I've finished Hyouka recently, and I wanted to give attention to what I did--and didn't--like about this anime.
Firstly, as a slice of life, it heavily relies on the characters. In the beginning, Oreki was simply 'enough'. He was fine. Then, as we learned more about him, he became pretty darn awesome. Then, as the series progressed, he kind of evolved into a different character, and simply put, the show became quite boring. I can understand the romantic undertones towards Chitanda, but he lost both his cynic mental remarks and his general resistance to do anything unnecessary. Oddly enough, we are practically told this straight out by Mayaka in the OVA, episode 11.5, at the pool, and she states she thinks it's for the worse.
Chitanda began the show as a fun character, and seemed rather airheaded, aloof, and ever-curious. They did a good job developing her as a more rounded character, but I didn't enjoy the how she developed. She became more mature as a character, which is fine, but she lost a lot of her charm, and as she becomes conflicted throughout the series, she frankly becomes kind of annoying. She lost her cuteness due to them developing her to be more mature, and she lost her humor almost altogether, of which those moments became far and few later in the anime.
Fukube is a big miss for me here. He starts out as the generic foil for our protagonist, Oreki, and the show develops him in a darker fashion, as he deals with jealousy over Oreki's talent and obsessions of being the best at everything and later, to stop obsessing. In my opinion, he was too important to be a side character, but not important enough to be a main character, and so he sits at the awkward position where you feel his screen time is a waste, overall. Also, as to how they handled his jealousy put a lot of stress on the series, which seemed unnecessary considering how it generally had a lighthearted approach.
Mayaka was a character I simply didn't care for, though she definitely belonged here nonetheless. She easily received the least character development of the four, and where they do focus upon her as a character, her actions are simply a lack of action, and put extra stress onto the series as does Fukube. She, as a character, however, remains her good points for the length of the entire anime.
In terms of plot, the first half of the anime was wonderful, easily one of the best slice of life series I've watched, and the mystery was balanced well. The second half of the series lost a lot of its humor in favor of more actual drama, and it noticeably detracts from the mystery, where the mystery would feel as if it were simply in the works behind the scenes until the answer is presented to us at the end. The drama itself opened up the hearts of the four main characters, and left it open-ended, giving the feeling nothing has been accomplished. This drama was unnecessary to begin with, as even if they had some sort of conclusion to the uncertain mood that begins to form from this, it would feel forced and cliche.
The final episode pretty much proves to the audience what was already obvious of how Oreki feels about Chitanda (is it loooooooove~?), but it probably would be the first episode on mind to receive the label 'filler', and a filler it is. The entire setting in the first third of the episode is uncomfortable and awkward, and the themes of the show, slice of life and mystery, are incredibly silenced. Before the conclusion, a forgettable mystery is brought forth, which is solved three minutes later in a short conversation between Oreki and Chitanda.
Overall, it was easily worth the watch, but by the second half of the series it just feels more disappointing than it actually should be. It's an anime that didn't do anything necessarily wrong besides a weak ending, but really would have been better off staying safe with the formulaic approach the first half set for us.
I'd like to hear what others think of Hyouka as well, of course.
Ahh, the weak ending anime...I ran into a weird ending with Monster, but I haven't seen one with a weak ending in a while...still this one sounds okay for a time killer...I might watch! Thanks for the review Khaos!
Really? Weak endings seem to be rather rampant among anime, and lately I've seen them everywhere. I've yet to see Monster. Anyhow, don't let this deter you from watching it, of course. Tell me what you think when you're done.
Weak endings are definitely common in anime. I think it's a curse of the medium. Don't artists in the industry have to produce according to tight schedule compared to say, novel writers? Lots anime come from manga and manga only go on for as long as the publisher wants them to. Publishers probably coerce the writers to keep going (Death Note) or stop prematurely if a manga's popularity drops - and if you're asked to end a story earlier than you planned, well, you do what you have to.
Phozz seems to have evidence for what I had assumed.
So, then, publishers should make more anime based upon completed manga, like stuff by Junji Ito, for instance.
No personal bias there or anything. xD
Actually, quite a few great anime come from visual novels, which I hope to see more of. The problem is that the anime has to choose a path to follow or make it's own 'route' altogether, so it's more difficult, and likely to be some form of controversy. (Am I really the only one here who liked School Days...? lmao)
I think in the case of things like Hyouka, it's based upon light novels, so it's hard to maintain consistency as the novels will continue, and don't require a complete resolution, but anime, however, does. There can obviously be a second season, but the impact an anime leaves in the conclusion before season two is also important. I haven't read Hyouka myself, so this is just conjecture, but that's the gist of my thinking.