I have no idea if I’ll do Kyoto Animation justice after all that happened this year, so here goes nothing.
Hyouka has always meant a lot to me for myriad personal reasons. It aired at a time when I still didn’t know who I was or what I wanted from life, and ended up inspiring me in more than a few ways. This year, after the Kyoto Animation fire, I reposted one of my posts on the series from my previous blog, and then decided to rewatch it. My Hyouka rewatch wasn’t part of reviewing “favorite of the decade” series, but a simple return to my personal favorite of Kyoto Animation’s works.
I was, and still am, struck by its melancholy.
This is a repost of Notes on Hyouka as an Exploration of Detective Fiction as published on Altair & Vega on July 5, 2012. As the post’s original author, I have reposted it here for preservation purposes since that blog is no longer fully functioning. It has not been edited or revised in any way.
Present day journalism, advertising, and marketing has been forever altered by social media. Breaking news is found through Twitter updates while commentary is immediately broadcast from one’s fingertips into the ether on Facebook and Reddit, among other platforms. Previously, newspapers, radio, and television were the primary tools of broadcasting both breaking news and advertising goods and services with commentary reserved for the dining table, living room, or office water cooler. If you’re at all interested in the ramifications of the former, more immediate and current path for news and marketing, Gatchaman Crowds might be the series for you.
Instead of a social media focus, Concrete Revolutio‘s in-universe thoughts are filtered through an anachronistic setup that harkens back to these days of fedoras with “Press” and rows of desks with rotary phones visible through the haze of cigarette smoke. The Concrete Revolutio twist is that said phones are now flown to satellite girls by witches.
“Beautiful. So beautiful, it just makes me swoon. The most beautiful part about it is that the answer is zero. That said, someone like me thinks that if the answer is going to be zero, there’s really no need to go out of your way to make the calculation.”
-Ougi Oshino to Koyomi Araragi, Owarimonogatari, Episode 1
A locked room mystery plays on the idea of the impossible. The crime scene is isolated with a set amount of variables: a vanished culprit, and information given to both the detective and the reader of that respective work. In a way, a locked room mystery is an equation or a formula. After a while, the reader learns what to expect and when, eagerly anticipating the detective’s incoming speech. This subgenre of detective fiction is responsible for some of the most famous, influential, and bestselling works of all mystery novels, most notably John Dickson Carr’s The Hollow Man and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
The insatiable appetite humanity seems to have for these types of mysteries is intrinsically tied to human nature itself. When presented with a seemingly insolvable situation, we crave rationality and an explanation.