More about things which are not Gundam (yay?). This time is Hyouka.
The show is slow paced, but once it gets going it is quite good. First off the show looks fucking amazing, as would be expected from KyoAni. But on top of that it does the really nice surreal imagery that one would expect from SHAFT, but still keeping up a great level of technical quality (SHAFT maybe one of my favorite Anime Studios, but I'll be the first to admit that they are not good animators. They are great at the artistic half of things, being excellent visual artists, but poor at the technical side of things). Like in the just aired ep.6, I loved the scene where the chibi, angel-winged Chitandas start gathering on Houtarou en masse like mushrooms while saying "Kininarimasu" over and over. Or when Houtarou saw Chitanda as an angel after she said it takes too much energy to get angry. And that's just from this episode alone. Definitely another KyoAni work that is excellent to look at.
As for the characters, I love Houtarou. A lot of people try to make their protags like Kyon, and it usually never comes of as well as the original. Houtarou comes relatively close to the original in how much I enjoy him (which is really saying something as Kyon is my absolute favorite "Normal High School Guy" character in all of Anime and one of my favorite male characters in Anime in general). However, despite how much like Kyon he is, he is not a carbon copy which I also enjoy. Houtarou plays up the "Brilliant but Lazy" idea far more than Kyon, as it's never made exactly clear just how intelligent Kyon is (due in part seemingly to Kyon's own denial on the subject). With Houtarou it's made very clear that he is quite intelligent, but that he is just absurdly lazy and hates devoting energy to analyzing things. Houtarou seems more willing to brush things off than Kyon is as well (probably because his actions do not affect the physical incarnation of Dividing by Zero) and connected to that, Houtarou at times seems ruder and more blithe than Kyon (again, when your actions are affecting a girl who is a one man Negative Space Wedgie, your demeanor would change). I don't think he is a Jerk or an Asshole as some contend, but simply very blunt and dismissive. He has not been shown to be malicious. His deductive mind is also a great thing to watch at work. Content-wise, he is one of the larger reasons I like the show.
Concerning Chitanda, I am not super fond of her. I find her intelligence to be mostly an informed ability as she is poor when it comes to the mystery solving. Considering my own personality is similar to Kyon and Houtarou, her "Genki-ness" wears on me quickly. Concerning "Moe" value, I find Ibara much cuter, more attractive and inviting (yes, the local Tsundere. That thread really is my crack baby). This is mainly because I find Chitanda herself to be too damn perfect. However I like how in episode 6 it's acknowledged in-universe that Chitanda boarders on angelic, and that she has shown some intelligence outside of grades (like saying that the Seven Deadly Sins are not pure evil, how without some level of Greed and Envy there can be no ambition and society would not progress, or with out Anger there can be no love). Not my favorite, but let's see how she progresses.
Concerning Satoshi, he is a very nice "best bud" character. He avoids looking like an idiot like other characters of his archtype because of his love for trivia. It also comes in handy when solving the mysteries. I also enjoy his slight flamboyance and sprinkle of camp in his personality which makes him an interesting character to watch (as well as being a possible hint to why he lacks the perversion of many other characters within his archtype). Also there is of course Ibara. To be honest we still don't know much about her, and she didn't really come to any conclusions of notice in the mysteries (granted, she does try). However I don't care about that, as I think she is unbelievably cute and super Moe. Hopefully however, we will get to see more of her.
Concerning the Mysteries of the show, I for one actually like the mundane nature of the mysteries. By having the mysteries be rather normal and not in any way life risking, KyoAni achieves this rather weird combination, one of both engagement and relaxation. It's engaging because of how the mysteries are built up, with changes in the camera angles and music, as well as differently illustrated visuals. The relaxation comes from the fact that the mysteries themselves have very little at stake in reality, start quietly and tend to end quietly. This makes them have almost the same relaxing, cathartic feeling I get from watching SoLs. I love that combination where I am very engaged in the events yet feel relaxed by it's contents. I really love that about the show.
Sure, the show pace is quite slow. And the show's very mundane take on the mystery genre might not be for everyone, but I myself quite enjoy it. It does have probably my favorite male protagonist of this season to be sure, and it looks damn amazing. I like it, what about you?
*(Also the ED is simultaneously the cutest and sexiest thing ever)*