This episode’s a bit controversial among fans. Many say “It’s amazing!” while others complain “It’s too serious.” What do I think? Episode 11 of Hyouka proves to be the best yet; it simply outdoes all episodes before in build-up, climax & resolution, and opens our eyes to and subverting the mystery genre as a whole. Most importantly, this episode has both Chitanda and Oreki truly connect for the first time, developing their respective characters further and possibly closing that unforeseen distance between them.
There was never a mystery to begin with, just a red herring to play and manipulate Oreki into the role of script-writer. Irisu never meant any of what she said to Oreki, only saying what she knew was necessary to make him her personal pawn. And when faced with that revelation, she simply said “whether you consider them lies or not is up to you,” avoiding any responsibility or seeing herself as being in the wrong at all. In the end, Irisu’s the kind of woman who could care less for whoever she uses, as long as she gets a conclusion that entertains her and fulfils her responsibilities. Not to say she’s heartless, since she didn’t want to hurt Hongou’s feelings, but she sure deserved being seen through by both Oreki and the “senpai”, Tomoe.
This episode managed to top Oreki’s character development from last week by deconstructing it; to solve a mystery, Oreki should be open to everyone rather than doing everything himself. Irisu’s machinations made Oreki over-confident in his skills, thus leading to his disregard of both the author’s intent and the observations made by his fellow clubmates. His lack of interaction with others led him astray, becoming too self-absorbed to see the bigger picture. Hopefully, this helps him step out of his self-imposed isolation.
The final scene between Oreki and Chitanda is probably the most understated and surprisingly clever moment so far. In Oreki’s final (and most plausible) version of the script, we must understand that it no longer matters whether or not he’s worked out the trick; what matters is that he opened himself to Hongou’s perspective and now understands her feelings. The scenario he lays out is not a logical conclusion reached by reworking her script, but a mirror of what he believes happened between Hongou and Irisu: Kaitou (Hongou) is wronged by Kounosu (Irisu and the class) but instead of lashing out, he locks himself away and fake an accidental injury for the sake of his friends.
“What I wanted… was for everyone to have fun working together.”
I don’t think it was coincidence that Chitanda feels that Hongou is alot like herself. She probably felt this way all along, but couldn’t say so in fear of sounding pretentious. As such, Oreki now understands Chitanda more clearly than before, and – in essence – it brings to two closer together.
While Oreki’s an interesting character on his own, I like how others like Fukube got to stand out as well; his passionate outburst came completely unexpected given his usual happy-go-lucky self. In fact, everything in this episode was unexpected! Overall, this episode was gold thanks to the moments of strong characterization and shocking revelation.
Next week is the Kanya festival! And Vocaloids! And hopefully some more Sawakiguchi Misaki (please?)!
Thanks for reading!