I happened to already have the intention of rewatching this show before I saw what this month’s topic was going to be. And then as I was thinking about possible anime to cover, I thought, “Oh, actually that’s perfect.” and now had a reason to be rewatching the show. Not like I wouldn’t anyway because I love and missed this show a whole lot! It was within my first fifteen or so anime that I watched, and gosh it was great to visit something I haven’t touched in three years.
If you aren’t aware, this post is of a tour for the lovely group, OWLS, which I’ve been writing for since June of last year! We are a group of loving anime fans who want to spread positivity through pop culture and anime! We are non-discriminant against anyone regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, etc.
And, for the prompt of this month:
Although some people may like to be alone at times, we all have that one special friend or a squad of friends who we kick it and have some good laughs and fun with. However, there are friendships that don’t last a lifetime and usually, they end due to a falling out or a misunderstanding. For this month’s topic, we will be exploring some of the best friendships in anime and pop culture as well as the friendships that ended suddenly. We will talk about what a true friendship means to us, what we learned about ourselves and others through broken friendships, and our definitions of a “good friend.”
Thank you Lyn for the wonderful topic for this month!
There are not any explicit spoilers in this post, only vague events. None of the mysteries are spoiled in the slightest. So, if you’ve never watched this show, it is safe to read!
What is Hyouka?
I’ve hardly mentioned this anime on my blog, so I figure I should at least give a little summary. Plus it may help when discussing the rest of the topic at hand.
This anime is a slice of life mystery, with a little dash of romance and a whole lot of friendship. The story revolves around the classic literature club, consisting of Oreki Houtarou, Chitanda Eru, Fukube Satoshi, and Ibara Mayaka. In the beginning, the classic lit club was on the verge of vanishing, but Houtarou received a letter from his sister, who was a previous member of the club, asking him to keep it running. Eru joined due to her uncle having a connection to the club, which leads to the first mystery of the anime. The other two knew Houtarou in middle school and joined to make the club a bit larger. In this post, I’ll be touching on each character’s progression throughout the anime, and how their friendship makes them change. Especially Houtarou.
The name “Hyouka” actually just means “ice cream” in English. But it’s also the name the classic lit club long ago decided that each year’s anthology would be named. It comes from the way you say the words “ice cream” too quickly, and it sounds like “I scream” rather. Which then ties into a saying along the lines of “don’t ever let there be a time where you can’t even scream, you’ll be eaten alive.” Basically meaning that standing up for yourself is insanely important, because if you can’t, then it could ruin your life. This doesn’t really mean anything to this post, I just find it incredibly interesting. Also, the cover has a meaning, but you’ll have to watch the anime to find out what that is!
Who is Oreki Houtarou?
At a glance, one would say he’s lazy, others could say he’s introverted or pessimistic. In his eyes, he’s an energy conservationist. He lives by the motto of “If I don’t have to do it, I won’t. And if I have to do it, I’ll do it as quickly as possible.” I can relate to his mind’s state to a degree, and I think this is why everyone seems to like him so much. I labelled him as an introvert in my title, because, well, he is. It’s not every piece of his character, but it certainly seems like he doesn’t go out of his way to associate himself with other people. People will come to him first.
What’s nice about this show is that his ideals are never demolished, he just learns how to be more open with other people, and how to put his skills to use to help others. This is something he hadn’t considered before being a part of the classic lit club. And although he’s known two out of three members for years beforehand, he still kept to himself much more than he does by the end of the show.
Who is Fukube Satoshi?
I’d say he’s Houtarou’s closest friend, since he’s been friends with him since middle school. I remember not liking him all that much my first time watching this show, but as I was watching it again, I could see so many pieces of his character that I didn’t notice before. I thought he was just a comic relief kind of character, one who is a little dumb and over-the-top and gives you a short little laugh when they say something strange. I’d say that’s actually not him at all. I’d say he’s someone who’s hurting. And who’s very envious, whether he wants to admit it or not. He’s very good at hiding his true feelings for the sake of others. He wants to lift other people up, up, up, but doesn’t look at how he’s feeling himself. He writes off his own emotions.
He’s also scared to become too dedicated to any one thing. He wants to remain mediocre, even if he feels this envy toward others. It’s easier for him this way.
All of this is very important later on.
Who is Chitanda Eru?
The daughter of a wealthy agricultural family, kindhearted, and forever tremendously curious. It’s her curiosity that generally sparks the investigations the classic lit club engage in, which Houtarou ends up leading. She’s the only one who can ask him a question to do something, and then have him agreeing in less than a minute. She’s also the one who breaks Houtarou a little bit of his shell.
She’s also terrible at leadership roles, even though she is the president of the classic lit club, but she’s great at caring about others and helping them with any troubles they have. In all, she’s a great, caring friend that anyone would be lucky to have.
Who is Ibara Mayaka?
She’s been with Houtarou and Satoshi since middle school, and has very different relationships with each of the boys. She’s a little hotheaded, and very passionate about her beliefs. She loves manga and cosplay, but is insecure about being interested in them. She’s very close to Satoshi, and through her body language, it’s clear she’s had feelings for him for quite some time. She often picks on Houtarou, though after joining the classic lit club with him and the others, she gets along with him better.
Mayaka is a member of many clubs, same as Satoshi, so she has many interests, but her main priority is actually manga club. I won’t be talking about Makaya much at all, but it helps to know a little about her anyway.
Houtarou and Satoshi
Before I started working on this post, I thought I would be focusing on the three characters’ impact on Houtarou, but as I was watching the show, I realized I needed to have a section for each relationship involving him.
As I mentioned before, Houtarou and Satoshi have been friends since middle school. Even so, their relationship and how they see each other changes immensely from middle school to high school, as shown through multiple scenes in the show.
Houtarou doesn’t believe that what he can do with his observation and solving skills is considered an actual talent. It’s completely groundbreaking when in episode ten he admits to being like a detective, but the way that Satoshi responds to the admittance is a bit strange.
I’m a jack of all trades, but a master of none. I’m a serious dabbler, that’s all. I get my passport stamped and I go on my way. I’m a master of nothing, and that’s alright.
Though it seems like Satoshi is alright with knowing that he has no real talent, he’s envious of Houtarou’s ability, something that Houtarou takes for granted. But these two characters complement each other very well in their personalities. Satoshi may not have any talent he can brag about, but he’s sociable and everyone likes him. He’s not scared to voice his opinions, and he wants to be able to stand out among others. In contrast, Houtarou has a talent that others acknowledge, but people don’t know him well because he’s reserved and not outspoken.
Another major scene that shows this dynamic between these two is when Houtarou is on the verge of solving a particularly difficult case. Before he’d taken the reins, Satoshi had told Houtarou that he would be the one to solve the case. He was determined to show his friend that he could do the same thing as him, to prove that he can show talent too. But this all falls flat when he talks to Houtarou about what’s been found out. Satoshi gets angry that he’s been beaten yet again by his friend.
Let’s take a look at Houtarou’s perspective now. During one mystery, he thinks he’s solved it, and hasn’t thought much more of it. It was done, no need to think of it anymore. But Satoshi confronts him to explain that there are holes in his conclusion, to which Houtarou becomes visibly hurt. This is the one thing he knows he can do, people have told him that before. He had confidence in it. To be told by his friend, the one who had even told him how impressive his skills were at that, hurts him horribly. At the same time, I believe that this moment was important for both Houtaoru and Satoshi. If Satoshi were to have kept quiet, the case would never be closed, and Houtarou would never know.
Despite their disagreements and envy for each other, I think they are great friends. They complement each other well in their differences, and let the other know when they’ve done something wrong. I could go into other examples, but we’d be here all day.
Houtarou and Eru
The friendship between these two becomes a bit strange by the end of the series, specifically in the last four episodes or so. As I said, this anime is technically a romance, so obviously there will be romantic interests. Mayaka and Satoshi seem to be obvious, even in the first couple episodes. Nothing becomes established exactly, but it’s a heavy implication. It’s a bit more complicated with Houtarou and Eru.
Eru is the reason Houtarou develops throughout the show. But she doesn’t exactly change him. She helps him with thinking more deeply about how he feels about situations. The largest difference being his motto. “If I don’t have to do something, I won’t.” I wouldn’t say it’s eliminated by the end of the series. But that “have” is changed to have and want. Before meeting Eru, Houtarou didn’t have anything that he actually wanted to do. He wasn’t curious about anything, he didn’t have passion, he just skated by in life: doing what he had to, remaining average, conserving energy. Eru added something to his life that he wasn’t expecting.
Houtarou has changed. No, more like he’s finally showing his true potential. And it’s all because he met Chitanda. She brought an element of unpredictability into his life that’s forcing him to grow.
Eru’s curiosity and determination to find answers is the driving force of Houtarou’s dedication. In the first few episodes, when the club is met with their first big mystery, Houtarou halfheartedly contributes, and complains because they meet outside of school. The complaining becomes less and less as the series progresses, because Houtarou finds himself being satisfied when Eru is satisfied. The smile on her face is an incentive.
Here we go again. There’s no escaping the unbearable curiosity of Chitanda Eru.
She’s not someone I can easily ignore, trust me, I would.
This is funny. He’s had no trouble ignoring other people in the past. He does it to Mayaka on almost a daily basis, and when Satoshi is annoying him, he just makes a remark and ignores him. But he just can’t when it comes to Eru.
I think it’s safe to say that for the bulk of the anime, they are simply friends. By the end, it’s obvious that they have mutual feelings for each other. The last episode shows Houtarou helping Eru out with a family matter, of his own accord, and that’s when he realizes how his motto has changed, all because of Eru. Even from the beginning, he was intrigued by her: wanted to know more about her and why she acts how she does. Now that he does know about her, he realizes that he’s willing to take time out of his day to help her. Which is something he never thought he’d do for anyone.
Houtarou and the Classic Literature Club
Run with your desire to change, from your comfort zone into freedom
Start choosing between now and the brilliance you can attain
Mikansei Stride (OP 2)
In the end, all four of the main characters change in some way throughout the series. Houtarou alters his motto to be more accurate, Satoshi comes to terms with his envy for others, Eru learns what kind of role she should take in the future, and Mayaka learns to be more confident in her passions that won’t seem pushy to others. The lyrics of the second opening ring so much truth to the conclusion of this series. They all break from their comfort zone and reevaluate themselves to become better people. All of this is possible for them because they confide in each other.
You may not think you’re special, but you are because you’re my friends.
Eru may have the best things to say about this group, since she has only known them for the current school year. She can see them as they are in the present, while those who have known each other since middle school know each others’ pasts. She has the clearest perception out of all of them. She’s the one who can see who they truly are, and what skills they have. The quote from above is followed by an explanation that it shouldn’t matter whether a stranger thinks you’re “special” or “average” or “subpar” or whatever. We shouldn’t go around deciding others’ worth anyway. And as long as there is someone who can look at you and see the qualities you possess, that should be good enough. That is what is called a friend.
But we really need to look at how Houtarou sees everyone, as this post is supposed to have him as the focus. By episode five, he already has thoughts about changing the way he looks at things. He sees how the others are so passionate about the other clubs they are in, and sees that as leading a “sunny life,” while he goes through life with a “little black cloud” above his head. He’s become a bit sick of others seeing him as being gloomy, so he decides it’d be worth a try to put effort into the club. He wavers between remaining gloomy and changing his perspective throughout the entirety of the show, but he does ultimately change his outlook for the better. He envies how other people go about their lives with more purpose than him, but through the combined effort of the classic lit club, he learns how to live in this way as well.
Where Does This Put Houtarou?
He’s still an introvert and still an energy conversationalist even by episode twenty-two. He still remains on the path of an average life, but now he has something he can put his free time into: solving mysteries alongside his friends in the classic literature club. And now he genuinely enjoys it. That’s all thanks to his friends. If they hadn’t been determined to include him in outside of school club activities, he may have never achieved this. If it weren’t for Eru’s curiosity and insistence on knowing everything, he would have never thought to help with solving these mysteries.
It’s no longer a matter of must, it’s a matter of want.
Being an Introvert and Friends
I have been an introvert and someone who doesn’t go out of their way to communicate with others for most of my life. In elementary school, I was much more sociable. You could put me next to anyone and I would find something to talk about, just because I was bored. Middle school hit and I became shy. Horribly shy. Everyone knew me as being shy. I could no longer strike up a conversation with just anyone. People began to get on my nerves, I lost some friends, but became closer to other friends. By eighth grade, my last year of middle school, I had become bitter toward all of my classmates. I had known most of them for at least three or four years, some for even nine years. But every one of them minus my five or so friends made me want to rip my hair out and scream.
High school rolls around. Luckily I’m with five of my friends from middle school. I stay close to them, and I don’t make any more friends. I still haven’t. Not since seventh grade I believe. But I don’t think I really need to worry about it right now. I have my five close friends, and I have my lovely blogging friends! I’m horribly worried for college, though, since I have somewhat forgotten how to even make friends. And, as being an introvert and a socially inept person, I don’t think it’ll be easy. But, I’ll be sure to try my best!
I hope you enjoyed this post! It’s been a week and a half in the making, between watching Hyouka again, taking notes, and figuring out what exactly it was that I wanted to say. It’s my longest post on my blog, and boy was it hard to shorten everything to be this. I could’ve gone on for 10,000 words, but I doubt anyone would want to read that. I love this anime, it’s my absolute favorite by KyoAni, and I feel it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in the world of anime.
This was also why I was somewhat MIA this week. I figured it’d be best if I focused just on this rather than overworking myself with other posts.
Make sure you check out the rest of the stops of this tour! Before me was new member Matt Doyle on a post regarding children’s shows’ portrayal of friendship. And after me will be Irina of I Drink and Watch Anime! You can also view the whole schedule here.
I’ll have a new post ready to go on Tuesday, hopefully I can get back in the swing of things. And stay tuned for my 100th blog post, just five after this one! It’ll sure be interesting…