Hyouka – 17
「クドリャフカの順番」 (Kudoryafuka no Junban)
“The Order of Kudryavka”
Stories focusing on greatness are quite commonplace, but what about the stories of those who must live in the shadow of greatness? For the most part, Hyouka has been centered on one undeniably great detective and his exploits, and everyone else’s awe and admiration for the uncanny talents of deduction that led to these exploits. In this school festival arc however, we have seen that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; there are the hints of dissent, discontent, and disappointment amongst Houtarou’s friends. With this new development in hand, Hyouka turns what might have been another run-of-the-mill “great detective pieces together clues and solves the mystery” episodes into one that shifts the focus onto the motivations of the perpetrator. And by doing so, the series takes a fresh and in-depth look at the characters who live in the shadow of greatness.
Save for Houtarou, none of the main characters featured in this arc were immune to this burden. Satoshi, Chitanda, Mayaka, and Tanabe are all in one way or another influenced by a friend or acquaintance whose skill and talent casts a long shadow over them. As a consequence, they either form unrealistic expectations for greatness either for themselves or for their friends, which come as the result of the high standards set by the talented individual. Yet as we saw in this arc, these expectations inevitably collide with reality and the result is some good old fashioned character introspection and development with a hint of Hyouka-style mystery mixed in.
For Chitanda, the person whom she looked up to and aspired to be more like was Irisu. While I do think her persuasive skills are to be admired, they are also to be feared as well, so because of this, I couldn’t really see Chitanda pulling it off. Show text ▼
Satoshi’s struggles with being in the shadow of greatness were one of the most visible of the series, considering they revolved around the expectations set by Houtarou and then his own expectations of catching the Juumoji culprit. Show text ▼
Mayaka’s story has been brewing for a while now so it has had ample time and opportunity to develop in a wholly organic way. It’s also one of my favorite stories of the arc because in addition to raising the question of how a masterpiece is recognized, it was also a story that began feeling like a side story but ended up becoming an important piece in the Juumoji puzzle. Show text ▼
It’s a testament to Hyouka’s excellent writing that even with knowing all that Houtarou is capable of, the train of thought that led to the revelation that student council vice-president Tanabe Jirou was the man behind the thefts was still awe-inspiring (as was Houtarou’s blackmailing plan to sell the rest of the anthologies). Show text ▼
The shift in focus and tone away from a Houtarou and mystery-centric story is made all the more impressive considering how almost all of the character side stories and development ends up heavily intertwined into the main mystery itself. All their plights are quite understandable as their emotions and behavior are wonderful examples of the same emotions and behavior we feel when living in the shadow of greatness. Hyouka’s latest arc has been one of the most entertaining school festival arcs I can remember, and its novel approach to mystery has been a complete joy to watch as well. With the series looking like it is approaching the final stretch, I feel it might be hard to top this arc but then again I can’t say for certain because I’m no Houtarou… yet.