Monday, May 07, 2012
First Impressions - Hyouka (through episode 3)
As a Kyoani series, a lot of people had Hyouka's air date circled on their calendars well before the season started - Kyoani seems to be one of the more polarizing studios out there, with the "cute/moe is shallow crap and good anime is serious" side generally hating them, and the "cute/moe is awesome and serious anime is pretentious crap" camp loving everything they do.
For me, it's not quite that clear-cut - I've loved some of Kyoani's work (first season of Haruhi, Fumoffu, Clannad, Kanon), thought some was good, but not perfect (Nichijou, K-On), and some just didn't do anything for me (Air except for Kannabi no Mikoto's screentime, the second season of Haruhi, Munto TV). I had a bad feeling Hyouka would fall in the latter category, since generally I'm not a big fan of mystery series - Detective Conan, for example, while I like the cast, the mystery parts are impossibly elaobrate to the point they're just unrealistic.
Through three episodes though, I'm thinking Hyouka is going to surprise me and end up as my favorite for the season - a lot could go wrong, but right now it's probably the series I look forward to the most each week. I'm definitely liking the cast, and the story, visuals, atmosphere, backgrounds, music - everything just seems spot on. It's probably still on the first light novel's material, so things could still go downhill later if the source material is weaker down the road, but so far it really does seem like everything's firing on all cylinders.
You could argue that it's slow paced, but things actually do happen in each episode, so it's not a slice-of-life or "cute girls doing cute things" series like K-On. There are actual mysteries, and while so far they're mostly garden-variety school life ones, the story behind Eru's uncle and what he told her when she was little promises to have a more serious nature. Fortunately, the mysteries don't involve impossible mental gymnastics, they're all realistic so far at least. If Hyouka has a weakness, it might be that (so far at least) the cast is very tiny, and over two cours the same four being featured might get old (K-On's main four grated on me after a while), but I'm hoping we will get to see some character development too as this goes on.
As surprised as I was to see Kyoani passing on Little Busters, maybe ultimately Hyouka was a better call for them - it'll be a fun ride watching this. (I do have to admit I'm looking forward to Little Busters too, I don't think JC Staff will necessarily ruin it either).