12 Days of Christmas #10: Hyōka

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.

Hyouka Expectations

Quick recap:

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.

Picture included because it features smirking Hotaro .

Picture included because it features smirking Hotaro .

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.

Oh Chitanda, your curiosity is more trouble than its worth....it does maker her adorable at times though.

Oh Chitanda, your curiosity is more trouble than its worth….it does maker her adorable at times though.

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.

Good friends help other friends commit crimes.

Good friends help other friends commit crimes.

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.

Satoshi requires a colored mental letter slate in order to figure it all out.

Satoshi required a colored mental letter slate in order to figure it all 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.

Satoshi now knows he has no chance at catching up to Hotaro.

Satoshi now knows he has no chance at catching up to Hotaro.

4. Mayaka’s envy

hyouka understand

hyouka understand 2

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).

Satoshi at least has grudgingly accepted what he is and what he can never be.

Satoshi at least has grudgingly accepted what he is and what he can never be.

Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka are the losers of the Hyouka world.

It is so very sad. It is so very depressing.

....or is it?

….or is it?

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.

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  1. #1 by Highway on December 25, 2012 - 11:38 am

    I don’t know if you’re watching Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojo, but it’s dealing with the same themes among characters that Hyouka did, specifically the possibly soul-crushing envy that one can face when someone close to them is so good at something they wish they were good at. The thing I always thought about Hyouka, and specifically Satoshi, was that I hoped he’d figure out that it doesn’t matter if he ‘beats’ Houtarou in the one thing Houtarou does well. Satoshi is a multi-talented person good at many things, and while it’s frustrating for someone who is, let’s say, second-tier at many different things to go against the top tier, they need to realize that it’s really not a competition.

    But that’s such a hard thing for high school age humans to understand.

    • #2 by Reiseng on December 25, 2012 - 12:22 pm

      Yeah, I watched a good chunk of Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojo, but then I stopped. I have been meaning to catch up to it.

      I actually hadn’t made the connection between Sakurasou and Hyouka, but yes, you are right. Them both deal with themes of envy, though it is probably far more important of a theme in Sakurasou.

      (I think Hyouka is a more fun show overall though. Sakurasou can drive the drama a bit high at times and the characters aren’t as likable. It is still a good show though.)

      As for Satoshi, I agree. I really do think that being multi-talented is underrated. I wish I could be as multi-talented as Satoshi, the guy is very flexible.😛

      Actually, I think even Mayaka has shown quite a bit of multi-talent and Chitanda is probably quite multi-talented as well. Houtarou is the only one who has one main strength.

      Fascinating!

      • #3 by Highway on December 25, 2012 - 1:06 pm

        I think that Sakurasou is by far the more fun show, reaching a level of whimsy and outright comedy that Hyouka never even attempted (Mashiro’s trolling of Sorata especially) and also unafraid to reach for romantic drama.

        I agree that Mayaka and Chitanda are multi-talented people as well, and I thought that the contrast set up between Chitanda and Satoshi was done well. Chitanda knows what she’s going to do, and even though she can do so many things, she sees the path ahead of her brightly lit and well-defined. And she’s not afraid of it, not afraid that perhaps others will pass her by, not afraid that she won’t live up to some potential. As others said of the finale: Chitanda stood in front of Houtarou and said “This is what I am, this is who I will be.” with the implicit question asking if he wants to go along with her.

        Meanwhile, Satoshi doesn’t really know what his path is going to be, and can’t really decide where to focus, and thus always compares himself to others.

    • #4 by Reiseng on December 25, 2012 - 2:34 pm

      I love your synopsis of the final Hyouka episode. That sounds exactly like what happened. Back when the episode aired, I really wished that Houtarou had told her he wants to go along with her, but I can understand why he didn’t.

      Unlike Chitanda who forges her own path, Houtarou prefers to just be blown along by the wind and let it carry him somewhere.

      As for Sakurasou being more fun, well, I guess it was funnier at least. I definitely did enjoy the trolling that went on. Though I guess I just like Hyouka more for some reason.

      • #5 by Highway on December 25, 2012 - 7:37 pm

        I just get a feeling from Sakurasou, that feeling that is pretty rare while you’re watching a show that “This feels like something special is happening, this feels like they’re going to break my heart, mix up all the pieces, and then find a way to put it back together making me happier throughout.” They’ve had two ‘finale’ (finishing the arcs off so well that they could be standalone series) episodes already, and both have been of such a quality that I think if it had been a 4-episode OVA series, it would have been considered one of the best love story OVA’s ever, and the episode 12 ‘finale’ would have made everyone feel like it was a complete and very successful series. And yet, there’s still more to go.

        I was really afraid after the episode 4 ‘finale’ to that first introductory arc that there was no way they could keep the storytelling quality so high. But I’ve loved every bit since then (even the parts that some other people hated, like Yuuko).

    • #6 by Reiseng on December 25, 2012 - 8:30 pm

      Oh dear, you are really making me want to catch up on Sakurasou. I will be sure to do it when I get the time.

      I watched it until episode 6 I believe. I agree with you in that episode 4 was a good finale. It was a good episode that did a good job in wrapping up that arc.

      I didn’t enjoy the Nanami episodes that much, but I thought they were all right. So, I guess I just have to get through the little sister bit (which I may or may not like), and then I will be treated to one more glorious arc?

      By the way, you should watch Sengoku Collection. I have only seen a bit of it, but from what I hear, this episodic show is really, really good.

      • #7 by Highway on December 25, 2012 - 8:39 pm

        Well, at least one more: Sakurasou is a 2 cour series, so it’s continuing through the next season. I agree that Nanami was a little hard to take in Episodes 5 and 6, but she really turns a corner in the next couple episodes, to the point where I’m currently really pulling for her to win Sorata’s heart, even as I know that she likely can’t given the story positioning of Mashiro. And it’s not that I dislike Mashiro, she’s a lovely girl and extremely sympathetic and likeable. But Nanami really pulls it together through the Imouto episode and beyond.

        And regarding that Imouto episode, I thought it was a funny diversion, and didn’t have a problem with it. I’m sure you’ve seen other people complain about it, but realizing it’s supposed to be over the top and caricaturish helps a lot.

    • #8 by Reiseng on December 25, 2012 - 10:49 pm

      I am glad to see that Nanami becomes more likable. Well, really glad actually.

      I will approach the imouto episode without much seriousness. I think it will be fine.

      Thanks for the discussion mate!

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