Try This: Hyouka

Hi, I’m Marvin. I work as a developer for an online media company. I was about 5 years old when I started watching anime (Ranma 1/2 is my earliest memory). Nothing gives me any authority to write about Japanese animation. Actively watching shows for all these years is not a qualifier – it just labels me as being a kid who didn’t play outside much. Despite this, I love this medium. It’s not perfect, but I adore it nonetheless [Even though I acknowledge there are serious flaws and tropes in Japanese animation that are worth scrutiny and debate]. I love anime to the absolute bottom of my heart and in these series of posts I plan to do for AnimeChicago, I want to offer briefly written recommendations and few op-eds that might encourage you to watch something you’ve not considered before. Will it be good? Maybe. Let’s be real, these are just opinions from one anime fan to another.

Today, I want to tell you about a series that is very near and dear to me, Hyouka. I discovered the dubbed release while browsing around the VRV app a few days ago and was completely awestruck. I had seen the series as it aired in 2012, but here out of the blue, the dubbed version by Funimation appeared in my queue. You should definitely consider watching this series. I could try and sell you on this show by stating it’s the anime version of Sherlock set in high school, but that comparison might be a bit of a stretch. These kids don’t end up in the same sort of life-threatening antics as in your typical Arthur Conan Doyle affair. There are no disturbing mind-games, or an incredible threat in the form of a Moriarty-esque character. Nope. This show is extremely grounded in the mundane mysteries of high school life. There is an episode where four characters sit around a table discussing why a specific library book would be checked out and checked back in on the same day.

While this show might have the most innocuous cases that really bend the concept of what would be considered a “mystery”, the attention to detail in art, sound, color, character subtleties in expression, and general atmosphere are something to behold. Given the dry subject matter, the thing that comes clearly across is that the producers knew how to make something rather banal into a thing of sheer beauty. If you are familiar with any of Kyoto Animation’s library of titles, the thing that I can assure you is that this show does not disappoint (I might as well be candid here: I can talk about every program Kyoto Animation has produced with adoration… mostly).

Hyouka is something I have wanted to officially make its way to the US for quite some time now. Though it took 5 years from its original release in Japan, I couldn’t pass up the  the opportunity to bring it onto your radar. The first 12 episodes are now streaming on Funimation through their site or through Crunchyroll’s VRV app.