I described the previous episode of Hyouka as “lazy,” but deliberately so. That’s the wrong word. I was led to it by Houtarou’s attitude. A better word for this series is “patient.”
Because this week’s episode moves as slowly as the last one did. Chitanda presents a problem for Houtarou’s consideration. He tries to wrangle his way out of it, but agrees to help. Evidence is considered. Houtarou solves the problem (well, one of them) without breaking a sweat. Just the way he likes it. But the problem this episode feels more intense; Chitanda is trying to remember something about what her missing uncle said about the Literature Club about something that happened 45 years ago. This forgotten memory has haunted her ever since. Now she’s at the same high school and part of the same club, looking for an answer. The scene where she explains all this takes a lot of time. It is also quiet and calm. But like every scene of this series so far, it is not boring in the slightest. Okay, sometimes Houtarou dithers in his decsion-making a little too long, but that just means we get more of Chitanda’s adorable wheelding.
The big scene, where they visit another clubroom looking for Lit club archives and meet a secretive upperclsssman, is almost as quiet in tone but as intense as any scene with double the volume. Houtarou looks around the room while the upperclassman gets more and more defensive, spotting clues, and at the same time not wanting to make any trouble for himself or for this guy who looks as if he’ll snap at any time. At the same time, it’s not hard for us at home to figure out what the guy was hiding (He smells of spray deoderant, has the window open and the fan blowing, and doesn’t want anyone to search the room … He’s got a rotting corpse in there, right? Right?). These are not hard mysteries to solve. Since I’m crap at solving mysteries I’m in favor of this. After that, Houtarou calmly explains the mystery. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t solve the bigger memory of Chitanda’s uncle. With its style and striking visuals, this show can do a lot better than be a Mystery of the Week.
Tasogare Otome × Amunesia 5 tries its hand at an old anime standard: the school festival episode, but it gets lost along the way. It’s a good setup, though. What could be better than a haunted house that has a real ghost in it? What’s more, Yuuko is fine with the idea, and since she shows people what they want to see, the reasons why the customers run out screaming are perfectly mundane. But that’s only a side gag. Surprisingly, the show focuses on Kirie as Momoe drags her around the festival, gets lost with her, and she learns a little about lightening up (dressing her up as a little sister cat-maid waitress will do that) and gains a little perspective about herself, and her relationship with both Yuuko and Teiichi. It’s frivolous comedy until the end, when it gets more serious, but only for Kirie. Remember, what she sees in the haunted house is what she expects to see. It’s a messy episode but keeps moving along, and again shows us some interesting visuals. That’s two shows in a row that are great to look at.
So let’s move on to one that isn’t. I have no reason or excuse to watch Shining Hearts – Shiawase no Pan, so why do I continue to? Maybe it’s for the bread, though there was comparatively little of it in episode 4. Oh, we get the morning breadmaking routine–a different girl wakes Dick up, Dick makes bread and they talk about whatever happened, girls deliver bread and hear something that tells us what the episode’s about, etc. This time it’s that light in the water that got Hank’s life-size doll all excited, waking up, babbling computer speak and saying “I seek resurrection.” And blasting away those pirates. The pirates aren’t mentioned at all this episode, like everyone had forgotten about them. Xianomei the cat-girl gets Dick and, er, the girl who woke him up (I guess whoever wakes Dick up is our featured girl for the episode, though apart from tagging along she doesn’t do anything except nearly drown) and then Hank the dwarf to haul the light-source up. A big heavy box, which is immediately confiscated by the Palace Guard. The whole episode is a non-adventure. Too much time is spent devising ways to haul that damn box up. Other scenes just sort of tail off. No one gets excited about anything. Oh, Amil is depressed because she’s afraid Dick will get his memory back, but they just toss that in and forget about it.