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Hyouka Part 2 UK Blu-ray Anime Review

12 min read

….when you just want more…

What They Say:
After joining his school’s Classic Literature Club, Hotaro Oreki meets a solid group of friends who have a knack for getting into all sorts of trouble. Their adventures continue as they start preparations for a big festival where they plan to promote the Classic Literature Club. However, they find themselves in the middle of a mystery that only they seem fit to solve.
Contains episodes 12 to 22 on Blu-Ray with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles. Presented in Collectors packaging.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio has a 2.0 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese so, of course, a bit disappointed considering how much of a fan I became of the series – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare – in both languages I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub is also superb (especially considering how some of the lines are very focused on the Japanese language they manage to get round it though would recommend putting on subtitles when watching the dub if you’re not familiar with the Japanese characters) and the atmosphere plus the music makes the show feel more intense – just a shame we couldn’t get the full monty…

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation and colour in a more traditional sense but with a rather unique look with some of the designs making the animation stand out (especially as whilst you can tell the computer animation, the combination of that and scenes like flashbacks and solutions make it flow very uniquely), with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, and one with no real effects in terms of CGI or anything, it is a lot more standard than normal and for a series like this, that is a good thing…

Packaging:
There was no packaging for this test release, but for the Blu-Ray collector’s edition, there is collectors’ packaging.

Menu:
The Blu-ray menu is surprisingly basic (even the font reminds me of just a standard word font almost copied and pasted!) we have our lovable cast of four, Houtarou, Eru, Satoshi and Mayaka on the way to school, with Houtarou looking disinterested whilst the others are smiling on the left-hand side, the shows name on the top right, and the menu on the bottom right with the options Play All, Episodes, Setup and on the 2nd disc, extras. And like most Blu-rays, it has pop-up menus during the show (bar extras). Whilst perfectly functional and no issues, it is rather basic and static for a Blu-Ray release, especially one which is (in my opinion) one of the better shows in terms of a release recently.
Extras:

We have the clean opening and ending as per tradition, but the only other extras are trailers for Gosick (PLEASE LET THIS GET A UK RELEASE…ahem sorry), Dangan Ronpa 3, Dance With Devils & Steins Gate. However, there is an 80-page booklet with the special edition.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hyouka was one of those series that I didn’t know much about but once I saw the first half I was hooked on it. Mystery series I admit to having a bias towards so my reviews do have the fact it is definitely my cup of tea. Of course, I understand who it wouldn’t cater to either, but the second half again hooks you in – it helps that the 4 people bad are all memorable, unique and above all, entertaining and interesting. The second half continues this tradition to the point I was disappointed when it finished and no current additional anime (though there are more light novels out there…)

We have finished the film arc and after clear indications that Houtarou is definitely got more of an interest in Eru (but not to the point of distracting from the show) as a person he can’t leave alone or perhaps more, the interactions now get more to a point of casual friendship with something more, especially involving Satoshi and Mayaka, as we get the other arc along with the film one which gets a lot of love…the school festival arc.

The Classic Lit club are preparing for the festival despite a warning from Houtarou’s sister something always tends to go wrong for the club and gives him a broken fountain pen as a charm…seemingly innocuous but it eventually will help in a strange way. The problem quick happens as Mayaka accidentally ordered 200 copies of their anthology to sell as was only meant to get 30. So they begin to try and plan to advertise the club and see if can move their stand – they get help from the Empress (a.ka. Fuyumi, the only person able to outwit Houtarou in the film arc) and Eru’s charm helps with the student council, Satoshi goes to advertise it via entering events (as does Eru but accidentally in her case ^^) and Houtarou…stays in the room to hopefully sell books. Hey, he’s still lazy.

However, amidst Satoshi playing games (and forming a one sided rivalry with an old friend…the one side is on their side though) and Eru getting distracted in doing all the things, we get our mystery – various things have been stolen from school clubs in a particular order, known as ‘Jumonji’ this of course is something Eru and eventually Houtarou will get involved with – though it doesn’t really happen at first as with the odd anthology being sold (and Houtarou getting trades for items he has – from the pen to water guns), Satoshi, Eru and Mayaka plan to advertise the club via the cooking contest – which also leads to a bit of drama with Mayaka as she isn’t the most popular person in the manga club which causes some issues. She nearly misses helping them out but thanks to a well times assist from Houtarou (using a bag of flour he got in the round robin of trades he’s been doing), they win…but discover a ladle has been stone by Jumonji, leading to the classic Lit club now directly involved with the case(and advertise their anthology…)

Houtarou works out that the club are in Japanese alphabetical order and the items stolen may also follow an alphabetical order and the name means 10 letters (read as ju moji not Jumonji – the dub again does well in explaining this despite the way it’s set out) thinking the club will be last, so they go scout potential clubs but the thief still strikes. Meanwhile, with the manga club, Mayaka wanted to prove to some haughty members about a particular manga which she couldn’t find…which turns out Houtarous’ sister does and gives him the manga called A Corpse by Evening. Believe it or not, this actually becomes a vital clue in the case…

Eru manages to get some advice from the Empress how to advertise and she manages to get some time advertising it on the school radio (in her own unique way of course) and whilst she is uncomfortable doing it in a manipulative way like she does, it does get people interested in the anthology as well as the last destination of Jumoji. However, he succeeds but not without leaving a clue that Mayaka notices, which leads to Hotarou figuring out the case, how it links to the Corpse By Evening manga, and how Satoshi’s old youth in his obsession for winning comes a little here, which again, becomes more important by the end of the anime. This arc was incredibly clever as all the little things, from the trades, to the links of Agatha Christie’s works, to the conclusion, to how it worked out (and the culprit skipping potential clubs as well to keep everyone on their toes) – it is hard to say without spoiling it, it’s one of those you need to watch and get engrossed by.

The remaining five episodes are for the most part standing alone, but it does give good development for our characters, both individually and as pairings as you will see. We see Hotarou showing interest in other things (he was engrossed in the manga in the previous arc) – about his previous teacher and a rumour he survived 3 lightning strikes and looks into researching it. What is really fun is that Eru tags along but not because of her curiosity, but more of what makes him tick, and that there is more to him which she is impressed by – Hotarou on the other hand realises she helped him out of her own free will which is something he doesn’t get to say with any other people…which leads to a lot of moments later on between the two.

One of my favourite episodes is pretty much a standalone almost filler like but it really develops the friendship (and possible more) between Eru and Hotarou – the two are just trying to solve a random mystery after school hours that Eru has come about as Hotarou says she can’t just rely on him about everything she is intrigued by. The mystery is one about an announcing on the school with students being asked to come to the faculty office who visited a particularly stationary store. With Eru taking it too seriously, Hotarou comes with a full blown out there theory from something he read from a newspaper which in a weird way seems plausible and impresses Eru. The hilarious thing though is the next day, he turns out he was RIGHT….

That episode also showcases that Hotarou is clearly attracted to Eru and is clearly worried about having thoughts about her which gets her embarrassed (and the affection definitely could go the same way as well) which doesn’t help when he goes to a shrine with her for New Year’s Eve and she is decked out in a gorgeous kimono. However, the two are accidentally locked inside a shed and are freezing. This does scream like this could be the romantic issue, but it is actually played quite straight as the two try to figure out a way to escape without going to all the standard clichés. With Mayaka and Satoshi working there, they can only rely on those (as Eru realises if anyone else sees them they may get the wrong idea) – again, a little thing from early (Satoshi watching a drama that Hotarou did) is what is the key to their success which allows them to be rescued – just so many little things that you have to remember makes this such an engrossing anime.

And it isn’t just our two leads with romantic possibilities – Satoshi and Mayaka also get in the act during the Valentine ’s Day episode. The two have had a love/hate relationship throughout but it is clear the two have feelings for each other so Mayaka asks Eru to help out make the best Valentine’s chocolate she can – what we learn though is Satoshi used to be ultra competitive and when playing a game with him Hotarou notices the changes – this leads to a mystery when Mayaka’s chocolate is stolen but it becomes obvious that Satoshi was the one who stole it, as he admits that he doesn’t want to be ‘obsessed’ with winning anything or everything anymore, and didn’t want to be like that with Mayaka. In a twist, Mayaka was aware of this and knew he was afraid of giving him an answer, and the two end the episode about to talk to each other (the next episode pretty much guarantees the two are dating)…

The last episode may, in fact, be the worst one, and not because it was bad, but it was just…it ends. It basically sets up for more to come, but you really want to see it continue and see where it leads – it does lead to seeing Eru as a Hina Doll with Hotarou as a parasol carrier (and to say he’s distracted by her is an understatement) and with one mystery about the bridges and the route, and Eru deciding what she wants to do with her life (with Hotarou clearly wanting to be with her but not outright saying it) which does conclude nicely but still, you want more…

This is a series which again, isn’t going to be for everyone – whilst not slow-paced, it does feel a niche series among today’s market – it isn’t action heavy and requires a lot of character interaction and playing along trying to work out the mysteries along with Hotarou. And with the last episode just ending it feels it doesn’t reach its full potential.

That said, considering that is the only thing I found weak about it – if you’re not into mystery style series that understandable, you can bypass it. If you are remotely are, or into some fun character development, then this is a great progressing show. It doesn’t really have a heavy plot (4 kids at a school club which tends to solve mysteries…just without the Great Dane or Mystery Van) but the characters are wonderful and the mysteries are really good and smart, even the one episode ones. The budding relationship between Eru and Hotarou is the big focus as you know there is chemistry there – Hotarou wants to go back to his lazy life but can’t help being transfixed by this inquisitive, child-like yet beautiful and intelligent girl whose curiosity is catching for him. The show never goes too far with them, just hints, blushes and stares, hence why I wished there was more on the horizon to see how far this goes (especially with the hint that he wants to help her accomplish her dream) but what we get is still plenty. What I really love is that Hotarou’s character never really changes from his original motif – he doesn’t want to do much and when he does, he wants to do it quick. That said, he never seems friendless and just develops his friendships without losing that side of his personality…it just works. He seems likable despite his attitude suggesting otherwise and makes him one of my favourite protagonists.

Eru is also quickly becoming a personal favourite – she seems like she’s the ditzy girl but it is established she is quite intelligent (6th in the school) and her dream suggests she has plans in that mind. Combined with her good looks, charm and being a rich girl without being spoiled or being horrid about it, she is extremely likable, funny and also engaging with Hotarou (and Mayaka as well as a best female friend) which leads to their potential attraction. When Hotarou is staring at her through the Hina doll festival, you can feel the attraction ready to explode but it stops before we get that far. The other cast with the Mayaka/Satoshi development has also got their own moments – Mayaka with her being an outcast in the manga club and Satoshi gets jealous of Hotarou’s skills but not wanting to sink back into what he was like in the past – they all get their moments (the return of the Empress is a great addition as her manipulation is clearly just an act – she proves in the final episode she is quite the nice girl) and involvement throughout makes them all very memorable.

I can’t like this show enough and pray there is more on the way – again it is a personal taste so if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, totally understand. But for me, this is a top series and now I need to pray the novels get released in English…

Summary:
Hyouka’s mysteries continue throughout and draw you in and make you wait for Hotarou’s working out as you try and do it before he does. The main cast of 4 are likable, entertaining, interesting, funny and with a touch of romance added as well, keeps everything in check whilst flowing the story. There isn’t a huge plot or overarching finale, which is the only real weakness as it is fairly episodic, but the arcs, the developments, and the mystery element make this one of those hidden gems that I haven’t found so much since Gosick or Erased. Highly recommended.

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-

Released By: Anime Limited/Funimation
Release Date: June 25th, 2018
MSRP: £44.99
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
PlayStation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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