Hyouka 5, Kanojo X 8, Acchi Kochi 8

Hyouka goes back to a small, mundane, everyday mystery for episode 5. I suppose you can’t get to the core of a 40 year-old event that ruined one man’s school life and made a little Chitanda cry every week.

But again, the mystery is twofold. Angry shouting in the classroom next door, Houtarou hears Chitanda’s voice, and really doesn’t care. We learn later what the fight was all about. The math teacher, Omichi, had gotten angry at the class for not knowing something they had not yet gone over in class. As usual, the event is described and visualized for us (with a crash test dummy metaphor that later turns into scary masks). They ask questions, they speculate. I thought Houtarou had nailed it when he suggested the teacher was using teaching notes from an old textbook, in fact, I was waiting for it, but Satoshi, that font of “useless information” (which is always useful) shoots it down. In the end it’s a question of how a math teacher would write English letters in notes, not something I would have thought of, and so the mystery solved turned out to be a little unsatisfying. That it’s also mundane is a given in this series.

Just give up, Houtarou.

But the episode is livened up by its fascination with Chitanda. And it leads to the second part of the mystery. Why did Chitanda, who rarely gets angry and hates doing do, get angry at the teacher? This is the second episode where the mystery involved, in part, what the hell Chitanda’s head is all about. In fact, they may have spent more time analyzing Chitanda then they did solving the other mystery. She is examined for the seven deadly sins. She actually defends them. They suggest reasons for her anger, she rejects them one by one. For Satoshi and Ibara it’s just idle fun speculating about a friend. We don’t know why Houtarou is interested apart from his unacknowledged crush. The odd thing is that there isn’t much to speculate about. Chitanda is quite normal, though overly curious about things, so why are we concerned about her, well, apart from that she’s absolutely adorable, especially when something’s on her mind and she wants help with it? She’s as normal and boring in real life as the mysteries Houtarou solves. Still, as I said, she drives the series, and the dynamic between her and Houtarou, with his odd little hallucinations (I’m more interested in his head than in Chitanda’s–check out the cute little Chitanda angels crawling all over him), is always fun to watch.

You could also call Nazo no Kanojo X a mystery that is in fact mundane. In episode 8 Tsubaki is granted permission to his dream the night before, he gets to touch Urabe’s boobs. This is after an awkward meeting on the street and an invitation to her apartment and several minutes of an adolescent boy fighting off his fantasies. I hate scenes like this. I wasn’t surprised that he confessed his dream to her–that little ritual between them means there are very few secrets they can tell. I wasn’t surprised that she granted him permission either, because nothing much that comes out of her mouth surprises me anymore (perhaps I should rephrase that). But for Tsubaki to lose control and go for more than a boob did surprise me, as did Urabe’s apparent giving in, once she realized her scissors were out of reach. But what makes it mundane is Urabe’s reaction the next day. In spite of her mysterious nature she’s on one level nothing more than an adolescent girl meeting her own hormones for the first time. I’m rather hoping they will work to make her a little more mysterious again. This is a show that doesn’t work as well without the mystery.

Acchi Kocchi 8 is not only mundane, it is disgustingly cute, as usual. Tsumiki hugging the stuffed animal and crawling into Io’s futon out of embarrassment were my two favorite cute moments. The second part is better, since there aren’t as many laughs to be gotten out of studying, and a festival scene allows them opportunities to try different things. Sakaki’s goldfish abandoning him for Io’s cup was the funniest moment. Oh, the entire shooting section was pretty good. By the way, I’ve watched countless summer festival anime episodes but this is the first one I can think of where the boys actually wear yukatas too.

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