Kyoto’s hidden animation gem that every anime fan must watch


Kyoto Animation has grown into one of the most popular studios in the industry since its inception in 1981 and is known for its high production value. The studio specializes in cozy slice of life anime instead of the usual action-packed shonen titles, with works like The melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and K-On! reso[nsible for propelling Kyoto Animation to legendary status. However, these works are so famous that they sometimes overshadow some of the other brilliant shows that Kyoto Animation has produced over the years.

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One such show is Hyouka, a slice-of-life mystery series that aired back in 2012. It was based on a series of novels and follows protagonists Hotaro Oreki and Eru Chitanda, who encounter various mysteries during their activities in the Classic Literature Club. While the initial premise might not seem too interesting, Hyouka is a treasure trove of charm that is sure to delight both fans of light-hearted high school shenanigans and puzzling mysteries.

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Hyouka Eru Chitanda speaking his trademark sentence

Hotaro Oreki is a listless high school student who never puts in an effort except when absolutely necessary. He is forced to join the Membershipless Classical Literature Club by his sister, who wants the club to stay alive. There he meets Eru Chitanda, an incredibly energetic and curious young girl who was also planning to join the club. Chitanda immediately attracts Oreki with her inquisitive nature, forcing her to reveal her natural talent for deduction. Together with their friends and club mates Satoshi Fukube and Mayaka Ibara, the Classical Literature Club begins to solve the various mysteries they encounter at school.


While Hyouka is considered a mystery anime, it generally concerns itself with more mundane situations rather than revolving around high-stakes storylines. The real events behind a school scandal that happened almost half a century ago, or the end of an unfinished movie, are the kind of mysteries the Classical Literature Club encounters all. throughout the series. A first-time viewer might find a mystery story like this boring, but it might be best to think of it as a one-off version of the regular high school anime instead. Although the mysteries may not be as exciting as a case in Detective Conan, they are always intriguing to see unravel.


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Hyouka The Classic Literature Club standing in a row

The basic cast of Hyouka are the four members of the Classical Literature Club. Oreki, Fukube, and Ibara are childhood friends and often bicker and argue as such. While Chitanda is new to the group, she instantly bonds with Fukube and Ibara through her cheerful and friendly demeanor. In general, the club looks like a bunch of good friends, and they have great chemistry with each other.

However, Hyouka is defined by the relationship between Hotaro Oreki and Eru Chitanda. Oreki’s pragmatic and unmotivated disposition often clashes with Chitanda’s excitable and indiscreet nature, and Oreki does his best to get out of a situation that he believes will arouse Chitanda’s curiosity is a common occurrence. Despite his best efforts, however, he always ends up being drawn into a strange mystery that catches Chitanda’s attention.


Of course, that doesn’t mean they have an antagonistic friendship. Oreki often brings up the concept of a “pink high school life,” and claims he doesn’t want any part in such a thing. However, his interactions with Chitanda eventually caused him to come out of his introverted shell and get him to participate in school activities that he doesn’t think interests him. Although their personalities are clearly opposed, their relationship has a positive impact on both of them. By the end of the series, even hints of romance between the two can be seen.


Hyouka Hotaro thinks of the passage of words, cogs and clocks

Kyoto Animation has built its heritage on the quality of its animation work, and Hyouka reaffirms this legacy in a way that might be surprising. Although this is a mundane series of slices of life set in modern times, the series uses a lot of fantastic footage thanks to Oreki’s overactive imagination. Many of these sequences add humor and lightness to what would normally be a rather basic scene, and they are all beautifully rendered using high-quality art from Kyoto Animation.


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These sequences can also give the viewer a glimpse into Oreki’s perspective and state of mind. The anime uses these segments to subtly hint at how it feels about a particular topic. Whether it is times when he feels irritated or times when he feels overwhelmed, each of these moments is illustrated for the viewer by visual imagery that has a strong impact and gives the series a characteristic that it might not have had otherwise.


Hyouka Oreki gets assaulted by Chitanda's angels

Hyouka didn’t get the kind of media attention that other Kyoto Animation work has had. However, it’s a great show with an intriguing premise and compelling characters, and those who have seen the show love it very much. Fans of Kyoto Animation would be remiss to skip this hidden gem, as it is such a lovingly crafted show as the studio’s best works.


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