「ワイルド・ファイア」 (Wairudo Faia)
Everyday mysteries are what Hyouka is all about and often times there is no mystery more common than the dishes we can cook up with the ingredients at hand. As an avid fan of cooking, Food Network, and various gastronomical interests in general, I thoroughly enjoyed this rare treat of an episode. The Classics Club’s culinary exploits were a wonderful way of developing all the characters and also kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
With all the buildup from Mayaka and Ayako Kouchi’s (Asano Masumi) faceoff in the previous episode, I was hoping for more drama to play out between them even though Mayaka was unable to find her copy of “A Corpse by Evening”. I really like her character and I feel she’s been overlooked compared to the others, so I was a bit disappointed that she wasn’t able to properly defend her philosophy on masterpieces (which I happen to agree with), considering she possesses one of the sharpest tongues in the series. Perhaps her acerbic wit is only reserved for Houtarou and Satoshi? Despite Mayaka’s attitude towards her fellow club members though, this episode made it clear that beneath that façade, she feels a strong bond with them. I definitely felt that her anxiety and urgency were both palpable as she was glued in place trying to finish her drawing and in her furious sprint to the stage. Mayaka did not want to disappoint them, to let them down, and that probably worried her just as much as trying to figure out what she could make from the measly ingredients left for her. This episode showed her at her most vulnerable – and consequently, her most endearing as well.
On the other hand, the Classics Club’s other female member was her usual self in this episode. I have a feeling Chitanda might not stay the same for very long though, now that she has received lessons on very same persuasive skills that Irisu so cunningly put to use on Houtarou. It’s almost scary thinking about what Chitanda might be able to convince him to do with her newfound knowledge. Not that he’s been able to resist much anyway… after all, Houtarou is already exerting himself far beyond what he would have done before, even yelling out at the top of his lungs in order to deliver the bag of flour (love his bartering strategy, do not love the freaky jack-o’-lanterns holding the Glock 17). He saved the Classics Club today, and I doubt that he would have even lifted a finger without Chitanda in his life.
Even if Houtarou hadn’t realized a use for the flour, I still think that the Wildfire challenge would remain undoubtedly my favorite part of this episode. It did make me a little peeved my high school experience wasn’t this cool however. Maybe I’m watching the wrong shows to in order to live vicariously, but how often do we see pseudo-Iron Chef competitions in anime? The animation was top-notch as usual, and coupled with the hilarious commentating from the Oryouri Kenkyuukai Buchou (Tomokazu Sugita /em>) and Fukubuchou (Hirakawa Daisuke), I was impressed to no end with Hyouka’s depiction of a cook-off. I had a feeling that Lady Eru, despite her occasional moments of airheaded-ness, would be an awe-inspiring cook – but who knew Satoshi’s database included recipes and cooking techniques as well? I was so enraptured by the competition that even when Mayaka realized she was missing a ladle, I forgot there was even a mystery in this arc: the case of the stolen club supplies.
- Mayaka is “cosplaying” as Kagami “Akko-chan” Atsuko from Himitsu no Akko-chan in this episode.
- In the previous episode, she was dressed as Frolbericheri from They Were Eleven.
- Full-length images: 20, 26, 27.
「十文字事件」 (Juumonji Jiken)
“The Jumonji Incident”
Every Sherlock needs his Watson, and Houtarou is no exception. With a case of this magnitude, there is a strong possibility that solving it requires more manpower and “dirty work” than he is willing to do, or is even capable of doing. The sheer number of possible suspects or clubs that could be targeted and the amount of information required to solve the case is simple too much for one person to handle on their own. Yet what makes the Juumoji case different is that although Houtarou still doesn’t realize that he can count on his friends and ask for their help, they are stepping up in their own ways and it’s a been a joy to watch them become in their own ways, a Watson to Houtarou’s Sherlock.
So far, the primary reason Hyouka’s Juumoji arc appeals to me is not the intricacies of the mystery itself but the fact that so much of it affects each and every member of the Classics Club. Given their personal stake in the matter, it’s not at all surprising they have been so proactive in solving the case. I think each of them realizes that either Houtarou can’t solve it by himself or he’s just unwilling to, so they are each taking matters into their own hands. Mayaka and Satoshi in particular were quite enjoyable to watch as the episode centered on them instead of the usual resident meitantei (literally master/great detective).
I especially like how the Juumoji case is not only highlighting the talents each character brings to solving the mystery, but more importantly, their shortcomings as well. We have Chitanda trying her hardest to ask other people, other clubs for favors – something which I don’t think any of the other members would be as successful at. It was nice to see her trying to use Irisu’s advice on the arts of persuasion on Tougaito (Okiayu Ryoutarou), but I think subtlety is something completely lost on Chitanda, and it seems to have affected her more than I thought it would. Mayaka’s contributions to the case are harder to quantify other than her knowledge about Agatha Christie’s works, but that’s understandable as she’s been preoccupied with a mystery of her own, revolving around her favorite manga. It may be merely a side story to the thefts, but I find the questions surrounding Kouchi, Anjou Haruna, and the as-yet-unnamed artist to be just as intriguing, and I have a gut-feeling that it will actually be connected to the Juumoji incident somehow.
I would consider Satoshi to be the one most fit to be Houtarou’s Watson, even if he didn’t really accomplish much in this episode. We already know that he’s the ‘database’ of the group, but it’s also admirable that he’s determined grow out of that label by attempting to catch the Juumoji thief himself. Satoshi’s shortcoming is that he was too preoccupied with trying to catch the perpetrator in the act and instead fell into the trap that was laid. The thief most likely wanted a lot of publicity for their next heist, and what better way than to have the next crime to be discovered in front of an audience consisting of either some of the most popular/recognizable students like Tanabe Jirou (Fukuyama Jun) or wannabe detectives like Tani Koreyuki (Kawahara Yoshihisa)? Like Houtarou alluded to, Satoshi should have taken a step back and look at the facts of the case so he could to stay a step ahead, but it was surprising to see him stubbornly vow to stick to his plan of action in catching the thief in the act. There might be a kernel of truth in his words that this is not the kind of case Houtarou is good at, but I don’t think that I don’t think going alone is the answer either — Watsons need a Sherlock, and Sherlocks need a Watson.
「最後の標的」 (Saigo no Hyouteki)
“The Last Target”
The pen truly is mightier than the sword. Who would have known that the fountain pen Tomoe gave Houtarou would eventually through a series of “Straw Millionaire” style trades turn into a copy of “A Corpse by Evening” (from his sister once again), and that it would become a crucial clue in unlocking the Juumoji mystery?
There are only a few things more satisfying than watching two mysteries, previously believed to be completely unrelated, come together into a single glorious labyrinth of clues, theories, and whodunits. It’s a good method to get audiences into a detective mindset by paying attention to the most minor of mysteries just in case they turn out to be connected, and it’s also a great way for the author to throw in some red herrings as well. In this case, my gut feeling about “A Corpse by Evening” somehow playing a role in the Juumoji case turned out to be correct, but in hindsight, it was probably rather obvious given how prominent of a role it had in the story. This doesn’t diminish my enjoyment in the slightest though.
Any episode that features an appearance by one of my favorite characters is a winner in my book as well. Tomoe is basically a walking mystery herself, and every single thing she does is laced with so many possible hidden meanings that it’s hard not to find myself inexplicably interested in her. You have to wonder how much of this entire arc has been secretly orchestrated by her as a way of keeping her brother occupied and hopefully entertained. Given her wide range of interests and activities, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to learn that she is somehow intimately involved in creating the “A Corpse by Evening” manga and by extension, the current incidences, or at the very least, has first-hand knowledge about the people who are behind everything. Whatever her involvement may be, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of her in the coming episodes.
This episode also served to redeem and redefine the roles and talents of the other Classics Club members after events in the previous one caused them to doubt themselves. Chitanda rediscovered her knack for currying favors, even if nearly all of the ones given weren’t the direct result of anything she did in particular. However, I’m a little disappointed that this arc wasn’t used as an opportunity to further develop her character and personality beyond the ever excited, always polite, and unflinchingly curious girl we’ve come to know. I felt Mayaka had more development than Chitanda, but it doesn’t feel like we’re done watching her grow; all that has happened is that she’s been made fun of for her manga knowledge and that she’s slowly realizing that her knowledge of manga artwork, specifically the style in “A Corpse by Evening”, is a key contribution to catching the thief. The culmination of the mystery behind her favorite manga will probably be the culmination of her character development in this arc as well. The character who grew the most however, was undoubtedly Satoshi. It was surprising to see him give up on his plan to catch the perpetrator so quickly after he dramatically resolved to solve the case without Houtarou’s help in the last episode, and even before Houtarou basically shredded apart his methodology. At this point, it’s clear that Satoshi knows he can never match up to his friend’s genius as seen in his bittersweet resignation to playing the role of Watson to Houtarou’s Sherlock.
As we approach the climax and conclusion of the Juumoji arc, there are still way too many questions left unanswered – but that’s just the way I like it. Sometimes crimes and mysteries are solved clue by clue, person to person, but for me, it is way infinitely more satisfying to see them solved in “eureka moments”, when all the puzzle pieces suddenly fall into place and the picture that emerges is one that nobody saw coming. This is where I think Hyouka excels as a mystery show, and I can’t wait to see what Houtarou’s eureka moment will be this time.
- What’s the significance of the festival brochure, or the fact that the student council president is the artist behind the “Corpse” manga? Is there a meaning behind the brochure on the table of the Broadcasting Club? Who will Mayaka cosplay as next?
- Mayaka was dressed as Police Dectective Senri Mariko from Rainbow Parakeet.
- Due to personal reasons, Takaii is on hiatus through the month of August and I have taken over covering Hyouka until he comes back.
- Full-length images: 1.5, 12.5, 20. (many thanks for all caps and full-length images done by one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of befriending — Stereoman!)