A chain of climaxes — not complainin’.
I’m the guy that really enjoys characterization and romance more than action/every other flashy aspect of a show, so this “finale” was incredibly fulfilling for me. It addressed so many elements, and it pulled each one of them off incredibly well — a lot of the characterization was subtle, which gave it a hint of realism and intrigue. To begin with, the mood of the show felt similar, but it also felt incredibly different; regardless of how “dark” the events of Hyouka develop to be, the overall mood that it exudes, that it evokes within the viewer remains “lighthearted”, and “bright”. But in this episode, the developments weren’t “dark”, yet it still managed to invoke a different mood; the amalgamation of the color scheme, the weather effects, and the occurring developments resulted in a surrealistic view on Hyouka [it didn’t feel like a typical, happy episode].
Let’s begin with the characterization. Fukube’s been one of the central characters for development [next to Oreki]; in the last arc, I really just assumed that he got over his “inferiority complex”; whilst in reality, he only pulled off the facade of doing so. He attributed an obsessive compulsion to himself; if he can’t be the best, then he shouldn’t try. We saw the antithetical junior high Fukube with the modern-day, more relaxed one. After a prolonged associated with Oreki, he changed his attitude [since Oreki was always the central “hero” in solving the mysteries]. His relationship with Mayaka is also one to be noted; out of all the characters, Mayaka was probably the least developed; Oreki was first, followed by Satoshi then Chitanda — Mayaka remained a relatively “constant” character. It’s clear that Satoshi does like Mayaka, but it’s a question of whether his “liking” of her will result in him turning into an arrogant tool again; if it does, Mayaka will probably not desert him regardless; if it does not, then it’s a win/win. If he takes the former option, and accepts Mayaka’s confession, then he attains the possibility of losing himself, and Mayaka. He won’t be the lighthearted, relaxed guy, he’ll be the extremely uptight tool [as seen when he rejected Mayaka’s “homemade” chocolate in junior high]. And as a presumptuous prediction, Mayaka’s not the type of person to desert Satoshi, regardless of a tool he relapses to be. This action would be seen as “selfish”, since he’s prioritizing the potential occurrences above Mayaka’s sensibility. If he denies Mayaka’s declaration of love, then he hurts her via the rejection; but he waives the possibility of him hurting both himself and her in the future. This would be seen as selfish because he’s considering what he wants above what Mayaka wants [Mayaka may not mind staying with Satoshi even if he does relapse into being a tool; an illogical wanting, but that’s love for you; the ultimate catalyst to illogical reasoning and Catch-22s].
Let’s shift to Oreki; he’s been the central character of the show, both in development and in plot advancement. Hyouka would not function without Oreki; as a result, he’s progressed quite a ways. His relationship with Chitanda was incredibly awesome, yet incredibly subtle. He obviously does like Chitanda; it’s not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of definite truth. Chitanda was the catalyst that forced Oreki to evolve from a lethargic recluse to a determined detective. We saw his actions during this episode; although not blatantly, he took numerous precautions to prevent Chitanda from getting hurt. He readily aids her, regardless of the obscurity; he only conforms to his character [being lazy] because that’s expected of him. He doesn’t take the comments of him turning into an energetic detective very well; albeit playful, he doesn’t like being in the limelight; he does want to change, but it’s a bit awkward to change when those around you expect different. Chitanda’s guilt in this episode was also handled incredibly well, albeit subtly. During the beginning of the episode, she mentioned that her family does not give gifts to those extremely close to them; you would give gifts to strangers, friends of the family, but those on an intimate, sentimental level, you do not. Chitanda insinuated quite flagrantly that Oreki occupied a point on this scale of relations; but rather than that, this allows us to presume a lot of Chitanda’s reason for guilt.
As we saw from the previous arc, Chitanda’s a great cook. Given her ability in cuisine, we could assume that she aided Mayaka in chocolate making, but even further than that, we could assume that she really wanted to give Oreki chocolate. But, the dilemma of familial tradition hindered her reasoning, although most modern-day families do not follow tradition strictly, she’s from a relatively old-fashioned family. It would be the equivalence of nobility; as we saw from the previous episode, she had to ward off any presumptions about her family name. Given this, we could justify her following tradition. Enter Mayaka, Chitanda’s closest female friend [assuming]; she’s not hindered by family politics; but even more so, their closeness, and their similar goals [Mayaka to Satoshi, Chitanda to Oreki] allowed her to relate to her situation. Even more so, it wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that she wanted to live vicariously through Mayaka, giving chocolate to the person that she loves; so, when the candy was “stolen”, she felt immense guilt, given that Mayaka poured her heart and soul into it [as Chitanda noted]. She would feel guilt because she could relate to the feeling of not being able to blatantly, tangibly give a gift that signifies love.
I really do enjoy these type of episodes. Hyouka, or any other show have a primary genre — whether that’d be action, romance, or in this case, mystery. It’s the sentimental character interactions, the acmes of character development that makes the show. I really consider most storylines [that are not carried by an intriguing system of mechanics] as a medium for character development, or in most cases, action. I was actually prepared to probably give some trite speech on my Concluding Thoughts on Hyouka, essentially reiterating what I’ve been saying, and pretentiously accentuating how Hyouka makes the mundane entertaining and engaging, but there are more episodes. I’m not sure whether it’s 22 or 23 episodes; I’d hope for the last episodes to be meaningful, and not filler — for example, an episode central around Oreki and Chitanda, and another around Satoshi and Mayaka would be awesome.