when she had something exciting to say. This week it as the near pounce she made on Houtarou with the book. Both moments were cute and extremely funny. Well, I thought so. So if the show wants to take things slowly and feed us little things for awhile I don’t mind in the least.
I’m going to write off Mutta’s behavior in Space Brothers 5 as jet lag. Or something that cause him to go from astronaut candidate to lazy, self-doubting doofus the moment he arrives in Houston, or maybe it was the chase that Apo the pug (finally!) gave him. The episode basically sees him think through all the things we’ve seen him think through since the beginning. His younger brother has left him behind, etc. The difference this time is that Hibito is actually there to frown at him. Actually, the entire reunion feels awkward, as both brothers perhaps size the other up for the first time in months. And they see disappointment and regret. No excitement at being at NASA or anything! C’mon, Mutta! This isn’t the way you acted before. Where the hell did your confidence go? It takes some not very interesting conversations and self-reflection before Mutta returns to something close to normal … and then they try to throw in a whammy which doesn’t really work, because we were sort of expecting it, at the last second.
Tired of annoying Kanade or each other, the boys of Kimi to Boku II 5 go out of their way to annoy a total stranger, when they discover his lost bike key and accidentally toss it into the shrine’s offering box, leading you to wonder why the hell they couldn’t just talk to someone at the shrine. But that would prevent an episode where he makes them drag his bike around, pissing him off further and further (actually it’s mainly Chizuru. The twins usually don’t go after people they don’t know and Kanade wisely makes himself scarce early on). The reason for his anger is third-year stress, so the episode has us believe. But if this crap happened to me my reaction would make this guy seem like Shun. In the end he’s a little happier, but not because of anything the boys did. I wonder who they’ll piss off next week?
Acchi Kocchi 4 … not bad. I preferred the hide-and-seek part. Most of the jokes in the school radio bit didn’t work for me, though it helped that Sakaki has a bit of a psychotic streak.