Hyouka was one of my favorite anime of 2012 and it stands in my list of all time favorites.
Out of everything that happened in Hyouka, there was one thing or rather one conversation that in my opinion summed up the entire show brilliantly. That conversation was the conversation between Satoshi and Mayaka in episode 17.
Sometime after the Classics Club “lost” their battle against the Jumonji, Satoshi and Mayaka are having a conversation. Satoshi talks to Mayaka about expectations and how you can only really have expectations when you have given up. Then he enters a flashback of him observing Hotaro as Hotaro blackmails the Jumonji dude. Then after the flashback, they talk a bit more and the scene ends.
There are four things concerning that scene that I wish to talk about, one for each character.
1. Chitanda is left out
Chitanda is the spoiled ojuo-sama of this anime. Yeah, she is literally an ojou-sama, but she is also spoiled by her club mates.
Chitanda (unlike Irisu) has accepted her destiny and knows where to go in life. She knows the direction she needs to head in and charges straight ahead. What she doesn’t realize (mostly because she is egg head ) is that everyone around her paves her road for her and generally does their best to keep her happy.
Hotaro only solves those mysteries because he wants to satisfy Chitanda’s curiosity and he wants to keep her happy. He even gets angry at Satoshi a few episodes after this one because his rejection of Mayaka and the theft of her chocolates hurt Chitanda as well.
For her own sake, Chitanda is always left out and the other members (mostly just Hotaro and Satoshi) do things behind her back to make her happy. In this episode, Hotaro and Satoshi organized the crime and carried it out without telling anything to Chitanda. Even Mayaka, who wasn’t included in the crime, was more involved than Chitanda. At least, she got to have a conversation with Satoshi afterwords and heck, he might have even told her about the crime.
They did not tell Chitanda that because she would never agree to it even though it was for the greater good of the club. Or even if she did agree to it, her acting would be so horrible, no one would believe them. And yet, the crime was mostly done for her benefit.
Like it or hate it, Chitanda Eru drives this show. She is the reason-d’etre for Hotaro ‘s actions even if she doesn’t know it.
2. Hotaro sees Satoshi as a close, reliable friend.
Maybe it is because his eyes are covered by envy, but I don’t think Satoshi realizes just how much Hotaro trusts him. Hotaro is a pretty isolated person. He doesn’t like talking to people when he doesn’t have to and he doesn’t really open up to others, but he trusts Satoshi.
As Hotaro explains his elaborate plan to Tanabe, he delegates tasks to Satoshi without asking Satoshi about them ahead of time. Now, you might consider Hotaro to be a bad person for making involving Satoshi in a crime without explicit consent, but the fact is, he (a normally mistrusting, isolated chap) involves Satoshi without asking. Hotaro knows that Satoshi will accept any plan he throws at him. He knows that Satoshi has enough faith in him as a friend and he to has enough faith in Satoshi to know that he will carry out the plan discreetly.
Satoshi lives his day to day life jealous of Hotaro, but what he doesn’t realize is that he is an irreplaceable existence for Hotaro. Or maybe he does realize that and gets even more annoyed by that because it feels like he is being pitied.
3. Satoshi’s envy
Satoshi is jealous of Hotaro. It is his thing. Outdoing Hotaro is one of the primary motivations for his actions during the show. Unfortunately for him, he is never able to outdo Hotaro and the distance between the two is made apparent in this episode.
Up until this point, we had known that Satoshi was jealous of Hotaro and that his detective skills were not as great as Hotaro ‘s, but we did not know just how far behind he was.
Normally, when we see Hotaro dish out an explanation, we had some insight into his mental process. As he was figuring it out, we were there with him and all the clues were presented to the audience as well. That wasn’t really the case in this arc. If I recall correctly, we actually did not see much of Hotaro’s thought process. We saw Satoshi’s and that was all wrong. So, when the flashback happened, we were quite clueless.
Even if you guessed the culprit, I doubt most readers had all the details figured out. Maybe it is just the difference in language, but it seems a bit far fetched that most of us would have figured out of all that with the details given. But, you know what’s interesting? Satoshi hadn’t figured out any of that as well.
The flashback is seen from Satoshi’s perspective. He only begins to understand the case as Hotaro is explaining it. If his own reasoning was somewhat close, then just a sentence or two from Hotaro would have been enough for Satoshi to figure out everything else but that does not happen. He figures out everything only when Hotaro is explaining it bit by bit. He figures it out as the audience is figuring it out.
It is this realization that Hotaro is so far beyond Satoshi`s expectations that crushes him. He now knows for sure that no matter how hard he tries, he has no chance. He will never be on par with Hotaro, he will always be a database.
4. Mayaka’s envy
When Satoshi is asked if he wants to beat Hotaro, he has an answer that is very difficult to explain. Even though we know that winning is not everything, even though we know that competing with friends is silly, if all we ever do is look up to them, then you can`t help but try and win. This was what Satoshi likely thought and he didn`t feel like conveying it to Mayaka, but he didn`t need to.
She already understood exactly what he meant. Mayaka had only recently had her own rivalry come to a close. She always tried to make good manga, but upon encountering the work of her senpais, she realized that her ambition, like Satoshi`s, is fruitless. She was never going to be as good as them. She just wasn`t talented enough. So, she understood exactly what Satoshi was trying to say.
The saddest thing about this episode is that Satoshi and Mayaka are never going to win. This isn’t like your average happy go lucky show where somehow everything works out and our characters end up happily ever after. Satoshi and Mayaka don’t just randomly get better or decide that hard work is enough to succeed. No, they decide that they can’t win. It doesn’t matter how much they try, they will never measure up to those they look up to (at least Satoshi won’t, Mayaka likely won’t either).
Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka are the losers of the Hyouka world.
It is so very sad. It is so very depressing.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. I really want to see Satoshi and Mayaka kiss or at least hold hands. They are so cute together. I kind of also want to see Hotaro and Chitanda finally get together. I basically want to see more Hyōka. I really hope there is a second reason.