"If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I have to do it, I'll make it quick."
—Houtarou Oreki's life motto
Hyouka (氷菓note "Ice Cream" ) is a mystery novel written by Honobu Yonezawa, serving as the first volume in a total of five in the Classics Literature Club series. It was turned into an Anime in the Spring of 2012, produced by Kadokawa Shoten, animated by Kyoto Animation and directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto, with Shoji Gatoh serving as head writer, and Futoshi Nishiya handling the character designs. A manga counterpart was started in January 2012 in Monthly Shonen Ace.The story follows a lackluster teenager by the name of Houtarou Oreki who, while cursing his first year of high school, lives by his motto "If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I have to do it, I'll make it quick". Nonetheless things don't go as planned as Oreki becomes involved with his local high school "Classics Club" at the behest of his elder sister. There he meets Eru Chitanda, an apparently happy-go-lucky girl belonging to a very wealthy family who, besides having an extraordinary memory, possesses a level of curiosity far exceeding that of anyone Oreki has ever seen. Alongside curious Chitanda, the chipper Satoshi and the strict Ibara, Oreki will find himself pushed into using his untapped talent in solving various mysteries ranging in nature and scope throughout his foreseeable high school days.
Hyouka demonstrates examples of the following tropes:
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Downplayed when Satoshi uses his position on the Executive Committee to put the Kotenbu's name on the far left of the festival brochure to make it more noticeable. Oreki doesn't notice it (and calls it an abuse of power when its shown to him).
Accidental Pervert: It wasn't that bad, but being caught by your friend after you've been peeking at photos of them in cute outfitswould be pretty embarrassing.
Adorkable: Houtarou's frequent inability to socialize properly, especially around Eru, comes off like this.
Chitanda herself, especially when she gets curious about something.
Alcohol Hic: Heard when Chitanda gets drunk on whiskey chocolates.
All Love Is Unrequited: Ibara has had a crush on Satoshi since middle school, but despite being aware of this, Satoshi still hasn't returned her feelings. Or rather, he's afraid to.
Almost Kiss: Twice in episode 19. Notable because Chitanda has had a habit of invading Oreki's personal space since episode 1, so her sudden awareness of their facial proximity is a sign she is becoming aware of her feelings toward him.
Discussed regarding the word 犠牲 ("sacrifice")note which can be read as either gisei - "scapegoat" or ikenie - "offering" in the foreword to the second volume of Hyouka. This may be because Sekitani was forced to be this scapegoat, but came to take the position willingly. This trope is also the origin of the term "Kanya Fest". It appears to be a simply shortening of "Kamiyama", but the "Kanya" is actually written 関谷 (Sekitani) to honor him.
Also appears during the festival itself, regarding the mysterious thief Juumonji—his name can be read as 'ten letters,' the rule behind his series of thefts.
Oreki gets tripped up by this twice in the same episode; it turns out he's been misreading the names of the Student Council Presidentand the doujin circle that made A Corpse by Evening. What makes the latter example even worse is that the reading is written in Latin letters right next to the kanji...
Satoshi realizes, once again, that he will never have the effortless detective skill that Houtarou does.
Mayaka wonders whether her manga will ever be as good as A Corpse by Evening.
This trope is actually the whole reason behind both Kouchi's Jerkass attitude and the Juumoji Incident. Kouchi is deliberately avoiding reading A Corpse by Evening so she won't have to acknowledge that something so good was drawn by someone who just did it as a lark. Tanabe (who is playing the part of Juumoji), likewise, is frustrated that said artist refuses to go back to drawing—it's a disservice to the whole world to not express his talent, especially since Tanabe will never have such raw skill of his own.
Ambiguous Disorder: When Chitanda really wants to say something she won't establish any kind of context before cutting right to the chase, leaving the receiver of her comments without any clue as to what she actually meant. If she gets curious she will convince Houtarou to get her the answers, usually by simply expressing her overwhelming curiosity so strongly that Houtarou has no way out of its glare but to submit.
Anchored Ship: Type Four: Satoshi goes out of his way to not answer Mayaka's feelings for him.
Taken to an almost bastardly level in episode 21 where, in order to avoid giving her an answer, Satoshi destroys the Valentine's day chocolate that Mayaka planned on giving him.
Later they become a Type One, as Satoshi and Mayaka finally begin dating at the beginning of their second year.
Arc Words: Each episode, whether it is part of an arc or is a standalone story, ends with a short phrase that upon inspection is related to the plot.
The Jun Sekitani arc episodes end with "The niece of time", a reference to the plot's similarity to The Daughter of Time, with the "daughter" changed to "niece", since Chitanda is Sekitani's niece.
The student film arc has "Why didn't she ask EBA?", which cuts to the meat of the mystery—if Irisu actually wanted to know Hongou's intended ending for the film, why didn't she just ask Eba, Hongou's best friend? It's also a reference to the Agatha Christie mystery novel Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
The random stories arc has "Little birds can remember", which is a reference to yet another Agatha Christie mystery novel Elephants Can Remember; with "little bird" possibly being Chitanda.
In episode 11, when it's Chitanda's turn to talk to Oreki about the school film's ending, the scene takes place at one of these.
Art Shift: Sequences play that help illustrate the analyses that the characters discuss when solving a mystery, and they are animated a different way each time. In the anime, we so far have a pop-up book, mixed media imagery of '60s propaganda, and sketchy, dreamy animation. Episode 9 features three possible solutions to a mystery and a different art style for each proposal.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Oreki. When he puts effort into it, he can make brilliantly logical deductions by simply examining and thinking about a few clues in a matter of minutes. In episode 19, Houtarou asserts to Eru that his deductions are simply luck, and tries to prove such to her, but still manages to reason out the correct reason for and context behind a mysterious announcement at the school.
Batman Gambit: Kouchi baits Ibara by patronizing the club's booth as a way to get customers.
The Classics Club meets at Chitanda's in episode 4. When Oreki and Satoshi bike there, the anime takes the opportunity to show off the scale and grandeur of the Chitanda family's land and mansion. Satoshi is a little disappointed when, instead of a butler or a servant, Chitanda greets them at the door.
Mentioned again in episode 18. Oreki compares a Japanese castle in a magazine to Chitanda's place:
Oreki: Your house is pretty grand, too.
Chitanda: My house isn't all that grand. I think it's just a little bigger than normal.
[cue aerial shot of Chitanda's property]
Oreki:[to self] I don't understand what your idea of "normal" is.
Bishōnen: Houtarou, Satoshi, Masashi, Jirou, and Muneyoshi.
Bottle Episode: The bulk of episode 19 consists of Oreki and Chitanda in the Club Room trying to figure out the mystery behind a mysterious announcement.
Break the Cutie: Satoshi's normally jovial expression is broken momentarily when Oreki tells him he's found a lead in the Juumoji case by means other than discovering a mistake or connection of occurrences, methods Satoshi has tirelessly been using in an effort to solve the case himself.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: There is a very subtle one at the start of episode 11, after Oreki's clever movie ending is completely trashed by Ibara, as soon as she has left the room, Oreki turns and looks directly at the camera.
Oreki, he is always complaining about how much energy he has left.
Also, the illustrator of A Corpse By Evening. He's extraordinarily talented, but rarely uses his abilities; he only did that one task "for fun" and refuses to create anything else. The entire Juumonji incident was an elaborate, and unsuccessful, attempt to convince him to help with a new project.
Camp Straight: Satoshi seems to have this going for him a little. For example: while Houtarou describes the ideal high school life as being "rose-colored", Satoshi claims that his is "Shocking Pink".
Can't Hold Her Liquor: Chitanda in episode 9. Granted the whiskey chocolates were stated to be rather strong and she did wind up going through almost the entire box by herself but she still wound up getting so drunk she passed out and woke up with a hang-over, so it probably still qualifies.
Catch Phrase: Chitanda's "Watashi, ki ni narimasu!", variously translated as "I can't stop thinking about it!", "I'm curious!", etc. It's a sign to Oreki that things won't be quiet for a while.
Chain of Deals: At the beginning of episode 12, Oreki's sister gives him a broken fountain pen for no particular reason as he leaves for the school festival. Later on, a fashion club member asks to use it as an accessory, giving Oreki a voucher for a free make-over in exchange. In the next episode, another student arrives to buy an anthology from the Classics Club booth and Oreki gives him a heads-up that his fly is down; Oreki gives him the safety pin from the back of the voucher so he can fix it. The student then gives Oreki his toy water pistol in return. The next episode, Oreki trades the gun along with an anthology to two members of the confectionery research club for two packs of cookies, as well as a pack of wheat flour. Oreki then gives the flour to Satoshi to help Mayaka in the cooking contest (by tossing it down from a window instead of actually going down there himself, naturally). In the episode following, Mayaka (at his request) repays him by giving him a mirror from her Himitsu no Akko-chan "Akko"-chan cosplay. When his sister drops by the next day, she decides to keep it going by trading him a copy of A Corpse by Evening, which turns out to be essential to solving the Juumonji incident.
Character Tic: Oreki has a habit of playing with his forelock when he's thinking particularly hard about a case.
Cherry Blossoms: A very nice scene given during the time Chitanda invites Houtarou to her small home district to help her in a doll festival. Too stimulating for Houtarou's energy conservationalism, but he did enjoy it.
Childhood Friends: Oreki, Satoshi, and Ibara. If you couldn't tell from their banters already.
Club Stub: The Classics Club was in danger of being discontinued due to low membership had it not been for Houtarou joining.
Cooking Duel: One staged by the Cooking Club though their members are the judges and commentators rather than the contestant.
Daydream Surprise: Done in the last moments of the finale. With Chitanda mildly lamenting her fate within their small city (in short, keeping it alive), Oreki proposes that she does not have to do it alone to her elated surprise. One brutal Gilligan Cut tells us that Oreki only imagined saying that to her, being too afraid of relinquishing his current lifestyle with such a proposal.
Several times in the Niece of Time arc, Chitanda drags Oreki out of the Kotenbu clubroom to investigate something.
Mayaka drags Satoshi off to work on Hyouka's manuscript in episode 11.5.
Dramatic Wind: This is actually used quite often in Hyouka, though subtly at times.
Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Episode 16; Oreki is about to talk of his thoughts on the Juumoji case, which excites Chitanda. But when he denies her curiosity by telling her it involves an "adult topic" and she can't hear him out, her reaction is nothing less of this trope. It's pretty hilarious.
Easily Forgiven: Satoshi is let off the hook fairly easily for stealing Mayaka's Valentine's chocolate and breaking it, just so he didn't have to accept it. At the very least, Mayaka could have let him stew in his own guilt for a while. A long while.
The Faceless: Oreki's elder sister, Oreki Tomoe. The most we get is everything under her nose. Pause episode 16 at just the right time, though, and you can catch just the bottom half of her eyes.◊
Face Doodling: At the very end of the second opening. The victim's Oreki. The culprits are Ibara and Satoshi.
Fair Play Whodunnit: The student film in episode 8. Although the script is unfinished, the fact that the mystery follows all the rules means the director is confident that Oreki and company will be able to tell her the solution even though she can only show them the first half of the movie. Subverted because Hongou did not intend for the victim to actually die, and Irisu is actually lying about why she wants Oreki's help.
Fortune Teller: Chitanda's aptly-outfitted friend from the 13th episode, Kaho Jūmonji, who sets up a tent in the hallway for the culture fest. Wheel of Fortune not included.
Sanguine: Chitanda. She fits the outgoing Proper Lady type to the letter.
Choleric: Ibara. Although she's not a leader, she gets very passionate over the things she cares about, as seen during the cultural festival and the Valentine's Day episode.
Melancholic: Satoshi. Although he's something of an extrovert, his Hidden Depths reveal that he's this way because otherwise he'd fit the negative attributes of the Melancholic type (obsessive, perfectionist to the point of depression) a lot more.
Phlegmatic: Houtarou. "Is calm, stoic, reliable, compassionate, observant; but also lazy, reactionary, docile." Need we say more?
Genki Girl: Chitanda is a more refined example. The hot-bloodedness is there, just a bit lower in temperature.
Oreki, more and more as time goes by. He's developed a habit of wincing before Chitanda delivers her signature "I'm curious!".
Satoshi. He realizes that his lack of talent or motivation prevents him from having "main character" capability, which results in him being a Stepford Smiler.
Girly Run: Done by most girls, even when they're not running that fast—but especially by Chitanda.
Hallucinations: Oreki frequently experiences a variety of hallucinations, often attributed by him to the level of energy he feels he is experiencing from others. Often these involve perceptions of moving or shifting kanji. At one point in episode one, he had visions of Chitanda's hair becoming vinelike with radiant flowers in it, ensnaring him as she pleaded for his assistance. At another point, he sees the kanji from a set of club posters flood around him as a black sea. He's also seen dozens of tiny red Chitanda "angels" tugging on him when she was getting him involved in another mystery.
Don't worry. He's still very much sane.
Heroic BSOD: Houtarou goes through a particularly nasty one in episode 11 once he realizes that he was totally wrong and that Irisu was lying to him in order to manipulate him into writing the script. Also, judging from his actions in episodes 10 and 11, Satoshi is veering dangerously close to one as well.
Aaaaaaaaand as of episode 17, Satoshi is most DEFINITELY in the midst of one.
Hoist by His Own Petard: In episode 19, Oreki attempts to discredit his deduction skills by trying to decipher a vague school announcement. His conclusion turns out being completely correct and Chitanda is all the more impressed.
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Kouchi, a member of Ibara's manga society club, professes her patronizing thoughts on the club's culture festival booth, making light of their efforts, getting to Ibara easily.
The way Kouchi smiled when Ibara finally responded to her remarks was quite trolly.
Apparently, the members invoked this trope as a part of a Batman Gambit.
Locked in a Room: Chitanda and Houtarou accidentally get locked in a shed in episode 20.
Episode 1's mystery, except no murder is involved.
The student film in episode 8 features an example with a murder mystery. Though that was not what the writer originally planned. It only appeared to be one to the Classics Club because the people doing the filming changed an important detail in the script.
Manipulative Bastard: Oreki, surprisingly enough. He blackmails multiple upperclassmen, Tanabe and Tougaito, in order to advance the goals of the Classics Club. He also goes out of his way to keep Chitanda uninvolved, even lying to her about the Jumonji case to keep her in the dark.
Mundane Made Awesome: In the beginning of the novel and anime, before the actual storyline kicks in, the mysteries Houtarou solves are pretty trivial, yet most of an episode focuses on them. He solved how a room becomes locked seemingly on its own, why the same book was checked out and in from the school library for weeks, and where the unauthorized flyer for a "ghost club" was hanging (this last one was actually a fake mystery he planted to amuse Eru).
Still, his perceptive thinking has potential, despite his slothy exterior.
Nice Hat: Kanya Fest features a lot of these. Along with Satoshi's giant Saturn, there are also battleships and shogi pieces.
No Communities Were Harmed: In true KyoAni fashion, Kamiyama is closely modeled after a real city, in this case Takayama in the Japanese Gifu prefecture. Many local landmarks are clearly recognizable, including the high school and the cafe where Chitanda and Oreki meet.
No Sense of Personal Space: Chitanda has a bad habit of thrusting herself in other people's faces when she gets worked up or 'curious'.
No Social Skills: Oreki comes off this way, seeming to be too lazy to bother learning social etiquette. However, as long as it's not too draining, he can in fact socialise with others.
He doesn't really emote (although he is shown blushing when praised), is shown interacting with only Satoshi, Chitanda and Mayaka on a regular basis, and is rather blunt when speaking with others. Still, the fact that he can't seem to say 'no' to Chitanda to save his life and that he went out of his way to help Chitanda at least twice suggests that Oreki is actually a nice guy underneath his constant frown.
Oreki has also stated that he is "not good with kids", when he and Chitanda needed to ask the inn owner's child some questions. Chitanda doesn't question it and handles the situation for him.
The Nose Knows: Chitanda has this ability, which makes Oreki compare her to a dog.
Her senses in general seem unusually sharp, with both hearing and sight also being remarked upon.
In episode 21 he gets seriously angry over Satoshi's actions, which directly hurt Mayaka, and indirectly hurt Chitanda. He goes as far as to tell Satoshi that if the latter doesn't have a really good explanation, he's taking a punch to the face.
Oh Crap: Oreki's reaction when Ibara tells him that the new script he wrote for the movie didn't include a rope when the writer specifically asked for it can only be described as this. Fans would've reacted in much the same way.
OOC Is Serious Business: Satoshi and Ibara feared for the worst when Oreki finally declared that he was "curious" in episode 18.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Satoshi implies he feels this way towards Houtarou. A tidbit of this bursts out in episode 16.
This may also be the reason for Oreki's slight resentment toward his older sister, who appears to be very much on top of things.
Perpetual Frowner: Never smiling or even grinning, the only expression worn by Oreki is a hollow and lifeless stare coupled with a constant frown on his lips. And even when he does smile, it looks really snarky.
The Unsmile: While taking care of a customer at the Classics Club's culture festival stand, his inner thoughts while half-smiling were "Damn, I can't smile."
Posthumous Character: Chitanda's uncle, Jun Sekitani, although he's technically just a missing person soon to be legally dead.
Ship Tease: Oreki quickly develops a casual crush on Chitanda, but since his own negativity does a good job of repressing it, it develops rather slowly. Chitanda gradually begins to warm up to him as well, and that she feels the same becomes very obvious in episode 11.5.
The second ED, while a nice homage to mystery novels, is a very strong Ship Tease for both main couples.
Episode 6: Oreki is briefly excited by the prospect of Chitanda being a soulmate after she explains that she avoids getting angry in order to conserve energy. He's genuinely disappointed that she's joking.
Episode 7 is quite blatant, with Houtarou passing out just from fantasizing about Chitanda in the bath, then blushing and flinching when she touches him. It probably didn't help that Chitanda expresses disappointment when she found out the hot springs wasn't a mixed bath.
Oh, man, the OVA. It's really hard to count how many times Oreki tried not to glance at Chitanda in her swimsuit.
In episode 13, Houtarou finds the photos of Chitanda cosplaying... yeah. It gets especially shippy near the end where Chitanda hesitantly questions about it and they both start blushing.
Episode 18 features Houtarou and Chitanda going on a pseudo-date.
Episode 19. The episode consists entirely of Chitanda and Oreki talking to each other, puzzling out a mysterious announcement to test his deductive abilities. The episode features Houtarou promising to accompany Chitanda on a visit to her uncle's grave, two Almost Kisses, and Oreki giving a genuine smile. And once again, the next episode promises even more.
Episode 20 is referred to by Animation Director Chise Kamoi as the "date episode" in the comments of the rebroadcast. And for good reason: the episode starts with Chitanda inviting Oreki to a New Year's shrine visit to show off her kimono, and the two of them exchange blushes when Oreki first sees her.
Episode 21: Plenty, as expected of a Valentine's day episode. For starters, Mayaka asking Chitanda if she likes anyone. After a bit of stammering on Chitanda's part, but before the audience can hear her answer, it cuts to a scene of Houtarou yawning. Later, Chitanda starts to explain to Oreki why she didn't have chocolates for him, and ends up nearly confessing only to exchange blushes with Oreki, who only barely comprehends the situation.
Episode 22: Chitanda sadly explains to Oreki that although her land is neither the most beautiful nor full of potential, she still wanted him to see it; she makes herself completely vulnerable before him, so that he can understand her better. After this impassioned monologue, Oreki nearly confesses to her in a Daydream Surprise, only to hold back at the last moment, to the dismay of shippers everywhere. All this happens amidst falling Cherry Blossoms, an ethereal, pink-infused scene.
Stealth Pun: Hyouka means frozen treat, or commonly "ice cream", in Japanese. The message that Jun Sekitani left for Chitanda by making the name of the anthology Hyouka was 'I scream', a pun derived from sounding like 'ice cream'.
Shows up again in the OVA, which is set after episode 11. Houtarou is still in his funk after dealing with Irisu's deception, and he's presented with a case that helps snap him out of it. The solution? "Hyouka", ice cream, once again.
Stepford Smiler: Satoshi if episode 10 is to be believed. Confirmed later as the story goes on.
Stylistic Suck: The student film in episode 8 has boring music, poor writing, worse cinematography, and even worseacting. Houtarou believes this to be deliberate — that the awful lighting (an obvious flashlight being turned on and off as needed), Jitter Cam, inconvenient camera angles, and actors looking straight into the camera and being rather stilted and awkward are actually clues that the culprit was the cameraman, whose motive is that all of the other characters deliberately ignore him. Turns out he's both brilliant and entirely wrong (that is, on the question he thought he was answering).
Tarot Motifs: Discussed in episode 8. According to Satoshi, Mayaka is Justice, Satoshi is The Magician, Chitanda is The Fool, and Oreki is Strength.
As mentioned in episode 10, Fukube hints at Irisu being a Manipulative Bitch by assigning Strength to Oreki, as the image depicting Strength is a lion being tamed, or controlled, by a young woman.
A special mention for Oreki's, with three women in his life being his possible 'tamer' at one point or another.
Tsundere: Mayaka for Houtarou (interestingly enough, she acts nice towards her crush Satoshi).
What the Hell, Hero?: In episode 21, Oreki calls Satoshi out for stealing Mayaka's chocolate, which obviously hurt Mayaka's feelings but had the side-effect of Chitanda blaming herself for failing to guard her friend's chocolate.
Oreki: I assume you have a good explanation for this. If this was your idea of a joke...
Satoshi: If it was?
Oreki:[grabs Satoshi by the scarf] I'd have to hit you. For both Chitanda and Mayaka. Hard.