I became interested in this anime after seeing the above picture of Hyouka, which portrays it as a refreshing, upbeat type of school anime, so I was surprised to find that the main character, Oreki Hotaro, is a quiet sort of guy who mainly keeps to himself. His dismal-sounding motto is, “I don’t do anything I don’t have to do. What I have to do, I do quickly.” It actually seems like a pretty good way to live until you realize that instead of just giving up unnecessary recreations to focus on more important things, Hotaro actually gives up bothering with academics, sports, and socializing – basically anything that a high school student could focus on.
(If he went to school in America, it would be a pain trying to get accepted into college with his credentials.)
Somehow, he’s managed to keep one good friend, Fukube Satoshi. The two of them join the Classic Literature Club with a hugely-enthusiastic girl, Chitanda Eru, who is definitely set up to be Hotaro’s savior from his own lethargy because for some reason, he can’t say no to this girl.
Twice in this episode, Hotaro’s imagination show us a magical world with moving hair that bind Hotaro to Eru and words that jump off paper to join into a black flood, which is both awe-inspiring and unexpected. For someone like Hotaro to have such a vivid and creative imagination, there may be hope for him as a main character yet.
Cliches are semi-heavy in Hyouka. We have a male lead character (Hotaro), who isn’t particularly interesting himself, but serves as someone through which we can view the more exciting characters – primarily, the upbeat female lead character (Eru). This setup is pretty common, and immediately, I can name Haruhi Suzumiya and OreImo as two animes that implement this trope. We also have the extrovert-introvert best friends, which is not impossible to occur outside the anime world, but considering that Satoshi is outgoing enough to make up for Hotaro ten times over, it’s an anime miracle he doesn’t ditch Hotaro for a larger ring of friends. Plus, there’s also the thing about characters meeting each other through a club.
With those cliches and the fact that it’s a school anime, Hyouka’s already under some heavy scrutiny, but the episode gets a lot more interesting with the mysteries. We find out how clever Hotaro is through his rationalizations (and the great stunt he pulls with The Golden Web!). I have a feeling that with Eru around, Hotaro’s going to undergo a metamorphosis and shed his shell pretty soon into a real likeable character.